Pu Luong Nature Reserve Accommodations
The accommodations in Pu Luong Nature Reserve are some of the most dramatically situated, atmospheric, and romantic places to stay in Vietnam. About 4 hours southwest of Hanoi, in Ba Thuoc district, Thanh Hoa Province, the scenery in Pu Luong Nature Reserve is the perfect mix between rice terraces, majestic mountains, clear river and the traditional village nearby mountainside beside which wood-and-thatch homes perch on raised platforms, with limestone peaks poking above low-hanging cloud all around. There are some accommodations scattered about Pu Luong Nature Reserve, most of which are now fairly easy to access. Some are more rustic than others, and there’s even more modern. But they are all great places to base yourself while exploring this beautiful corner of Vietnam.
GUIDE: PU LUONG NATURE RESERVEA CCOMMODATIONS
In this guide, I’ve written an overview of some accommodation in Pu Luong, including some information about the location, transportation, specific homestay areas, and things to do (see the contents below). As there are many dozens of accommodations spread across a large area, I have chosen to highlight some several homestays. However, there are lots of others to choose from, so you can be quite independent and spontaneous when ‘homestay-hopping’ in Pu Luong Nature Reserve. The best time to visit Pu Luong are Spring (March-May) or Autumn ( September – November). In Winter, expect misty conditions, low visibility and cool to cold conditions – especially at night. The Summer is hot and humid.
Pu Luong Weather in October
Pu Luong Nature Reserve is belong to Ba Thuoc distric, Thanh Hoa Province, which is roughly 178km southwest of Hanoi, 130km southeast of Thanh Hoa. Pu Luong Nature Reserve was established in 1999. Pu Luong has the area of 17,000 hectares and has a population of abundant flora and fauna. Although it take only a few hour drive from Ha Noi but it has amazing landscape which would surprised tourists by the endless terraced rice field, jagged limestone with the villager and their daily life.
Water Wheels Pu Luong nature Reserve
There are 3 ways to reach Pu Luong from Ha Noi:
- . Follow the HCM trail highway, 19 seats Limousine Fuso Bus
The road is easy to go (straight, few steep passes), there are some beautiful points such as the bridge over Cuc Phuong Forest, Cam Thuy fish stream.
➩ Hanoi – Xuan Mai go straight to Ho Chi Minh trail highway – Cam Thuy district (Thanh Hoa) 145km,
➩ Go across Cam Thuy bridge —> turn right to Canh Nang town (Ba Thuoc district) 35km,
➩ In Canh Nang town, pass the hospital 3km (sign to Hoa Binh), meet the T-junction, turn right go over La Han Bridge (across the Ma River).
- Going from the direction to Mai Chau, 4-45 cars.
The road is beautiful, you can visit Mai Chau to play, there are some continuous bends in the 15C road.
➩ Hanoi – Hoa Lac – Hoa Binh City – Mai Chau town.
➩ Go straight (15km) in the direction of road 15C to the place called Co Luong (next to Ma River, the junction of 15C and 15A),
➩ At the intersection, by the gas station, turn left to continue for about 2km, then go ahead to continue for about 500m then turn left to Hang Village direction and keep going about 20km.
- Ha Noi-Tan Lac-Pu Luong: motorbike- 4 seats car (hard route)
Ha Noi – Hoa Lac- Hoa Binh city to T-junction at Muong Khen town, Tan Lac disttric turn right on QL6 to Mai Chau about 6km to Lo market, Phong Phu commune then turn left about 20km to Van Son commune, you will see a t-junction then keep turn left about 5km more to reach Son- Ba-Muoi village on Pu Luong.
Follow the HCM trail highway with Limousine Bus
Dicovery Pu Luong
To discovery Pu Luong you can both take the tour from the travel agencies in Ha Noi or go indefendently:
On a Tour: almost tour to Pu Luong is trekking tour to discover all corner of Pu Luong such as terraced rice field, water wheel, waterfall, traditional villages…. The agencies will arrange both homestay and transportation in advance
Independently: For independent travellers, you can take the bus from Ha Noi with Pu Luong transfer service (0389 506 696), they start at 7 a.m from Ha Noi and go back at 3 p.m, then rent a motorbike in Pu Luong or it is very easy to ride motorbike to Pu Luong. In Pu Luong you can go yourself or take a local guide with you.
