I did an overnight tour to Mai Chau. One of the most enjoyable tours I have ever done. Ride up was pretty standard, beautiful country so try and stay awake. Watch the rest stop - 2 bananas for 20,000 dong whereas in Mai Chau you can get a whole hand for this. Closer to Mai Chau is a photo stop at a market overlooking the valley. Beautiful view. Mix with the locals and the cattle - all are friendly. Lunch awaited on arrival, before our bike ride. Perfect weather for our ride along bumpy country lanes amid the vivid green rice paddies. We helped local villages collect bugs by knocking them out of trees, wandered through the villages and looked at all the beautiful handicraft for sale. After dinner, we were entertained with traditional dancing. We stayed in a homestay with bungalows. originally we opted to sleep in the communal room but upgraded to a family room and so glad we did - with a private bathroom and a balcony that looked across a stream to the rice paddies and mountains beyond. Best bungalow in the place I think. Awoke in the early morn to a torrential storm which turned the little stream into a brown fast-moving bigger stream that washed away the bamboo raft. Not lost, a couple of men came and retrieved it later. Next day was a walk through the village and up to the 1,000 steps cave for a view of the valley. unfortunately I chose not to do this and was taken on a walk to another non-tourist village. A pretty walk where we met some little boys very interested in us. A little shower or two but nothing to stop activities. Again, lunch awaited us before a rest and quiet time to mix with our fellow tourists before heading back to Hanoi. Tip: Take water. Everything on our tour was provided except drinks. The village was a little more expensive than our homestay but if the weather is hot and you do the steps, you need lots. Basically local food. However breakfast was western! Sunny side up eggs. I am used to eating asian breakfasts and didn't get the opportunity. That was my only negative comment but it didn't really matter. I'm sure I could have asked for a local breakfast and it would have been provided as the family was eating noodles. I was with a work colleague on this trip but travelling solo would not be a problem. We had 3 solo travellers in our group.
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