Located in the north central province of Thanh Hoa, Pu Luong is renowned as an ideal destination for trekkers and budget travellers because of its seclusion and fantastic scenery of terraced rice fields and primary forests.
About 130km northwest of the provincial capital city of Thanh Hoa and 190km south of Hanoi, Pu Luong is close to several favoured tourist attractions in Hoa Binh province’s Mai Chau, Tan Lac and Lac Son districts, providing explorers with a full circle of exciting adventure.
A rice field in Pu Luong, Thanh Hoa.
It is the best to travel to Pu Luong at the end of May and early June since it is the occasion to start a new rice crop when terraced fields here wear a layer of green, looking all fresh and peaceful.
Mid-summer is also a good time to go to Pu Luong as it is situated in a low land limestone area, with many tropical forests and few inhabitants, making its climate quite pleasant even during hot days.
Visitors can also travel to Pu Luong between September and October when it enters harvest season, with multi-layer terraced fields on the hillsides turning yellowish, making it even more spectacular. During this time, Pu Luong is dubbed as “a paradise amidst the jungle,” attracting a lot of tourists to enjoy the scenery of ripening rice fields.
Residents in the hamlets surrounding Pu Luong, such as Son, Ba and Muoi in Lung Cao commune; Kho Muong in Thanh Son; Don in Thanh Lam; and Hieu in Co Lung, are Thai and Muong ethnic minority people who lead lives steeped in tradition and customs. They remain largely uninfluenced by modern means.
Discovering the local cuisine and culture is a highlight of any trip to Pu Luong. There is nothing more delightful than dishes made from ingredients grown right in the area. Pu Luong is home to an array of vegetables, such as baby pumpkin leaf, green beans and bamboo shoots. For a real Pu Luong lunch or dinner, visitors should try the locally raised pork and grilled mountain snails dipped in fish sauce.
In Lunar February, local people flock to the top of Pu Luong to harvest wild bitter-tasting bamboo shoots which are served in various local unique dishes, from simple to difficult. The simplest one, boiled bamboo shoots served with chili fish sauce, is also the most popular the locals use as a treat to welcome their guests.
Far different from the hustle and bustle of city life, a day in Pu Luong starts with the sound of singing birds and babbling brooks meandering down through low hills, and the picturesque view of mountains blanketed in a fluffy layer of fog. It truly provides a great getaway for those who want to have some quality time without distractions of modern life.
There are many stilt houses in the villages where visitors can explore daily life of the locals and spend the night. They can also stay in a wide range of hotels and resorts inside Pu Luong Nature Reserve, for example, Puluong Natura Bangalow, Puluong Retreat, Puluong Eco-Garden, and Puluong OhayO, which offer a combination of local architecture and modern elements.
Pu Luong is a nature reserve established in 1999 with its area covering Ba Thuoc and Quan Hoa districts. It is considered as a valuable natural reserve for scientific research, socio-economic and ecotourism development.