Hoa Binh (meaning “peace” in English) is the provincial capital of the province of the same name located 75km northwest of Hanoi. Hoa Binh town is about five km from Southeast Asia’s largest hydroelectric construction in the Song Da (Black River) valley. The region with its scenic valleys is home to many ethnic minority hill-tribes, including the H’mong, Dao, Thai and Muong. Life in the remote valleys of Mai Chau remains much the same as it has done for centuries.
Nowadays, tourists can enjoy a boat cruise on the Da River to observe the daily activities of local ethnic people such as Thai, Muong, Tay, Mong and Dao.
The Construction of Hoa Binh Hydroelectricity Plant Project on Da River began in 1979 and took 15 years to complete.
The main attraction in Mai Chau, aside from its picturesque landscape, is its inhabitants, namely the Thai and Hmong who live in traditional hamlets and villages along the valley floor. The majority of houses are made of wood and bamboo and supported on wooden stilts.
Mai Chau is approximately 140km from Hanoi and 60km from Hoa Binh.
These houses are often quite large with palm leaf roofs and polished bamboo-slat floors. The kitchen is located in the center of the house; the cooking as well as the making of the colorful “tho cam”, the material used by Thai minority to make their clothes takes place in the kitchen. The Hmong on the other hand lives in wooden longhouses.
Visitors sitting inside the house can hear the springs, which flow at a constant 36 degree Celsius. Scientific tests have shown that the waters at Kim Boi are suitable to drink, bathe, and use in the treatment of a variety of ailments. The mineral water is also bottled for drinking.
A 30 km drive from Hoa Binh leads to a rest house and mineral springs named Kim Boi.
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