Mai Chau travel tips
Few days ago we made 2-days trip to Mai Chau. It is a small town in the Northwest Vietnam, only 3-4 hours driving from Hanoi.
Everybody who has been there says that it’s one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam. If you want to see stirring rice fields, tranquil scenes and the real everyday life of Vietnamese people, Mai Chau is definately a place you should go.
We were enchanted by its charm. It is so different than hectic and busy Hanoi. Mai Chau is a place where you can relax and forget about worries of everyday life.
Mai Chau is not that crowded and that is one of reasons why it makes such a good impression. You can watch people working on the rice fields, cows or oxen walking with no chains or herdsmen’s supervision. What can be more beautiful than meeting with locals that don’t want you to buy something from them? Who are friendly, smiling and happy that a tourist came to their village.
We really loved this place and we hope to come back there in the future. There are some things that you need to know before going to Mai Chau tough. Below you will find the best tips for traveling to Mai Chau.
Mai Chau travel tips #1 Choose the right time.
Mai Chau may be very cold and rainy place! It is crucial to choose the right time for traveling there.
If you like hot, sunny weather, visit Mai Chau on October, November, March, April or May.
June to September is also a good choice but because of the monsoon season, it may be raining very often.
December, January and February are the coldest months to visit Mai Chau. But don’t worry if you plan to go there at winter! We visited Mai Chau in the middle of January and from the picture below you can see that it was pretty warm.
Remember that Mai Chau is beautiful all year long but not every weather is good for cycling or hiking.
Mai Chau travel tips #2 Take enough medicines.
Mai Chau is a small village, so don’t expect to find a doctor or good pharmacy there. The nearest hospital where they speak English is in Hanoi, 4 hours drive from Mai Chau.
Take all the medicines you may need to use. Be prepared for everything! Painkillers are must-have. Remember that the most common sickness for tourist in Asia are stomach illness. Take some antidiarrheal and anti-emetics drugs just in case.
Mai Chau travel tips #3 Have enough time.
We have been told that Mai Chau is pretty close from Hanoi- only 130 km. We thought that it will take 3 hours to get there.
But… of course it took long. There was a traffic jam and we made some stops on the way. It’s Asia! Everybody has time for everything. Don’t rely on the schedule time. If you need to be back in Hanoi at the exact time, come back one day earlier to avoid unnecessary anxiety or delay.
Mai Chau travel tips #4 Pack good clothes.
The most popular thing to do in Mai Chau is cycling and hiking, so sportswear is the best choice to pack!
Comfortable tracksuits and shoes are must-have.
If you are traveling during hot season, take sun-cream and hats. Sun may be very strong in Mai Chau!
During winter, it is good to wear a jacket or sometimes even cap, scarf and gloves.
Sunglasses will be useful all over the year, especially if you are planning to spend a lot of time outdoors.
Mai Chau travel tips #5 Support the locals.
Mai Chau is charming, idyllic village. People living there are friendly and nice. We, tourists, love places like this. That is why we should support their local economy and culture. We should show them that what they are doing is great and they should keep up this good work.
Mai Chau with Starbucks, McDonald’s and shopping malls won’t be the same. It will lose their charm and beauty…
Buying things like hand-made scarves from local women is a great way to support Mai Chau community.
Mai Chau travel tips #6 Take your camera.
Mai Chau is a great spot for photography lovers. Or even for those who don’t know how to take good photo. Mai Chau is beautiful enough to look great on any picture.
Mountains, rice fields and unbeaten bath are just calling to be explored!
If you are social media freak (just like us), buy local SIM card to be able to share your photos any time you want. Vietnamese SIM card doesn’t cost much (less than $10) and it’s a great help with communicating with the world.
It is not difficult to find 3G in Mai Chau but LTE or 4G is something you should forget about.
Mai Chau travel tips #7 Take enough cash.
Remember how we talked that there are no hospitals in Mai Chau? There are also no ATMs! At least we didn’t see any.
If you rely on paying by card or withdraw little amount of money everyday to cover your expenses, you will be disappointed.
CASH is something you should have in Mai Chau. ATMs are easy to find in Hanoi but not in the small Vietnamese towns.
Mai Chau travel tips #8 Choose the right place to stay.
It is really important to choose the right place to stay in Mai Chau. Not everywhere you will feel comfortable enough to be able to relax and enjoy spending time with locals.
The very best hotel in Mai Chau is Mai Chau Ecolodge.
We stayed there and we absolutely loved this place! It is both luxurious and eco which is very rare combination.
The lodge is pretty big but it doesn’t like to be considered as a ‘resort’. Everything what they did and from what the bungalows are made of are natural. The main goal of Mai Chau Ecolodge is to support local economy and take care of traditions.
If you will be travelling during hot season, you can also use the lovely Mai Chau Ecolodge swimming pool to relax even more.
Check out the latest prices for Mai Chau Ecolodge—> click here.
Mai Chau travel tips #9 Be ready to try some delicious food!
Mai Chau people are descendants of immigrants from Thailand. Two main tribes White Thai and Black Thai are the biggest population of Mai Chau.
Rice, noodles and soups are delicious there. You should also try Vietnamese oranges from the local orchards. They are so sweet and tasty! They also don’t have any preservatives that makes than extremely healthy.
Mai Chau travel tips #10 Stop on top before getting to the village to take some awesome photos from above.
The village of Mai Chau is situated on the valley but when going from Hanoi, you need to be on the top of the mountain first and then go down to the village.
Ask your driver to stop when you see the beautiful view like on the picture below.
Aerial view on Mai Chau is really breathtaking!
Mai Chau travel tips #11 Choose the most convenient way to travel.
There are many ways to get to Mai Chau. You can take one or two days trip to Mai Chau from Hanoi.
We chose to organise everything by ourselves. Our hotel picked us up from the Hanoi Old Quarter and after few hours we arrived to Mai Chau.
This is the most convenient and pretty cheap option. $12.5 one way is not that bad, right? 🙂
If you prefer to travel in a group, you can buy one of trip offered by travel agencies in Hanoi. At the Old Quarter area you will find plenty of interesting offers.
Mai Chau in numbers
When you travel to a new place, it’s good to know a little bit more about it. Here are the most important numbers of Mai Chau:
- Population of Mai Chau is 48 570.
- Mai Chau district covers an area of 520 km².
- Mai Chau is located 135 km from Hanoi.
- And 65 km from Hòa Bình.
- Mai Chau is situated 400 m above sea level.
- There are 7 Ethnic Minority groups in Mai Chau, including: White Thai, Zao, H’Mong, Muong, Hoa, Tay and Viet.
- Until 1993 Mai Chau was an isolated farming community, not visited by tourists
- the lowest temperature recorder in Mai Chau is 5,7ºC (42.26 °F).
- Mai Chau is situated 250 km from Vietnam’s highest mountain- Phan Xi Păng (3143 m/ 10 312 ft above sea level).
- Mai Chau borders was established in 1957.
- There are 4 main villages that are the best to visit in Mai Chau: Na Tang, TòngĐậu, Cha Long and Van villages.
Disclosure: We want to thank Mai Chau Ecolodge for a complimentary stay. All opinions presented in this post are honest and our own.