A pleasant little town, Hoa Binh means “peace.” Ironically, its strategic location next to the Song Da or Black River Valley made it the site of many battles during the First Indo- china War .Relics from these turbu lent times are displayed in the Hoa Binh Museum. A French landing craft and a destroyed French tank can be seen on its grounds. Tradi tionally home to the Muong commu nity, the town has shaded avenues and some decent eateries, which makes it a con venient stop on a tour from Hanoi to neighboring places such as Moc Chau and around Mai Chau Valley. A few miles northwest of Hoa Binh is Song Da Reservoir. Boat trips to the minority villages and the reservoir can be arranged through local tour operators.
for their hospitality, fami lies here offer homestay faci- lities in stilt huts – an authentic yet comfortable way of experien cing life on the hills, though it can get crowded at weekends. Some of the larger homestays even put on dis plays of traditional Thai music and dancing. At night, visitors can enjoy the local alcohol ruou can, which is drunk communally from large jars through long bamboo straws. One of the main highlights here is the excellent trekking opportunities pro vided by the valley’s delightful trails, fields, and villages.