September 13, 2016

Mai Chau Valley

hiking mai chau

Mai Chau valley is located in Mai Chau district, Hoa Binh province, approximately 135 km from Hanoi and 60 km from Hoa Binh city.

Mai Chau valley is surrounded by Thai villages scatting on the hill sides. Travelers come to Mai Chau for spending a night in a local stilt house, and to experience the real life of the Thai people.

Trekking in Mai Chau is the best way to discover Vietnam rural hamlets, and to experience the rich ethnic culture. If you look for something related Mai Chau trekking, Mai Chau trekking map, Mai Chau Vietnam trekking, Mai Chau trekking tours, Mai Chau valley trekking, Mai Chau trek, Mai Chau day trek, Mai Chau trek Vietnam, then this guide is for you.

Lac village and Pom Coong village were the two first villages offering accommodation, homestay service in Mai Chau valley. There are now dozen of villages that are equipped with good facilities for lodging tourists.

Booking a guided trek is highly recommended, especially when you do a multi-day hike in Mai Chau valley where local people don’t speak English. You will follow off the beaten path trails, walking through paddy fields, from one village to another.

Mai Chau valley map

How to get to Mai Chau valley?

Getting to Mai Chau from Hanoi

Hanoi to Mai Chau by private car

It is easy for you to rent a car with driver from one of the many transport company in Hanoi. The car will come and pick you up at your hotel in downtown Hanoi. The road trip takes approximately 3-4 hours from downtown Hanoi to Mai Chau. You can stop on the way for coffee break or taking picture at the top of Thung Khe pass.

Hanoi to Mai Chau by shuttle bus

Some local transport companies run shuttle bus between Hanoi and Mai Chau. There are one daily departure from Hanoi (in the morning), and the return from Mai Chau in afternoon. They pick you up from your hotel and drop you at your destination in Mai Chau. Tickets need to be booked in advance.

Hanoi to Mai Chau by local bus

There are several buses departing from Hanoi to Mai Chau. These local buses leave from My Dinh bus station, Giap Bat bus station, and Yen Nghia bus station. Bus timetable is very flexible. You need to go to the bus station and buy the ticket there.

Getting to Mai Chau from Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh to Mai Chau by private car

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

When to go trekking in Mai Chau?

The climate of Mai Chau is tropical monsoon like the other places in northern Vietnam. The average annual temperature is 18°C with a maximum of 29°C in July and a minimum of 16°C in January.

The best weather extends from late September to early May with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 30°C.

It can be quite cold during winter from November to the end of February. From June to September, it is hot with stronger breezes and higher humidity. The temperatures are warmer in this time, varying between 28°C and 38°C.

Late September, October, early November, February, March, April, and early May are the best months to take a hike in Mai Chau. In December, January and sometimes February, the weather can get pretty chilly. However, the stilt houses have no shortage of fluffy blankets to keep you warm at night; staying cool in the summer, however, is more of an issue.

Local stilt houses in Mai Chau usually have fans but even then so they can get uncomfortably hot between June and September. In addition, these months are the rainiest, which makes outdoor exploring more problematic.

There is a market on Sundays which brings together different minority groups from the surrounding area, but given the higher numbers of weekend tourists this is not necessarily a reason to time your visit for a Sunday.

What to explore on your Mai Chau hiking tour?

Lac village

Lac village is more than 700 years old. The people in Lac village are mainly White Thai people who live by rice cultivation and brocade weaving. This place is a gift of the mountain and forest for those who love peace and tranquility to immerse themselves in the green and relaxing space of Hoa Binh.

Currently, Lac village has nearly 30 spacious and airy homestays. Stilt houses in Lac village are all tall and clean, keeping ancient architecture. Inside each home, the rooms are fully equipped with clean blankets, cushions, and pillows.

Pom Coong village

Pom Coong village is typical of Thai communities. The houses are built on stilts, 1.5m above the ground, having bamboo floors and roofs made from Goi or May leaves. The area under the traditional house is usually reserved for livestock. But nowadays this area at some houses has been arranged into a souvenir shop flaunting items such as shawls, dresses, bags, purses, brocade cloths and multi-colour cloth balls skilfully made by Thai. In some houses, the visitors can witness local women diligently working at a loom, weaving colorful brocade fabric.

Also, a visit to Pom Coong village is not complete without trying the famous can wine (wine drunk out of a jar through pipes) that is made from sticky rice, hinh ho leaf, meo leaf and ginger that fascinates any visitor.

Mai Hich village

Mai Hich is also located in Mai Chau valley, about a half hour drive from Lac, Pom Coong village. While Mai Chau has become a popular place for both Vietnamese and foreign tourists for many years, Mai Hich village is just a new destination for those looking an off the beaten path destination while hiking in Mai Chau Vietnam.

Buoc village

Buoc village is situated about 25km from Lac village. The village can be easily reached by car, bicycle or foot. The village is also inhabited by the White Thai ethnic group. The thatched house of Thai people is featured by leaf-titled roofs and wooden pillars in Buoc village. From the small roads lining along the houses, visitors can enjoy a tranquil atmosphere and beautiful landscape of this less-visited corner of Mai Chau Vietnam.

Mo Luong cave

Mo Luong Cave is situated inside Pu Kha Mountain in Mai Chau town and Chieng Chau commune, Mai Chau district. The main entrance to the cave is in Mai Chau town and the subordinate entrance is along the water current in Chieng Chau commune.

In the Thai language, Mo Luong means big course of stream; that is the course that originates from inside the cave running out to the field in the Chieng Chau direction and where people dug a pond to retain water and thus named it Mo Luong Pond.

Mai Chau trekking routes

Mai Chau trekking map: Mai Chau valley

Mai Chau hiking trail: Mai Chau valley

Mai Chau hiking trail: Pom Coong village to Mai Hich village

Mai Chau hiking trail: Pom Coong village to Mai Hich village

Mai Chau hiking trail: Lac village to Xam Khoe village

Mai Chau hiking trail: Lac village to Xam Khoe village

Mai Chau hiking trail: Mai Hich village to Ban Buoc village

Mai Chau hiking trail: Mai Hich village to Ban Buoc village

Mai Chau trekking tours

At Hiking Vietnam we organize a wide range of trekking homestay tours in Mai Chau Vietnam. The most popular itinerary is the overnight trip to Mai Chau from Hanoi. This Mai Chau 2 days 1 night trekking trip has two half day for you to enjoy walking in Mai Chau valley, and discover such villages as Lac village, Pom Coong village, Na Phon village, Nhot village, Mai Hich village, Buoc village…

For longer itineraries we recommend you taking a 3 day Mai Chau trek Vietnam which offers the chance to visit some more remote hill tribe villages, and to experience the slow life of the Thai people. Some of these villages include Ban Buoc village, Cun Pheo village, Hang Kia village…are inhabited by the Thai and H’mong people.

Those who are interested in more challenging Mai Chau treks can take the 4, 5, 6 or 7 days trip which begin from Hang Kia village, taking you through Mai Chau valley to Pu Luong Nature Reserve (Thanh Hoa province), Ngoc Son Ngo Luong community base (Hoa Binh province) or Cuc Phuong National Park (Ninh Binh province).

Read more: Mai Chau tours

Additional questions about trekking in Mai Chau Vietnam

Do you have any questions about trekking in Mai Chau that you want to ask us? Is there anything you think I should discuss about Mai Chau Vietnam hiking that we left out… that we should include in future updates to this article?

Leave a comment with your questions and we’ll write you back with a response just as soon as we possibly can.

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