Things to do in Pu Luong Nature Reserve from A to Z

A Comprehensive Guide to Things to Do in Pu Luong Thanh Hoa, Vietnam

Are you looking for a place to escape the heat and stress of the city? Look no further than Pu Luong Thanh Hoa. Here, you can immerse yourself in the wild beauty of mountains and forests, breathe in fresh air, and admire the charming combination of nature. Our travel guide to Pu Luong Thanh Hoa below will provide you with all the necessary information to plan a wonderful vacation with your friends and family.

1. Overview of Pu Luong Thanh Hoa

In the local language, Pu Luong means “the highest mountain peak”. Pu Luong Nature Reserve spans both Ba Thuoc and Quan Hoa districts and is located about 130 kilometers northwest of Thanh Hoa City. With an area of more than 17,600 hectares, Pu Luong Thanh Hoa impresses tourists with its natural beauty, including primary forests, rice terraces, and the peaceful life of local ethnic minorities. It is a new and attractive destination for nature lovers and those wishing to discover new lands on their journey.
There are two main potential areas that have been developed into resorts: Son Ba Muoi (in Lung Cao Commune) and Pu Luong Peak (1700 meters high in Thanh Son Commune). Moreover, there are many famous attractions in the surrounding areas that are worth visiting, such as Ban Lac Village (Mai Chau), Cam Luong Angelfish Stream, Cuc Phuong National Park (Ninh Binh Province), and the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty (Thanh Hoa Province). All of them have been connected to form an attractive tourism itinerary for both local and foreign tourists from all over the world.

2. When to Visit Pu Luong Thanh Hoa.

The best time to visit Pu Luong Thanh Hoa is in late May and early June when the season starts. All the terraces will be covered with the green color of young rice, which brings about a feeling of peace and tranquility. Although it can be hot in the summer in Thanh Hoa Province, Pu Luong still maintains a comfortable temperature thanks to its location on a low limestone mountain area, with many tropical rainforests and a sparse population.
September and October are the harvest time in Pu Luong Thanh Hoa. All the terraces on the uphill mountains turn a glorious yellow, making the place opulent and dreamy. Thousands of tourists visit the attraction every year during this time.
If this recommended time is not available for your schedule, you can still visit the place at any season around the year to have relaxing moments in an open atmosphere. Especially, there is always a thin layer of dew covering some villages at a certain height.

