Pu Luong Travel Guide: A Vietnam Hidden Gem for Nature Lovers

If you’re a nature enthusiast, then Pu Luong is the perfect destination for you. Located serenely in the mountainous northwest of Thanh Hoa province, this place is about 160 km from Hanoi. It is a highly recommended place for nature lovers, offering breathtaking landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and lush rice terraces. Local traditions and the best hiking trails can also be explored. This ultimate travel guide to Pu Luong will provide you with all the information needed to prepare for the journey and discover the hidden beauty of this place.

Best things to do in Pu Luong 

Amble in Don village (Ban Don)

Don Village is a hidden gem that boasts a breathtaking beauty. The village is nestled amidst the foothills, and you will be amazed by the long, terraced fields and charming stilt houses. Trust me, Don Village has the most gorgeous terraced fields in all of Pu Luong! As you enter the village from the main road, you will be greeted by stunning terraced rice fields on both sides. It’s a photographer’s dream come true! Don Village is a must-visit spot for anyone seeking natural beauty and tranquility.

rice terraces at Don village, Pu Luong
Stunning greenery of rice terraces at Don village

Explore Hieu Village

When I visited Hieu Village, it was a big impression of colorful fields and friendly people. The mountains stood tall with sharp slopes, while charming bamboo houses sat on stilts. In this village, generations of Black Thai people live, and I had a chance to witness the local farmer work on the big terraced fields while children played joyfully in the courtyards. It reminded my happy childhood memories.

It was amazing to be part of this peaceful place and see how nature and people lived together. Once you visit here, this village will show you the beauty of Vietnamese village life, making you feel inspired and grateful.

Hieu village attracts tourists for its simplicity
Hieu village attracts tourists for its simplicity

Experience trekking in Hieu Village

If you’re up for a 3-hour trekking adventure, consider taking the route that goes through Doc village and Lac village, with Hieu Waterfall (Thac Hieu) as the final destination. This trek offers hikers a chance to appreciate the stunning views of the mountains and valleys and learn more about the daily activities of the locals. Since Hieu Village has not been influenced much by tourism, no restaurants or shops are nearby. Therefore, bringing enough snacks and hydrating beverages is advisable to energize you throughout the trek.

Swimming and have a picnic lunch at Hieu waterfall

The impressive Hieu waterfall, where you can immerse in the cool waters, make a stop for picnic lunch or just simply relax and swim by the fall when being on the way of trekking, see and hear the crystal water falling from above, is what you should not miss in Hieu village.

Hieu waterfall
Swimming at Hieu Waterfall

Water wheels

On the way you heading to different destinations in Pu Luong, it is easy to spot some waterwheels nested in the ricefields. Back in ancient times, people living in the north mountainous areas had to rely on waterwheels to bring water for their daily life and farming needs.

waterwheels at Pu Luong
The iconic waterwheels of Thai ethnic cultivation culture

They placed continuous reels depending on the flow and water requirements. Some reel yards had several dozen large and small reels. The water wheel would work non-stop, day and night, creating a beautiful and poetic sight in the Northwest mountains and forests. So you can visit Chieng Lau village or Cham stream to watch the water wheels, those are the best places to bring you a closer look at the cultivation cultures of Thai people.

Visit Pho Don local market

If you plan to visit Pu Luong, make sure to experience the Pho Don market that takes place every Thursday and Sunday. The market is not just a place for trading goods, but also a hub for cultural exchange among different ethnic groups such as Kinh, Thai, Muong, and others. Most of the items sold here are self-produced, and people can also use items of equal value to exchange for what they need. The market is situated on the way to Hieu village.

Explore Kho Muong cave (Bat cave) at Kho Muong village

When Kho Muong village is mentioned, people often refer to the Kho Muong slope, which can be quite intimidating to passersby, especially during times of fog, rain, and wind. However, it is also known as a pristine village that boasts a mysterious cave known as Kho Muong cave (also know as Bat cave).

This cave is home to several species of bats, with at least four different species residing there at different times throughout the year. Once inside the cave, you can admire the rocks and stalactites that come in various shapes and colors, all of which appear vivid and unique.

Kho Muong Cave at golden hour
Kho Muong Cave at golden hour

Helpful tip: If you want to witness a truly breathtaking sight, make sure to visit Kho Muong Cave around 4pm. That’s the golden hour when the sun’s rays gracefully enter the cave, creating a mesmerizing display of natural beauty.

A stay with White Thai locals

Staying with locals at any houses in Kho Muong, you will definitely appreciate this small corner of paradise with nice people, peaceful atmosphere and pristine scenery making you feel like at home. Moreover, when being treated to the very typical dishes such as: bitter soup, corn wine, forest banana flower salad and especially boiled duck meat, you will be touched by the hosts’ hospitality. To see how a day of locals is, let’s get up early to observe or even participate in these activities of your host family.

