When living amidst the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, sometimes the perfect getaway involves hiking mountain trails, moonlit walks, and just watching the fireflies.
Mai Chau in Hoa Binh Province is perfect for reconnecting with nature and is famous for beautiful and lush valleys, rice fields and mountains. The province is located around 135 km south-west of Hanoi and it is full of culture as it is home to a variety of ethnic minority groups.
For our stay we checked into the luxury Mai Chau Lodge on a late summer afternoon. It is a big house with a yellow-brown thatched roof, includes 16 deluxe rooms and one junior suite, and is located next to a small lake, mountains and rice field.
My room had a mountain view, and in the darkness I felt the fresh mountain air and smelled a comforting straw fragrance in the wind. The room is very cozy with Mai Chau brocade decorations, but I wasn’t going to stay inside for long. There was a performance by a group from the Thai ethnic minority waiting for us at the restaurant.
Thai people love dancing and they are famous for exotic dances in vibrant costumes including múa s?p (a famous dance with long bamboo sticks or umbrellas). The performance features flowers, daily agriculture activities, and romantic dating songs of the mountain people.
There was a gorgeous full moon, so after dinner we went for a walk in a small lane passing through the green field that linked our hotel with the little village.
It is so quiet there. I was surrounded by a spectacular and peaceful landscape, which was created by a mysterious silver-grey mountain fog, the bright moonlight, and the remote lights from the open windows of the house in the village. The moving sparkle of the rare motorbike, and the tiny fire-flies in the field were absolutely mesmerizing. The contrast of these lights on the darkness of the night reconnected me with nature.
During a holiday at Mai Chau Lodge, guests can try local vegetables and flavors such as green bean, black mushroom, fish and chicken cooked in Muong or Thai ethnic minority style, as well as Western dishes. After an active day visiting villages in Mai Chau and climbing the mountain, the food becomes that much more satisfying and delicious.
There is a swimming pool and Jacuzzi at Mai Chau Lodge, however we spent most of the time outside visiting the village and biking.
The next morning when I woke up, it was a bit late to visit a Sunday market of local people. Fortunately, the resort suggested some tours with a bicycle and tour guide. For those who enjoy hiking, a trip to Pong Kong Village or Mo Luong Cave is a good option.
We decided to go with a special promotion tour to the Hoa Binh reservoir, the largest reservoir in Vietnam, which boasts some great kayaking. There are both half-day and full-day tours to choose from. The tour includes two hours hiking, visiting mountains, a forest, waterfall and local tribal villages. For the grand finale, we kayaked and enjoyed the Hoa Binh reservoir. The tour included transportation from the lodge, a tour guide and lunch.