3. How to get to Pu Luong Thanh Hoa?
3.1. Public transportation
If you choose to travel by public transportation, there are no direct routes to the destination, and you’ll have to make some transfers on the journey. This option may not be highly recommended, especially if you’re not familiar with local transportation.
From Hanoi Capital City, tourists can take a car to the center of Bac Thuoc (Cang Nang town). Then, they can take a taxi to cover the 20-kilometer distance left. To contact the driver Hoang Phuong, you can call him at 0973737778 from either Giap Bat Station or My Dinh Station in Hanoi.
3.2. Private vehicle
The most popular way to visit Pu Luong Thanh Hoa is by private vehicle (motorbike or car), which you can hire in Hanoi or have a tourism agency arrange for you.
To reach your destination, follow a closed road and avoid repeating the journey you have already made. From Hanoi, take National Highway No.6 towards Hoa Binh Province, and then choose to either go through Lung Van Cloud Valley or Ban Lac Village Mai Chau to reach Pu Luong.
The road through Lung Van Valley is quite narrow and has crooked passes and slopes, but the surrounding landscape is stunning. You will have the chance to admire cloud blocks covering the mountain bodies and an early dew layer floating in the valleys. It takes about four to five hours to finish this road.
After finishing your Pu Luong itinerary, follow National Highway No.15C and 217 to visit Cam Luong Anglelfish Stream. From there, continue to Xuan Mai intersection (National Highway No.6) and return to Hanoi. Although this route is a bit farther, it’s safer and offers more interesting scenery. If you have enough time, you can also visit Cuc Phuong National Park, which has a diverse system of flora and fauna.
Many tourists tend to travel by motorbike to enjoy every moment during the itinerary and to take in the beautiful scenery along the way.
4. Activities in Pu Luong Thanh Hoa 4.1. Kho Muong Village – Bat Cave (Kho Muong Cave) Kho Muong is a remote village in Muong Son Commune, Ba Thuoc District, and is also one of the poorest areas in the region. However, it has the potential for community tourism thanks to its natural conditions and cultural traditions. The village is home to about 60 families, most of whom are Thai ethnic minorities, who traditionally earn their living by growing rice and corn, among other things.
To reach the impressive Kho Muong Cave, visitors must traverse a 100-meter perched path. The cave is about 2.5 kilometers wide, with numerous small spaces that sink deeply into the ground. Over millions of years, hundreds of blocks of limestone have contributed to the formation of the cave. The cave is also known as Bat Cave (Hang Doi) because it is home to several species of bats. Visitors can admire the hundreds of stalactites and stone blocks of various shapes and colors that create a lively and mysterious atmosphere.
4.2. Hieu Village – Hieu Waterfall Hieu Village and Hieu Waterfall are located in Co Lung Commune, Ba Thuoc District, Thanh Hoa Province. During the rice season, visitors will be amazed by the 25-kilometer roadway from Cang Nang town to Hieu Village, which features endless yellow terraces on both sides. Visitors must cross a wooden suspension bridge to enter the village.
The village has more than 100 houses scattered on both sides of the river, alternating with white rapids behind them, creating a picturesque watercolor painting. The village is only one kilometer long but has up to five waterfalls, each with its own unique and charming features. The waterfalls and stream derive from the rocky cave in the limestone mountain range of Pu Luong – Cuc Phuong, making the water fresh and blue. The waterfall is about 800 meters long, and from the peak’s view, the flow is separated into two smaller streams in the mountain and then merges at the end. Visitors can swim in the natural lake at the bottom of the waterfall.
4.3. Son – Ba – Muoi Village Son – Ba – Muoi are three different mountainous villages in Lung Cao Commune, also known as a “mini Sapa” because of its moderate climate year-round. The average temperature is from 18 to 22°C, although it can be very cold in winter, with temperatures dropping to -1 or -2°C, and cool at night during summer.
The villages, also known as Cao Son, are located in the core area of Pu Luong Nature Reserve, next to Ngoc Son – Ngo Luong Nature Reserve (Hoa Binh Province). The villages are called Cao Son, which means “high mountain” in Vietnamese, as they are at the peak of Pha Le mountain range, 1200 meters above sea level, paralleled with Pu Luong – Cuc Phuong range. The area is almost isolated from the outside world, which contributes to its naturally wild beauty, and still maintains many traditional customs of the ancient Thai ethnic minority, including the Thai stilt house architecture.

