Mai Chau is nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains, just under four hours out of Hanoi.
It’s a rural, village community run by ethnic minority families making a living through rice farming and home stays for tourists. Initially we had planned to visit Sapa but due to time constraints we settled for Mai Chau instead.
Sanjay and I decided to do the lunch and bike tour as it seemed like a more authentic way to see and experience the lush little place… The only problem being my bike riding skills, needless to say this expedition wasn’t without a little drama!
So prior to this, the last time I rode a bike was when I was 13 years old, which was a long time ago! To get me ready for it, Sanjay and I borrowed a bike the weekend before we were due to fly out to Vietnam so I could get some practise in. We went to a local park and that’s when I realised I had forgotten how to ride a bike! I tried numerous times to gain my balance and on probably my fifth try I was doing it, riding like a normal person and I only fell off once!
A few days later, after a lovely authentic Vietnamese lunch it was time to put my newly found riding skills to the test…
So in my defence riding through unpaved villages isn’t like riding in a park, the first five minutes of our cycle tour were hell (for me anyway) I’m sure the tour guide was laughing at me on the inside! Right off the block we had to cycle down a reasonably long and narrow slope to get onto the dirt road, I couldn’t get my balance so ended up walking the bike down. Hoping I’d have better luck on a flat area, after swapping bikes with both Sanjay and then the tour guide and adjusting the seat height numerous times I gave it another go, I was a bit wobbly to begin with but got there after a couple of attempts, then we were off…finally!
If you visit Mai Chau I recommend going on a bike tour, it’s the perfect way to really see the beauty of this remote area. We rode through many of the local villages, passing the locals who greeted us with shy smiles and through lush green rice paddies, passing famers hard at work.
The ride was so peaceful and it was so refreshing to be out of the busy Vietnamese cities, in this idyllic mountainous setting.
There were hardly any cars on the road, which was good for me as my bike riding skills weren’t that good yet! Occasionally we stopped to let minivans full of tourists past, there were more cows and chickens on the road than anything else, at one point we had a cow following us, which I loved 🙂
We were able to stop and admire the view anytime we liked and of course take photos. We even stopped to climb a thousand stairs to see ancient rock formations.
Mai Chau isn’t as scenic as Sapa but I’m really glad we went, it was one of the highlights of my trip to Vietnam, there’s something really beautiful about venturing off the beaten track.
The ride was around two hours but it really didn’t seem that long, I guess time flies when you’re riding a bike through Mai Chau!
Happy Travels, Priti x