Mai Chau is a district of Hoa Binh Province. That is a mountainous region in the northwestern of Vietnam. The district is located at about 160 km from Ha Noi. The scenery of Mai Chau attracts many tourists.
The Ban Lac People have Thai ancestors that settled in the North-Western area of Vietnam. The two tribes, White Thai and black Thai, settled in the same area and make The Mai Chau area is well known for its stilt houses. The type of stilt houses, or pile dwellings, they construct are called Thai stilt houses and are made of bamboo and timber. These houses are elevated 10-12 feet off the ground in order to avoid water damage and shelter animals from the elements.
- How to get there
- By bus: you can catch a local bus to Hoa Binh and another bus from here to Mai Chau. It takes about 2 hours
- By private car: the fee around 100 USD to 120 USD/way
The best time of year to visit Mai Chau is between October to November, and February to May. During these months, the weather is sunny but not too hot. From December to January (sometimes extending until February), the weather can get pretty cold. Visiting any time between June and September is strongly discouraged and it is hard to deal with the heat when electricity only comes on at night. It is also during these months that the heavy rains pose a challenge for outdoor exploration.
- Place should go
The Pu Luong Nature Reserve near Mai Chau that is worth a visit. This is actually a newly protected area that serves as home to endangered species such as langurs, leopards, civets and bears but it’s especially good for bird watching. There are also caves and local Tai and Hmong communities to visit.
There are quite a number of caves, or grottoes, in the area and visitors are advised to explore them. These include Mo Luong Cave, Chieu Cave, Pieng Kem Grotto, Lang Cave and Khau Phuc Cave. One can rent a bicycle to see the nearby hamlets and view the rice fields and indeed cycling or trekking through the villages and enjoying the stunning scenery is one of the best experiences in Mai Chau.
Lac is also an attraction in itself. After all, most day travellers and overnight tourists go to this village for accommodation and fine homemade Vietnamese fare. Like Lac, Pom Coong is also an ethnic White Tai village that offers ‘homestays’ to visitors.