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Pu Luong Nature Reserve draws guests with pristine scenery and modern comforts

Over the past decade, Pu Luong has made a name for itself among travelers in Vietnam and around the world. Situated in Quan Hoa and Ba Thuoc districts of Thanh Hoa province, this Nature Reserve was long absent from travel maps, only known by a few passionate photographers and explorers. Pu Luong is now as well known as Y Ty (Lao Cai) or Mu Cang Chai (Yen Bai), thanks to its year-round beauty.

Kayaking past bamboo water wheels

Pu Luong is famous for its terraced fields covered in golden rice and sunlight, water wheels that work silently day and night, and untouched primeval forests. Visitors love the peaceful and simple life of the locals. This remote location evokes strange and nostalgic feelings, since it’s free of the noise that has invaded many popular destinations. Hundreds of stilt houses with palm leaf roofs hide under the forest canopy. A small path leads through the mountains and the fields, leading travelers to breathtaking views. Most locals are ethnic Thai people, who build their stilt houses at the base of the mountains, grow rice on terraced fields, and graze cattle by streams. They welcome strangers with friendly smiles and often invite visitors to join their traditional meals.

A resort made from bamboo

However, tourism in Pu Luong is not only about sampling local food and sleeping on a brocade fabric mattress by a fire. Since tourism touched this land, cocktails are now served at dinner time, and young travelers can take selfies in an infinity pool by the rice fields. New travel trends have emerged, carrying diversity and cultural vibes with them. Young people come to Pu Luong to trek, kayak on the rivers, mountain climb, mountain bike, and run marathons. Sports lovers are overwhelmed by “The Wonder Trail of Vietnam.” Photographers are amazed by the scenic water wheels, which offer a perfect background for photoshoots. They can also easily capture photos of wild birds.

Morning exercises as the sun rises

Pu Luong is unique in that its homestays and hotels are built to meet modern requirements and preserve nature. The natural beauty remains untouched while the accommodation offers luxurious services. Nothing can compare to waking up in a comfortable room and opening the doors to welcome the morning sun. It’s wonderful to enjoy a buffet breakfast in a spacious courtyard under a stilt house, complete with Western dishes like stewed beef and fried eggs, and traditional Vietnamese fare like steamed rice pancakes with cinnamon pork pate (bánh cuốn chả quế), steamed rice cakes (bánh tẻ), beef pho, and noodles in chicken broth (bún thang), etc.

A resort with charming thatched roofs

After a visit to the village or hours of riding through the forest, it’s nice to take a dip in a pool with a glass of hot wine made with oranges, lemon, apples, anise, cinnamon and rosemary. Mulled wine is a perfect choice to sip by the fire at sunset, chatting with other guests. These multilingual chats are opportunities for the exchange of Asian and Western cultures, with people speaking in English, French, Vietnamese and sometimes Thai.

These tourism services may look effortless but require a long journey of training for local service providers. Only familiar with farm work, young locals working in tourism must learn everything from scratch, from foreign languages to what items are stocked in the bar, how to make up a bed, and set a dinner table. Standardized services and customer-friendly attitudes are essential. This type of tourism business is well-received by travelers, who visit the Nature Reserve repeatedly. Along with the palm roofs of stilt houses and the fields of aromatic rice, international standards make this an irresistible travel destination.