Experience bamboo rafting

One of the most interesting activities when coming to Pu Luong is to enjoy the poetic beauty of the Cham stream on a bamboo raft. In Pu Luong, bamboo rafts are a familiar means of transportation for Thai ethnic people, helping them travel and fish on the river. And now you can choose bamboo rafts to be closer to nature and people in this land. For those who want to challenge themselves, you can also raft yourself for the most authentic experience.

Bamboo rafting at Pu Luong
Enjoy bamboo rafting

Helpful tip: Late autumn (end of October) is the ideal time to go bamboo rafting. During this time, there is less rainfall and the water is a clear blue color.

Besides that, it’s best to avoid the months of May and June since this is the high water season and unsuitable for bamboo rafting or bathing in the stream. However, it’s the golden ripe rice season which covers the beautiful terraced fields, so visiting Pu Luong Cham stream is still the great choice.

Visit the brocade-weaving village at Uoi village and Lan village

At the foot of giant limestone mountains, surrounded by stretching terraced fields, and green palm hills lie the villages of Uoi and Lan. These villages are renowned for being the birthplace of the oldest brocade weaving craft in Pu Luong. As soon as you arrive, you can hear the sound of carts hitting the looms. Each traditional handicraft product has a story embedded in it and is a valuable folk cultural treasure of the Thai people residing here.

brocade-weaving village at Pu Luong
Brocade-weaving village

When is the best time to visit?

The best time to visit Pu Luong is during the green season and the harvesting season. Immerse yourself in the pleasant weather, enjoy the serenity of fewer tourists, and be awed by the stunning landscape that awaits you.

Pu Luong at harvest season
Pu Luong at harvest season

Green Season (February to March): During this time, the rice terraces in Pu Luong are filled with water, creating a vibrant and lush greenery landscape.

Harvest Season: If you are eager for the golden tranquility of Pu Luong, let’s take a trip here during harvest season, which is from May to June and September to October! During these months, you’ll witness the fields transform into a gorgeous golden color and observe the local farmers as they work.

How to get to Pu Luong from Hanoi?

If you want to go to Pu Luong from Hanoi, there are a few ways you can get there:

By car or motorbike: You can take a car or a motorbike. It will take about 3 to 4 hours to reach Pu Luong, depending on the traffic. Make sure you have a license if you’re driving!

By shuttle bus: You can also take a shuttle bus from Hanoi to Pu Luong every day. The pick-up locations in Hanoi are the Hanoi Opera House, Metropolis Hotel on Kim Ma Street, 110 Tran Duy Hung Street, and Cau Giay Street. Depending on your location in Hanoi, you can choose the most convenient pick-up point for you. The price is around $18/person/ way.

By Tour or Private Transfer: Another option is to join a guided tour or arrange a private transfer. This means you’ll have someone to help you and show you around. They’ll also take care of transportation and accommodation. It’s a good choice if you want everything planned for you.

Where to stay?

With more investment in homestay conditions to meet the demands of travelers, Hieu Village is a popular spot for both domestic and foreign tourists. Mr Si’s and Mr Ba’s are the two homestays to choose from. If you want to enjoy private bungalow with a good service, Mr Si’s resort is a suitable choice, however, expect the high cost. If you want to experience authentic feelings of local cultures, Mr Ba’s homestay, where you are provided with simple mattress and mosquito net, wonderful lunches, or dinners with Vietnamese dishes cooked by female owner at reasonable rates, is the best option.

Itinerary

To fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty and cultural experiences, it is generally recommended to spend at least 2 to 3 days in Pu Luong. Here is our suggested itinerary:

Day 1

Morning

  • Swim at Hieu waterfall
  • Visit Uoi village and Lan village to learn more about the brocade-weaving

Afternoon

  • Trekking Kho Muong cave

Day 2

Morning

  • Experience Pho Don local market
  • Visit Ban Don to witness the stunning rice terraces and watch the daily life of local farmers

Afternoon

  • Bamboo rafting and see water wheels

If you want to find a detailed itinerary to Pu Luong or want to extend your trip, you can take a look at our sample. In these suggested tours, there is information about accommodation, price and what is include and excluded.

Where to go next?

Once you have finished your visit to Pu Luong, you can continue your journey and explore some of the most amazing places in Vietnam, such as Ninh Binh. You can take a boat ride through the stunning caves and see towering mountains that will take your breath away. After that, you can head on over to Ha Long Bay and take a cruise, go kayaking, and explore the local life of people at fishing villages.

If you’re looking to explore Pu Luong and the rest of Vietnam with a customized itinerary based on your preferences, please fill out the form below to get in touch with us for assistance. Once you drop us a request, we will send you a details itinerary and quote for your own.

    Trang Nguyen – IV Travel Specialist

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