Hoa Binh updated travel guide
Hoa Binh is a mountainous province located in the north. It is bordered by Son La in the west, Phu Tho and Ha Tay in the north, Ha Nam and Ninh Binh in the east, and Thanh Hoa in the south. The culture of Hoa Binh combines six minorities with their own languages, traditional literature, and festivals. The climate is hot and humid with high levels of precipitation during the rainy season. Several calamities such as heavy rains, floods, violent storms, and droughts occur in this area.
Tourists especially enjoy the minority specialty dishes including rice cooked in bamboo and grilled meat. They also enjoy watching traditional dancing, music performances (bronze, drums, gongs), and Thai minority singing and dancing. The remote minority villages are attractive sites for tourists.
Located on Highway 6, Hoa Binh provincial is 70 km south-west of Hanoi. Hoa Binh town and the adjacent area was the cradle of the Hoa Binh culture. Archaeological finds show that this is the first place man domesticated crop plants.
Hoa Binh province is inhabited by various ethnic groups, the Muong, Kinh, Thai, Tay, Dao, H’Mong and Hoa.
Hanoi-Hoa Binh: 76 kilometers
You can go by motorbike; it is suitable for visiting all landscape in Hoa Binh.
From Hanoi to Mai Chau, you must pass 76 kilometers to the Hoa Binh town.
Highway 6 from Hanoi to Hoa Binh.
What to see
Mai Chau is located around 135km from Hanoi at Hoa Binh province, stay in a peaceful valley sheltered by the outside world by a dramatic ring of hills. On the way coming to Mai Chau , you will have chance to pass through the top of Cun mountain, from there you can take a fabulous overview of the valley with the houses on stilt and paddy fields, bring the first impression about culture of Mai Chau –Hoa Binh.
Mai Chau brings a different image about Vietnam , inhabited with minority groups, that mainly Thai people ,Thai minority is one of six minority groups at Hoa Binh province. Thai people are livingat small villages like: Lac village, Pom Coong village, Van village, Buoc village …. , these villages make a community with lot of particular culture and festivals. Thai people devided into 2 groups White Thai and Black Thai, use their own language beside King language .
Kim Boi hot spring
Kim Boi hot spring belongs to Kim Boi district, Hoa Binh Province. It is natural mineral hot spring and good for human health. Kim Boi mineral water is eligible for drinking, bathing, soaking and it can treat stomachache, blood pressure… With an area of 7 hectares, this is a rustic resort that is peaceful and exciting.
Kim Boi mineral spring flows deep underground so that the mineral water has a temperature of 340C-360C. Coming to hot spring, you can register your reservation at the resort or V resort. The resort is built in this place next to the largest mineral water circuit.
With full of equipped modern system, conference, hall, swimming pool…you can relax, spa, organize cultural exchange, and enjoy the cultural program… Kim Boi mineral spring has two large pools along with individual tub system that is replaced water daily to sever travelers. It is suitable for swimming, soaking to find the fresh, healthy and whiter skin. Besides, there has a sufficient mineral with high purity which is conductive to human. So that, this is also a place to cure diseases such as:rheumatism,stomach pain, gastro-intestinal… Kim Boi mineral water was bottled as beverage; it is the same kind of Thach Bich mineral water in Quang Ngai, Kum-Dua in Russia, Paven Barbia in Hungari.
Currently, Kim Boi mineral spring continues to be invested and renewed to preserve the beauty of green tourism, village tourism, culture tourism.
Thung Nai belongs to Cao Phong district, Hoa Binh province. It is far about 25 kilometers from Hoa Binh and 110 kilometers from Hanoi. The name ‘Thung Nai’ appeared because this valley has many deers who comes to place. The name ‘Thung Nai’ no longer appears on the tourist map but it is becoming an exciting destination for those who want to explore the wilderness. Thung Nai has rustic and grandeur beauty, a sparkling scene in the middle of Da River.
As a commune of Cao Phong district, Hoa Binh province, Thung Nai is known with Ba Chua Temple, Thac Bo cave, Bo Grotto, Mu village and floating island… This is the place of many village with the mainly people is the Muong. The main vehicle is boat or canoe. People here exchange at Bo Market. The market is only opening in the morning.
Thung Nai has Thac Ba temple, the queen governs area of northwest, and the upper back is the Muong-Hoa Binh, the Thai-Son La… When finishing hydropower, water of Da river floods valleys, which creates small islands, is very beautiful. Here, residents are mostly the Muong. This is one of the famous lands of the Muong in Hoa Binh- Muong Thang.
