Pu Luong is not an administrative unit, but its full name is Pu Luong nature reserve. It is located on the territory of two districts of Ba Thuoc and Quan Hoa, about 150km northwest of Thanh Hoa city. Covering an area of more than 17,600 hectares, located at an altitude of 1700m above sea level, this area consists of mountains covered with dense forests, many streams, large and small waterfalls, and caves interspersed with valleys of terraced fields and rice fields of the Thai and Muong people.
“Pu Luong” means “the highest mountain in the region” in the local Thai language. This nature reserve has great value in terms of biodiversity as well as the potential for ecotourism development.
When should tourists visit Pu Luong?
Every year, Pu Luong has two rice harvest seasons: late May, early June, and late September, early October. These are also the two most suitable occasions for domestic tourists to come here on tour or on their own. In addition, in the previous period (March to April and July to August), this place is also very beautiful with the green color of the local floras, suitable for tourists to escape the heat and rest on weekends.
In addition, at other times, there are many other interesting features as well. For example, in the last months of the year, this nature reserve has terraced fields filled with sparkling water. It is also extremely quiet and covered with fog.
How to get to Pu Luong ?
From Hanoi, visitors have many options. They can take a bus from My Dinh and Giap Bat bus stations, choose bus operators that have routes to Canh Nang town (the center of Ba Thuoc district), and then take a motorbike or taxi for more than 20km to reach the villages with highly developed tourism facilities and activities, namely Don and Bang in Pu Luong nature reserve. The one-way bus fare is about USD 6.40.
Currently, many resorts in Pu Luong have coordinated in providing high-quality and door-to-door shuttle services. From the center of Hanoi to the accommodation in Pu Luong, the ticket prices range from USD 10.66 to USD 12.79 per trip.
Not only that, tourists who use personal vehicles (motorcycles, cars) can also move easily according to the directions of online map applications. They should take Highway 6 and National Highway 15C. Both of these routes are nice and flat, with lots of rest stops.
Visitors from further provinces and cities or in the south can choose to travel by air. After arriving at Tho Xuan airport (Thanh Hoa), they will have to continue traveling by motorbike or taxi to get to Pu Luong. With a distance of 100km, taxi prices range from USD 42.64 – 63.95, depending on the type of vehicle.
The villages in Pu Luong have only developed tourism activities for the past 5 years. The most popular form of accommodation here is homestay (household accommodation) and most of them are located in Thanh Lam, Co Lung, Thanh Son, and Lung Cao communes.
Most of these homestays are built (or renovated) according to the architecture of stilt houses of local residents, providing two types of rooms: dormitory rooms and private rooms, with prices ranging from USD 6.40 – 8.53 /person.
The homestays have rooms for rent on online booking platforms or have their own Facebook pages. Some homestays are highly appreciated by domestic and foreign tourists, namely: Tai Dam (Tay Dam), Tho Ha, Duy Phuong, Nguyen Lan, Ban Hieu, Riverside Lodge, Rice Road, and Inh La Home.
Well-invested resorts, with spacious grounds, swimming pools, and special decorations such as Pu Luong Retreat, Pu Luong Natura Bungalows, Bocbandi Retreat, Pu Luong Eco Garden, Pu Luong Jungle Lodge, Pu Luong Ecocharm, and Pu Luong Treehouse are more advanced and comfortable. Room rental rates range from USD 34.11 to USD 127.91 per night, depending on room size and “rice view”, and rental time.
The outstanding features of most homestays and resorts in Pu Luong are the open space, less use of concrete, the use of many local materials, and harmony with the surrounding landscape. In line with the trend of eco- and sustainable tourism, many rooms provide basic amenities but are not equipped with televisions, air-conditioners, or refrigerators.
Some interesting attractions and experiences for visitors
Pho Doan Market (also known as Pho Don) meets every Thursday and Sunday morning, where visitors can buy and sell goods, and highland agricultural products, and experience specialty dishes.
Kho Muong village is located in an isolated valley but has beautiful spreading terraced fields. Here, visitors can combine visiting Bat Cave with million-year-old stalactites.
Shrimp Village or Suoi Cham, where there are giant waterwheels and the experience of floating along the river with a bamboo raft. Each rafting tour usually lasts 1 hour, each raft can carry 8-14 people, priced at USD 2.13 per person.
Pu Luong peak is about 1,700m high, the trekking journey lasts about 6 hours. This place is very attractive to young Vietnamese and foreign tourists who love climbing because of the spectacular scenery along the way and the sea of clouds floating on the top of the mountain.
Son-Ba-Muoi are 3 villages located in the highlands and adjacent to each other, where there are majestic and dangerous sightseeing routes. These villages are cool all year round, covered with clouds, and grow many medicinal herbs and sweet oranges.
Hieu village, where Hieu waterfall is clear and cool under the forest canopy. This place has many sunken spots forming a beautiful natural “swimming pool”.
Lan village has a long-standing traditional brocade weaving profession of the Black Thai people.
Food and souvenirs
All homestays and resorts in Pu Luong have on-site dining, menu, or set meals, with an average price of USD 5.12 – 8.53 per serving. The outstanding specialties are Co Lung duck, stone snail, hill chicken, stream fish, ban pig, sour bamboo shoots, wild vegetables, and banana flower salad. Dipping sauces and seasonings of the above dishes all contain very fragrant and unique seeds. In addition, in Don and Hieu villages (where many tourist facilities are concentrated) there are restaurants such as Pu Luong 0km and Pu Luong Buffalo which are highly appreciated by diners.
As gifts for relatives and friends, visitors can buy handmade brocade bags, purses, towels, and pillowcases at the Pho Doan fair or weaving villages, or buy rice and gai cakes. , and spring rolls on the way back. A useful piece of advice is to ask the reception or the resort staff to buy it, often they will ask family members or people in the village for an affordable price.