Last month, we took a weekend trip from Hanoi that was filled with so much adventure and discovery and sheer travel perfection that it had us falling in love with Vietnam all over again. It took us far from the beaten path, on an epic adventure 5 1/2 hours from the city, to a place called Pu Luong Nature Reserve.
I’ve waxed lyrical about the beauty and the atmosphere of Pu Luong, but now it’s time to get to the nitty gritty, like where the heck can you sleep in this mountain paradise??
The Pu Luong Nature Reserve Homestay Experience
Unlike neighbouring Mai Chau, Pu Luong is not set up for tourism at all and the homestays here are of a much more traditional kind. You’ll find no signs and barely any of the roads within the park are named. For our first night in the park we literally drove around miming sleeping to the locals until someone offered us a bed.
This tactic saw us sleeping above a local shop in one of the tiny settlements off of the Duong 15 road. It was pretty comfortable and very inexpensive, but our only food options were instant noodles and plenty of packaged snacks. So, you have this option, but it isn’t what we would recommend.
Because, for just a little over £7.50 (250,000VND) you can stay with Mr Ba and be fed and housed like a king.
After a little googling we found this fantastic resource for Pu Luong (and the surrounding sights) and it led us to the village of Bản Hiêu. The directions in the article were perfect and on the last stretch into the upper section of the village, we came across a friend of Mr Ba’s who led us straight there. Like I mentioned in the last post, we saw no other tourists so word must get around quickly when they do arrive!
We were greeted warmly and offered a cold bottle of water and some tea. They took down our dinner time and then sent us off to explore the waterfalls further down the village, promising us a refreshing swim.
Yes, not only had we been bowled over by the beauty of Pu Luong and charmed by the welcoming locals, but we now got to swim in one of the prettiest waterfalls I’ve ever seen. And, again, we had it all to ourselves.
Later, when our friends Jay and Audra joined us, we bought cold beers from the building opposite the pools, drank them in the water and Audra found an underwater cave behind the waterfall. It just kept getting more and more idyllic.
The above article on the Vietnam Coracle also mentioned a second homestay in Bản Hiêu and on our explorations around the waterfall we discovered that Mr Ba’s competitor, Mr Si, had risen the bar for accommodation in Pu Luong by turning his simple home into a boutique eco lodge! The place was as empty as the rest of Pu Luong but wandering around the grounds we could imagine just how luxurious a stay there would be. We couldn’t get an exact figure from the staff member we met but I think a night there is upwards of £30 a night.
Sadly, the name she gave me, Bản Hiêu Eco Lodge, garners no results in google and therefore I cannot figure out how you would go about booking a place here if you did want the high-end nature reserve experience.
Mr Si’s may have had it’s own private, and slightly more secluded, waterfall but we were more than happy with the free option.
Mr Ba’s Pu Luong homestay may not be a typical idea of luxury but his family ticked all the boxes with these unfussy travellers. We had a dinner of epic proportions and drank rice wine ceremoniously with Mr Ba himself, we slept wonderfully and we were surprised with fresh coffee in the morning alongside our banana pancakes.
It will be hard to top this homestay experience, that’s for sure.
Pu Luong Nature Reserve is one of the most special places I’ve visited and I cannot wait to return.