The way to Thung Nai following the port of Binh Thanh, along the Da River, winding up and down with more than 10 kilometers, tourists will come to center of town and there has a large marina.
Da Bac Cave
Da Bac belongs to Lien Son commune, Luong Son district, Hoa Binh province. This cave is the masterpiece of the Creator that has combination between sculpture and painting, spectacular and romantic views.
Da Bac cave has 70 meters length, provided small room. It contains the potential value and many mysterious of nature. According to folklore, the fairies in the heaven are bored with fairy scene so they come to the earth. They soak in the beauty of the earth and enjoy Da Bac Lien Son Cave. The beauty in cave makes fairies surprise with sparkling stalactites, curved arch… The Jade Emperor was angry so that he closed the heaven gate. The fairies could not come back; therefore, they turned into mountain. Hence, Da Bac Cave is also known as Tien Cave.
Da Bac Cave was discovered in 1990 by chance of people. Initially, entrance of cave is small ravine that fits for one person. After that, local people make entrance larger in order to enter easily. Step into the cave, tourists will come to the Co Tien Cave.
What to do
Khai Ha Muong Bi Ceremony
Khai Ha is folk ceremony associated with agriculture, brings many marks of Vietnamese civilization. This is cultural activities- an indispensable belief of Muong Bi, Phong Phu on the New Year. The ceremony represents the dream of ethnic people about bumper crop, prosperous life, and happiness. Khai Ha start for New Year with two parts. According to provisions of Muong Bi, after the ceremony, people just go to forest to take bamboo shoot, woods… so that the ceremony is also called “xuong dong” and open forest ceremony. One unique feature of Khai Ha ceremony is repair Lo ditches. This is the ditch that assures irrigation for the whole region. As the rule, one person in each family must take part in common tasks such as: dredging ditch, making influenced flow. Each people is work hard until finished ditch was repaired.
The festival has folk games such as: crossbow and dragging… and unique traditional dishes. On the wide beach, boys, girls and even children can join the crossbow competition. In addition, there has throwing “con” along with love songs that starts of the couples love. The traditional contests are very exciting.
Xen Muong Festival
Xen Muong festival is one of the biggest festivals in the Thai to commemorate the ancestors who established Muong. The festival prays for the Thai happy and lucky. The festival begins bringing trays from Tao Muong house to the temple. The village patriarch wears yellow silk and indigo trousers.
The festival took place more exciting activities. Beginning of the festival is mainly celebrated dance, sing, drum and gong. The seconds day, there organized shooting competition.
Gau Tao Festival
Gau Tao also means outdoor activities. Gau Tao is the traditional festival of the H’Mong held in alternate forms. Every year, the H’Mong chooses one family to hold the festival. It is a great honor of any family in the village.
The preparations for the festival are made throughout the year, in which, finding and erecting neu tree are the important thing. This tree is considered as the sacred plants of the H’mong, the signs of the festival, happiness and prosperity. Before beginning festival, the selected family must decorate beautifully. On the top of the tree, there have two pieces of cloth: black mixed with red.
At the festival, from the morning to evening, on the whole roads, each men and women come to the festival. Along with the soul of traditional instrument, the men make clear avowal of love for the girl. The colorful umbrella, attractive dance creates power of love.
What to eat
Hoa Binh Man Pigs
The pigs roam are roasted, just shaved hair. After that, it will be washed before slaughtering to take viscera. Viscera do not wash with water; it only hangs up to drain blood. Therefore, meat can be kept for a long time. Then, it is mixed and putted to the pot to boil. When meat cooked to medium, it is taken to the chopping-board, ethnic people slice them and display on the banana leaves. Meat is used together with roasted-salt and “hat doi”. If tourists enjoy the dish, they will fell the sweetness of meat, the aroma of banana leaves, the taste of “hat doi”… At the first time, visitors cannot forget.
Hoa Binh Pickled Pork
The pigs roam are mixed with glaze of forest leaves and roasted rice within 60 minutes. Then, they take banana leaves on the fire and clean them. Ethnics put banana leaves to the bottom of bamboo and sprinkle the meat with roasted rice. Then, they close the bamboo by banana leaves and put them into stove. When tourists enjoy pickled pork, they will feel the color of meat, acidity of forest glaze, salinity of salt, aromatic of rice. This dish is usually served with forest leaves.
