Mai Chau is not only a tourist destination, a relaxation resort, but it is also a rendezvous to explore the colorful cultural identity. It also is an ideal place of recreation tourist attraction, cultural exploration, and social activity organization.
Geographical location: Mai Chau is an upland district in the northwest of Hoa Binh province in Northwest Vietnam. It owns a geographical coordinates of 20o24’ - 20o45’ north latitude and 104o31’ - 105o16’ east longitude. The district is adjacent Da Bac district and Tan Lac district to the east, with Quan Hoa district (Thanh Hoa) to the west and south, and with Van Ho district (Son La) to the north.
Terrain: Mai Chau terrain is quite complex and fragmented by the system of streams and high mountains. Based on terrain characteristics, the region can be divided into two distinct areas: lowland and highland.
Climate: Mai Chau climate is markedly influenced by northwest monsoon. There are two distinct seasons around a year in Mai Chau: rainy season from May to October Dry season from November to April with the dry climate, low humidity, fog and freezing drizzle.
Mai Chau formerly called Muong Mai, was formed in the thirteenth century. Since the French colonial period, Mai Chau has belonged to Cho Bo, Muong Hoa Binh province. On October 1890, Mai Chau and Da Bac consolidated into Mai Da. After the victory of French resistance, on 21 September 1956, the Prime Minister signed a decree dividing Mai Da district into 2 districts: Mai Chau district and Da Bac district.
According to the statistics in 2012, Mai Chau district owns a natural area of 57,127.98 hectares.
The administrative boundary in Mai Chau today consists of 22 administrative units, including 21 communes and 1 town: Cun Pheo, Pieng Ve, Bao La, Xam Khoe, Mai Hich, Van Mai, Mai Ha, Tan Mai, Chieng Chau, Na Phon, Na Meo, Tong Đau, Đong Bang, Phuc San, Tan Son, Noong Luong, Ba Khan, Thung Khe, Pu Bin, Hang Kia, Pa Co, and Mai Chau town.
Mai Chau is home to many ethnic groups. In 2012, the population in Mai Chau was 52.540 persons; average population density was 92 persons / km2. Among them, Thai ethnic people occupied the majority (60.2%), Muong ethnic groups accounted for 15.07%, Kinh people comprised 15.56%, Mong ethnic people was 6.91%, Dao people occupied 2.06%, and the rest was other ethnic minorities accounting for a very small percentage.
In 2012, the total production value reached VND 867.9 billion, gained a growth rate of 9.3% compared to the same period in which production value of agriculture - forestry - fishery products reached VND 341.9 billion, accounting for 39.39%; industry - construction value was VND 296 billion, accounting for 34.11%; trade - tourism value attained VND 230 billion, accounting for 26.50%. Total revenues drew up VND 19.93 billion; per capita income reached VND 10.415 million / person / year.
So far, Mai Chau district has maintained the number of facilities of industries and cottage industries. The district retained 606 industrial production facilities and cottage industries, solving onsite jobs, and contributing to labor income for more than 1,996 employees.
Education and training Mai Chau successfully held excellent teacher contest, district-level good students and established the team to attend the provincial exams in 2011-2012 school year. In addition, the district now owns 09 national standard schools; 21/23 communes and towns standardize preschool education universalization; 22/23 communes and towns standardize primary education universalization at the right age; and 23/23 communes and towns standardize primary education - literacy universalization.
Health: The province well establishes preventative health, regularly monitors epidemics at the community, educates residents to know how to prevent the disease for themselves, their family and whole community; successful implements national target programs on health, and widely disseminates among ethnic minorities. Simultaneously, Mai Chau continuously improves health care quality and enhances the spirit of patient care. The district currently is the owner of 52.17% commune health stations.
Mai Chau has formed a system of grassroots cultural institutions including libraries, post offices and mass art team in almost villages. Mai Chau cultural sector propagate a healthy lifestyle, contributing to gradually eliminate harmful habits and superstitions in the region. Some traditional festivals in Mai Chau were encouraged to restore and maintain, which aims to improve the spiritual life of people and contribute to preserve nation's cultural heritages. Movement on arts and sports continues to be maintained and developed throughout all communes and township, contributes to enrich the spiritual life of the citizens, andbuild a healthy society.
Tourism is considered the strength of Mai Chau district with a large number of cultural tourist destinations both in domestic and international stature, such as Lac Village (Chieng Chau), Cum villagge (Van Mai), and Pom Coong (Mai Chau town)... With 800 hectares of water surface area, Da River Lake is a scenic beauty that attracts many tourists coming to Mai Chau. Taking advantage of craft village tourism, district People's Committee directly interests the conservation and enhancement of the cultural identity; simultaneously, often strengthens investment promotion, promotes images on culture and ethnic identity, mobilizes investment capital in infrastructure, and improves the quality of tourist services in the region. In 2012, Mai Chau district welcomed 5,141 delegates with 45,890 tourists including 2,294 international delegates with 10.39 million tourists, total revenue of VND 8.5 billion.
Xen Ban, Xen Muong festival (Thai ethnic group): the festival takes place in annual August (lunar calendar) in Muong village. Xen Ban, Xen Muong festival aims to worship Deity of Muong village, and give thanks to ancestors, demand the peace for people in the community.
Cau Mua (Pray for rain) festival (Thai ethnic people): is held inApril (lunar calendar). The festival is organized on the night of Moon with the red halo in March or April (lunar calendar). All of people gather together to pray for rain, then relay torch around their village.
Gongs Festival (Muong ethnic groups): The festival takes placein days of the spring, Tet holiday, or important events. It is one of the largest festivals in Mai Chau in general and in Muong people in Hoa Binh in particular. The festival is an opportunity for everyone in the village gather together. They usually wish prosperity and peace for each other. The highlight of the festival is Xec Bua singing. It revealed playful and excited psycho-emotional of folk artists.
Long Tong Festival (Tay ethnic groups): the festival is held on early spring days from the 05 to 15 January (lunar calendar). "Long Tong" festival aims to wish a luxuriant harvest, good weather, and a prosperous life. In particular, there are many attractive activities taking place in the festival: lion dance, Con throwing, Xoe dance, or tug of war...
Festivals in Mai Chau are actually unique, lively shows the exuberant of cultural and spiritual life of residents here.