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MAI CHAU ECOLODGE
This is the first hotel review on our travel blog. In this article we tell you about our experiences of the sustainable and luxury ecolodge in Northern Vietnam.
About the Mai Chau Ecolodge
The Mai Chau Ecolodge belongs to the Asia Ecolodges in Vietnam. The ecologically-themed hotel differs from traditional hotels by reducing carbon footprint and preserving the traditions of the local communities. Closeness to nature, responsible tourism, environment protection and cultural development are the four principles of the ecolodge. It is located three hours from Vietnam’s capital Hanoi.
The story behind
It all began in Moc Chau, when we decided to spend a few more days in the beautiful region of North-West Vietnam. The weather was sunny and warm, the local people were kind and we felt like we have to soak up the good vibes of the Tet Holidays (the Chinese New Year). So we decided to look for something special to celebrate the festival and found the Mai Chau Ecolodge.
How to get there?
We hopped on a bus in Moc Chau. Normally the busses go from Son La to Hanoi, but on the way they pass both cities Moc Chau and Mai Chau. The ride cost us 100.000 VND per person and we needed around two hours. The drop-off was at a junction, which is 6km from the center of Mai Chau and because we missed the local bus we hitch-hiked for the first time (taxi is too expensive for us). If you come from Hanoi the Ecolodge offers a free pick-up.
Our Check-in experience
After a 20 minute walk we arrived at the gate where the security welcomed us and took our luggage. At the reception we got our welcome drinks and fresh cold towels (they might have noticed our sweat drowned t-shirts?!). We were ready for a good recovering day!
Our room and the lodge
The room was fantastic, probably the best we had on our journey so far. Much space, comfortable beds, a huge outdoor shower – it was bigger than our student rooms in our hometown. From our balcony we had a stunning view over the rice fields. Moreover the lodge has a pool area, a restaurant, a panorama bar and offers activities like hiking, cycling, traditional dance, cooking class and massage and more.
After a private info-meeting about the Tet Holidays we enjoyed the afternoon at the pool area. For sunset we rented two free bikes (with terrible noisy brakes and almost flat tires). We cruised around the rice fields and ended up in the living room of local people celebrating Tet, eating traditional food (we skipped the part with meat and fish) and drinking rice wine out of 5 litre plastic cans. Back at the lodge we enjoyed a traditional dance show with a cool beer in our hands. For the last song we made a fool of ourselves by joining the local dancers on stage, but it was really funny.
The sustainable aspect
Closeness to nature
To meet the sustainable aspect the Mai Chau Ecolodge used local resources and material for the bungalows including wood and stone. For example the courtyard, the toilets, the sinks and the garden wall are made from stones from local mountains. The roofs, the ceilings and the bathtub are made of different local woods (we enjoyed our first bath since four months – it felt so good!).
The lodge prefers to use renewable energy, however when there is need it also uses the national electricity grid. For the wastewater the lodge implemented to filter systems (organic and inorganic) before the water flows back into nature. The fuel for cooking is half biomass. No information is given in the prospect where the other half is coming from. Reusable glass bottles are supplied instead of plastic bottles for water, straws made of paper…
The buildings are based on the architecture of the stilt houses of the ethnic Thai culture. This provides durability of the construction materials. Also the interior design is inspired by Thai motives as well as the stuffs uniform.
The responsible tourism is declared in four point at the ecolodge. Creating jobs for local people, support local culture conservation, charity in form of donation to overcome poverty and environmental protection. It is too bad we could not witness one of the “Clean-up Days” at Mai Chau.
Special: The Tet Holidays
We thought this might interest you as well because it is the most important festival for many people in Asia. We got invited to an info meeting to learn everything about the Chinese New Year. Even though the Asian people adopted the christian calendar, every year they celebrate this event to keep up their tradition. All people take some time off and spend time with their families. The rice cake is the traditional meal during this time. The event lasts about one week and it depends on the moon. This year it was the 5th of February.