The stilted village of Mai Chau in the mountainous Mai Chai District is just a couple of hours from from Hanoi and more easily accessible than Ha Giang and Sapa – the perfect place to experience northern Vietnam's rich rural culture if you're only in Hanoi for a short time.
As you cross into the mountains outside Hanoi, endless rice fields and tiny bamboo villages begin to emerge. The farmlands that surround the area are tended to by several minority tribes, including the H'mong, Muong, Dao and the White Thai ethnic group, the most populous of the region. Their traditions and cultural practices – from weaving beneath their stilted houses to ploughing their fields with buffalo – offer the chance to experience the ancient way of life that once dominated Vietnam and Indochina. Sleep in a Tai homestay and explore the countryside by bike – ask our specialists for help planning.