Mai Chau in Vietnam - Idyllic valley of Thai people

Mai Chau, an idyllic valley in north – west, is one of the most popular destinations while travel in Vietnam to plunge into the pure nature and to discover the life of the Thai people, one of 54 ethnic groups living in this country. All travelers in this region will have the opportunity to experience the pleasant feeling when they plunge into the green clouds, mountains and vast rice fields seeming to be endless greenery of Mai Chau.

Mai Chau in Vietnam

Distinguishing feature of tourism in Mai Chau:

Mai Chau is located in north – west of Hanoi. After crossing the passes as Thung Khe Thung Nhuoi ..., you will admire the beauty of the green mountains, tropical vegetation, limestone cliffs ... on the road to go to there. Situated at about 130 km from Hanoi or about 4 hours drive with stops, you will find peace in Mai Chau valley with the villages of Thai people living in wooden houses on stilts under new colors. For everyone, Mai Chau hides still things that you have to stop to discover them.

The first impression when you approach Mai Chau is the endless green color covering the entire poetic valley on which the roofs of traditional houses overlook peacefully but also majestically. The morning air is always fresh. When the sun's rays do not pass through the high mountains, it would be better to wake up to start the day with a walk or a bike ride through villages. You will feel strangely refreshing while breathing fresh air of Mai Chau’s morning. You will cross the lush forests of green bamboo, small rivers covered by pastoral flowers murmuring along the green and undulated rice fields until the horizon.

Somewhere on your way, you'll meet the inhabitants who go to the fields ... the sun which overcomes the green mountains project the first rays on the fertile valley of Mai Chau to illuminate the parcels of rice fields. At noon, it's time to return to your family to enjoy the delicious gastronomic specialties of Thai people, to celebrate your stay in Mai Chau with local sake...

In addition to familiar villages like Lac, Pom Coong ... where you can de shopping of local crafts made by women of the village, especially weaving products. The shops are often under the floor of a family. Or just take your camera to wander to other villages to discover the beauty of the landscapes of Mai Chau and everyday life of the very welcoming people...

While talking about Mai Chau, we can not forget to think of the villages of the Thai people where you will see many mothers sitting to take care of work of weaving, the men carefully carve crafts. In addition, one of the most memorable souvenirs is to take part in a folklore show with the girls and boys of the village. You will sing traditional songs, admire young people in traditional colorful dress dancing with seductive smiles. You will end your show with the cheerful dance of bamboo…Although the beauty of Mai Chau is simple as a girl of the high mountains, but it is still radiant and attractive in the eyes of all romantic pilgrims.

Mai Chau in Vietnam

The populations in Mai Chau:

Mai Chau is peacefully lived by several peoples. In 2014, the population was 53,944 people: Thais people occupy 60.2%, Muong 15.07%, Kinh 15.56%, Hmong 6.91% and Dao 2.06%.

Origin of the Thai people:

The Thai people of Vietnam in general or in Mai Chau in particular belongs the Austro-Asiatic language community, including many branches, each branch is divided into several groups with different names depending on different regions. However, clearly and according to the division of the Thais themselves, there are two groups: white Thai and black Thai.

The Thai people in Vietnam have common origin with Thai groups in south of China, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. We can say that the ancestors of the Thais are original of the Bach Viet groups living in south of China until the north - east of Vietnam. They acquired rice as the main food crop to create the civilization of irrigated rice.

During the early years before Jesus Christ, because of the oppression of the Han people or the majority people in the actual China, a part of the Thai people migrated to southern China, the actual Indochina. During the first centuries AD, the Thai people founded the small kingdoms in Laos, north - west of Vietnam...

The origin of the Thai people in Mai Chau becomes clearer because we found an annals book in Mai Ha village of the Mai Chau Valley. This is the genealogy book of Ha Cong family who recorded continuously activities while arriving in Mai Chau in the late 13th century to early 14th century.

The ancestors of Thai people in Mai Chau from the basin region of the Red River, in the province of Lao Cai (One the Vietnamese provinces sharing the border with China where Sapa is located), followed the Red River and the Black River to settle in the actual Mai Chau Valley and other regions around since 700 years ago.

Mai Chau in Vietnam

Some cultural aspects:

As the Thai people living in other regions in general, Thais in Mai Chau have writing and their own traditional customs. The culture of the Thais in Mai Chau is represented by the customs and practices of typical traditional festivals, marriage, funeral rites, architecture ... with the cult masters making mysterious and unusual things that are not easily explained by science.

In the past, the Thai people in Mai Chau had numerous festivals as: Festival to ask rain, festival to ask happiness, Xen Muong ... However, for various historical reasons, the war ... many festivals are lost. Until 2010, Mai Chau rebuilt the "Xen Muong Festival" to organize annually - A very important festival for the cultural and spiritual life of the peoples in Mai Chau. The ceremonies are presided by the prestigious cult masters to demand the good weather, good harvest, prosperity ... the festival activities are the dances of boys, girls in traditional costumes, folk games, exhibitions of weaving products, demonstration of the typical gastronomy of Mai Chau ...

