Uncle Ty's Farmstay
If you want to get out of town for a day or two, then Uncle Ty’s Farmstay is the perfect place for you. Having been there 3 times, I think I can safely say it’s one of my favorite getaways from Hanoi and it isn’t as far as the now overcrowded Mai Chau.
Rent a bike from us to take the short trip. It is only 80km from Hanoi or about 1 ½ hrs motorbike, so it is easy to get to and you also pass through some of Ba Vi district’s most beautiful places. Bloom Microventures set up the Uncle Ty’s Farmstay project and we at RentABike are really happy to support them because it is a good project and because it’s a great place.
Uncle Ty's Farmstay - Full Map
For a complex map of routes, interesting locations, and notes, see this map. For only route information, look at the map below. There are several routes to get there and this means you can choose to spend more or less time on the road, make a loop, or take a detour to some interesting locations on the way. Take a look at the map above to see what is possible before planning your route. For those who want to chill and get out of the smog of Hanoi, I would suggest a simple out and back. This also gives enough time to stop on the way to practice Vietnamese with locals.
Uncle Ty's Farmstay - Route Only
For more detail concerning just the route take a look at the map above and choose which layer you think will suit you. Remember your average speed is likely to be slow, some 40km an hour, once you allow for drink stops and maybe photos. A brief outline of some possibilities is given below.
Out and Back
This is the most direct and quickest way to get to Uncle Ty’s farm stay. If you want to just get there and chill then, this is the route for you. We’ve started from Big C as it is basically the beginning of the Hoa Lac Highway (CT08). How you choose to get there from your location in town depends…. So, it really is quite simple, follow the Hoa Lac Highway (stay on the side road, which is for motorbikes). You can keep going straight and then turn left onto the new Hoa Lac – Hoa Binh Highway or take the short detour south on Highway 21a before turning onto the DT 446 (good idea), or head a little further towards Ba Vi before turning and ending up on that same road.
If you prefer to take a loop so that you don’t drive on the same roads too much(some is inevitable) then look at these options.
Through Son Tay
The longest route to get out to Uncle Ty’s Farmstay. This route takes you along the Red River and through the town of Son Tay, where you can stop for lunch and maybe look at the old citadel. After that, you can choose to skirt Ba Vi National Park and take a small road along the Ma River down to the Farmstay. Two shorter routes would be to take either the QL21a or the DT87 South and then get on the Hoa Lac Hoa Binh Highway for the last part of the trip.
Back on Highway 6
It is possible to take the DT 445 South to Ky Son and the junction with Highway 6 and then just follow the 6 back into Hanoi. You will meet quite a lot of traffic after Xuan Mai and then end up on some of the busiest roads that Hanoi has to offer (Tay Son, Ton Duc Thang….) This is a shorter route but the stress of the drive might not be worth it.
Back via Hoa Binh Dam
This is the longest route to get back from the farm stay. However, it is on good road so not necessarily much slower and you get to hang out at the dam. In all my years here I have only once seen the gates open. It is a great sight but it does not happen often.
To avoid driving on highway 6 to and from the dam you should hunt down the ferry crossing and take the road on the opposite bank of the river. This road is quieter and more pleasant to drive on, so it is worthwhile doing so. Then it simply follows the road, with the river on your left, down to the dam.
When at the dam, you can take a tour of the power station, visit the museum, take refreshments, buy some souvenirs, drive THROUGH the dam and then also visit the huge Uncle Ho statue on the hillside. On the side with the power plant, there are several shops selling gifts and ice creams but on the other side, there are many roadside vendors who will welcome your VND.
From then on, it is back on Highway 6 directly to Hanoi unless you choose to take DT 446, the H21 back to Hoa Lac or the cut-through to Quoc Oai (TL 412b) and then on to Hanoi. My personal favorite is to take the Quoc Oai route.
Mix and Match Routes
For all of the above routes, it is a good idea to mix and match and choose the route that suits you, your companions, driving styles and the weather conditions. This makes the whole thing so much more of an independent thing.
Things to do
When you are at Uncle Ty’s Farmstay, you can choose to while away the day under the stilt house relaxing in a hammock. However, if you have more energy or need to entertain kids, there are a whole bunch of things to do. You can swim or go boating in the dam lake, take a trek through the countryside or around the village, catch a fish or duck, or even set the kids to some handicraft like egg painting or basket weaving. There really is something for everyone and the rooms and toilet facilities are uber clean and the food is absolutely fantastic. It’s totally worth a visit.
Benefit the Community
Uncle Ty’s is a community project and is based on a micro-finance model combined with a community development model. So, the family that hosts you benefit from loans and skills training and the community benefit from part of the profit being used for village projects to upgrade infrastructure and schooling amongst other areas. This is seven more reasons to visit and put your cash directly into the hands of the locals.
I prefer to drive the bike out but if you don’t wish to do so, or you have group members that wish to take a car, Uncle Ty’s Farmstay themselves offer a weekend package and you can find more details on their Facebook page.