The earlier you start, the better the light for photographs. Important as you are travelling through some amazing rural countryside – rice paddies and karst rock formations. You head due west from Hanoi, through fertile valleys and along roads snaking through mountain passes, before reaching the stunningly pretty Mai Chau Valley.
You arrive in Mai Chau village in time for lunch, which is cooked for you by a local ‘White Thai’ ethnic family living in a traditional stilt-house. You then spend the afternoon exploring the surrounding area. Its better to leave the vehicle and walking the flat local roads and paths to several of the villages. The White Thai locals, the most prevalent local group, may nowadays dress the same as the Vietnamese but they retain their cultural uniqueness and you’ll note a distinct personal style also. There are several other minority groups including the H’mong, Dao and Muong inhabiting the region’s picturesque valleys, rolling hills, shimmering paddy fields and bustling villages. The Sunday market brings a lot of people from the surrounding countryside into Mai Chau itself.
In the late afternoon set off for your departure back to Hanoi, but as you arrive at the top of the Mai Chau Valley don’t forget to have your camera ready as the views are remarkable. Arrive back in Hanoi in the late afternoon.