Pu Luong Nature Reserve motorbike tour – Everything you need to know

In the Thai ethnic minority language, Pu Luong means the highest peak. Pu Luong Nature Reserve stretches through 2 districts: Ba Thuoc and Quan Hoa in Thanh Hoa Province, over an area of 17.600 ha. Blessed with rich flora and fauna, the untouched beauty has made Pu Luong Nature Reserve a must-visit destination in Northern Vietnam for nature lovers, especially bikers.

Previously, this area was lesser-known by travelers and hard to find. However, the place became more and more famous when the images of Pu Luong Retreat took the internet by storm. The followings are what you need to know about Pu Luong Nature Reserve and traveling from Hanoi to Pu Luong with Vietnam motorbike tours club.

About Pu Luong

The Pu Luong Nature Reserve lies within the Ba Thuoc and Quan Hoa District region, 130 km to the northwest of Thanh Hoa, Vietnam. 25km from Cuc Phuong National Park, Pu Luong is linked with the park by two parallel grey limestone mountain ranges. Between them are rice valleys. The attraction borders Mai Chau, Tan Lac, and Lac Son in Hoa Binh Province to the north and northeast. The Ma River flows from the west to the south of the reserve, starting from the abuttal between Quan Hoa and Mai Chau (Hoa Binh Province) to Canh Nang Town (Ba Thuoc). 

With such a geological position, Pu Luong Nature Reserve is highly similar to Cuc Phuong’s flora and fauna system. Son Ba Muoi in Lung Cao Commune and Pu Luong peak at the height of 1700m in Thanh Son Commune are the potential to build retreats. 

Best time to travel to Pu Luong Nature Reserve​

Surrounded by ancient forests, Pu Luong’s climate is comfortable even in the hot summer. However, the best times to get there are:

  • The period from the end of May to early June is the new rice crop when the rice terraced fields turn into fresh green. It looks so eye-catching and calm. 
  • September and October are times for rice harvests, so the fields are covered with glorious yellow that brings Pu Luong a well-off and dreamy look. 
  • The middle of summer is also a good time to hit the spot (however, storms might strike Northern Vietnam at that time). As aforementioned, the climate here is cool even in hot summer, thanks to its low, forested mountain terrain and a small number of inhabitants. 

How to get to Pu Luong Nature Reserve​

It’s hard to reach the place if you travel by coach or bus because they do not carry us there directly, and we must transit into other vehicles. Therefore, private transport (by car or motorbike) is the most convenient way. Another option for those who love exercise is to bike from Mai Chau (you can hire one there) to discover Pu Luong and stay there overnight. 

Public Transportation

From Hanoi to Pu Luong, you can get in a coach to Ba Thuoc (Canh Nang Town). Commonly, the coaches only arrive in the center of the town, which is 20km away from Pu Luong. So you will have to find a motorbike taxi for a move to the site. The Hoang Phuong coach offers transfer service daily from the two most well-known bus stations in Hanoi, Giap Bat and My Dinh. 

Private vehicle

How to get to Pu Luong Nature Reserve​

Motorbike is the best vehicle to travel from Hanoi to Pu Luong

From Hanoi to Pu Luong Nature Reserve by motorbike

To avoid shuttling in only one route, you should circle Pu Luong. Take National Highway 6 to Hoa Binh from Hanoi, then choose between Lung Van – the cloud valley, and Lac Village in Mai Chau.

Get back to Hanoi along National Highway 15 C and 217 to the magic Cam Luong of Holy Fish. Next, cross the Ho Chi Minh Trail to the Xuan Mai crossroads (National Highway 6). If you have time, spend some time or even one more day uncovering Cuc Phuong.

From Sai Gon to Pu Luong Nature Reserve by motorbike

It would help if you took a flight to Hanoi and followed the above instructions. Or land at Tho Xuan Airport in Thanh Hoa and rent a motorbike. Continue moving along National Highway 15 for about 100 km before making it to Pu Luong Nature Reserve. Depending on the weather and your riding skill, it may take about 4 to 5 hours.

If you want to visit more tourist destinations in Thanh Hoa, drop in the Lam Kinh historical relic and the magic Cam Luong of Holy Fish. These two places are both on the way to Pu Luong, yet you should adjust your itinerary a bit if you decide to come by. Just follow National Highway 15 and 217 because the actual distance is quite the same.

