Our Pu Luong – Mai Chau tour is the perfect opportunity to visit another highlight of Northern Vietnam while staying in the stunning Pu Luong Nature Reserve. You will find in this article, the different ways to organize the tour and collect some information about the lovely Mai Chau valley.
While before tourists used to take a day from Mai Chau to visit Pu Luong, the beauty of the Reserve has attracted more people and it has become more popular to set the basement in Pu Luong and make a day trip to Mai Chau. The distance between both is only 40km which makes it easy to do even for a day trip.
In our Pu Luong travel guide, you already have all the information to plan your stay in the Reserve. Now, let’s get an overview of the different tourism components of Mai Chau valley.
MAI CHAU TRAVEL GUIDE
Mai Chau is originally a small town at approximately 150km from Hanoi center in Hoa Binh province. The area is not really famous for the town itself but more for the beautiful valley close by surrounded by a mountain range. There are three main villages in the valley which are Ban Lac 1 and 2 and Pom Coong inhabited by the Thai minority group.
What to do in Mai Chau
- Take cycling tour or electric car tour
- Trekking in remote areas in the middle of rice fields
- Learn about handicraft as sewing with traditional tools
- Farming (planting rice, harvesting, plowing) depending on season
- Kayak on Black river, swim in Go Lao waterfall
- Exploring remote villages like Ban Buoc, Mai Ich
- Visit the 1000-step cave or Mo Luong cave
- Visit the daily Mai Chau market
- Taste some local specialties as the sticky rice cooked in bamboo
As you can see, the valley of Mai Chau abounds of things to do and will satisfy every kind of travelers.
Moreover, if you decide to take a multi-days Pu Luong – Mai Chau tour, you will have a large selection of accommodations. From the traditional homestay in stilt house to luxury bungalows in an ecolodge passing by middle range ones bordering the rice fields, options are many.
When to come to Mai Chau
As it is in a valley and not in altitude, all year long is good to visit the area. Some days can be pretty cold in winter and pretty hot in summer. So, let’s organize this category depending on the rice season.
There are two harvests in Mai Chau, that is the benefit of the flat lands compared to the high mountains of the North (only Pu Luong has mountains with two harvests a year).
Actually, the rice fields will be green from April to mid-June and from August to October. Wonderful time to visit the area to see the different shades of green coming from either the rice fields, the jungle and the forest.
The yellow rice fields (named as the golden season) appear before the harvesting time at the end of June and October. Also, the time to harvest manually creating a fantastic painting with all the farmers collaborating to collect the rice in time.
Before the green rice fields, it is time to plant the rice in the mirror field (when they are filled with water) in February and July. If you visit at that time, experiencing to plant the rice with the farmers will be an unforgettable memory.
TIPS: The best season is in October when the rice fields are yellow and the weather is very pleasant. Between 25 to 30° in daytime with cool evening and almost no rainfall. Perfect time to combine a Pu Luong – Mai Chau tour as the rice paddies will also turn yellow in Pu Luong Nature Reserve.
Where to stay in Mai Chau
- Little Mai Chau
In the heart of the valley, basic dormitory and private room but excellent customer service by friendly hosts.
- Lim’s House
Located in a small alley in the village, the owner Hanh and her mother ensure a warm and friendly welcome. They are Thai and can share many information. The private rooms are cozy and well decorated.
- Mai Chau Valley View
On the main street, the hotel offers well equipped rooms with balcony overviewing the valley and the rice fields.
- Mai Chau Sunrise Village
Inside the valley, easy to recognize the yellow bungalows. Full equipped rooms and perfect location for this 3* hotel.
- Mai Chau Hideaway
If you are looking for a more intimate and quieter place, this hotel is for you. Overviewing the lake, the comfortable rooms offer all amenities you need. Plenty of local activities from cycling to kayaking.
- Mai Chau Ecolodge
The most luxury option if you want to stay in the valley. Swimming pool, private bungalows decorated with local and natural element. A perfect place to chill after a day out visiting.
- Avana Retreat
30mn away from Mai Chau, this 5 star hotel is one of the most impressive of Vietnam. If you have the chance to stay there, it could be one of the highlights of your trip in Vietnam. Private bungalow in H’Mong style, waterfall, organic food, the wellness at its best!
Why’s Pu Luong – Mai Chau Tour
As mentioned previously, it is a much more enjoyable basement in Pu Luong. Quieter and offering mountainous landscapes, waking up and enjoying your coffee on your balcony has nothing comparable. Moreover, Pu Luong remains more authentic as it has developed only recently.
