When we first drove into the rural town of Mai Chau, the landscape looked familiar- green rice fields everywhere, reminding me of Bali. Nestled in a valley surrounded by green mountain scenery, Mai Chau is a lesser-known travel destination, with few tourists to be seen during our one night stay.
Our accommodation was a homestay in a traditional stilt house, one of many throughout the town of Mai Chau. The house was made entirely of bamboo, which was surprisingly very strong and sturdy. The large room we stayed in had mattresses on the floor, mosquito nets to protect us from the bugs at night, and open windows with views of the glistening rice fields.
After settling in to our room upstairs at the homestay, we went back downstairs for lunch. We were served many different plates of food, from fresh salads, to delicious marinated meats, followed by fresh pineapple.
We then wandered down the road to the markets, where local people sold an abundance of items such as bracelets and clothing. The markets were quiet, and the best part about them was that there was no need to haggle as the lovely locals would just straight up give you a great price. We decided this would be a great place to do some shopping, so we ended up buying bags, bracelets and little purses, before heading back to the homestay.
What better way to explore a town than taking a leisurely bike ride through the streets? We all grabbed bicycles and set off after our guide, a local lady whose parents owned the homestay. We rode past the markets, stilt houses, animals, rice fields and hard working locals going about their daily business. We passed people’s homes, a local school, and even spotted a few huge water buffalos, which are used to plow the rice fields due to their great strength. A bike ride through the town was a great way to see Mai Chau and the way of life that the local people live.
Just before sunset, we headed up to the Sunset Bar, which was just a short five-minute walk from our homestay. Although there wasn’t actually much of a sunset, it was a nice place to grab a quiet drink with a view.
Back at the homestay, we were served dinner which consisted of many different sharing plates. Once again, delicious! It wasn’t long before the alcohol was brought out- one of the owners of the homestay brought out rice wine, also known as ‘happy water.’ We were each poured shots, which we drank in a ritual like manner, chanting ‘Mot, Hai, Ba, Zo!’ which means ‘1,2,3, Cheers!’ in Vietnamese. We all got a little tipsy off the potent drink and shared stories before showering and heading to bed to get some sleep, as we had a super early wake up the next morning. The mattress was very comfortable and I felt nice and cozy surrounded by my blanket and mosquito net… in fact it was one of my favourite places we stayed in Vietnam!
I definitely could have stayed an extra night in the beautiful town of Mai Chau, as it was just a really cool town to relax and enjoy your surroundings, without the hustle and bustle of the crazy traffic in the main cities of Vietnam.