A world away from the hustle and bustle of Vietnam's cities and busy coastal regions are the lush northern regions of Mai Chau & Ninh Binh. For a quintessentially Vietnamese experience which allows you to interact with the locals surrounded by breathtaking scenery, step off the beaten track and add one of these undiscovered gems to your Vietnam trip. Mai Chau, just south of Da River, borders the beautiful Hoa Binh Lake.
You could dedicate several days here to explore, from trekking through local villages to cycling along the peaceful green paths that surround the rice fields, and maybe even trying to master a traditional dance with the locals. Most memorable though is a day spent trekking and boating around Hoa Binh Lake - actually a very beautiful man made reservoir - in the mountains. On your Mai Chau holidays you could also enjoy lunch at a traditional homestay and take a dip in Go Lao waterfall. For an alternative to the far better-known (and consequently much busier) Halong Bay - particularly in typhoon season - Ninh Binh is every bit as beautiful. Cultural experiences are a must on a Ninh Binh holiday and range from bamboo basket weaving to fishing and cooking classes, all taught by welcoming locals. The highlight of a stay here has to be a visit to Trang An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of dramatic limestone karst peaks covered in lush green foliage. Take a small boat with a guide and explore the area from the water, navigating through caves and valleys as you gaze up on the towering peaks around you.
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Holy everything! WOW! We adored the Park Hyatt and our suite (which was a massive surprise) was gorgeous. What a lovely, chic and very classy hotel that is. Not over the top and deeply comfortable. We look forward to returning there. Six Senses is also an extraordinarily beautiful place.
What you can find in Mai Chau and Ninh Binh that you won't find anywhere else?
Perhaps we should rephrase the question to read 'what can you find elsewhere, but can find in Mai Chau and Ninh Binh with far fewer visitors?' In, short, take the sugarloaf peaks of Halong Bay, lose the crowds of tourists and you have the scenic landscapes of Ninh Binh. With beautiful natural scenery and rich architecture and unique history, Ninh Binh holidays offer an original discovery of Vietnam away from the beaten track. Visit the nearby nature reserves, marvel at the towering mountains that run into flowing rivers, and explore the caves of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Trans An grottoes and Mua Caves. For a dose of culture in between enjoying the incredible scenery by foot or boat, you have multiple small villages to get lost in (with a local guide who can tell you all the best places to stop in at), or experience a taste of the country’s history with a trip to Hoa Lu, the ancient capital, or the Vietnam’s biggest pagoda.