MAI CHAU, PU LONG(2 DAYS, 1 NIGHT)
Mai Chau and Pu Long Nature Reserve
Mai Chau is a district of Hoa Binh province. A remote, rural part of North Vietnam near the Laos border. It is one of the most spectacular places to visit but yet not spoiled by mass tourism like places as Sapa. Dense forests, lakes, rivers, mountains and small villages give this area a unique atmosphere. Mai Chau is the land of many ethnic minorities, namely the White Thai, Muong, H’Mong and Dao. Because of the remote location these minorities still live the life the way their people has been living for centuries. They live in traditional wooden stilt houses, grow rice and manioc and each minority has its own language. The people are very friendly and open towards foreigners. We dare to say this is probably the nicest destination in North Vietnam where culture, nature and adventure comes together.
Pu Long Nature Reserve lies on the border of the provinces of Hoa Binh, Ninh Binh and Thanh Hoa, they can boasts about rich forests, limestone panoramas, rich biodiversity, magnificent rice terraces and breathtaking scenery. It is home to the Thai and Muong minorities who live in small traditional villages in the mountainous bamboo forests and valleys. It offers great opportunities for trekking and hiking.
Although still far away from “civilization”, especially Mai Chau but it is more and more discovered by tourism. On one hand, this gives the local people an extra source of income and the means to further develop their living standard, on the other hand it somehow takes away the unique feeling of discovering a new world.
Therefore we organize specialized tours that take you off the beaten track, away from the mainstream touristical destinations and into the heart of the country. By strong 4WD car you can take roads and visit areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Our guides will take you for trekking by paths unknown to any one else. You will stay with families in home stays that are not visited by other tour groups. You may not meet any other travelers for days!
Our guide will lead you trekking through rice fields, manioc plantations, villages and over mountains, through rivers and waterfalls. You will eat local specialties in local “restaurants”, stay in basic but comfortable stilt houses and hike over small, sometimes strenuous unpaved paths through the splendid nature.
Together with our guides we can organize tailor-made trips from 2 and up till 7 days, but from our experience we can offer some fixed tours that we are sure of will give you the best of what Pu Long has to offer.
Because of the distance from Tam Coc ( around 150 – 175 km), two day tours are the minimum. If your travel schedule permits you to, we suggest to go for 3 or 4 days or more to get really away from the outside world.
Schedule and times mentioned below are not a strict scheme, but more an indication of what to expect. Our guides are flexible and can improvise whenever you like to stop somewhere or stay longer than originally planned. Also please keep in mind that weather conditions may have an impact on the trip. Rainfall or storms can make roads inaccessible, turn small streams into rough rivers and block roads with fallen trees, but your guide will find a way around.
08.00: Leave from The Long hotel by 4WD car for Mai Chau. You will be travelling about 150km, on countryside roads so prepare to spend some time in the car.
The car will stop on the way, to visit a pineapple plantation, buy some groceries at a local market or just to take some pictures.
12.00: Lunch in Man Duc town.
13.00: A short 2 km hike through the countryside. From a distance you can see 3 beautiful waterfalls almost 100 meters high.
14.30: Continue to Mai Chau
15.30: Arrive in the area of Mai Chau. The town itself isn’t very interesting so you should go to Lac handicraft village nearby for some shopping and walking around.
17,00: Two option:
- Continue to the standard homestay in Van village.
- Go to a Muong homestay on an island in Long Ho lake. (This costs 200.000VND extra for the boat. This is in total, not per person, for both ways)
Bot homestays are far from the touristic places.
18.00: Arrive in homestay, have some free time dinner with the family and of course some home-made Vietnamese rice wine!
07.00: Breakfast, if you stay on the island there is time for a quick swim
08.00: Take ( a boat back to ) the car and spend the rest of the morning trekking around Mai Chau and visit a Thai village.
12.00: Lunch in a local restaurant.
13.00: Return to either Tam Coc or Hanoi.
16.30 – 17.00: Arrive in Tam Coc or Hanoi.