Tip:before go to Pu Luong, you should take a look at some map about Pu Luong area.
The Map For All Places Need To Know in Pu Luong
Bookings & Reservations: There are dozens on homestays in Pu Luong, and they divide to small villages. Some of them are very rustic but some now more modern. For the homestays listed below, I’ve tried to include contact information whenever possible. However, even with a phone number, making a reservation can be tricky if you don’t speak any Vietnamese.
Prices & Rates: At the typical homestays (of which the vast majority in Pu Luong are), the rates for sleeping overnight are incredibly cheap: between 120,000-320,000vnd ($6-$15) a night. This is because the sleeping arrangements are much upgrade : usually a mattress on a wooden floor under a mosquito net in a communal dorm on the first floor of a stilt house, often with curtains or partitions for privacy, and a shared bathroom. But food and drink is extra (see below for details). However, the boutique-style ‘retreats’ or ‘eco-resorts’ have much higher prices, sometimes upwards of $100 a night (although these rates often include breakfast and/or dinner).
Below are some homestay areas in Pu Luong:
Ban Hang Homestay Area : In the northwest of the nature reserve, Ban Hang is one of the first village that do homestay in pu Luong. It is near by the main QL15C road through Pu Luong. The road descends to the river valley and continues along the banks, where a cluster of homestays (including Thuy Lan Homestay: 0343736 999, Fog Homestay :0364 604 909) offer beds, food, drinks, and local excursions. The homestays here are popular with young Vietnamese road-trippers and some tour groups. The general standard is typical of homestays in Pu Luong: wooden houses on stilts with access to the pretty river, forests, and surrounding countryside. Because its location is low (down in the valley) the views aren’t as spectacular as other homestay areas, and the local hamlet (Ban Hang) is perhaps not quite as tidy and attractive as others in the nature reserve.
Kho Muong Homestay Area: from Ban Hang area, you can follow the main road or walk on a small trail to reach Kho Muong area which is now still keep the original of traditional custom on weaving. It is a small village down the valley with the field and Bat cave will bring you a peaceful scene. Some homestay in this area such as Kho Muong Homestay (0944325132) Nam Homestay (0394904372)
Ban Don Homestay Area : Perched on a kind of mini-plateau in the southwest corner of the nature reserve, Ban Don has a spectacular position with extraordinary views over a vast valley of terraced rice fields and high mountain surround . This is the most crowded area in Pu Luong with some homestay bellow: Pu Luong Retreat (0968447786), Pu Luong Natura Bungalow (0971336650), Pu Luong Treehouse (0966963851), Ciel De PuLuong (0862356868), Pu Luong Home (0968691171) and some others local villager homestay.
Ban Hieu Homestay Area : Located towards the southeast of the nature reserve, Ban Hieu Homestay close to Hieu Waterfall , a small but spread-out collection of thatched bamboo houses on stilts, built on a steep, jungled mountainside beside a gushing cascade with terraced rice paddies continuing high into the clouds. There are two small homestay areas here, both reached via a muddy road which deteriorates into a steep pathway (although this route is currently being resurfaced). The first area of homestays (Ban Hieu 1) features about a half dozen cheap and atmospheric lodgings in wood-and-thatch homes, including Mr. Ba Homestay (037 978 1988), Bamboo Homestay (0975 710 319), Ngoc Dau Homestay (0327111547). The second area (Ban Hieu 2) boasts a couple of higher-end, ’boutique-style’ homestays, including Les Bains de Hieu (???), Ban Hieu Garden Lodge (0904298536), Pu Luong Riverside Lodge(0357004668), as well as a triple of cheaper, more rustic options. Pu Luong Riverside Lodge, in particular, is extremely tasteful balance of rustic and chic and they provide a nice restaurant with local food, motorbike for rent and daily tour.
