The main reason for visiting Mai Chau is to enjoy the peaceful valley with green rice fields. If you don’t mind venturing further from your accommodation by motorbike or private car, it is highly recommended to visit the Go Lao waterfall in Mai Chau. There are also a few other waterfalls not too far driving. They may not be the most beautiful waterfalls in Vietnam, but the location is unique. Hidden in the jungle, next to a gigantic lake or between vast rice fields.
Go Lao waterfall
Go Lao waterfall is a combination of two streams: Thung Cang and Phieng Sa. The waterfall is about 30 meters high and lies in a corner against the mountain. It is the most visited waterfall, as it is close relatively close to Lac Village and can be easily visited in combination with Hoa Binh Lake and Thung Khe pass.
The road above the waterfall. A stairs bringing you all the way down to the lowest part. Here you can find a natural pool, which is a great spot to take a cool dip on a hot day. In you go back up and follow the road a bit further you will be right across the waterfall and a great spot to take a photo.
How to get to the Go Lao waterfall
The Go Lao waterfall is 13 km from Lac Village, the main tourist village with resorts and homestays in Mai Chau. The best way to get there is either by car with driver or motorbike. You can rent a motorbike at most accommodations from 120,000 VND. If you don’t drive yourself you can also go on the back of a motorbike with an experienced guide. If you go by motorbike or car you can also combine it with visiting some other highlights close to the waterfall.
You can also go by bicycle, though only recommended for experience cyclists with good quality bicycle as most bikes that are free to borrow at the accommodation are not good enough for these kind of distances. Also the largest part you will drive over the main road and not through the countryside.
If you are coming from Hanoi, it is best to first take a limousine bus to Mai Chau (Lac village) and visit the waterfall starting from your accommodation.
Highlights around Go Lao waterfall
Hao Binh Lake
Hoa Binh Lake is the largest artificial lake in Southeast Asia. It is more than 70km long and spreads across 17 communes in 5 districts. It is located right next to the Go Lao waterfall. There is a place close to the waterfall where you can go down and take a boat trip over the lake. The road from the waterfall also continues for a few kilometer along the lake with some great viewpoint.
If you continue following that road along the lake, it will bents of to the right and you will drive through some rural countryside. Also the road before the waterfall coming from Mai Chau you can find some nice countryside with rice fields and minority villages. It is a very nice drive.
The road from the waterfall, along the lake and through the countryside ends at the Thung Khe pass. Take a right to go over the pass with again some nice views. But the best viewpoint on the pass is on the end, just before the road goes down again to Mai Chau. There is a parking space to park the car or your motorbike. Here you find the best viewpoint of Mai Chau, over the valley.
Pung waterfall is a beautiful 22 km ride from Lac Village. The waterfall is on a real hidden spot, deep into the valley and in between the jungle. There are two roads to get there, so you can choose to do it in a loop. Recently, in 2021 there is a luxury resort built right next to the waterfall, called Avana Retreat. In addition you can find some terraced rice fields in the hills around this area.
Tat Nang waterfall
Tat Nang waterfall is 27 km from Lac Village. It is the biggest waterfall of the two other mentioned waterfalls in Mai Chau – though this waterfall is actually located in Son La. Even though driving to this waterfall seems far, there are a lot of nice villages you can visit around of local minority. The waterfall itself is located near Phu Mau Village, of the Thai ethnic group.
The waterfall is where the Ta Piu stream at the Ta Xam stream meets. They run from Phu Mau 2 village to Phu Mau 1 village. It is more than 100m high with three levels, surrounded by jungle. In the area you will also find extensive rice fields and even terraced rice fields in the higher hills. The water coming from the waterfall is also the main source water for the rice paddies.
There are a few very small waterfalls in Mai Chau, but not worth the extra miles driving. Though if you are planning to visit Pu Luong Nature reserve right next Mai Chau, there are a few more waterfalls you can visit. In addition, this area is one of the best areas for trekking in Mai Chau, with terraced rice fields and local minority villages.
Best time to visit the waterfalls in Mai Chau
Like most waterfalls in Vietnam, the amount of water coming down depends on the season. During dry season, the stream of water will be less and therefore automatically less spectacular. During rainy season there is a lot more water coming down, making it a lot more impressive, although sometimes the water can be a bit darker. Due to current, more soil enters the water, making the color darker.