Holidays in Mai Chau & Pu Luong

The regions of Mai Chau and Pu Luong are rural Vietnam at its most alluring, with beautiful scenery, minority villages and sleepy towns. Both areas are great spots for those who simply want to relax in picturesque surroundings, but there is also some fantastic trekking and cycling to enjoy amongst the lush scenery, and opportunities to meet local hilltribes & farmers.

Mai Chau Pu Luong

Breathtaking mountain landscapes, vibrant paddy fields and trails linking hill-tribe villages, Mai Chau and nearby Pu Luong are ideal places for getting back to nature and generally breathing in the fresh country air. While places like Sapa are very popular for trekking, Mai Chau and Pu Luong in the north of Vietnam, are closer to Hanoi, making them easier to wrap into a Vietnam itinerary. Plus, they’re a little more off the beaten track, so perfect for those wanting to escape the crowds.

“Mai Chau is one of my favourite parts of Vietnam to get off the beaten track, it’s just 4 hours from Hanoi but worlds away from the chaos of city life and hordes of people. I love to start the day with an early morning yoga class with misty views over the mountains, followed by a trek through the rice terraces and local villages, where you might not see another tourist. Then end with a dip in the heated infinity pool at Avana Retreat, as the sun sets, and the clouds begin to settle again.” Hannah Mackie – Senior Travel Specialist, Asia

What to See and Do in Mai Chau & Pu Luong

These two neighbouring areas offer the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture, particularly to see how the different minority ethnic groups of Vietnam live, from the homes they’ve built on stilts into the hillside, to the crafts they make. Whether you’re in Vietnam with your family, friends or on honeymoon, read on to discover the best things to do in Mai Chau and Pu Luong.

Trekking in Pu Luong Nature Reserve.

Pu Luong Nature Reserve offers some of the most magnificent scenery in Vietnam, with stunning valleys, lush rice terraces and winding rivers punctuated by wooden water wheels. It is also a brilliant opportunity to get off the beaten track without feeling too far from civilisation; it is only around 90 minutes from Mai Chau and can be done as a day trip from here.

 Explore Ethnic Villages

Even if trekking isn’t your thing, there are plenty of opportunities to visit the ethnic villages around Mai Chau and Pu Luong like Lac and Pom Coong. There are six ethnic minority groups living in the hills surrounding Mai Chau, the largest of which are the White Thai, then there are the Muong and Hmong too. Each lives in their own settlements, often in stilt, bamboo houses, maintaining their traditional way of life and customs. The Muong and Thai women are gifted weavers, and you’ll often see them working at their looms on their front porches or selling colourful scarves and textiles at the markets. The Hmong, meanwhile, are known for their batik effect of painting traditional patterns on hemp using beeswax. Look out for one of the Thai festivals too, which are held throughout the year, when you’ll see songs and dances performed to honour their god, ancestors and other spiritual forces. Visiting these villages is one of the most enriching things to do in Mai Chau.

Go cycling

The flat paddy fields in Mai Chau are perfect for cycling around and with little traffic in the area, it’s a peaceful ride. This is another way to see the landscape and villages, going at your own pace to stop where you like and take in the surroundings, sights, and people.

Chieu Cave

Find solace in the cool depths of Chieu Cave when it is especially hot outside. The 150m long cave is on two floors and found at the top of 1,200 steps – which are not steep. Inside are endless stalactites and stalagmites, as well as mesmerising reflective pools of water.

Visit local markets

Open-air food markets like Bao La sell fresh Vietnamese ingredients and food to try, such as delicious doughnuts. Head off for a tour of the market to see unusual and exciting produce, some you might have heard of before and some quite extraordinary. It’s a sight for the senses! There is also a large market on Sundays, where many of the hilltribe people come to sell handicrafts and other local produce.

When to Go to Mai Chau & Pu Luong

The best time to visit Mai Chau and Pu Luong is March/April/May and September/October/November. In October, the rice harvest takes place, and the fields turn from green to gold. Avoid monsoon season in July and August when the weather in Mau Chai is very rainy.

Learn more about the best time to visit Vietnam.

Where to Stay in Mai Chau & Pu Luong

Sitting up high, as if in the clouds, and looking down at the valley below, Avana Retreat is enveloped by rice fields, waterfalls, bamboo forests, and majestic mountains, with the mist moving through them. Sustainability and a holistic way of living are at the heart of this hotel, which employed people from the local community to build it (and now work there) using traditional Hmong and Thai techniques. The 36 villas are made with thatched roofs, earth walls, woven rattan ceilings, warm wood interiors and are furnished with local arts and crafts. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place to be, with impeccable service and lots of engaging activities on offer like kayaking, picnics, and dinner at the nearby Pung Waterfall. Plus, there are charming experiences for children, including ceramics workshops, rattan-making classes and kite flying. The gorgeous three-tiered infinity pool looks out over the rice fields and waterfall nearby – the perfect place for a cocktail at the end of a day.

Another lovely option for Mai Chau accommodation is the Mai Chau Ecolodge. Also authentic in its style, the hotel is built using natural materials and sits outside the Na Phon Village in the Mai Chau Valley. It has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, with lots of activities on offer – from bike rides to guided hikes, and it is well located to visit the sights of the area, especially local villages. Back at the hotel, there’s a welcoming swimming pool, massages in the spa and delicious local cuisine to try.

FAQs for Mai Chau & Pu Luong

  • How do I get to Pu Luong Nature Reserve?

    Pu Luong Nature Reserve is around 90 minutes from Mai Chau and can be visited as a day trip from there via private transfer, or in four to five hours from Hanoi via private transfer as well. The area is still in the very early stages of tourism; therefore, accommodation tends to be homestays or fairly basic lodges. Western visitors should not expect locals to speak much English, so we recommend staying in Mai Chau.

  • How do you get around in Mai Chau?

    Bicycle, walking or taking Jeep tours are the best ways to get around Mai Chau.

  • How do you get to Mai Chau Vietnam?

    Mai Chau is four to five hours from Hanoi, Scott Dunn will arrange a private car transfer for you between the two locations.

  • How many days do you need in Mai Chau?

    You need three to four days in Mai Chau to relax and make the most of the beautiful, serene landscape.

  • What animals are in Pu Luong?

    Pu Luong is a bird-watching paradise with various species of birds, including the red-vented barbet, green-eared barbet, white-cheeked laughingthrush, and white-throated fantail. The area is also inhabited by mammals such as the Asian black bear, clouded leopard, civets, and several species of langurs and gibbons. You might also see lizards, snakes and frogs, butterflies and insects, as well as fish in the rivers.

Call us on 020 3918 3595 to start planning your holiday

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