Hoa Binh Pickled Bamboo Shoot with Chicken
The chicken roam has weighing between 0.8 to 1 kilograms cleaned and slaughtered to put away viscera. Then, people chop into small pieces and mix with pickled bamboo within 20-30 minutes. After that it will be cooked about 1-2 hours. When chicken is well-done, ethnics sprinkle the chicken with a little “hat doi”.
Hoa Binh Grilled Chopped Meat with Pomelo Leaves
The pork is chopped into square pieces, mixed with a bit of fish sauce, onion. Pomelo leaves are cut into 2 pieces and put them to broiler and roast in the charcoal. If guests enjoy the dish, they will feel the aromatic of pomelo and tingling tongue.
Hoa Binh Grilled Fish
Some types of fish such as: Crucian carp, catfish, carp… are usually grilled. Before grilling, people often thrust one stick from mouth to stomach of fish and then grilled them. Grilled fish is put into the banana leaves.
Hoa Binh Buffalo Cooked La Lom
Buffalo is roasted and shaved hair then chopped into small pieces, stewed in clay pot. After that, people mix them with “la lom”, small rice and stew with buffalo. This is a popular national dish of the Muong, Hoa Binh province.
Where to eat
Da Hop Restaurant
Address: Dinh Tien Hoang, Tan Thinh, Hoa Binh
Tel: 0218 3854926
Time: 07:00 am- 10:00pm
Da Hop Restaurant is famous for the field of high cuisine. After 20 years of development, Da Hop affirms its name and its cuisine by the dishes-herbs.
With the enthusiastic and thoughtful services together with clean food such as: shrimp, crabs and snails…, the restaurant servers many other dishes typical of the northwestern mountains.
Coming to Da Hop restaurant, tourists will soak into large and peaceful place. Along with harmonious decoration, the restaurant becomes more unique. With a large area of restaurant, Da Hopj can welcomed hundreds of guests, an ideal place for couples. Da Hop has combination between traditional oriental beauties with a modern sytle, it is the best choice for tourists when exploring Hoa Binh.
Guests will be especially pleased with the professional staffs, enthusiastic services that make you pleasure as at home.
Manh Ngan Restaurant
Address: Phuong Lam, Hoa Binh
Tel: 0218 3895 388, 0218 3895 388
Cuisine is one of the passions in the life. The attractive and interesting dishes require people to have a sharp taste to perceive.
Manh Ngan Restaurant creates the cuisine space from flavors of seafood and traditional dishes in Hoa Binh and the whole country. Guests can feel delicious flavors on each our dishes.
Hien Luong Restaurant
Address: Dong Tien, Hoa Binh
Tel: (84-18) 358 7238
Time: 09:00am- 09:00pm
Coming to the restaurant, guests will feel comfortable when enjoying the delicious unique dishes. Along with the fresh air and enthusiasm staffs, we commit to serve you with professional style as well as thoughtful as possible.
We will be happy to serve you at the restaurants. Your presence of guests is the greatest praise for the restaurant, the service and essence of the cuisine of Vietnam.
Where to stay
The stilt house homestays all offer essentially the same thing for the same price (currently 50,000 dong excluding meals), so there is little point in recommending one over the other here. If you plan to stay in a stilt house, the best thing to do is walk around the villages (they’re very close, Lac starts where Pom Coong ends) and see which location you like best. Also check if there are other people staying – the rooms are communal so if you want more privacy you should go for one that has no other guests, and hope no-one else turns up!
For a bit of luxury, Mai Chau Lodge (+84 218 3868 959) is the only option. It’s located on the main road out of Mai Chau town, at the point where you turn off onto the dirt track for Pom Coong and Lac. It’s a lovely small boutique resort with a small pool, free shuttle transfers between Mai Chau and Hanoi, and the usual range of comforts you would expect in the $100+ bracket.
Hoa Binh Travel Tips
– Exchange money: You can exchange currency at the hotel where you live or go to Bank of Hoa Binh
– Internet: Free internet at the hotel
ATM of BIDV
Address: Cu Chinh, Lan, Hoa Binh
ATM of Viettinbank
Address: 186 Cu Chinh Lan, Hoa Binh
ATM of Agribank
Address: Luong Son, Hoa Binh
Mai Chau town hospital
Address: Mai Chau, Hoa Binh
Da River hospital
Address: Tan Thinh, Hoa Binh