Hiking and biking are excellent here, but the centerpiece is Hieu Waterfall (thác Hiêu), which descends the mountainside in stages, flowing quickly at first, then collecting in a series of perfect rock pools at regular intervals, as it makes its way down to the river at the bottom of the valley. These gin-coloured pools are great for bathing, and they give the impression that the course of the stream has been ‘terraced’ according to the contours of the slope; in the same way that the surrounding rice paddies have been terraced.
Lung Cao/Ban Nua Homestay Area : Right in the middle of the nature reserve, Lung Cao and Ban Nua are little hamlets spread over a wide area around the flood plains of a pretty river valley. The homestays, including Ban Nua Homestay (085 755 0703), tend to be very nice but basic. Some of the homestays can be accessed by the paved road along the valley, but others require a good motorbike, 4×4, or going on foot. I’ve not had time to explore this area for more than a couple of days, but I’m sure there’s a lot to discover if you have some time to spare.
Other Homestay Areas : To the east of the nature reserve, at the top of an extraordinarily steep and fabulously scenic road, is Pu Luong Camping, including hammocks and tents. Unfortunately, the location on my map is not exact, but it’s somewhere before the intersection with road DT432A at Lung Van. There are also several other well-known and not-so-well-known homestay areas around Pu Luong Nature Reserve. By far the most popular is Mai Chau, located just to the north of the nature reserve. However, these days Mai Chau is a firm fixture on most travel operators’ tours, so it can get very crowded and feels a bit ‘touristy’, even though it is still a beautiful place to visit. However, in the same area, just northwest of Pu Luong, there are also a handful of homestays in the remote, peaceful area of Cun Pheo.
Pu Luong Riverside Lodge
Food & Drink:
Because Pu Luong Nature Reserve doesn’t have any sizable towns in it, and because most of the homestays are in fairly remote hamlets in the countryside, there are rarely any shops, food stalls, or restaurants nearby. Instead, the host families cook delicious meals – usually over an open fire in the household hearth – for their guests. These meals, which typically include an enormous spread of different local dishes, using local ingredients, are a highlight of any homestay experience. However, I would like to recommend some restaurant such as: Pu Luong Buffalo Restaurant (0357 004 668) and Pu Luong The Deer Restaurant at Riverside Lodge (0385 651 335).
The price of sleeping in a homestay (see above) doesn’t include meals. the cost of meals is often twice or three times that of sleeping. Normally, the meal cost from 120,000-250,000/person in family-style which has local food and much dishes.
The food is almost always excellent and extremely, um, ‘fresh’, which means that some visitors might find witnessing (or even just hearing) the preparations disturbing. (Yes, I’m talking about live animals being slaughtered for their meat, and the squealing of pigs and chickens before the knife falls: but this is still part of daily life for most people in Pu Luong, and, indeed, for millions of people across Vietnam.) However, once all the fresh meat and vegetables have been cooked over the wood-fueled hearth, the result is the best homestay food I’ve ever tasted. An example from one of my recent stays in Pu Luong is spicy, herby pork patties, delicate, aromatic spring rolls, fried fish fresh from the local stream, and an earthy cabbage soup, accompanied by some honey-infused, home-brewed rice liquor, of course. And, for breakfast, a very interesting kind of pancake made from rice flour and duck eggs and dipped in honey: just right for a chilly, misty morning in the mountains. Most hosts are accustomed to having foreign visitors, but they are still honored and excited to be hosting you. Generally, the hosts immediately strike a good rapport with their guests: sensitive and hospitable, and astute enough to know when to leave their guests alone and when to get involved. This, however, might not be the case once the rice wine starts to flow.
Local Foods At Pu Luong The Deer Restaurant
Activities & Things to Do:
In Pu Luong, you can trek full day through the terraced rice field, local village to visit the Hieu waterfall then walk through the bamboo forest or doing bamboo rafting on the Cham river. If you have only 2 day in Pu Luong you can rent a mortobike to go further to Bat Cave, local market, cloud hunting in Son-Ba-Muoi village. Or you can visit Mu waterfall by walking from Hieu waterfall, it take about 4 hours.