In a year, the Thais in Mai Chau have several festivals including the New Rice festival to close a production cycle and begin another is very important. Each family celebrates this festival twice a year. After harvesting, the owner prepares a hearty meal to offer to their ancestors and to celebrate new agricultural products.

The festival of New Rice is the gathering of families of the same lineage, the joy of everyone in the village after a year of hard work. It's time to relax, enjoy the fun, to express respect for ancestors. The feast day is moment of the cross between the old and the new season, between heaven and earth, the moment of the creation of the sacred link between community’s members to move towards the good things of life of the Thai people.

In Mai Chau, the Thai people’s marriage also has the unique aspects. Before her wedding, the bride should prepare woven products such as blankets, mattresses, pillows ... to offer to the family of her husband.

During the marriage, the brothers of the mother of the bride have an important role to show a high position in the family. During the wedding day, the bride and the future husband must be present at their two families. After a few days, the ceremony is organized to take the bride to her husband.  In the past, the husband should live with his parents in law for 1 to 3 years.  The family of the husband should bring pork, chicken, rice, glutinous rice, and wine rice, wood ... to offer to guests of the family of the bride. This custom has confirmed the respect and position of women in the family and in society of the Thai people in general and Vietnam in particular in Mai Chau.

Mai Chau in Vietnam

The burial customs of the Thai people in Mai Chau has also distinctions compared to other ethnic groups. The funeral rites follow the following steps: ceremony of washing the body of the deceased, shrouding ceremony, ceremony to put the body in the coffin, ceremony to thank to parents, main ceremony, and burial ceremony.

The coffin is usually made of carved wood trunk. When parents died, each married daughter has to contribute a pig to offer them and the villagers attending the funeral rites. Friends, villagers ... also contribute money, wine, rice, chicken, duck ... depending on the relationship, the feeling, the economic situation...

The custom of sitting is also a typical culture. The ancestral altar is the most important space in each family. Place in front of the altar is reserved to the elderly person or young people but have high status in the lineage. This custom shows respect for the hierarchy in the family and society of Thais in Mai Chau.

While talking about the customs of the Thai people in Mai Chau, we can not forget to mention the ceremony ‘’Calling the Mind’’. In the spiritual life of the Thai people in general in Vietnam or in particular in Mai Chau, the shamanist plays a very important role who is the intermediary between the real world and the divine world. Therefore, the shamanist is one of the essential characters to preside over this ceremony.

The ceremony of ‘’Calling Spirit’’ in Mai Chau is organized by the family, lineage ... when there is a member who is ill, has an accident ... This ceremony happens for 1 to 2 hours. In the end, the family prepares a hearty meal to invite the cult master, members of the family ... to wish good health, good luck ... This is a unique belief culture which is impregnated well into the cultural identity of the Thai people in Mai Chau....

While talking about the tourism in this region, we immediately think of the pure, shining and beautiful scenery of nature, an ideal eco tourism - destination, particularly of the houses on stilts leaning in dreamy way that keep unique cultural values of long tradition of Mai Chau people in the mountain.

Accommodation in Mai Chau:

Mai Chau starts to have popular hotels of the local population but also the luxurious hotels of big investors. But as a local tour operator, Ethnies Travel Mekong highly recommend at least one night directly with the Thai people who continue to create the irresistible charm of this poetic region.

In Mai Chau, travelers are surprised not only by the bright green or golden paddies fields, huge blue mountains but also by the local wooden houses on stilts.

When you are in the villages of Mai Chau, we advise you to live in these charming houses under the shade of trees. When you're inside, you'll see that it is spacious, airy, fresh, solid ... It's a unique beauty, quite attractive in the simplicity with furniture fully made of wood, bamboo ... that are pastoral materials in countryside of Vietnam.

So that when you are in Mai Chau, do not forget to spend at least one night in homestay for unique experiences with local people. You will live in truly hospitable family in a relaxed atmosphere and to understand better the life of people in the high mountains in the house full of cultural, historical and ethnological significances.

In addition, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the flavor of the food of the Thai people accompanied by local sake. You will participate even in cooking classes with the family. You will also have the chance to take part in an ethnic performance presented by the village’s youth villagers in traditional costume who do it to honor your presence in Mai Chau…

Sharing life with the local people is a way of solidary and responsible travel. While welcoming you, they have the chance to be paid to increase their standard of living to continue to preserve their cultural values, especially in a world of strong globalization. Furthermore, living together with local people is also to strengthen mutual understanding...

Certainly, these are interesting experiences and unexpected discoveries that you can find only in this region. Please send us an email: info@guideduvietnam.com to have more free details about Mai Chau in Vietnam.