Mai Chau is a peaceful valley with extensive rice fields, villages of ethnic minorities and some small waterfalls. There is actually not much to do in Mai Chau, but this is what makes the area so attractive to visit. You come here mainly for the peace and the natural beautiful landscape.
1.Cycling through rice fields
Cycling in Mai Chau is great and in fact, it is one of the best places to go cycling in Vietnam. In the valley you will find a beautiful landscape with rice fields surrounded by mountains and small local villages of ethnic minorities. The valley is almost completely flat, with small roads connecting the villages and almost no traffic. This combination makes it the perfect for cycling. You can go with a guide or rent bikes yourself at your hotel or homestay; accommodation offer them often for free or for a very small fee.
One of the best things to do in Mai Chau is stay in a homestay of a local ethnic minority. You learn more about their unique culture and traditions here. You can find homestays in one of the two largest villages in Mai Chau; Poom Coong and Lac. The houses here are usually built on stilts. Life is simple: you wake up to the sound of roosters crowing and farmers going to work, you sleep on a mattress lying on the creaking bamboo floor and you spend your evenings drinking the local wine and watching a cultural show.
Some homestays in Mai Chau have upgrades their accommodation, with more modern facilities and comfortable beds with private bathrooms. These small-scale accommodations are a little less authentic but still provide a unique experience compared to hotels.
With stilt houses and lush, green rice fields, Ban Lac, Pom Coong and other villages dotted in the valley are quaint and serene, ethnic Thai villages with very hospitable inhabitants. During the day you see the local population working on the land and moving cattle. In the evening, you are invited to relax and enjoy traditional alcoholic beverages and participate in traditional songs and dances of Thai ethnicity. The best way to explore villages in the Mai Chau valley are by bike or a trekking.
4.Go Lao waterfall
One of the most beautiful sights in Mai Chau is the Go Lao waterfall. About 20 meters high and located in a beautiful setting. After descending the unpaved stairs, you stand next to the waterfall. In the dry season there is little water, but you can take a dip in the cool water.
It is located next to Hoa Binh lake so it can be perfectly combined. If you like to see more waterfalls in Mai Chau, you can visit the Pung Waterfall and the Tat Nang waterfall.
5.Pu Luong Nature Reserve
Pu Luong Nature Reserve is not only a top attraction in Mai Chau, but also one of the biggest highlights in Vietnam. In this beautiful landscape you will find very beautiful rice terraces that are immersed by water wheels made of bamboo. There are local villages of ethnic minorities where you can see how they live. The best way to explore this area of villages and paddy fields is by making a trekking. Pu long is one of the hidden jewels of Vietnam.
6.Thung Khe pass
When you take the bus from Hanoi, you already drive over the Thung Khe Pass. but if you don’t stop here is worth going back by car or motorbike. You can rent a scooter yourself and ride this pass, but be very careful here. On this mountain pass you have a viewpoint with the best view over the Mai Chau valley. Drive a bit further to have more amazing views of mountains and the countryside.
7.Hoa Binh lake
Lake Hoa Binh was created after the construction of Hoa Binh hydroelectric power station. It is the largest lake in Vietnam, with 47 large and small islands. You can rent a boat to explore the lake.
The most adventurous activity you can do in Mai Chau is rock climbing. Climb up to have a beautiful view of the Mai Chau valley. There are several possible routes for rock climbing to choose from, something for everyone, regardless of age, athletic ability or level of experience.
The shape of the mountains of Mai Chau come from limestone bottoms of karst, the same type of geological formations that Ha Long Bay has created. Where there is karst, you will find caves and Mai Chau is no exception. The two largest caves in Mai Chau are Mo Luong Cave and Chieu Cave.
10.Go off the beaten track
Mai Chau is already not as popular as Sapa or Ninh Binh, but you can even go more off the beaten track here if you don’t mind traveling a bit.
The two earlier mentioned waterfalls Pung and Tat Nang are located further from the tourist villages and are hardly visited by other travelers. In addition they are located in a stunning landscape. Around the latter named waterfall you can visit the entire area of Van Ho with many villages of ethnic minorities and beautiful rice fields. Continue a little further to Pac Co village where you can visit an unique ethnic minority market on Sundays. Around the Pung waterfall you will find one of the few terraced rice fields of Mai Chau in various places.