Pu Luong Nature Reserve is a stunning natural gem about 160 km from Hanoi, nestled among the tranquil Thai and Muong ethnic communities. The name “Pu Luong” in Thai refers to the village’s highest peak. Covering an expansive area of 17,662 hectares in the northwest of Thanh Hoa province, the reserve boasts a diverse landscape of dense forests, cascading waterfalls of various sizes, fascinating caves, and majestic mountains. Amidst this breathtaking scenery lie serene and charming villages and picturesque terraced fields that burst with verdant greenery during the summer months. If you’re planning a trip to this awe-inspiring destination, be sure to consult a Pu Luong travel guide for insider tips on the best places to go and things to do. With its stunning natural beauty and fascinating cultural heritage, Pu Luong is a must-visit destination in Vietnam.
- Getting there
- Pu Luong Travel Guide: What to do?
- Pu Luong Travel Guide: What to Eat
- Pu Luong Travel Guide: Recommended Itinerary
Pu Luong Nature Reserve, located in the Ba Thuoc and Quan Hoa districts of Thanh Hoa province, is a scenic conservation area that can be reached from Hanoi in about 4 hours by road. To the north and northeast of Pu Luong are the Mai Chau, Tan Lac, and Lac Son districts of Hoa Binh province. Travelers have various transportation options to reach the area, including motorbikes, self-driving cars, or passenger buses.
From Hanoi, follow National Highway 6 towards Mai Chau, Hoa Binh, then continue on National Highway 15C to Co Luong, Dong Dieng, and reach Pu Luong. Visitors from Thanh Hoa can take the northwest direction of the Ho Chi Minh trail, pass through Cam Thuy town, head to Canh Nang town, turn onto National Highway 15C, and drive another 10 km to reach Pu Luong.
Many accommodation options offer combo packages, including round-trip transportation from Hanoi to Pu Luong, with room rates starting from 800,000 VND per person per night. For group travelers, renting private cars or taking a passenger bus for 300,000 VND for a round-trip ticket is a good option. High-quality cars are also available at around 500,000 VND.
According to Pu Luong Travel Guide, once you arrive at Pu Luong, you can explore the scenic villages and stunning natural scenery by motorbike, bicycle, or trekking. Many lodgings offer these services along with an experienced guide.
Accommodation options in Pu Luong cater to various travelers, from budget-conscious backpackers to those seeking a more luxurious experience. The area boasts a range of eco-friendly and conservation-focused options, including homestays in the charming Kho Muong, Kit, and Hieu villages, where guests can immerse themselves in the local culture and enjoy traditional stilt houses starting at just 100,000 VND per night.
For those looking for more upscale accommodations, Pu Luong Retreat, Pu Luong Eco Garden, Pu Luong Natura, Ciel del Pu Luong, Pu Luong Tree House, and Pu Luong Hillside Lodge offer a range of amenities such as spacious rooms, swimming pools, and breathtaking views, with prices ranging from 300,000 to over 1,000,000 VND per night. Some of these resorts forgo televisions and air conditioning in favor of providing guests with campfire facilities for a more immersive experience in nature. Whatever your preference, Pu Luong Travel Guide has an accommodation option that will suit your needs.
Pu Luong Travel Guide: What to do?
Son Ba Muoi: A Hidden Gem
Son Ba Muoi is a trio of highland villages in Lung Cao Commune, Ba Thuoc District, located on the route from Mai Chau to Pu Luong. The area boasts a mild climate, with temperatures ranging from 18-22°C, and is relatively isolated from the outside world. The ancient traditions of the Thai people are still prevalent in this region, where you can find traditional stilt houses that embody the unique characteristics of the local people. Exploring Son Ba Muoi means overcoming steep hills and winding roads, but the reward is worth it – a peaceful life amidst majestic nature.
Hieu Village: Waterfalls and More
For a more refreshing experience, head to Hieu village in the core area of Pu Luong Nature Reserve, where a breathtaking waterfall awaits with strong and clear water flowing in layers. At the foot of the waterfall, natural “swimming pools” offer clear and calm water in summer and warm water in winter. You can also explore the palm hills, terraced fields, and pristine forests. A short 11km from Hieu Waterfall is the village of Tom or Suoi Cham, where you can experience riding bamboo rafts on the river. The rafting tour lasts an hour and costs 50,000 VND per person for a raft that can carry 8-14 people. Whether trekking on the terraced fields, cycling, or boating on bamboo rafts on the river, there are many ways to enjoy the natural beauty of Hieu village.