4.4. Don Village (Thanh Lam Commune) Don Village is home to the Thai ethnic minority, with 76 homes and a population of 285 individuals spread across an area of 125 hectares in Thanh Lam Commune, Ba Thuoc District. In the past two years, the number of tourists visiting the village has been rapidly increasing, with 60% of them being foreigners.
The village boasts a wild and picturesque scenery, with terraces stretching endlessly and clusters of houses located quietly along the hill foot. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture by learning about traditional weaving and sampling some unique flavors, such as mountainous bamboo, field ducks, wild boars, mountainous chicken, and fish soup. However, what impresses most visitors is the warm welcome and friendliness of the locals.
From Don Village, visitors can take a leisurely walk or a vehicle to explore other attractions in Ba Thuoc District, such as Hieu Village and Kho Muong Village.
4.5. Check-in at Pu Luong Mountain Peak Pu Luong, also known as “the paradise among the mountains,” offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The mist enveloping the peak throughout the year adds to its charm. Early morning views are especially enchanting, with clouds floating at the peak of the mountain right in front of your eyes. Visitors can easily get a feeling of being in a dream, with nothing moving except the quietness of the landscape.
For adventure seekers, conquering the peak, which stands at 1700 meters high, is a thrilling experience in Pu Luong Thanh Hoa. It takes about six to eight hours to reach the peak in good weather conditions. However, the stunning panoramic views of the mountains and forests, along with stilts houses and terraces in the valley, make it worth the effort. Visitors can even camp overnight on the mountain before descending the next day.
4.6. Pho Doan Market If you happen to be in the area on Thursday or Sunday, be sure not to miss Pho Doan Market. This market has been renowned since the French colonial period and is located in Lung Niem Commune, Ba Thuoc District, Thanh Hoa Province. The market offers a range of locally sourced products from the Kinh, Muong, and Thai minorities in surrounding areas such as Tan Lac District and Lac Son District (Hoa Binh Province).
Pho Doan is a typical mountainous market with mostly self-sufficient products. The products are simple but abundant, including traditional silk costumes, tube wine, mountainous vegetables, and fresh fruits. The most impressive aspect of the market is that local residents do not use money for trading, but instead exchange equivalent products with each other. For example, a person can exchange a rooster for twenty eggs and some vegetables, and they hardly haggle.
4.7. Muong Waterfall Located 100 kilometers from Thanh Hoa city, along National Highway No. 217 towards the highlands, tourists will come across Muong Waterfall, also known as Mo Waterfall, which means “exciting and dreamy” in Vietnamese. The waterfall is 500 meters high above the water level and originates from the mountain peak at a height of 300 meters.
The flow arrives at a large valley, from which it goes down to the hillsides, creating many succeeding grades of water like white terraces. Tourists can safely climb these 43 grades of the waterfall with the help of the typical stone features. The stream eventually falls out to Dai Lan river, then contributes to Ma Giang river.
Apart from admiring the natural beauty of the landscape, tourists can also listen to the love story associated with the attraction, meet the locals and learn about their lifestyle and culture. The locals are welcoming and eager to share their experiences with visitors.
5. Accommodation options in Pu Luong Thanh Hoa Homestays are the most popular accommodation option in Pu Luong Thanh Hoa, located mostly in Co Lung, Thanh Lam, Thanh Son, and Lung Cao Commune in Ba Thuoc District. Most homestays offer collective rooms at the price of 100,000 to 150,000 VND per person per night. Staying at a homestay provides visitors with the chance to experience daily life and try some special foods prepared by the house owners.
Recently, some resorts have been built in the area to cater to the rising demand for high-quality resort services. However, the prices can be quite high, ranging from one to three million VND per night, depending on the chosen grade.
5.1. Resorts in Pu Luong Thanh Hoa Puluong Retreat: This resort is located in Pu Luong Nature Reserve and provides a peaceful space to relax amidst the green natural scenery. The resort has an outdoor infinity pool, restaurant, and gardens with lively blocks of stones. Tourists can admire the mountains and rice terraces from the resort.
Ban Hieu Garden Lodge: This resort is situated in Hieu Village in Puluong Nature Reserve. Visitors can explore the area on a bike, take a dip in Hieu Stream, visit some villages where the Thai ethnic minority lives, admire the yellow terraced fields, go fishing and take part in outdoor activities.
Puluong Natura Bungalow: This resort is located in Don Village, Ba Thuoc District, and is known for its dominance as a resort in the heart of nature. With its unique architecture and location in the wildest nature reserve in Northern Vietnam, Puluong Natura is an ideal resort for those looking to get closer to nature. The resort has an area of 1800 square meters and features the most unique infinity pool in Vietnam, located next to the terraced fields, providing visitors with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the wild natural scenery.

