Things to do in Pu Luong

You want to stay away from the sweltering heat and busy life of the noisy city? Let go to Pu Luong - Thanh Hoa, you can immerse yourself in wild forests and breathe in the cool fresh air. The Pu Luong travel guide below provides you with information and things to do in Pu Luong that you need to have a great weekend with family and friends.

Pu Luong Nature Reserve connects with Cuc Phuong National Park by 2 parallel limestone mountain ranges of 25 km. In the middle are stunning rice valleys. With an area of more than 17,600 ha, Pu Luong impresses visitors with the wild beauty of primeval forests, terraced fields, and the locals' peaceful life.

Villages and Terraces in Pu Luong

Villages and Terraces in Pu Luong

Three locations that tourists should come to are Ban Don, which has the most beautiful terraces heritage in Pu Luong, Son Ba Muoi (Lung Cao commune), and the 1,700 m high Pu Luong peak in the commune area. Also, there are many famous tourist destinations around Pu Luong such as Ban Lac village (Mai Chau), Cam Luong God Fish stream, Cuc Phuong National Park (Ninh Binh), Ho Dynasty Citadel (Thanh Hoa)...

The best time to visit Pu Luong

End of May, beginning of June: all the fields and terraces are covered with a beautiful and peaceful green coat.

September to October: Pu Luong's harvest time. All the rice fields on the hillside will turn bright yellow, making Pu Luong bring a rich and dreamy beauty. This is also the most beautiful time in Pu Luong.

Pu Luong's harvest time

Pu Luong's harvest time

If you cannot arrange your trip on the 2 above periods, you can still come here in summer. Thanks to its location on a high area and surrounded by primary forests, Pu Luong weather is quite cool and comfortable even in summer.

Or in any season of the year to relax with cool, foggy year-round in some upland villages.

How to move to Pu Luong

Public transport

There is no direct bus route to Pu Luong so if you want to use public transport to get here, it will be quite difficult. To move to Pu Luong Thanh Hoa, you will have to use a combination of different vehicles. From Hanoi, Giap Bat, and My Dinh bus station, you can take a bus to Ba Thuoc (Canh Nang town). This bus drops you off in the district center. From here you can rent a motorbike taxi to reach Pu Luong, about 20 km.

Private vehicles

The most convenient and fastest way to get to Pu Luong is by private means (motorbike, car) if you are departing from Hanoi or some northern neighboring provinces.

From Hanoi

You can follow a circular path to avoid repeating the old path. From Hanoi, follow National Highway 6 in the direction of Hoa Binh province. Then take 1 of the 2 routes passing through Lung Vay cloud valley or via Ban Lac village, Mai Chau to reach Pu Luong.

The road through Lung Van

The road through Lung Van

The road through Lung Van is a small one with a winding mountain pass, similar to the terrain of the northwestern provinces. The scenery on both sides of the road is majestic and wild. You will have the opportunity to admire the wonderful scenery, the clouds embracing the mountain body, or the misty mist in the valley. The distance is about 200 km, travel time is 4-5 hours.

Cam Luong God Fish stream

Cam Luong God Fish stream

When you get back from Pu Luong, follow Highway 15C and 217 to Cam Luong God Fish stream. From here, run along Ho Chi Minh road, to Xuan Mai intersection (Highway 6) back to Hanoi. This road is farther but easier to travel and also a pretty cool and airy street for sightseeing. On the way back, if you have time, you can visit and explore Cuc Phuong National Park.

From Saigon

You can take a flight to Hanoi then follow the above routes or take a direct flight to Thanh Hoa then rent a motorbike to Pu Luong. From the airport, take Highway 15, about 100 km, 4-5 hours, you come to Pu Luong.

You can stop by some other destinations in Thanh Hoa along the way: Lam Kinh Heritage site and Cam Luong god fish stream.

Accommodation in Pu Luong

Homestay is the main form of accommodation in Pu Luong. Most of the homestay is located in Co Lung, Thanh Lam, Thanh Son, and Lung Cao communes of Ba Thuoc district, Thanh Hoa. The homestay has a dormitory room, costs about 10$ - 20$/ person/ night. You will experience the lives of the local people and enjoy the specialties prepared by the people here.

