Just fours hours drive from chaotic Hanoi, Mai Chau couldn’t feel further from the busy capital. The Mai Chau Valley is wrapped in lush green mountains where you will find retreats and homestays that enjoy the sweeping panorama across the rice paddies, sprinkled with farmers. The rural district in northwest Vietnam offers an experience for visitors entirely different to other popular destinations throughout the country. Here you can immerse yourself in a slower pace and traditional tribal way of life through local Mai Chau tours, a homestay experience, a day trip to Mai Chau from Hanoi or a trekking or cycling expedition, just to name a few. Here are just some of the amazing things to do in Mai Chau, Vietnam.
Mai Chau Tours and Transport
The drive from Hanoi to Mai Chau takes about 4-hours. Local and direct buses run daily. Mai Chau Ecolodge also offers a shuttle service. For Mai Chau tours, a translator or a homestay contact ‘Vinh’ at the Hoaban Homestay (+84 91 767 10 66 – 2 / Bàn Lác, Chiêen Châu Mai Châu 350000).
Things to do in Mai Chau
Eat Fresh From the Local Markets
There are multiple markets around Mai Chau offering incredible fresh produce. Bao La market is 30km from Hoa Ban Homestay and open only on Fridays. The River Market is open only on Thursdays and is well worth a visit as it is only accessible by boat. The Pa Co market opens on Sunday and sees locals line the street with fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers and more. Make sure you try the sugar cane, jack fruit and Bánh mì.
Enjoy a Mai Chau Feast with a Local Family
Sit in a stilted house with a local Mai Chau family to enjoy a meal including bamboo shoots, sticky rice and vietnamese spring rolls. Topped off with their traditional sticky-rice wine.
Visit the Spectacular Waterfalls of the Pù Luông Nature Reserve
The Pù Luông Nature Reserve is about 60 kilometres by motorbike from Mai Chau. We travelled to the beautiful waterfalls with two English-speaking locals. They took us deep into the mountains of Mai Chau where we ate some traditional Pho in a tiny home on the edge of a cliff and swam in the natural springs.
Try a Traditional Coconut Coffee
Coconut coffee is just one of the many delicious ways coffee is served in Vietnam. Simply a mixture of strong Vietnamese drip coffee, condensed milk and coconut milk, it is sweet and delicious. Our favourite spot in Mai Chau was Sunset Bar (Lac Village, tt. Mai Châu).
Sing Karaoke With the Locals
People in Mai Chau love to have a good time and singing karaoke is one of their favourite things to do. We had a ball.
Work as a Volunteer with Hoa Ban Plus
We volunteered at Hoa Ban Plus as part of a Project Abroad trip. Read the full story of our experience volunteering in Mai Chau.
Stay in the Hills at Mai Chau Ecolodge
Built entirely from natural materials these beautiful eco lodges at Mai Chau Ecolodge stand in the heart of Mai Chau with panoramic views of the entire valley. They can also help you organise Mai Chau tours taking you to the valley and surrounding villages (Lac Village, Pom Coong Village), during your stay.
Bike Ride Around Mai Chau
There are a number of Mai Chau homestays where you can hire bikes for as long as you like. We hired bikes for a week which cost about $AUD30. For those looking for more of a fitness challenge, consider booking a Mai Chau cycling tours or trekking tours to explore the local area while working up a sweat.
Sleep in a Traditional Stilt House
With bamboo floors and your own mattress covered in pillows and bedspreads made from traditional Thai silk, a stay in a stilted house is a great way to experience tribal life in Mai Chau and these stays are a big part of Mai Chau tourism and supporting the locals. Thai stilt houses are constructed from bamboo and timber and stand around 3 metres off the ground. We stayed at Hoa Ban Homestay which was fantastic. All meals are provided and it is located directly across the road from the Hoa Ban + store.
Visit Hoa Ban Plus
Support the women of this beautiful shop, Hoa Ban as they sew and weave in the traditional Thai way. Next door you can find all their products for sale including toys, bags, silk scarves and more Ban Lac 2, Chieen Mai Chau).
Natalie is a Senior Social Media Producer and Product Manager who has worked across Australian media brands such as PLUS7, 7News, The Morning Show, X Factor, Home and Away, The Daily Edition and Australia’s No.1 Breakfast show, Sunrise.
During university, she lived and studied in Italy where she took full advantage of cheap Ryanair flights. That year she travelled extensively through Europe and has continued her love of travel ever since.
Natalie enjoys unplanned adventures and hates to travel with a map. She also swears by getting her hair cut at the beginning of her trips – hairdressers have all the best tips for exploring a city