5.2. Homestays in Pu Luong Thanh Hoa
Pu Luong is a large area, and you can choose one of the villages to stay in based on your schedule. Here are some options:
• Kho Muong Village: Mr. Nech (0945.801.124), Mr. Nam (0394.904.372), Mr. Thanh Tuan (0945801224). • Nua Village: Mr. Hoang (081.99.73.969), Mr. Minh (085.755.0703). • Kit Village: Mr. Thao (0372.494.42).
There are not too many homestays in the area, so it is recommended to book reservations in advance, especially during peak seasons.
Moreover, you can search for other homestays in surrounding areas like Mai Chau, from which you can easily access Pu Luong by motorbike or car.
6. What to eat in Pu Luong Thanh Hoa?
Because Pu Luong has recently developed tourism, restaurant services have not met current demands. Instead, you will have meals at your homestay prepared by the owners. The menu will be up to your choice. However, generally, there is local rice or sticky rice presented with some other specialties on a big leaf tray. The meal is typical of Thai minority food.
Here are some popular dishes to try:
6.1. Co Lung duck
Co Lung duck is the main ingredient for many delicious dishes in Pu Luong Thanh Hoa. It is known for its small bones and attractive layers of meat. The locals let them freely find their food alongside the stream instead of feeding them every day, so the flavor is very special.
The most popular dish is roasted duck with a good-smelling and greasy taste that tourists will find hard to forget after once trying it.
6.2. Roasted stream fish
The fish is cleaned and marinated immediately after being caught. Special seasonings taken from the forests are included to create a unique flavor that is hard to imagine. It will be roasted on red embers, and you can enjoy it in just a few minutes together with five-colored sticky rice and local corn wine.
6.3. Bamboo-tube rice
Bamboo-tube rice is a popular food in the daily meals of the locals. What makes it so unique is the local flavoring of big-grain rice combined with the bamboo tube.
6.4. Hill chicken
The chickens are raised naturally on the hill, so the meat is flavorful and tender. They are usually boiled and enjoyed immediately with local spices. Only local cooks know how to marinate the chicken in the right way to bring about such a unique flavor.
6.5. Bitter bamboo shoots
In spring, local residents will go to forests to get bitter bamboo shoots, which are naturally bitter but surprisingly turn sweet after being prepared. However, the food only becomes perfect when it is combined with a special seasoning in the area.
6.6. Roasted piglet
Roasted piglet is a local farm animal of the Muong ethnic minority. It is hard to keep the original gentle flavor of the meat in a complex recipe, which also makes the food loved by tourists from all over the world.
6.7. Can Wine (Tube wine)
Can Wine (Tube wine) is a special fermented rice wine of Pu Luong Thanh Hoa. This special spicy and sweet combination between cassava yeast and local stream water will certainly stick in tourists’ minds when someone mentions Vietnam.
7. Pu Luong Thanh Hoa travel itinerary
There are many different choices of schedule, time, and vehicles available for a tour to Pu Luong Thanh Hoa. Below are some popular recommendations:
7.1. Pu Luong Thanh Hoa 01-day itinerary
• Nang Cang Town – Silk weaving Lung Niem Village – Kit Village – Nua Village • Cang Nang Town – La Han Bridge – Pho Doan Market – Son, Ba, Muong Village • Don Village – Bang Village – Doi Cave – Kho Muong Village • Gioi Pagoda, Ai Thuong – Ba Thuoc 2 Hydropower Construction – Dan Long Waterfall • Ong Pagoda – Phi Cave – Vinh Quang Lake – Hang Village
7.2. Pu Luong Thanh Hoa 02-days 01-night itinerary
• Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau – Pu Luong Thanh Hoa: Have a trekking tour through villages and take a boat on Cham river. • Day 2: Pu Luong Thanh Hoa discovery: Have a walking tour in Kho Muong Village and Doi Cave, discover the culture of Thai ethnic minorities, and check-in at nice attractions.
7.3. Interprovincial tour in 03 days 02 nights
• Hanoi – Mai Chau (Hoa Binh Province) – Hieu Village – Don Village • Hanoi – Mai Chau (Hoa Binh Province) – Son, Ba, Muong Village – Nua Village • Hanoi – Mai Chau (Hoa Binh Province) – En Village – Hang Village • Hanoi – Cuc Phuong National Park (Ninh Binh Province) – Cam Luong Angelfish Stream – Hieu Village – Don Village – Kho Muong Village.
To have a perfect journey, tourists should make careful preparations:
• Wear comfortable and absorbent walking/sport/climbing shoes that are bound to your feet. • Bring extra clothes if you plan to take a bath in Hieu Waterfall. • Bring medicines, sunblocks, antifungals, and insect repellents for a forest discovery journey. • Check weather conditions before going to the forests. • Fill up the tank before reaching Pu Luong. • If reservations are not available, you can ask to stay in a local house. The locals are warm-hearted and welcoming to visitors who want to discover their lovely homeland.

 

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