Although most locals no longer wear traditional dress, the Thai women are masterful weavers who ensure that there is plenty of traditional-style clothing to buy in the village centre. You will see women weaving on looms under or inside their houses in the village. Much of the silk looks similar to that seen in Laos. The Thai of Mai Chau are less likely to employ strong-arm sales tactics than their H’mong counterparts in Sapa: polite bargaining is the norm rather than endless haggling.
Culture of Thai people in Mai Chau
Culture of Thai people in Mai Chau - The Thai language belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. They have a valuable legacy of myths, legends, ancient tales, versed stories, and folk songs.
The original social structure is called ban muong, also known as the phia tao regime. The Thai lineage is called Dam. Each person has three key lineal relationships: Ai Noong (every born from a common fourth-generation ancestor); Lung Tay (every male member of the wife’s family throughout generations); and Nhinh Xao (every male member of the son-in-laws)
The Black Thai worship their ancestors on the 7th and 8th month of the Lunar Year. The White Thai also celebrate the New Year according to the lunar calendar. Villagers also worship the gods of land, mountain, water and the soul of the central post of the village.
The Thai calendar follows the ancient horoscope or cosmology (which contains 12 key animals) like the lunar calendar. But the Black Thai’s calendar has a time difference of six months.
Thai popular games include con throwing, tug-of-war, horse racing, boat cruising, archery, xoe dance, spinning top, and mak le balls. There are many other games for kids.
In the past, the Thai respected the selling and buying of marriage and the son-in-law’s staying with the girl’s family. To marry a husband, the girl’s family needs to take two basic steps:
- Up marriage (dong khun): means the introduction and bringing of the son-in-law to live with the girl’s family, which is a step to test his personality and hard work. The Black Thai women generally adopt the custom of wearing their hair in as bun or chignon immediately after this first wedding ceremony. The son-in-law will stay at his wife’s home for 8 to 12 years.
- Down marriage (dong long): the bringing of the couple and their family.
Mai Chau valley
Women give birth in the seated position. The placenta is put into a bamboo cylinder and hung on a branch in the forest. The mother is warmed by fire, fed rice using a bamboo tube, and must abstain from certain foods for a month. The bamboo tubes are hung on a tree branch. There are rituals to educate the child in gender-specific work and a Lung Tay is invited to the house to name the baby.
Basically, there are two steps in a funeral:
- Pong: the bringing of offerings o the deceased and bringing the deceased to the forest for burial (White Thai
- Xong: Calling the spirit to come back and live in the section of the house reserved for the worshiping of ancestors.
Showing the host his new house, the Lung Ta kindles a new fire. In celebrating a new house, people carry out spiritual rites on the spot, reading spiritual texts to drive away bad lucks and to bring good lucks, and to worship ancestors.
Best time to visit Mai Chau
October - November and February - May are the best times to visit Mai Chau
How to get there
For transportation, public bus at 8.00 in My Dinh bus station. It costs about $6. Tourist bus available with Mai Chau river resort. It costs about $16, departs from Old Quarter but it sometimes fully booked.
Accommodation in Mai Chau
Homestay - Its facilities are basic: no air-conditioning, western toilet and hot shower. Private rooms are available in a couple of homestays. The most luxury accommodation in Mai Chau is Mai Chau lodge.
Things to do in Mai Chau
Go cycling, walk around the village or take a trek. On the other hand, you can visit Thai ethnic museum, see 1000 steps cave and Mai Chau market. Especially, enjoy Thai ethnic traditional dance.
What to bring
Passport, change of clothes, sun-glasses & hat, suncream, sun-block, insect repellent, flashlights, good shoes, personal first aid kit & medicines, VND for personal expense.