This natural setting located less than 4 hours drive from Hanoi is a resolutely oriented hiking destination. The Pu Luong Nature Reserve is a vast playground for hiking enthusiasts. It is able to satisfy all hiking desires, from a simple walk of a few hours to a more demanding hike of several days with nights in the homes of locals in remote villages. The Pu Luong nature reserve also offers a beautiful variety of landscapes. Situated on the Tam Diep karst mountain range, Pu Luong reveals landscapes of mountains and limestone peaks covered with thick jungle, home to an abundance of fauna and flora. The nature reserve is home to 84 species of mammals, 162 species of birds, 55 species of fish and 28 species of reptiles.
Pu Luong Nature Reserve is known and appreciated by walkers for its rice terraces. Although they are not as spectacular as Sapa, they have the advantage of offering two rice harvests per year as opposed to one in Sapa. The first harvest is at the end of May, beginning of June and the second at the end of September. These are the best times to go hiking in the Pu Luong Reserve when the rice fields are dazzling yellow and teeming with activity.
Also to be seen along the way, these big wheels called norias which allow to irrigate in a clever way the vast expanses of rice fields.
Meeting with local Ethnic Minorities
During your stay in the Pu Luong Nature Reserve you will have the opportunity to meet the Thai and Muong ethnic minorities who live there in small villages that blend in perfectly with nature.
With an estimated population of 1.2 million people, the Muong ethnic group is the largest of the 53 officially recognized minorities. The cradle of the Muong is the two provinces that share the Pu Luong Nature Reserve. Muong women wear a short, long-sleeved white or brown jacket with a "yếm" - the traditional breast patch - inside. They wear a long black skirt and a simple scarf, either white or green. But what brings grace and charm to Muong women are the embroidered patterns that decorate the belt and the skirt border.
The Muong and their Thai mountain neighbours have influenced each other culturally. It can therefore be said that they are ethnically and linguistically close to the Viet, but culturally and socially close to the Thais. Both Muong and Thai are animists, are excellent rice growers and live in villages of thatched wooden stilted houses. They also share a love of traditional music, dance and song.
Enjoy a homestay experience
Travelling to Pu Luong Nature Reserve gives you the opportunity to experience sleeping in a local's home. Here ecotourism has developed and families from Muong and Thai ethnic groups welcome you into their beautiful wooden houses on stilts to take meals and spend the night. A great opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and to stimulate a tourist trade with a more human face that is closer to local traditions.
The comfort conditions may seem basic but you will gain in conviviality, a sense of sharing and human adventure. Sleeping in a local's home remains an enriching travel experience.
Best times to go to Pu Luong
We advise you to stay in the Pu Luong Nature Reserve from early spring, starting in April. The winter spits have regenerated the nature and the rice has just been planted which gives a nice green velvet to the rice fields. June, July and August are the hottest months and thunderstorms water the reserve copiously but occasionally. The end of September is a very nice period with the rice harvest and the temperatures are very pleasant. Even if the rice has been cut, October and November are two good months for pleasant temperatures and beautiful sunny days.
To include Pu Luong Nature Reserve in your trip
Pu Luong Nature Reserve is less than 4 hours drive from Hanoi. Your stay in Pu Luong can easily be combined with:
- The beautiful Mai Chau Rice Valley
- Ninh Binh Land Halong Bay is part of the Trang An Landscape Complex inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.