Recently in Pu Luong, there are resorts built to meet the needs of high-end, professional accommodation services with highly appreciated quality. However, if you stay in these resorts, the room price is quite high, about 50$ - 150$/night depending on the room class.

Resorts in Pu Luong

Pu Luong Natura Bungalow: With the strength of being a natural resort located in the most pristine reserve in the North, with a unique impression in architecture, Puluong Natura is an ideal resort to return to nature.

Pu Luong Natura Bungalow

Pu Luong Natura Bungalow

Located in Ban Don, Ba Thuoc district, the resort has an area of more than 1,800 square meters, the most unique swimming pool in Vietnam, and the bungalows right next to the terraced fields. Here visitors will be immersed in the scenery of rustic nature.

Pu Luong Retreat: Located in the core area of the nature reserve, Pu Luong Retreat, as its name, offers peaceful accommodations where you can be away from the noise of the outside world to immerse in lush greenery and nature.

Pool in Pu Luong Retreat

Pool in Pu Luong Retreat

It features an outdoor infinity pool, restaurant, and garden with landscaped blocks. You can see the mountains and rice fields from this property.

Ban Hieu Garden Lodge: Placed in Ban Hieu village in Pu Luong nature reserve area. Visitors can cycle to explore Pu Long Nature Reserve, take a bath in Hieu stream, explore Thai villages, admire the golden rice terraces, go fishing...

Ban Hieu Garden Lodge

Ban Hieu Garden Lodge

Homestays in Pu Luong Thanh Hoa

Depending on your group's itinerary, you can choose one of the villages here to stay overnight. Here is a list of some homestay properties that offer dormitory-style accommodations.

Kho Muong village: Uncle N's house, Anh Nam's house, Thanh Tuan's house.

Ban Na village: Anh Hoang house, Anh Minh house.

Homestays in Pu Luong are extremely unique places for young people who love to explore nature. Accommodation, especially in the core area of Pu Luong, is limited so it often runs out of room in the peak season. If you come here in the peak season, you should book in advance to have many options and good prices.

Living Room of Homestay

Living Room of Homestay

In addition to the core area, you can stay in Mai Chau, which is quite close to Pu Luong. Mai Chau has many hotels and resorts for you to rest in. You can ride a motorbike or car to Pu Luong for a day trip and return to Mai Chau overnight.

Places to explore in Pu Luong

Kho Muong Village - Kho Muong Cave (Bat Cave)

On the journey to the majestic Pu Luong peak, there is a very pristine and rustic valley named Kho Muong. This is one of the poorest upland villages of Thanh Son commune, Ba Thuoc district. It, however, has great potential for natural conditions and cultural traditions for community-based tourism development.

Kho Muong Village

Kho Muong Village

The road to Kho Muong is a crooked and winding arc. One side is the cliff and the other is a deep abyss with golden terraced fields and immense forests.

This is the residence of 60 households, mainly the White Thai ethnic group, with 230 people. Villagers live mainly by growing rice, maize, and cassava… Their livelihood is mostly self-sufficient. Thanks to the resources favored by nature, people know to build spacious stilt houses to welcome tourists to visit.

Besides natural scenery, in Kho Muong, you can learn about the culture and customs of the local Thai people and enjoy traditional dishes with rich mountain flavors such as green rice, corn wine, banana flower salad, bitter bamboo shoots, pickled palanquin, and boiled duck meat...

Bat Cave in Pu Luong

Bat Cave in Pu Luong

An important highlight of the village of Kho Muong is Kho Muong Cave, also known as Bat Cave. The mysterious cave seems to be forgotten in the middle of the area. To reach the entrance of the cave, you have to move on a rocky dirt path covered by forest trees. The cave is more than 2.5 km wide, with many nooks and crannies deeply embedded in the ground.

Kho Muong Cave is called Bat Cave because it is home to many species of bats. At least 4 species of bats are found in this cave at different times of the year. The deeper you go into the cave, the more rocks, stalactites with strange shapes such as human figures, trees appear in your eyes.

Ban Hieu village - Hieu waterfall

Ban Hieu is a village of Thai people peacefully sited by the Hieu stream originated from Pu Luong peak. The 25 km long road from Canh Nang town to Ban Hieu is worth a ride because of the stunning terraced fields planted along a stream. The road is extremely gorgeous in the ripe rice season when the whole field is dressed in a golden coat.