Where to stay 

Pu Luong is quite large so stop in one village in the region according to your itinerary. The most popular accommodation is the locals’ homestays. You will get to experience the indigenous people’s lives and try their specialties. Currently, most homestays lie in the communes of Co Lung, Thanh Lam, Thanh Son, and Lung Cao in Ba Thuoc District, Thanh Hoa. Check out the list of hostels in Ba Thuoc unless you want to sleep at the core of Pu Luong.

Where to go

Kho Muong Village

On the way to the majestic Pu Luong peak is an untouched and sleepy village called Kho Muong. This is one of the poorest uplands in Thanh Son Commune, Ba Thuoc District. However, the village has great potential for community-based tourism in terms of nature and traditional culture.

As a valley lies deeply in the core of Pu Luong Nature Reserve, far from human hands, Kho Muong still keeps its own poetic and primitive features. There are over 60 ethnic groups of Thai ethnic people with 230 populations. Isolated from other villages in the area and 2km away from Thanh Son Commune People’s Committee, the bumpy route leading to Kho Muong is challenging for adventurous bikers.

Getting a panorama view of the whole land, Kho Muong boasts its charming beauty of stilt houses nestled into the mountain’s foot alongside rice, maize, and cassava fields. The circle around it is a big green forested mountain that makes the village as beautiful as a watercolor painting. The villagers mostly subsisted on rice, maize, and cassava. After acknowledging the tourism sign, they started building more spacious houses to greet the tourists. Come to Kho Muong; tourists can join in lots of activities such as sightseeing; experiencing and learning about the culture and customs of the Thai ethnic people; immersing in the wildlife, or relishing the traditional mountainous foods (rice cooked in bamboo tubes, forestall banana inflorescence salad, corn wine, small pickled leeks, boiled duck, and so on).

Kho Muong Cave

Kho Muong Cave is one of the most attractive caves in the cave system discovered in Pu Luong Nature Reserve, formed by limestone stalactites 250 million years ago. The cave connects to the underground river system with a length of 2.5 km to the north, supplying water from Kho Muong to Pon Village in Lung Cao Commune. At least four types of bats live in the cave at different times of the year. Delving into the cave, tourists will see numerous rocks and stalactites in the shapes of human beings, trees, wild beasts, and many more. The cave’s highlight is a natural volleyball court in one of its branches.

Don Village (Thanh Lam Commune)

Don is a village of about 80 families with 285 Thai ethnic people. For the past two years, the number of tourists in and out of the country has been increasing. Aside from the serenity and unspoiled natural landscapes, Don Village also offers delectable local dishes such as forestall bamboo shoots, wild ducks, wild boars, free-range chickens, and chayote leaves, especially the endearment and hospitality of the locals.

Son – Ba – Muoi Villages

These are three upland villages in Lung Cao Commune, 130 km northwest of the capital. Dubbed as a Sapa in microcosm, the zone’s climate is mild all year round, with an average temperature of 18 – 22 Celsius and sometimes snowy.

People call Son – Ba – Muoi Villages the Cao Son zone, which is on the top of Phe He, Pha Chien mountains, and parallel to Pu Luong – Cuc Phuong – the core zone of the nature reserve. The zone borders Ngoc Son – Ngo Luong Nature Reserve in Hoa Binh Province.

Until now, Son – Ba – Muoi still upholds many customs of the ancient Thai ethnic people. For example, the old stilt houses with specific traits mingled with no modern architecture.

Ban Hieu (Hieu Village)

Hieu is another village of Thai ethnic people next to the Hieu stream that originates from the Pu Luong peak. Along two sides of the stream dotted by hundreds of scattered houses. From the village’s beginning to the end, there are five different waterfalls, each of which has its beauty. Thus, the villagers named all the waterfalls Hieu. 

Hieu Waterfalls

The Hieu waterfalls have become a favorite site of backpackers and foreign tourists for the past few years. The 25km route from Canh Nang Town to Hieu Village is wonderful, with terraced rice fields adjacent to the stream’s sides. Cross a bridge made of bamboo; we can reach the village’s entrance. The clear blue water flows over, containing many limestone substances that petrify everything near the waterfall. Especially when it is teeming rain, the current turns into white limestone powder. And it is the most interesting characteristic of the area.

