Mai Chau Valley Vietnam Information
Area: approximately 500 km2
Population: approximately 50,000
Ethnic minorities, markets, biking and trekking, rice paddies, traditional stilt homes.
Mai Chau Vignette:
Cameras in hand, you will be awestruck with the panorama that stretches out a 1000 meters below where you are standing to an endless valley of lushness. Green-green, patterned rice fields dotted here-and-there with ethnic minority villages of the Thai people.
Mai Chau is located in Hoa Binh province, approximately 135 km from Hanoi and 60 km from Hoa Binh. From the top of Cun Mountain, one can admire the superb panorama of Mai Chau surrounded by a green valley and stilt houses. Many minorities, including the Thai ethnic group, live in Mai Chau.
Stilt houses border both sides of the roads. The houses are quite large with palm leaf roofs and polished bamboo-slat floors. The kitchen is located in the center of the house; the cooking as well as the making of the colorful tho cam, the material used by Thai minority to make their clothes, takes place in the kitchen. The windows are large and decorated with patterns. Each house also usually has a pond to breed fish.
The Sunday market brings a lot of people into town. People from different minorities living in the mountains come to Mai Chau market to sell their specific products: honey, bananas, corn, and tho cam made by skilled Thai women. The Sunday market is also an occasion to enjoy traditional Thai dishes and to participate in traditional dances.
Mai Chau can be a base for some trekking tours to the villages around, this is with homestay overnight on the traditional houses of the H'Mong and the Thai. Worth a guided treking tour there. Tourists especially enjoy the minority specialty dishes including rice cooked in bamboo and grilled meat. They also enjoy watching traditional dancing, music performances (bronze, drums, gongs), and Thai minority singing and dancing. The remote minority villages are attractive sites for tourists.
Hoa Binh is a mountainous province located just North. It is bordered by Son La in the West, Phu Tho and Ha Tay in the North, Ha Nam and Ninh Binh in the East, and Thanh Hoa in the South. The culture of Hoa Binh combines six minorities with their own languages, traditional literature, and festivals.
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