Ban Hieu Village

Ban Hieu Village

Ban Hieu village connects with the outside world by a wooden suspension bridge. The village has more than one hundred roofs scattered along the two sides of the stream. The stream is nearly a kilometer long, though short, home to 5 different beautiful waterfalls. All these waterfalls are called Hieu waterfall. The average length of the waterfalls is about 800m.

Hieu waterfall and Hieu stream originate from a rocky cave in the limestone mountain range of Pu Luong - Cuc Phuong. Flowing to the middle of the mountain, the water splits into 2 distributaries, in 2 different directions and finally merges at the end of the stream. According to the local people, the stream of Hieu waterfall never runs out.

Hieu waterfall

Hieu waterfall

It has a clear green color all year round, cool in summer and warm in winter.

At the end of the Hieu, the waterfall is a small lake. The water level is just over 1 m with a sandy forming a natural swimming pool for visitors to freely waving after exploring the top of the waterfall.

Son - Ba - Muoi villages

Son - Ba - Muoi is three highland villages of Lung Cao commune. It has a cool, temperate climate in summer with an average temperature from 18-22 degrees. However, in winter, it is quite cold, sometimes drops to -1, -2 degrees with snows.

Son - Ba - Muoi is also known as Cao Son (literally means High Mountain). These villages are found at the top of the Pha H range, Pha Chien, at an altitude of 1,200m above sea level, running parallel to the majestic Pu Luong - Cuc Phuong mountain circuit.

Son - Ba - Muoi villages

Son - Ba - Muoi villages

Because of the height and the difficult road to the village, Son - Ba - Muoi is almost completely separated from the villages at the foot of the mountain. This creates a very natural wilderness for Son - Ba - Muoi, attracting those who love adventure travel. This place preserves many practices of the ancient Thai people. Their stilt houses still retain their traditional imprints, clearly showing the characteristics that have not been influenced by modern architecture.

Ban Don village (Thanh Lam Commune)

Ban Don is the main residence of the Thai ethnic group including 76 households, 285 people with a total natural area of over 125 hectares of Thanh Lam commune.

Ban Don village

Ban Don village

Ban Don owns a pristine beauty, with long terraced fields, houses on stilts located on the edge of a peaceful hill. More impressively, when coming to Ban Don, visitors will be surprised by the sincerity and enthusiasm of the local people. You can learn to weave fabric, enjoy many specialties of highland such as wild bamboo shoots, grass duck, wild boar, hill chicken, fish soup...

Pu Luong mountain top

Pu Luong possesses a majestic natural landscape. If you are adventurous, perhaps conquering a mountain peak of 1,700 meters above sea level is the most enjoyable experience in Pu Luong. It will take about 6-8 hours in good weather to reach the top.

Pu Luong mountain top

Pu Luong mountain top

Once reach the top you will be completely overwhelmed by the scenery of the mountains and forests, the vast fields, dotted with some stilted roofs at the foot of the mountain. You can set up camp here to stay overnight to catch the earliest sun rays the next morning.

Pho Doan fair

If you have the opportunity to come here every Thursday or Sunday, you can participate in the Pho Doan market in the Lung Niem commune. This is the place where the activities of exchange, purchase, and sale of products of the Kinh, Muong, Thai people in the surrounding communes and people in Tan Lac and Lac Son districts… in Hoa Binh province take place.

Pho Doan fair

Pho Doan fair

Pho Doan fair is characterized as an upland market with mainly self-sufficient products. Although the goods are simple, they are quite diversified such as brocade clothing, canola wine, wild vegetables, insects, and fresh fruits...

What makes the attraction for tourists coming to the market is the unique culture of exchanging goods of equal value. For example, two dozen eggs can exchange for a bunch of vegetables.  Sometimes, they do not care about value as long as they are satisfied with the deal.

Muon Waterfall (Dien Quang Commune)

About 100 km from Thanh Hoa city, following Highway 217 up to the highlands, visitors will meet Muon Waterfall (so-called Mo Waterfall). The waterfall is located at an altitude of 500 meters above sea level, flowing from the rocky ravines on the top of the Muon Mountain. Muon waterfall flows into the heart of a valley of a few hectares wide. Then from there, it pours down the mountainside, forming many consecutive cascades like steps.

