Hoa Binh is not listed among the top 10 Vietnam travel destinations, but this northwest province of Vietnam has long been destination for both domestic and foreign tourists to visit. Just around 70km from Hanoi, Hoa Binh is home to 5 different ethnic groups like The Muong, Thai, Tay, H'Mong, and Dao who live in picturesque villages such as Giang Mo, Ban Lac, Pom Coong village, Mai Hich, Hang Kia of Mai Chau district. The unique culture of the local people and beautiful valley of rice paddies, green mountains are attractions of Hoa Binh and should be included to experience in any tour package in Vietnam
Tuesday, 18/02/2020, 13:14
Hoa Binh is a lush, mountainous province in Vietnam's north-western region, some 74 kilometres south-west of Hanoi. Exploring this sparsely-populated region of Vietnam, enjoy scenic trekking tours and the chance to see the distinct cultures of the colourful hill-tribe people who live here, the Muong, Kinh, Thai, Tay, Dzao, Hmong and Hoa people.
Hoa Binh town is the largest community to visit in this province of ten districts, while those seeking more a more remote escape travel 60 kilometres further west to see the traditional stilt-houses and verdant landscape of the Mai Chau valley. Those who time it right can gain more insight into hill-tribe traditions by joining a local festival, or any time of year offers the chance to pick up some of the vivid and intricate locally made crafts and clothing in the market.
Driving tours along the precarious yet picturesque mountain passes are an exciting way to explore the beautiful countryside and, for those with the strength and stamina, cycling is another ideal way to see the sights of Hoa Binh province. Hoa Binh means 'peace' and indeed this is one of the most peaceful and pleasant areas you'll find in Vietnam.
Square: 4.596,4 km2
Population: 854.131 people (2019)
City: Hoa Binh
Hoa Binh is not listed among the top 10 Vietnam travel destinations, but this northwest province of Vietnam has long been destination for both domestic and foreign tourists to visit. Just around 70km from Hanoi, Hoa Binh is home to 5 different ethnic groups like The Muong, Thai, Tay, H'Mong, and Dao who live in picturesque villages such as Giang Mo, Ban Lac, Pom Coong village, Mai Hich, Hang Kia of Mai Chau district. The unique culture of the local people and beautiful valley of rice paddies, green mountains are attractions of Hoa Binh and should be included to experience in any tour package in Vietn
How to get to Hoa Binh
By road: It will take around 2 hours by bus to Hoa Binh, but there is not much to see in the town except for the Hoa Binh hydropower plant. Tourists can reach the top of the dam to get a wonderful view of the city and Hoa Binh lake.
Best time to visit Hoa Binh
There is no good or bad time to visit Hoa Binh, tourists mainly visit Mai Chau valley of Hoa Binh province at weekend to escape away from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi.
You can go to Hoa Binh on most days of the year because each place has the appropriate time to travel differently, so the appropriate time depends on the destination you want to visit. If you want to admire the sight of Hoa Binh hydroelectricity discharging white water, you should come in the rainy season. You can also go to Hoa Binh in the summer if you want to stay away from the heat of Hanoi to go to tourist destinations such as Mai Chau Valley and Thung Nai to enjoy the clean and cool atmosphere.
If you want to immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere, you should come in June to the lunar calendar when the Fairy Pagoda festival (Lac Thuy - Hoa Binh) takes place. To see all the beauty of Lung Van, March is the best month, in addition, you also go in late September to admire the golden rice fields of Hoa Binh.
There is a small note that you should avoid going to Hoa Binh in July-August because it is a period of heavy rain, QL6 to Hoa Binh is a dangerous route due to frequent landslides.
Things to see and do in Hoa Binh
1.Giang Mo village
A peaceful village of the Muong ethnic minority where people build houses on stilts. The village is around 10km from Hoa Binh city and it is possible to get there by bus. Walking tour around the visit can get peace of mind. Tourists can also learn more about the Muong's life and culture when invited to visit one of the families. If you have time, we advise you to experience an overnight stay in the village in a local family.
2.Hoa Binh lake
This lake created by the Dam of Hoa Binh hydropower plant and considered as "Halong bay on the mountains" with thousands of islets and blue water all year around. A boat trip is a great way to enjoy cool and fresh air here. A good thing is that there are not many tourists visiting Hoa Binh lake so it is quiet and relaxing.
3.Kim Boi hot spring
Another place to visit in Hoa Binh. It is natural mineral hot spring so it is good for health and worth visiting if you come to Hoa Binh.
