Our amazing experience doing a traditional homestay in Mai Chau.
Typical houses found in Mai Chau – The gorgeous rural town just 140km from the city of Hanoi.
Toiled farmlands amidst the mountains inspires the classic image of the rural township of Mai Chau. A place where the blaring horns of nearby Hanoi are exchanged for the sounds of livestock quietly rummaging through crops directly below your stilt house’s window.
Where a simpler style of life welcomes visitors, surrounded by a tranquil setting. A place where the freshness in the air tingles your senses of taste and smell as you cruise through the highlands by bicycle.
The bucolic Mai Chau in the Hoa Binh province is home to 7 ethnic minority groups, ‘White Thai’, ‘H’Mong’, ’Zao’, ’Muong’, ’Tay’, ’Hoa’, and ‘Viet’.
Agriculture is the primary industry and it is featured prominently in the topography of the region. Alongside the rolling hills and lush vegetation, the farmlands make up the most enchanting scenery.
With the vibrant Hoa Binh Lake close by, it is an area that is deservedly increasing in popularity, but still devoid of the vast numbers of Western tourists that other destinations in Vietnam receive.
After our incredible (and slightly debaucherous) Halong Bay experience with Vietnam Backpacker Hostels, we were longing for relaxation and recuperation.
We headed off on their three day, two night Mai Chau Valley tour and found it to be the perfect retreat from the hectic city of Hanoi.
We cycled through the pastures and small villages, and rode scooters to the tops of mountains. Our accommodation was a well-equipped homestay where the food provided was perhaps the best we have come across in the country.
Every day was full of exciting adventure and astonishing vistas.
We were thankful to get to enjoy the wonders of Mai Chau and have put together this photo essay of some of the things we encountered during our time there.
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Mai Chau Valley Photo Essay
On the outskirts of town are many narrow trails that lead to high farmlands and isolated villages. With no signs or markings, from the road you will have no idea where they head. Unless you follow one…
An amazing sunset as seen from our stilt house homestay. The lack of light and air pollution ensures that skies are spectacular.
A local lady is gathering her rice after leaving it out to try. A curious dog watches on.
If you keep following some of the mountains roads outside of town you will be rewarded with vistas that reach out to the edge of the horizon. With terraced fields and tumbling vegetation you can spend hours just staring deep into the beauty of Mai Chau.
Cows and buffalo are an integral part of farming life in Vietnam. Without access to expensive machinery, it is the livestock that help make the working conditions more manageable. As a result, the cattle are treated extremely well, with ample time for grazing and relaxing between shifts.
Just outside of Mai Chau is a range of different industrial operations. We visited a chopstick factory where pieces of bamboo are fed into mechanised guillotines to cut them down into the correct size. There are no safety guards in place, so the employees with this high-risk job are paid 150’000 Vietnamese Dong (US$7) a day. Those who collect and bundle the chopsticks make 90’000VND (US$4) a day.
A man collects fresh water from a river that flows through the farmland. Although the scenery is gorgeous, it can be easy to forget that most of the residents sweat for hours every day of the week in these fields just to make enough to survive.
As you ride around the landscapes of Mai Chau you can easily fall in love with the serenity, especially when compared to the craziness of Hanoi.
We rose early to go for a walk around our homestay. Although we were up only a short while after the sun, the fields were already busy with farmers working away.
Another major industry for the lovely people of Mai Chau is weaving. Working by hand on this manual loom, a large blanket can take up to 10 days to make depending on the intricate details of the patterns.
An elderly man pushes a cart full of random belongings, both personal and for sale, through the streets of a small village in Mai Chau.
A lone woman sifts through the soil in a paddock in the heat of the day. Many field workers cover up every part of their body so as to not develop dark skin – a sign that they work outdoors and are therefore low-income earners.
Hoa Binh Lake on the outskirts of Mai Chau makes for a is one of the most picturesque bodies of water in the region. Aquaculture is a prominent source of income for most of the villagers who live within its vicinity, and now tourism is attracting more and more external visitors.
Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award winning writers and photographers behind this blog, and we have been travelling the world together since 2008. Adventure travel is our passion, and through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook
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