Ba Khan, the far-flung incredible plain in Mai Chau
Nestled between two wonderful fairy-tale places crowded with tourists Mai Chau and Moc Chau, the unexplored Ba Khan is likened to a forgotten underworld paradise in the Northwest highlands. Possessing every feature of a tranquil isolated countryside: the lake surrounded by cliffs, the waterfall, the ponds, and the valley adorned with few rural houses, Ba Khan is one of the best options for motorcycle adventures as well as mellow vacations.
I. About Ba Khan
Located in the foothills of Thung Khe Pass, Mai Chau district, 70km from Hoa Binh city center, Ba Khan was originally a riverside road running along the Da River in the Hoa Binh hydropower reservoir. As Mai Chau is the province’s most popular tourism center, Ba Khan seems to be more neglected, which, however, makes this secret place more attractive when maintaining its pure state.
The scene of monumental mountains and hills undulating on the calm blue lake somehow reminds you of Ha Long Bay but in a more peaceful and tourist-free space. Below the valleys are small roads leading to the tiny houses of the Muong and Thai ethnic groups. Around their houses are rows of green bamboo trees and ponds – everything is simple, cute, and untouched.
During autumn, the water lake turns deep blue and bamboo bushes wonderfully shed off their leaves, preparing for a cold winter, when everything will be immersed in mist. Meanwhile, in summer, the landscape changes to a new cover of spectacular golden rice fields.
II. Getting there
From Hanoi, you go about 60km to Hoa Binh city, then continue riding for another 40km to the foot of Thung Khe Pass. When reaching the pass, you will see a small road on the right, turn to Phu Cuong, or the signpost to Mai Chau Hideaway, keep following this road to arrive at Ba Khan.
In case you miss the Thung Khe pass, no worry, since at the end of the road, you will come to Tong Dau junction, now turn left along the road to Moc Chau for another 7km, then look on the right side and see the direction signpost to Bai Sang, go about 8km further to reach Ba Khan lake.
The road to the valley has been concreted, one side is the mountain cliff and the other is the Da River. Still, visitors have to be extremely careful when driving on this road since it has numerous hidden corners and sudden curves.
III. Where to stay in Ba Khan
There are not many accommodation options in the area, except for the only two resorts with infinity pools overlooking the lake, Mai Chau Hideaway, and Ba Khan Resort. Prices range from 1,300,000 – 2,000,000 VND/night, including buffet.
Also, in the Tan Mai town just next to Ba Khan and about 5km from the waterfall there are traditional stilt houses where you can homestay. The places are safe and some glance at the bamboo forest and the lake. They also offer a half a day boat trip in Hoa Binh Lake with reasonable prices.
IV. What to do in Ba Khan
Not many entertainment services or constructions here with the deserted surroundings, this paradise on earth truly brings you closer to nature, especially suitable for those who want to relax, enjoy eco-tourism, and admire the mountain-river scenes.
By the end of the Ba Khan valley, about 10 km to the North, visitors will find a large white waterfall lined among the bamboo forest, which is called Go Mu waterfall where many locals come to chill out in the summertime. Follow the road down the waterfall towards the junction of San Phuc, and then turn right to the path leading to the Hoa Binh Lake. You will be touched by such an idyllic setting of thousands of islets floating on the water.
In general, all the activities you can do here are trekking to visit Muong – Thai villages, camping, visiting wild waterfalls, or cycling on the road along the lake. Moreover, recently, several family-run businesses sprung and set up some activities that tourists can enjoy while at Ba Khan, including rowing sub or kayaking and boat-riding tours in the Da River.