Welcome to Vietnam’s town of Happiness and Simplicity
Ever since I was a child, I’ve had this fantasy of living in a small village nested in a cliff side.
A village that woke up with the sunrise and the sounds of the roosters.
Where you could walk down to the stream and take a swim.
Living in a log cabin built by locals hundreds of years ago.
Offering a view that cannot be described by words alone.
Enjoying meals with locals,
Delicious meals made with local foods that come from their own mountainside.
Giving you a moment to think, and appreciate the good things of this world.
Ma Le is that type of magical place. The type which allows you to feel at home in a different world. A vertical world where 1000 meter mountain is considered small, and where over 150 rice fields stacked on top of each other within the mountain side is a norm. Welcome to Ma Le, Vietnam’s town of happiness and simplicity.
Situated in the Ha Giang Province, about 15 km north of Dong Van City, Ma Le can be easily missed when passing by it. At first, it looks like any other cross-town on these mountainous passes, but as soon as you get off the main road, you enter a new world of peace and serenity, where you feel as though time has left the town as it was centuries ago. If you plan on visiting Dong Van, I highly recommend staying in this small hidden gem of a town instead of Dong Van.
Where to stay in Ma Le
To experience the authenticity of Ma Le, you should stay at the Ma Le Homestay. Owned by Dung (pronounced Zoom), the Homestay has recently become part of a humanitarian project to help the town develop itself. Dung is a generous and righteous man who is also bringing electricity to one of the Hmong People communes, who live in the mountains about 4 KM away from Dong Van. At night, we would cook massive meals and invite all the neighbors to eat with us, drinking Happy Water (homemade rice wine) into the later hours of the night. Offered at a very affordable price, this Homestay exceeded my expectations in every way. It is the type of place you plan to stay in for 1 night, but end up staying for 1 week, so watch out!!
Alt Tip: The place is quite difficult to find if you don’t know where to look, so instead call Dung, and he will be able to help you. The number you can reach him at is: 097 379 18 42.
What to do in Ma Le
There are many things to do around Ma Le. Even staying around the Homestay will teach you how to do some pretty incredible stuff like this little animal made of plants!
In Ma Le, you can
- Go swim in the stream – The walk is over 2KM down to the bottom of the mountainside so be prepared!
- Help prepare food and eat with locals at the Homestay
- Drink Happy Water with local tribes
- Enjoy one of Vietnam’s grandest views
- Help locals on the rice fields
If you enjoyed the pictures to this point, check out this great article featuring inspiring pictures from all of over Vietnam!
Around Ma Le, you can
- Motorbike and enjoy some of Vietnam’s most beautiful views
- Go see the iconic flag pole in Lung Cu, the most northern point of Vietnam – This is only 14 KM from Ma Le
- Go to the market on Sunday
- Go visit Dong Van and the pretty pink flowers
- Go to Dung’s Cave next to Dong Van
How to get to Ma Le
It would be difficult to get to Ma Le without a motorbike. I would recommend renting one in Ha Giang and going towards Dong Van. If you bargain you should be able to get the motorbike for 150,000 Dong per day. Make sure it’s at least semi-automatic if you are not used to riding manual. Dong Van is at least 4 hours away going 40KM per hour, and Ma Le is only 15 KM from Dong Van, which takes about 30 minutes by motorbike.
Ma Le, Vietnam’s town of happiness and simplicity
If only moments and feelings could be captured by pictures, I am certain you too would want to spend a day or two in the mountains of Ma Le. These mountains will offer you peace of mind, a moment to slow down and breathe. They will show you the true Vietnamese culture, of generosity and serenity. So let me conclude with this simple question; are you ready to experience Vietnam’s natural beauty?
Until next time,
The Alternative Ways
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