Thung Khe Pass – Hoa Binh
The Thung Khe pass links up Mai Chau and Tan Lac in Hoa Binh Province. With its highest point at around 1000 meters in elevation, it is not the largest or steepest pass in Vietnam. It is however quite beautiful and is a great place to stop if you are heading west to Mai Chau or beyond. On clear sunny days, there are great mountain views to the north and in cold winter months, the fog can be impressive. It’s a very simple and safe ride but if you ever have to traverse it on a cold winter night do take care. Besides the biting cold the roads can get quite slippery and visibility is reduced to only a couple of meters.
There are several stops along the pass which offer refreshments, food and simple gifts. We recommend going towards the top for the best views. Recently a new stop opened at the on the far western side of the pass which offers splendid views of the Mai Chau valley. There is also another older viewing spot a bit further down as you descend into Mai Chau – bear in mind these stops don’t really have the interesting minority stalls the Tan Lac side does.
What to do at Thung Khe Pass
It is a spot to grab a drink, perhaps a bite to eat and take photographs. The local people here from the Muong minority have set up small eateries selling basic foods such as boiled eggs, grilled pork kebabs and steamed corn. You can also drink root and corn tea, it is an uncomplicated set up and also very cheap.
The pass also sells fresh food for travelers heading home, the produce here is very fresh and undoubtedly organic. Some of the best buys are forest vegetables, herbs, and traditional sauces. Wild orchids and other jungle plants are for sale here also.