Homestay service has been available for years in Lac Village of Thai ethnic minority group in Mai Chau District in the northwestern mountainous province of Hoa Binh. But recently it has been made more professional.
Thanks to this service, Lac village has become attractive to visitors as curious people from other parts of the country or from abroad want to have hands-on experiences in the daily activities of the local people there.
To go to Lac Village from Hanoi, tourists can take a bus to travel 70 kilometers to Hoa Binh Town, and then continue on a 65-kilometer bus trip to the village, which is in Mai Chau valley. Covering Lac village are paddy fields which give tourists a comfortable feeling upon arrival.
There are about 40 stilt houses in Lac village ready to host tourists. Each house can provide accommodation for 40-50 visitors at VND500,000 (US$23.2) per night. Tourists can also hire bicycles for VND20,000 per bike to take a sightseeing tour or take photos of the local landscapes and people, especially young Thai women in colorful costumes.
In a recent tour to Lac Village, we were captivated by nature around the village, the lives of Thai people there, and specialties like com lam (rice cooked in bamboo tubes, a traditional dish of upland ethnic groups), which costs VND5,000 per tube, and sticks of grilled pork which cost VND25,000-30,000 each.
At night, tourists can drink ruou can (wine stored in a big jar and drunk by using a long pipe) and the four typical dishes made from pork – grilled pork, steamed pork, pig feet cooked with shrimp paste and lemongrass and galingale, and pork sausage – and enjoy dance performances by Thai people.
Lac village is also known for its typical tho cam (brocade) and souvenirs such as bracelet and necklace, and other tools such as bow, arrow and gong, made manually by local people.
Ha Duc, one of several people in the village who still keep the technique of hand-making tho cam items, says he uses natural material to dye tho cam cloth and then creates colorful tho cam products such as dress, shirt, purse, bag and scarf.
However, the main source of income of Lac villagers comes from paddy cultivation and livestock and poultry farming, which help maintain the peaceful rustic look of the village.