Location: In Hoa Binh Province, in the northwest of Vietnam
Population: 48,570 (in 2003)
Area: 520 sq.km
Special features: beautiful scenes and unique ethnic culture
Leave noisy and busy metropolis behind, domestic and foreign tourists head towards Mai Chau to start their pleasant journey of exploring charming scenes and unique culture of ethnic identities. This lovely rural district is known as the culture and eco-attraction of Hoa Binh province in the northwest of Vietnam, about 160 km far from Hanoi.
At a height of 200 to 1500 meters above the sea level, Mai Chau glories in a cool climate all year round. This wonderful land is in the heart of a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains like a precious treasure secured by giant guards. From the French colony, the conquerors found Mai Chau and often came there for holidays. Up to now, Mai Chau has turned out as an attractive and popular destination in the north of Vietnam. Its beauty always satisfies the most hard-to-please eyes: lovable stilt houses queuing as a line in a vast green paddy field perfectly combine with the scenic landscapes as a powerful lure that you cannot resist. The distinguishing ethnic culture with the traditional custom of the local also an authentic value you should not miss.
Along the mountainous road to Mai Chau, stop and stand atop in Kun slope and admire the magnificent view of towering mountains with twisty roads halfway up to the top. Arriving in Mai Chau, you long-held dream of a relaxing but exotic vacation is come to the reality. Take time to witness the complex of houses on stilts of the residents, especially of those who live in Lac and Pom Coong villages. They are Thai people - the largest group among the seven ethnic minority groups inhabiting in Mai Chau. They have changed their traditional house in to a micro tourist attraction serving every visitor. Every single stilt house is a small works with the carefully constructed and built in the same style: placed on several strong wooden pillars at the height of about 1.5 m above the ground and the floor is paved with bamboo or planks, the roof is covered with fan-palms or tiles. The windows of each house are very large and always open widely to catch fresh wind. Some owners pay much attempt to display or hang on these windows some colorful orchid baskets and bird cages, making a vivid and compelling image. In particular, virtually in any house, exits a loom to weave clothes laid nearby a window or under the floor. With these simple wood-made looms, by meticulously diligence and skillfulness,Thai girls have produced beautiful and bright-color patterned cloth used in in bags, clothes, blankets, cushions and other lovely items as souvenirs for tourists. Around these stilt houses are straight lines of areca trees and a few stone-embanked ponds with the pond's surface is embellished by pink water-lily flowers. The beauty of each house like a color adding into the great charm of Mai Chau and make it a dreamy land. In the early morning or in the afternoon, standing on the top of Thung Khe or Nhuoi Valley, visitors can enjoy the fantasy and miraculous scene as the smoke of each kitchen mixed with the mist on the air.
The main claim of Mai Chau is not only the scene but also its kind-hearted inhabits and fine cuisine. Come to the village, tourists can immerse themselves in a cozy atmosphere as the owners invite them to drink local wine and eat sticky rice, grilled meat or steamed fresh fish. All of these dishes are traditional specialties of Thai. In the dark comes, the tourist can mingle themselves in the melody of Thai dances, the sweet loving songs and the passionately eyes of young girls and boys. Pleasantly tipsy with the wine yeast and the mellow singings, the tourists then will enjoy their deep sleep in the warm blankets in a traditional stilt house.
The sincerity and simplicity becomes its own charms for the tourism of Mai Chau to "take off". The tourism development associated with handicraft reservation, based on a combination of harmony between tradition and modernity, Mai Chau has gradually become a pearl of Vietnam. Not only because of the beauty of nature but also due to the sparkle of the ethnic culture elite, Mai Chau is definitely listed as must-visit place in the country.