Home to spectacular limestone panoramas and terraced rice paddies, Pu Luong Nature Reserve is the ideal choice for travelers looking to get off the beaten path. Although the reserve is a popular weekend getaway for Hanoi locals, Pu Luong sees few foreign visitors and has therefore managed to maintain an authentic feel and tranquil atmosphere.
To allow travelers to fully appreciate the natural diversity of Pu Long Nature Reserve—and to make the 4-hour journey from Hanoi worthwhile—tours typically last for a minimum of two nights, during which travelers stay at an authentic Muong or Thai homestay. Hiking options, which range from moderate to difficult, reveal otherworldly natural features such as the Mu Waterfall and White Rock Pass and ethnic minority villages that uphold traditions dating back hundreds of years.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Pu Luong Nature Reserve provides a much less crowded alternative to places such as Sapa and gives visitors the feeling they have truly escaped the tourist trail.
- A good level of fitness is required to complete the fairly difficult hiking routes, which include uneven, mountainous terrain.
- Accommodation options in Pu Luong Nature Reserve range from homestays in traditional stilt houses to luxurious eco lodges, some of which boast infinity pools overlooking the landscape.
How to Get There
Pu Luong Nature Reserve is located 112 miles (180 kilometers) from Hanoi and is accessible via the QL6 road. Visitors can rent a car or motorbike to reach the park, but experience is required to traverse the winding roads, the conditions of which vary greatly. Opting for a tour with included transport means that you’ll be able to focus on the scenery rather than navigating.
When to Get There
Weather in the mountains of Northern Vietnam is generally cool and temperamental, with frequent rain. The best time to visit is between February and May, when the heaviest rainfall has passed and the mountains and rice paddies are at their greenest.
Ways to Explore Pu Luong Nature Reserve
If hiking isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to see the best of Pu Luong Nature Reserve. During the rainy season, the river offers kayakers some invigorating rapids, while in dry season, riding a bamboo raft is a relaxing way to get a new perspective on the reserve. You can also cover more ground in less time on a mountain bike.