Isolated Mai Chau and the nearby villages are in a valley around 139km from Hanoi and only 150 metres above sea level. Nestled between two towering cliffs and surrounded by emerald green paddies, it is an enchanting sight as you approach down the windy cliff side road and the villages and surrounding countryside present an idyllic rural scene that could easily charm you into staying longer than intended.
In sprin, Mai Chau is a bright, almost parrot-green and by autumn this green transforms into golden hues as the rice approaches harvest. Taking the time to watch these transitions of color seems like a perfectly useful way to spend your time while there.
The scenery isn't the only reason visitors flood to Mai Chau though; those bemoaning the dearth of truly budget accommodation in Vietnam will be happy to learn that this is one place you can stay for a song. The budget accommodation option is a 'homestay' in a stilt house in one of the ethnic White Thai villages a short walk from Mai Chau town: Ban Poom Coong, Ban Lac 1 and Ban Lac 2.
The best time to visit Mai Chau is between October and April, as outside of these times Mai Chau can become unbearably hot, particular in June through to August, and if you're staying in a homestay you'll find little respite from the heat as electricity doesn't come on until the evening. That said, some good deals can be had on the pricier hotel options out of season.