12. April 2020 · 3 comments · Categories: Vietnam
Mai Chau.

Mai Chau.

Mai Chau is one of those places, where you tend to spend a few more days than planned. Simply because it has the good combination of being very pretty, friendly and laid back.

If you are having a longer tour around Vietnam, or Southeast Asia and need to take a break from a hectic schedule, then Mai Chau in northern Vietnam is not a bad choice. It’s only 3-4 hours by bus from Hanoi. And about the same distance to Ninh Binh, if you are coming from there.

Traditional house.

Traditional wooden house, build on stilts.

Mai Chau is a valley situated south west of Hanoi. It’s surrounded by mountains. But the valley is not that high altitude. Only about 2-300 meters above sea level.

Mai Chau valley.

The Mai Chau valley is surrounded by mountains.

The valley has some ethnic groups. Mainly people from the Thai minority. That gives the valley a nice ethnic flavour, on top of Viets, who are of course also present here. In the surrounding villages, many people still live in stilt houses. If you want to stay in these villages, it’s perfectly possible, as there are several home stays. Many of the village houses have small restaurants too, where you can eat fantastic food, for very little money.

Funky cafe.

Funky cafe, with recycled scooter tires as decoration.

The landscape is really pretty, with rice paddies and limestone mountains. I would highly recommend renting a bicycle while you are there. Cycling around the rice paddies is fairly flat and easy to cycle. Alternatively you can also hike around the valley easily.


The roads are very suitable for cycling.

Football ground.

They have a very nice football ground in town.

Football Vietnam.

And they also have one football ground with no artificial grass.

Two places I have stayed.

I have been to the valley a couple of times and have stayed in two different places. One was a cheap homestay. One was an established eco lodge. I really liked both places, but I will try to describe the difference between them here.

“Your home Mai Chau”.

This place was a small, but brand new home stay.

Your home Mai Chau is situated in a village about 1,5 kilometers from the main town in the Mai Chau valley. It’s run by a super friendly guy, who picked me up in his car. Gave me a free welcome dinner, that included a couple of beers as well. The little house I stayed in was built in traditional style on wooden stilts and was absolutely lovely. Not luxury accommodation at all. But very clean and very hospitable.

Your home Mai Chau, home stay.

Your home Mai Chau, home stay.

Mai Chau Lodge.

My second stay was at Mai Chau lodge. That place is an established lodge that is comparable to a 3 or 4 star hotel. Really nice rooms and an excellent restaurant with nice views over the valley. Staff at the lodge were excellent. And they have free bicycles that you can borrow if you stay there. Highly recommended if you want to stay at a place that is a little upscale.

Getting to and from Mai Chau.

From Hanoi you have several busses a day to the valley. Several companies serve that route. So you should have little problems getting a bus to or from Hanoi to the valley. The ride takes about 4 hours with the bus, as the busses tend to stop in several villages along the way. If you are coming from, or going to Ninh Binh, there is only one company from what I know. It’s a company called Thai’s travel bus. They drive between Mai Chau and Ninh Binh daily, in a bus that has a very good standard. They are highly recommended.


Thai's travel bus.

Thai’s travel bus.


  1. This looks an ideal place in which to chill for a few days. If we return to Hanoi, which I would love to do, I’ll remember this as an option – the eco-lodge looks like just our sort of place 🙂

  2. Hi mate,

    I cannot believe I have not found your website before now and I see it is still active which is good.

    You are obviously out of your comfort zone, as you say in a recent post here, as are we all. I actually found your site when I searched on “Red Pirates Boracay”. I had been re-reading my old blog on blogspot which I had before I got my own site and found you because you wrote about it. You even had a picture of me playing in there! I am flattered. I have you bookmarked now so I’ll be able to follow you. Can you believe me having my own website? You know I can’t even answer my mobile!.

    I see from another comment here that Sarah is still in touch with you, she is one of not too many of the old VT crew I am still in regular contact with as I don’t use antisocial media, as you know. Her, Lesley, Jo (the old “London Calling” crew) and a few others went out for a meal just before Xmas, it seems like a lifetime ago now.

    Like you, I am spending a bit of time getting some blog stuff done, I am transferring some old VT travelogues that I managed to save when Tillman put in that fix just before VT was murdered. I suspect we are all going slightly mad now (or madder than we already were in our case) trying to find things to do. It is killing me not being able to travel and it must be so much worse for you as it is your job. I know you did the right thing going back to Denmark but I am sure the thought of a Vietnamese beach bar seems very appealing now. Would you believe that after all these years travelling in SEA, I still have not managed to get there?

    Anyway, enough of me rambling on, it is great to have a way of keeping in touch now. As I say, I am doing a lot on my pwn blog now and am currently doing a 150 mile walk I did round London a few years back called the London LOOP. When I finished that I was going to write up my time in Madeira with you, that was a great trip and shows how mad we both are.

    Do you remember you posted on VT that you were there and asked, half jokingly I suppose, if anyone wanted to come and meet up? Within two hours I had my flight and lovely little apartment booked and was on a ‘plane a few days later. It was a great trpi and thanks so much. Have you been back there since? I loved the place and would like to go back some time.

    Now that we have “established comms” as we used to say in my former life, let’s keep in touch.

    Speak soon,


    • Great to hear form you Fergy. I have been checking your blog regularly. Good to see that you are still alive and kicking. Would be great if we could meet for a few pints again, once it becomes a little easier to hop on a plane and visit each other in various corners of the globe. Greetings from rural Denmark.

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