Pu Luong – The largest natural reserve in the North
Pu Luong is considered as a miniature Northwest in Thanh Hoa, impressing visitors with the wild beauty of primeval forests, terraced fields, along with the peaceful life of ethnic minorities. This is an ideal tourist destination for those who love nature and want to explore new things.
1. About Pu Luong
Pu Luong, which means the highest mountain peak in Thai ethnic language, is the name of a nature reserve in Ba Thuoc and Quan Hoa districts, located in the northwest of Thanh Hoa province. The location is 130km far from Thanh Hoa city, 20km from Canh Nang town, and 170km from Hanoi in the northwest direction.
Pu Luong is endowed with immense green terraced fields, white streams, and rocky mountains running to the end of the horizon. The area is more than 17,600ha with rich flora and fauna, as well as the wild beauty of the tropical forest combining the rich culture of the typical Muong and Thai ethnic groups.
2. The best time to visit Pu Luong
Visitors can come to this highland in any season of the year to enjoy the fresh air and foggy atmosphere.
The end of May – early June is the start of a new rice crop, which is also the time terraced fields are covered with a green layer, giving tourists a sense of peace and poetical.
Meanwhile, the end of September – early October is the most beautiful ripe rice season. All the terraced fields on the hillside turn to brilliant yellow color, wearing this land a rich and dreamy beauty.
Read more: Explore Thung Nham – The land of birds
3. How to move to Pu Luong
If traveling from Hanoi, you can pick up buses or coaches at Giap Bat, Nuoc Ngam, or My Dinh stations. The popular bus route to Pu Luong is Hanoi – Ba Thuoc – Thanh Hoa with a ticket price of about 120.000 VND/person.
The bus arrives Canh Nang town (Ba Thuoc, Thanh Hoa), about 20km from Pu Luong. Then, you can take a taxi or motorbike taxi to Pu Luong.
– Motorbike or car
Motorbike transportation is also the choice of many tourists when exploring Pu Luong, Thanh Hoa. The road is straight through to the “green paradise” Pu Luong is the 15C road.
If you come from Hanoi and some northern provinces, then follow the route Xuan Mai, Luong Son, Hoa Binh to Ban Lac, Mai Chau. About 17km from Mai Chau along Road 15A, you turn left to Road 15C and ask local people for the specific direction to Pu Luong.
The road for tourists going from Thanh Hoa and the central/southern provinces is going back to the Northwest, follow the Ho Chi Minh trail, then turn right at Cam Thuy town, go straight to Canh Nang town. Finally, turn to Road 15C and go about 10km more to Pu Luong.
4. Accommodation in Pu Luong
Pu Luong is an important tropical jungle reserve in Vietnam, so there is not any hotel around; the main form of accommodation here is homestay and budget motel. It can be said that Pu Luong is the land of homestay resorts, and the service is also very professional.
5. Cuisine in Pu Luong
Eating in Pu Luong is quite simple; you will enjoy most of the local delicious dishes right at the homestay. The residents will prepare all these dishes according to the number of members of your group. Pu Luong cuisine will bring out the clear features of Thai people’s cuisine.
– Grilled pigs
Grilled pig is the specialty livestock of Muong people. To keep the sweetness of the meat, the pig must be washed before removing the offal, and that’s also the only time washing the meat.
The meat is divided into pieces to steam with pig’s tripes and doi (pork sausage) on the woodstove, while the bones are stewed with wild banana. The cooked pork will be sliced thinly to put on a green banana leaf, served with roasted salt and grilled Doi seeds.
– Hill chickens
Since being raised naturally and fed with paddy, the chicken meat here is extremely fragrant and sweet. Boiled chicken served hot with the spices of the local people is really a great specialty. Besides, along with the traditional Thai seasonings, grilled chicken will also leave an impression on anyone who comes to Pu Luong.
– Co Lung duck
The attraction of this duck breed is small bones, firm lean meat. The ducks here are raised in streams, foraging naturally in the water flowing from the rocky mountains, so the duck meat is distinctly tasty.
6. What to explore in Pu Luong
Coming to Pu Luong, tourists will be able to visit the community-based tourism villages of Thai people, such as Ban Don, Ban Hieu, Ban Hang, Ban Kho Muong with pristine landscapes and stilt houses hidden in the blue smoke. They will admire the golden terraced fields stretching on the mountainside and immerse themselves under the clear blue Hao waterfalls.
Some popular itineraries for Pu Luong visitors: walk through the core of the reserve, camp overnight in villages, enjoy the serene beauty of the Cham stream flowing in the valley; or participate in activities such as cycling on trails, rafting on the river, kayaking on the stream, trekking through traditional villages and terraced fields, visit giant waterways, natural waterfalls, majestic caves, and many other majestic landscapes.
If you come here every Thursday or Sunday, you must definitely join the Pho Doan fair that dates from the French colonial period, in Lung Niem commune, Ba Thuoc district, Thanh Hoa province. This place is the commercial exchange spot of the Kinh, Muong, and Thai ethnic groups in surrounding communes. The fair market is not only a cultural feature about the unique daily life of ethnic minorities, but also an attractive tourist destination of Ba Thuoc district.
7. Some notes when going to Pu Luong
– The temperature in Pu Luong is always lower than in some neighboring areas, so make sure to prepare warm clothes in case there is rain or when you participate in evening activities.
– Bring walking shoes, sneakers, or canvas shoes with soft soles and good friction.
– Equipt medicine, sunscreen, especially insect repellent.
– Bring some snacks, such as cakes, milk, water if trekking.
Read more: Moc Chau – The green plateau of Son La