Pu Luong Peak: A Trekker’s Paradise
Pu Luong Peak, standing tall at about 1,700m, is one of the favorite trekking destinations for mountain lovers. The steep and winding paths pose many challenging and dangerous sections. It takes about 6 hours in good weather conditions to climb to the top of Pu Luong. Standing on the top of Pu Luong, you can admire the poetic scenery of the mountains, forests, and valleys at the foot of the mountain. You can camp overnight on the peak or bring your own lunch and rest in the afternoon, then return to rest overnight in Ban Don. When climbing the mountain, it is advisable to wear long pants, a hat, climbing shoes, and mosquito repellent, and bring a water bottle and snacks to prevent hunger. If you’re not experienced in climbing, consider joining a private tour for a day or a 2-day-1-night tour.
Ban Don: A Peaceful Escape
Ban Don is a village where the Thai people gather and live. More and more tourists have been visiting this place in the past 2-3 years, with various options for homestays, resorts, and hotels. This place has a peaceful atmosphere and unspoiled natural scenery, with many delicious local specialties such as forest bamboo shoots, ducks, wild pigs, hill chickens, pumpkin leaves, and squash.
Kho Muong Village and Bat Cave: Uncover Hidden Treasures
Kho Muong Village and Bat Cave are two of the most attractive destinations in Pu Luong that travelers should not miss. The road to Kho Muong is challenging to walk because of the winding mountain slopes and deep ravines, but when you arrive, you will be amazed by the hidden beauty of this place. From a distance, you can see the stilt houses, rice fields, and cornfields spreading along the mountains. Bat Cave has many unique and gigantic limestone blocks, formed about 250 million years ago, and is home to many bat species. As you go deeper into the cave, you will see an ample open space covered by strange-shaped limestone blocks.
Pho Don Market: A Highland Experience
Welcome to Pu Luong Travel Guide, where you can discover the hidden beauty of the highland market at Pho Don. Held every Thursday and Sunday, this vibrant marketplace offers an array of local products and delectable cuisine, allowing you to immerse yourself in the region’s authentic culture. What’s unique about this market is that the age-old tradition of exchanging goods of equal value still thrives, making bargaining a rare occurrence. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness this charming and authentic marketplace during your visit to Pu Luong.
Pu Luong Travel Guide: What to Eat
Pu Luong is a great place to sample traditional Thai cuisine. Visitors can find a variety of local dishes in local homestays. Though there aren’t many restaurants in Pu Luong, the local guesthouses offer a complete range of food and beverage services.
Apart from the famous Co Lung duck, there are other delicious dishes such as grilled snails, hill chicken, grilled stream duck, roasted wild pig, sour bamboo shoots, bitter bamboo shoots, forest pumpkin leaf soup, bamboo rice, and banana flower salad. These dishes are prepared in a communal style where meat and fish are placed on trays with leaves (co la), and guests can enjoy them with rice or glutinous rice.
One of the must-try specialties is the Co Lung duck. This unique duck breed is raised freely near streams and rivers, eats natural food, and has small bones, firm meat, and tender fat. The duck is roasted over charcoal until the skin is crispy and the meat is fragrant, sweet, and savory.
Another dish not to miss is grilled stream fish. The fish is cleaned and marinated with herbs, such as mac khen, forest vegetables, chili, lemongrass, and salt, then rolled with herbs and grilled on hot coal until it turns golden brown and gives off a fragrant smell. It is often served with rice or sticky rice and a dip made from salt and chili.
Cơm lam (bamboo rice) is another specialty of the region. The dish is made from a type of fragrant, large-grain glutinous rice that is cooked inside a section of bamboo. The bamboo gives the rice a unique aroma and flavor. It is usually served with grilled or boiled meat, fish, and vegetables.
In addition to these dishes, visitors can enjoy other traditional Thai dishes, such as sour soup, grilled meat skewers, and sticky rice cake with coconut milk. The cuisine of Pu Luong is characterized by a solid mountainous flavor and the use of local herbs and spices, making it a unique and unforgettable experience for food lovers.
Pu Luong Travel Guide: Recommended Itinerary
For an unforgettable Pu Luong experience, we recommend the following itinerary:
Day 1: Explore the beautiful Son Ba Muoi, then head to Ban Hieu to visit the stunning Hieu Waterfall.
Day 2: Hike to the top of Pu Luong Peak for breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, then settle down for the night in Ban Don Village.
Day 3: Visit Kho Muong Village and explore the fascinating Bat Cave before finishing up your trip at the Pho Don Market, where you can shop for souvenirs and sample delicious local food