4.Hoa Binh Attractions
With vibrant green rice paddies and rows of traditional houses on stilts, Mai Chau is Hoa Binh's most idyllic district. A number of families offer home-stays or tours of their stilted homes, which are hand-crafted with a local hard wood and palm-leaf thatch roofing. Enjoy a peek into the daily life of a hill-tribe family and folk dancing or gong music shows in the evening. On the way to Mai Chau from Hoa Binh town, stop along the Doc Koon pass to take in the spectacular views over the valley. Kim Boi hot springs, about 30 kilometres from Hoa Binh town, offers a restorative and refreshing retreat while the surrounding Thuong Tien nature reserve is home to many rare animals including the clouded leopard and sun bear.
Hoa Binh Museum features an interesting collection of war memorabilia including an amphibious vehicle left behind by the French. Across the bridge from here is the Russian-built hydroelectric station with a memorial set up for the 161 workers who perished during its construction. The Song Da Reservoir created as part of the hydroelectric project now serves as a scenic park, with boat trips available to Ba Khan Islands or Than Nhan village, home to the Dzao tribe.
5.Hoa Binh Restaurants/ Dining Scene
Hoa Binh dining is largely done at local houses or small restaurants in the villages or along Highway 6. Don't expect much in the way of world-class cuisine or fancy cafes here - though some restaurants serve western-style meals you're better off eating the local dishes. Rice is the staple, served with grilled meat and fresh vegetables. North-western Vietnam cuisine is spiced with black pepper more often than chilli, so flavours are more subtle than the fiery dishes of central Vietnam.
Crab is a favourite, as well as freshwater fish, prawns, oysters and mussels. One of the most popular dishes to try is rice cooked in bamboo with grilled meat. Vietnam's famous noodle soup (pho) is widely available in most restaurants. Those seeking a more upmarket dining experience visit the restaurant at Mai Chau Lodge, with set-menu meals to enjoy in a pleasant alfresco setting overlooking the resort's lake and pool. For a real local drinking experience try the locally-made rice wine, unique to Hoa Binh made with an array of forest leaves and starch; this potent fermented drink is usually sipped from pipes dipped into a shared pot.
6.Hoa Binh Nightlife
Though electricity has extended into even the most remote villages of Hoa Binh, life in this province still pretty much shuts down to sleep in the evening hours. As the Lonely Planet describes it, "Even the dogs seem mellow." Evening folk dance and music performances are occasionally put on by the local hill-tribe people, which you'll be able to catch if you're doing a home-stay or tour of a local village.
Otherwise, simply enjoy the stillness and serenity of the Hoa Binh night, and indulge in some stargazing while listening to the forest rhythms. If staying in the Mai Chau valley, visit the Veranda Bar at Mai Chau Lodge to sample its nightly beer and cocktail happy-hour specials and a decent wine selection. Those seeking more nightlife excitement head to the bright lights of Hanoi, just a few hours away by car.
7.Hoa Binh Shopping
As the heart of Vietnam's hill-tribe culture, Hoa Binh has a rich variety of textiles and traditional arts and crafts sold in the village markets. Be sure to also visit some local homes and watch the creation of beautiful fabrics and clothing by the skilled hands of ladies weaving on their looms. Mai Chau has a Sunday market, which brings in tribes-people from the surrounding hills to sell their wares including their signature tho cam embroidered fabrics and agricultural products including bananas and corn. Polite bargaining is the norm here; be sure to keep it light and friendly.
Arts and crafts unique to Hoa Binh include go lua, figures and furniture sculpted from tree trunks; mats, hand baskets, hats, fruit trays and lampshades made with hand-made bamboo wattle; and beautiful brocade weaving using indigo dyed cotton and coloured silk on hand-crafted looms. The brocade fabrics are then made into pillow cases, tablecloths, bed spreads and other decorative items for the home.
8.Hoa Binh Activities
Hoa Binh's mountainous terrain with lakes, caves and forests is an outdoor lover's dream. Trekking is the most popular activity in Hoa Binh, with guided tours available to take you into tribal villages, along rice fields and up some challenging hills. Mai Chau serves as a base for most of the province's trekking journeys. Among the most popular is an 18-kilometre trek that leads from Lac village in Mai Chau up a mountain pass through White Thai tribal territory to Xa Linh village, where the Hmong people live. The trek is usually done over two days with a one-night's stay at a village. The caves of Hoa Binh are fascinating not only for their stunning geographical features but as historical sites containing many ancient artefacts. Spelunkers and rock-climbers can be amateur archaeologists at the same time, at such sites as Khu Trai mountain cave with thousands of fragments of ancient pottery, rice and stone and a trail that dates back tens of thousands of years. Cho Cave and Muoi Cave also contain ancient relics. The Mai Chau Lodge resort offers half- and full-day kayaking tours of its neighbouring lake, which includes a walk past a waterfall to a Muong style house.