Mai Chau travel guide

Mai Chau is the perfect respite from the craziness of Hanoi. It’s a serene, relaxing rural idyll, and the vivid green paddy fields will match your picture postcard fantasies of the Vietnamese countryside. It’s a good way to meet one of the ethnic minority groups in a setting that’s neither too touristy nor too inaccessibly off-the-beaten-track. And a bamboo stilt house really is a pretty memorable place to spend the night....

Mai Chau is the perfect respite from the craziness of Hanoi. It’s a serene, relaxing rural idyll, and the vivid green paddy fields will match your picture postcard fantasies of the Vietnamese countryside. It’s a good way to meet one of the ethnic minority groups in a setting that’s neither too touristy nor too inaccessibly off-the-beaten-track. And a bamboo stilt house really is a pretty memorable place to spend the night.

Best Time to Visit 
For hot (but not too hot), sunny weather, October-November and February-May are the best times to go. In December, January and sometimes February too, the weather can get pretty chilly. However, the stilt houses have no shortage of fluffy blankets to keep you warm at night; staying cool in the summer, however, is more of an issue. The stilt houses usually have fans but even then so they can get uncomfortably hot between June and September. In addition, these months are the rainiest, which makes outdoor exploring more problematic. 
There is a market on Sundays which brings together different minority groups from the surrounding area, but given the higher numbers of weekend tourists (see ‘Stay away from’) this is not necessarily a reason to time your visit for a Sunday. 

Where to Stay 
The stilt house home stays all offer essentially the same thing for the same price (currently 50,000 dong excluding meals), so there is little point in recommending one over the other here. If you plan to stay in a stilt house, the best thing to do is walk around the villages (they’re very close, Lac starts where Pom Coong ends) and see which location you like best. Also check if there are other people staying – the rooms are communal so if you want more privacy you should go for one that has no other guests, and hope no-one else turns up! 

Where & What to Eat 
In short: in your home stay or hotel. There isn’t really any other choice, unless you head into Mai Chau itself, where there is the usual range of small rice and pho places. Home stays usually serve breakfast and dinner as standard but these are not included in the price of your stay. Breakfast is usually western (bread, jam, fruit etc) unless you request otherwise, and dinner is a spread of various home-cooked dishes. 
In short: in your home stay or hotel. There isn’t really any other choice, unless you head into Mai Chau itself, where there is the usual range of small rice and pho places. Home stays usually serve breakfast and dinner as standard but these are not included in the price of your stay. Breakfast is usually western (bread, jam, fruit etc) unless you request otherwise, and dinner is a spread of various home-cooked dishes

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