But the Mai Chau valley deserves an exploration. Landscapes are totally different and the mountains around provides a very special atmosphere. Also, the road between both places is the opportunity to contemplate stunning views on the way. The distance is only 40km and can be done within one hour only.
We recommend to spend more times in Pu Luong but we have designed some Pu Luong – Mai Chau tour to allow tourists to discover more places in a short time.
Pu Luong – Mai Chau tour
You now have all information to organize your visit the best way picking up the most suitable activities to your expectations.
NOTE: it is possible to end every Pu Luong – Mai Chau tour in Mai Chau if you are lacking of time. We can arrange then a shuttle bus or a private car to take you to your next destination. Contact us directly and we will answer any special requests.
Full day Pu Luong – Mai Chau tour
You have two options to reach the valley of Mai Chau from Pu Luong. You can choose the car option if you are not a rider. The best way is the second one as to ride your motorbike. You can have our motorbike selection in our article Pu Luong motorbike tour here.
Starting in the early morning, after having stored enough energy with a delicious breakfast, you will take the direction of Mai Chau. Passing by the main road, many view points will offer fantastic oportunities for photo shoots. The road is in good condition and riding a bike is pretty easy (be careful in rainy days as it is steep). One hour later, you will enter the valley.
If you come by car, you will stop and jump on a bicycle to start a tour in the valley. You will visit the local villages, see the farmers working in the fields (you can join them to experience), learn about the traditional sewing way. It is also your chance to buy some handmade souvenirs in one of the stores in Ban Lac village.
After a local lunch, start a trekking in the rice fields in a more remote area. Immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere of the place. It is an easy trekking that doesn’t require excellent physical conditions and accessible to everybody. For the tourist willing to have an overview of the valley, it is possible to walk to the 1000-step cave. If the cave is not extremely interesting, the point of view from the top worth it.
By Motorbike, you will have more flexibility to ride in the valley and time to explore deeper the area, like riding along the Black river or to another village as Mai Ich to discover a less touristic village.
2 days Pu Luong – Mai Chau tour
If you don’t have too much time, this tour will be perfect. Starting from Hanoi in the morning and arriving in Pu Luong Nature Reserve for lunch, you will go around to visit the Reserve the whole afternoon. After some activities as trekking in beautiful rice fields, hunting the bamboo waterwheels, riding a bamboo rafting or exploring the biggest cave of the Reserve, you will enjoy a perfect relaxing evening on your balcony to admire the fabulous landscapes.
Next morning and after a tasty breakfast, departure in direction of the valley of Mai Chau, by car or motorbike. You can refer to the section “full day Pu Luong – Mai Chau tour” above to see the details. Then, upon your request and your travel itinerary, you will come back to Pu Luong or we will book a shuttle bus to Hanoi.
Other option if you want to focus on this wonderful area that is Pu Luong and Mai Chau, you can start from Pu Luong to spend two full days in Mai Chau. In this case, whether you go by car or motorbike, you will have plenty of time to experience many activities. You will first have an overview of the valley with the bicycle tour. It is a very classic tour but it remains the best to go around. The land is flat and it’s better to go slowly and safely while contemplating the local life.
After a local lunch, time for a trekking in the rice fields. Depending on the season and the activities of the farmers at this time, you will be invited to join them to immerse yourself in the Thai minority lifestyle.
For the overnight, you will have the choice between a traditional homestay, a middle range bungalow or a luxury one in a 5 star ecolodge.
The next day, back to some exciting activities. We will take you to remote villages to learn deeper about traditions of the Thai Minority. Walk in the village, share time with local in their house while drinking a cup of tea, enjoy lunch with them, a morning very pleasant where you will feel more the spirit of Vietnam countryside. Afternoon, stop at the Go Lao waterfall and enjoy a refreshing swim in this impressive natural jacuzzi. To end the tour, get on a kayak to float on the calm and emerald water of the Black river. After this great experience, you will board the car or the bike to come back to Pu Luong Nature Reserve or stop at Mai Chau if you need to go back to Hanoi.
TIPS: If you choose the 2 days Pu Luong – Mai Chau tour with an overnight on Mai Chau starting on a Saturday, do not miss the trip to the wonderful village of Pa Co. This H’Mong village opens every Sunday morning one of the most colorful market of the North of Vietnam. It is a great chance to learn about H’mong’s daily life. You can discover the whole process of making hemp-based traditional costumes.