Muon Waterfall

Muon Waterfall

Flowing through 43 different waterfall levels with only rocks, water, and trees covered, the stream pours into the Dai Lan River to merge the majestic Ma Giang stream. Here at Mo Waterfall, visitors can climb 43 floors of the waterfall to reach its top.

What to eat in Pu Luong?

In Pu Luong, tourism services are not much developed, so there are not many eateries. Tourists in Pu Luong mainly order meals at the accommodation. All hostels in Pu Luong provide a full range of food and drink services. The people will prepare all these dishes according to the number of your group. Pu Luong cuisine features Thai cuisine with dishes bearing many flavors of the mountains.

Co Lung duck

Coming to Pu Luong Thanh Hoa, you cannot ignore the delicious dishes made from Co Lung duck. The special of the dish comes from the firm and tasty meat of the local ducks. The meat is processed into different dishes, but the most delicious one is the crispy roasted duck.

Co Lung roasted duck

Co Lung duck

Grilled fish

The fish are cleaned and marinated with spices. Spices are often the ingredients available in the mountains such as cocoons, wild herbs, chili, and lemongrass, mixed with salt. After being marinated, the fish are grilled over hot ashes until it turns yellow. The grilled fish is best served with salt and chili, five-color sticky rice, and rice wine.

Grilled fish

Grilled fish

Bamboo rice

This is a very familiar dish in the meals of people here. Bamboo rice in Pu Luong has a special taste because it uses upland rice with large seeds, plump, white, and fragrant. The combination of the aroma of sticky rice with the aroma of bamboo and cork secretes creates an attractive aftertaste of Pu Luong bamboo rice.

Bamboo rice

Bamboo rice

Hill chicken

The chickens are raised with natural food in Pu Luong, so its meat is very fragrant and firm. The delicious methods of cooking chicken are boiling and grilling. Boiled chicken keeps its original taste while grilled chicken marinated with traditional Thai seasoning will bring you a very special dish.

BBQ Chicken

BBQ Chicken

Bitter bamboo shoots

The bamboo shoot taken from the forest is bitter at the first bite but its aftertaste is very sweet. The bamboo shoots can be eaten with a hot pot or stir-fried. This is a very simple dish but brings the best taste of the mountains and forests.

Boiled bitter bamboo shoots

Boiled bitter bamboo shoots

Grilled pig

Grilled pig is a specialty of the Muong people. To keep the sweetness of the meat, the pig must be washed before removing the offal. The meat is cut into pieces, the sausage is steamed on a wood stove and the bones are cooked with wild banana. The bacon is just sliced, marinated with onions, fish sauce, and then wrapped with pomelo leaves, sandwiched in a bamboo stick to grill over embers. Under the heat of coal, the pomelo leaves blend into the flesh; the sweet smell of smoke fills the air.

Grilled pig

Grilled pig

Cooked pork is then sliced thinly and placed on a green banana leaf. It is nicely enjoyed with roasted salt and grilled guava seeds. Grilled wild pork has a fragrant aroma and is a bit chewy, making it hard to resist.

Ruou Can (Tube wine)

Thai people in Pu Luong are proud of their traditional tube wine. The Ruou Can is indispensable in every meaningful meal, typically served for special celebrations. The locals-only invite someone to enjoy Ruou Can if they see them as distinguished guests.

Ruou Can

Ruou Can

The wine is made from cassava yeast and mineral water, mixed with some types of herbs in the local forests. This mixture is then fermented for at least one month in a large earthenware jug.

The taste of Ruou Can is very rich and special. Unlike other kinds of wine which can be quite bitter or strong and can lead your dizziness, Ruou Can make you drunk sweetly but still keep you conscious.

Last but not least, for a perfect trip, tourists should prepare:

  • Comfortable, well-absorbent walking, sport, or hiking shoes.
  • Bring more clothes if you intend to bathe in Ban Hieu waterfall.
  • Bring sunscreen, antifungal, insect repellent to explore the forest.
  • Check the weather a few days before the trip to avoid the rain.
  • Gasoline needs to be fully pumped before entering Pu Luong.

Wish you a good trip!