Mai Chau Lodge

Mai Chau Town, Hanoi & North, Vietnam Book from

Reviewed by Michael Franco
A community-minded gem set among rice fields, misty mountains and fascinating hill tribe people
Most visitors to Hanoi spend a day or 2 dodging the motorbikes and commercial mayhem in the city’s old quarter before heading out on one of 2 sidetrips - east to Halong Bay or west to Sapa. But thanks to the Mai Chau Lodge, located just a 4-hour drive south of the city, visitors now have an equally memorable, less-touristy option.

The lodge lies like a raft of civility in a sea of rice paddies on a mountain-hemmed valley floor. Immaculately maintained, it has 16 rooms and all modern conveniences - including a lovely pool and mouth-watering restaurant. Yet a 5-minute walk down the rural road next to the lodge brings you to a White Thai village. Here, people live in stilt houses, graze their water buffaloes in the rice fields, and weave beautiful fabrics on simple looms. Near-nightly cultural dances, well-designed tours led by charming and informative guides, and plentiful offerings at mealtimes round out the offerings at this unique lodge, which brings you up-close with some of Vietnam’s earliest and most colourful inhabitants.


  • Location, location. As you descend the steep mountain slopes to the valley floor, you feel like you’re truly arriving at a secret haven
  • Appealing choice of rustic hut lily-pond rooms, or more posh and traditional rooms in the main house
  • The idyllic pool, capacious hot tub and sauna helps you chill out after a day touring the countryside
  • Sunset walks in the surrounding rice fields can’t be beat
  • Sustainable tourism principles very evident (100% of staff are local; profound respect for and promotion of local culture)


  • The secluded nature of the property means no pubs, restaurants or karaoke bars nearby. Of course, that’s not necessarily a low
  • An overall lack of proficiency with English can make some transactions with the staff tricky, but always full of smiles
  • The transfer from Hanoi is on a group shuttle bus that leaves at 8am sharp - you're out of luck if your plane gets in any later
  • Some mixed reports about the food, but we found it excellent

Best time to go

Mai Chau is less rainy and has lower humidity than other northern Vietnamese cities and generally experiences good weather throughout the year. The finest weather of the year extends from September until May. It can be quite cold during winter (from November until end of February) which makes that hot tub all the more appealing. The monsoon prevails from June until September with stronger breezes and higher humidity with limited rainfall. Temperatures are warmer during this time.

Our top tips

Visit the Black Hmong market on Sunday mornings with one of the hotel’s guides for a true National Geographic experience.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 16
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Sauna
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available


The 16 rooms are uniquely charming and gleam with polished floors, hardwood furnishings and modern-meets-local décor.

The Deluxe Mountain View rooms are cosy with heavy dark-wood furniture and floors offset by bright cushions, pillows and bed runners of local motif. For a little extra space, the Deluxe Pool View rooms open onto verandas overlooking the pool. While the Junior Suite gives you an enormous room with an equally large balcony on which to watch the sun set behind the hills.

Rooms come with a complimentary tasting of rice wine (caution is advised!), 2 bottles of water, fresh fruit, TVs with satellite channels, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and refrigerators. All bathrooms have a shower, a hairdryer and bathrobes.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Meals are served in the alluring open-air dining room with views over a lily pond to the distant hills.

Breakfast (included) consists of a buffet selection of breads, pastries, fruits, cereals, yoghurts and table service for either a traditional Western breakfast or Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup.

Lunch and dinner follow pretty much the same formula: a soup and salad followed by a collection of meat and veggie dishes prepared Vietnamese style. This is generally topped off by a fruit-themed dessert. Our meal included a banana flower salad, pumpkin soup, chicken stewed in lotus seeds and an ask-for-seconds mango mousse. The food is plentiful and really tasty, but the flavours could start to get a bit repetitive by your third night. A break in the routine is a Saturday evening barbecue featuring grilled sausages and meats and well-prepared, full-of-variety salads. You can also request cooking lessons.

After a hard day's exploration, laze in the sun with a cold drink at the Veranda Bar. There's a snack menu if you're feeling a peckish, along with a wine cellar and a small selection of cocktails to sample.

Most nights, White Thai dancers take over the attached patio space and put on a charming exhibition of traditional dances.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Feel the cool creepiness of the hotel’s private bat cave, located just across the street. Groups can arrange meetings or yoga classes in its well-lit subterranean depths
  • Take one or more of the hotel’s excellent guided tours to visit the local Thái hill-tribe communities in villages of Pom Coong and Lac, and to Mo Luong (Soldier) Cave
  • Set off on your own through the rice fields to visit the minutes-away White Thai village, where you can shop for fabrics, paintings and other souvenirs
  • Go 2-wheeling by borrowing the hotel’s bikes and striking out through the green, green countryside
  • Splash around on the pond in the hotel’s kayaks
  • Go fishing at Mo Luong Lake, next to the lodge
  • Or sailing at Da reservoir, the country's largest man-made lake 30km away
  • There are about 5 natural reserves within 50km. Currently tours can only be organised to Pu Luong natural reserve for bird and wildlife sightings
  • Soothe tired muscles in the Roman-style indoor Jacuzzi, sauna, or steam room
  • Lounge around the pool - the only one for miles in any direction!

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga


Children are welcome here but they might get a little bored as there really isn’t much for them to do other than go on the excursions to the hill tribe communities.

Children under 4 years old stay for free, and children between 4 and 12 years old are charged at 50%. Thereafter charged as adults. Cots and extra beds are free and are available on request.

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can fit at least 1 extra bed.


Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

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