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Exploring Mai Chau: A 48-Hour Adventure in Northern Vietnam

48 Hours in Mai Chau

Mai Chau, approximately 2 and a half hours from Hanoi by car, serves as an ideal destination for weekend getaways.

Nestled in a valley amidst limestone cliffs, Mai Chau is situated 135 kilometers from Hanoi.

It captivates both domestic and international tourists with its natural allure, culinary delights, and the rich cultural heritage of the Thai and Muong ethnic groups.

The following 48-hour itinerary is crafted based on the experiences of photographer Pham Tu and a reporter from VnExpress.

Day 1 Hanoi - Mai Chau

Morning and Afternoon

Embark on a journey from Hanoi to Mai Chau, which takes about 2.5 hours. The convenient route along Thang Long Avenue - Hoa Binh Expressway passes through scenic attractions such as Cao Phong, Tan Lac, and Thung Khe Pass.

Upon reaching the center of Mai Chau town, proceed to Hang Kia - Pa Co valley, approximately 40 kilometers away.

These two adjacent communes are enveloped by rocky mountains and still retain many cultural elements and traditional crafts of the Hmong people, such as hand-weaving, brocade embroidery, indigo dyeing, and beeswax painting.

Hang Kia - Pa Co is also home to a celestial gate, where visitors ascending to its peak can immerse themselves in a sea of ethereal white clouds.

"The sea of clouds at Hang Kia hovers at a visibility-lowering level, giving the sensation of standing atop the clouds," remarked Mr. Tu.

Compared to other renowned cloud-hunting locations in Vietnam like Ta Xua and Y Ty in Ha Giang, Hang Kia - Pa Co offers a relatively tranquil ambiance with fewer tourists, allowing ample opportunities to capture the grandeur and poetry of nature from various angles," Mr. Tu added.

The ideal time for cloud hunting in Hang Kia - Pa Co is from November to April when clouds are abundant and picturesque, particularly from 5 am to 9 am. In case of missed cloud sightings, visitors can relax atop the peak, savor a cup of coffee, admire the scenery, and snap photos for a fee of 20,000 VND.

Enjoy lunch at Pa Co, where visitors can indulge in a catfish hotpot priced at around 120,000 to 150,000 VND per person, or explore other delicacies available in the Pa Co market area, such as bun cha and vermicelli noodles.


Return to Lac village for dinner. On average, each meal costs between 100,000 to 200,000 VND per person, served family-style. Opt for a variety of local specialties, including grilled chicken, Ban pork, stir-fried buffalo meat with bamboo shoots, stir-fried beef with sour bamboo shoots, bamboo-tube rice, and mustard greens.

Spend the night in Lac village's budget accommodations. Private rooms range from 300,000 to 500,000 VND per night, featuring attached bathrooms.

Collective stilt houses accommodating 10 to 20 people are available at approximately 1 million to 1.2 million VND per night, with shared toilets.

Alternatively, for those seeking luxury, consider staying in resorts such as Mai Chau Ecolodge, Mai Chau Lodge, Mai Chau Hideaway Lake Resort, Mai Chau Mountain View Resort, or Sol Bungalows Resort, with prices ranging from 1 million to 3 million VND per night.

Avana Retreat, located in Bao La commune, offers upscale accommodations starting from 5 million VND per night.

Day 2


Have breakfast and coffee in Lac village center. While breakfast options in Mai Chau are not extensive, visitors can choose from dishes like vermicelli, pho, or Western-style fare such as bread and fried eggs.

Explore Mai Chau town aboard the tram service. Electric cars are available for touring villages in Mai Chau, including Lac village, Pom Coong village, and Nhot village, at a cost of 400,000 VND for a trip with 8 people or 600,000 VND for 12 people.

The duration of the visit depends on visitors' preferences, typically lasting 2-3 hours. The tram can stop anywhere, allowing passengers to explore and then resume the journey.

"Tram drivers are usually locals who possess a good knowledge of the area's history and life, doubling as tour guides," noted Mr. Tu. Visitors also have the option to customize their itinerary. The electric car fare is priced per trip, at 10,000 VND per person.

Besides the electric car, visitors can explore Mai Chau town by bicycle.


Return to Hanoi, making stops along the way to visit notable attractions in Hoa Binh such as Thung Khe Pass, renowned for its White Stone Pass, a popular check-in spot for young people. Don't forget to purchase Cao Phong oranges as souvenirs.

Enjoy lunch in Hoa Binh city, where numerous restaurants line Da Giang Street along the Da River.

Note that Mai Chau starts to experience heat from late March to early April, although evenings remain chilly. Visitors should pack accordingly.

Alternative Choice

The schedule for Days 1 and 2 can be adjusted based on preferences, as clouds typically appear only in the morning.

Private Transfer Service from Hanoi Airport to Mai Chau: Car & Van Options

Asia Transport presents convenient and luxurious private transfer options via Car, Minibus, and Van Limousine (with capacities ranging from 7 to 18 passengers) to Mai Chau, accompanied by an English-speaking driver.

Our services include complimentary amenities such as free WiFi and water at no additional charge.

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