7 Essential Things To Do In Mai Chau

July 21, 2023

Rolling rice paddies as far as the eye can see. The sound of chickens clucking. Stilt houses surrouned by forest-covered moutains. Simple and fresh plates of food. These are the impressions Mai Chau will give you. Situated in easy reach from Hanoi, Mai Chau is a breath of fresh air, and a great option if you're looking for a calm destination rich in nature and culture. Here are seven tops thing to do in Mai Chau. 

Wake up in nature

Mornings are ideal for peaceful walks through Mai Chau. With small hamlets dotting the valley, winding paths and quiet gardens, it's easy to explore on your own. Keep an eye out for a drink stall where you can savour a Vietnamese Coffee looking out onto the rice fields butterflies drift by. 

Learn about ethnic textiles

When in Mai Chau, don't miss the chance to shop beautiful fabrics woven by the White Thai people. Local shops will even have looms out front, where you can watch the locals weaving, or give it a try yourself. For an ethical splurge, check out Hoa Ban shop in Lac village, a social enterprise that gives vocational training to women from the White Thai minority. 

Pedal through the valley

One of the best ways to experience Mai Chau is by cycling. You can set off on your own or hire a guide to help you explore the many trails through the valley. A guide can also introduce you to a White Thai household. Take a seat in their long stilt houses, where you can sip tea, nibble on lychees and find out more about rural life. 

Taste farm-fresh dishes

Mai Chau's cuisine is as fresh as it comes. Start your meal with com lam (bamboo-tube grilled rice). Peel off the bamboo cover and dip the rice in minced peanuts for a delicous treat. Ga doi (grilled native chicken), thit lon xien nuong (pork skewers) and stir-fried greens are some favorite Mai Chau dishes. If you're feeling adventurous, try ve sau chien, a local delicacy of stuffed and fried cicadas. 

Enjoy ethic dance and music

Traditional performances are a special part of every visit to Mai Chau. The White Thai musicians are skilled at using natural materials to craft instruments that create mesmerizing rhythms. After dinner, relax and settle into watch a White Thai performance. These shows feature live folk music and dancers in full ethnic dress.

Slept in a stilt house

If you've never tried sleeping in a stilt house, you can in Mai Chau. Wooden stilt house homestays can easily be found in Lac Village and Poom Coong village. These houses usually have clean and simple accomodation, with shared bathrooms and open-air sleeping quarters. Mai Chau also boats four-star hotels as well as beautiful lodges with views of rice fields. 

Explore the outdoors

The countryside surrounding Mai Chau is perfect for nature lovers. You might like to sign up for a morning of kayaking on the Hoa Binh Reservoir, or take a full-day trekking tour in neighbouring Pu Luong Nature Reserve. Many hotels and homestays in Mai Chau offer tours to caves and waterfalls nearby. You can also book package deals for outdoor activities in advance with tour operators in Hanoi. 

Getting to Mai Chau

The journey to Mai Chau from Hanoi takes about three hours. You can arrange a private transfer by car, hop on a shuttle van, take a bus from My Dinh bus station, or drive there by motorbike. The morning is the best time to travel, so you can enjoy stunning views at Thung Khe Mountain Pass and cliff-side panoramas of the Mai Chau valley.