Mai Chau is a small townlet hidden in a valley and limestone cliffs, about 135km from Hanoi. It is home to majestic natural beauty, culinary and unique culture of the Thai and H'mong ethnic minority people.

Below is a 48-hour journey suggested by photographer Pham Tu and a VnExpress reporter.

First day

It takes about two and a half hours to travel from Hanoi to Mai Chau. The recommended route is Thang Long Highway - Hoa Binh Expressway, passing through attractions such as Cao Phong, Tan Lac, Thung Khe Pass.

Breath-taking views from Hang Kia

After arriving at the center of Mai Chau townlet, you move on to Hang Kia - Pa Co valley, about 40km from the center. Hang Kia and Pa Co are two communes located next to each other. They are surrounded by rocky mountains featuring the culture and traditional crafts of the H’mong ethnic people. The valley is famous for the sky gate. Climbing to the sky gate, visitors can immerse themselves in the sea of white floating clouds.

Unlike other well-known cloud hunting locations in Vietnam, including Ta Xua, Y Ty and Ha Giang, there are few visitors coming to Hang Kia - Pa Co. Therefore, you can easily choose a corner to capture the whole majesty of nature. 

From November to April, and between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m., it is the ideal time to hunt clouds in Hang Kia - Pa Co. If you cannot hunt clouds, you can sip a cup of coffee and take some photos at a cost of VND 20,000.

For lunch in Pa Co, visitors can enjoy a lang fish (Hemibagrus) hotpot, worth about VND 120,000 to VND 150,000 per person, or try many other dishes in Pa Co market.

Visitors should try local specialties.

At night, you can return to Lac village and have a meal. Visitors should try local specialties, including grilled chicken, pork skewers, stir-fried buffalo meat, stir-fried beef with sour bamboo shoots, rice in bamboo tubes, and others.

Regarding where to stay overnight in Lac village, you can rent affordable motels with a total cost of VND 300,000 to VND 500,000 per night or rent a wooden stilt house for 10-20 people that charges from VND 1 to 1.2 million a night with shared bathrooms.

Additionally, visitors can stay in resorts such as Mai Chau Ecolodge, Mai Chau Lodge, Mai Chau Hideaway Lake Resort, Mai Chau Mountain View Resort, Sol Bungalows Resort, whose prices range from VND 1 million to 3 million a night. Avana Retreat in Bao La commune is a luxury resort, located about 30 km from the center of Mai Chau townlet, with prices from VND 5 million VND per night.

Second day

On the second day, you can choose rice vermicelli, “Pho,” or bread with fried eggs for breakfast and then sip a cup of coffee at several coffee shops with beautiful views, including Lop Lac Cac Café, Stones and Trees Café, Sol Cafe and Lounge, Canh Dong Café, and Hua Tong Café.

At Stones and Trees Café

While coming back to Hanoi, you can stop and visit some famous places in Hoa Binh, such as Thung Ke Pass and Cao Phong townlet, and then have lunch in Hoa Binh city. The weather in Mai Chau is hot from late March to early April; however, it is a bit chilly in the evening. You should prepare suitable clothes.

Alternative option

The schedule for the first and second days can change as clouds usually appear in the morning and Pa Co market only opens on Sundays. The market often sells local products and brocades of the H’mong, Thai, and Muong ethnic people. If you have more time, you can visit other spots, including Mu waterfall, Chieu and Mo Luong caves, to name but a few. Visitors can also rent a bicycle to explore local places or take a boat ride on the Da (Black) River.

Visitors can ride bikes around Mai Chau townlet.

Source: VnExpress

Translated by Quynh Oanh