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Mai Chau, the hidden Valley of Northern Vietnam

Mai Chau Valley, Vietnam

Set in a peaceful valley, hemmed in by hills, Mai Chau is an ideal escape for nature lovers. The valley is speckled by tiny Thai villages where visitors usually drop down for the night in traditional stilt houses and experience the lifestyle of Thai ethnic people.

Walking or cycling is the best way to explore Mai Chau. As you cycle or walk along the unpaved roads you can enjoy the beautiful nature, green rice fields, tranquil villages and friendly locals working on their farms. Booking a guided Mai Chau trekking tour is highly recommended, especially when you do a multi-day trek as the locals don’t speak English. You will follow off the beaten paths, walking through paddy fields, from one village to another.

Lac village and Pom Coong village were the first villages offering accommodation and homestay service in Mai Chau valley. There are many dozens of accommodation options in the villages, and more are being built as you read this. There’s also a new luxury option near the village, and you can stay in a local Vietnamese guesthouse in town if you like.

Mai Chau Tour Itineraries

Idyllic Mai Chau Valley

Idyllic Mai Chau Valley – Photo credit

How to get to Mai Chau

Getting to Mai Chau from Hanoi

The road journey takes approximately 3-4 hours from Hanoi to Mai Chau. It is easy for you to hire a private car or motorbike (If travel by motorbike, some more time should be set aside). for the journey. Some local transport companies run shuttle buses between Hanoi and Mai Chau. There is one daily departure from Hanoi (in the morning), and a return from Mai Chau in the afternoon.

Local buses from the capital run directly to Mai Chau town just a short walk from Lac and Pom Coong villages. These local buses leave from My Dinh bus station, Giap Bat bus station, and Yen Nghia bus station. The bus timetable is very flexible and you need to buy the ticket at the station. If coming from Son La or Dien Bien Province, ask the driver to stop at the Mai Chau turn-off.

Getting to Mai Chau from Ninh Binh

The best way is to rent a private car with a driver from Ninh Binh city or Tam Coc. The journey takes about 4-5 hours. We recommend leaving Ninh Binh in the morning, and you will have a half day for trekking in Mai Chau valley.

Road travel to Mai Chau from Hanoi

Road travel to Mai Chau from Hanoi – Photo credit

Best time to visit Mai Chau

Mai Chau experience a monsoon tropical climate like other places in Northern Vietnam. The yearly average maximum temperature in Mai Chau is 29°C (ranging from 21°C in January to 35°C in June). Annual rainfall is 2302mm, with a minimum of 31mm in February and a maximum of 469mm in August.

Between May and June or September to October is the best time of the year for a trip to Mai Chau, as the terraced rice fields are dyed golden yellow.

Catching grasshoppers on rice fields

Catching grasshoppers on rice fields – Photo credit @amasiatravel

Things to do in Mai Chau

Mai Chau is an idyllic valley with extensive rice fields, villages of ethnic minorities and some small waterfalls. There are a lot of authentic experiences await for you.

  • Take a boat trip on Hoa Binh Lake.
  • Enjoy bicycle rides through lush rice fields and village roads in the Mai Chau valley.
  • Stay in a Thai traditional stilt house and experience the typical village life of ethnic people.
  • Embark on a guided Mai Chau trekking or easy walking tour to villages and Mai Chau surrounding.
  • Watch a Thai ethnic traditional dancing performance

Mai Chau cycling tour

Mai Chau cycling tour – Photo credit @amasiatravel

Sights in Mai Chau

  • Local villages in Mai Chau valley include Lac, Pom Coong, Van, Mai Hich, Kha, Xo, and Buoc.
  • The Thai Museum
  • Chieu cave (1000 steps to the cave)
  • Pu Luong Nature Reserve
  • Hoa Binh Lake (+Black river)
  • Hang Kia village and surroundings
  • Pa Co market

Thung The Pass in Mai Chau

Thung The Pass, Mai Chau – Photo credit Shutterstock/Andy Tran

Where to stay in Mai Chau

Mai Chau today offers a wide range of accommodation to meet any expectations: homestays, hotels and lodges. Here is our recommended accommodation in Mai Chau.

Mai Chau Ecolodge

Mai Chau Ecolodge – Photo credit @amasiatravel


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