In the tale of Son La's two 'Chaus' told by generations upon generations of travel writers, or well, maybe just us, Moc Chau is very well regarded for its tea, and Yen Chau is the place to go for something quite different — mangoes.
As we found out though, while tea is fine year-round, mangoes are only worth their mettle in season — on our previous trip in late winter, there were none to be had, though this time the streets were lined with overflowing baskets of the fruit. So, if mangoes are your thing, be sure to manage your mango calendar.
If you're travelling on your own, and you get a late start out of Mai Chau en-route to Son La, you're likely to take a shine to Yen Chau as a good place to hole up for the night and finish the last 60 km in the morning — especially if it's mango season. Aside from gorging on the local produce, you'll be able to ride the last leg in the brisk morning air — the light is often fabulous.
Internet appeared to be in short supply on our last visit, though the electricity supply isn't 24/7 and the locals like a rest in the middle of the day — who wouldn't, it gets extremely hot — so you might have more luck in the evening.
There's a post office and Agribank along the main road, near the junction at the Huong Sen guesthouse.
Post Office: Tieu Khu 2 (Highway 6), Yen Chau. T: (022) 384 0155, F: (022) 384 0153. Hours: 07:00 to 21:00 daily.
By Don Morgan.