The waterfall’s origin is a stone cave in the mighty mountain range of Pu Luong – Cuc Phuong Nature Reserve. It is an internationally important specimen of the Karst ecosystem and the only remaining lowland area of ​​limestone karst habitat in northern Vietnam. According to the villagers, the stream flows throughout the year.

Viewed from above, the 800m waterfall’s current separates into two branches when moving halfway down the mountain in different directions, but they are put together at the end. Outside the waterfall is a natural pool where tourists can take a bath. The water level is just over 1m. Worry not if you are afraid your feet might get hurt because the pool bed is sand.

The location has become a tourist attraction with a stilt house system that provides tourists with a view of the forest and relaxing moments.

Muon Waterfall (Dien Quang Commune)

At an elevation of 500m, Muon Waterfall starts from Muon mountain peak to a vast valley and then cascades down the mountain flank creating 43 floors of the waterfall of different sizes and heights. The interesting thing is that tourists can climb those floors without taking off their footwear because the rocks here are not slippery. Remember that there are 2 Muon Waterfalls in the district, so you should google it with a familiar name – Muon Waterfall Dien Quang Ba Thuoc.

Pho Doan Market

Pho Doan is a market that existed from the French colonial period in Lung Niep Commune, Ba Thuoc District, Thanh Hoa Province – a place for the native people to trade goods and a venue for Kinh, Muong, Thai ethnic people from other communes and districts of Tan Lac, Lac Son, … in Hoa Binh Province.

Differing from any other markets in the nation, the market rules a culture of trading same-value commodities. Sometimes, they don’t use the money for their exchange. For instance, you can exchange a chicken for 20 eggs and a bunch of vegetables. The people hardly haggle over what they like.

Pu Luong Peak

Pu Luong is the first place that comes into all trekkers’ minds when they think of conquering nature. At an altitude of 1700m above sea level, it takes 6 to 8 hours to hit the peak in good weather. Make camp on the peak for one night, then come down from the mount the next day.

What to eat

Usually, travelers can enjoy the local foods right in their homestays. The hosts will prepare all the dishes based on the number of your crew. Meat and fish dishes will be presented on a bamboo tray lined with banana leaves, accompanied by rice or sticky rice. Pu Luong cuisine bears typical traits of the Thai ethnic people, while the ingredients bring the tastes of mountains and forest.

Grilled small wild boars

“Lon cap nach” or small wild boar, is a specialty of the Muong people. To retain the sweetness of the pork, people will clean the pig before taking its viscera out, but they do not clean the meat after that. The meat is cut into pieces, then steamed with its entrails, and the bone is cooked with banana flowers. The fine-cut bacon spiced with onion and fish sauce is wrapped in pomelo leaves and grilled over the ember. After that, they serve the medium well pork on a green banana, leave with roasted salt, and crushed Michelia tonkinensis.

Free-range chickens 

Those free-range chickens live in nature or a wide-open space, eating rice and soaking in the sunlight, so their meat is very aromatic and sweet. Boiling the chicken is the best way to feel such a flavor, and forget not to dip the meat into the local spices. With the traditional way of spicing, the Thai ethnic people’s grilled chicken will make you wow.

Co Lung duck

This kind of duck has small bones and firm and lean meat. Like free-range chickens, those ducks live near the streams and eat natural foods. That’s why its meat is so sapid.

Itinerary for the motorbike tour from Hanoi to Pu Luong

Pu Luong is a scenic destination that is well worth your visit. Traveling from Hanoi to Pu Luong by motorbike will bring you the best off-road ridingexperience! 

Day 1: Hanoi – Mai Chau – Pu Luong

Follow National Highway 6 from Hanoi to Hoa Binh, then Mai Chau. Spend a day in Mai Chau if you like. If not, continue from National Highway 15 to Co Luong’s three-way crossroad. Go along the Ma River, then turn to National Highway 15C. From there, you keep heading toward Pu Luong Nature Reserve. The distance is about 200km so you should start the trip soon or it will be too late on arrival. Choose a homestay to spend the night in Pu Luong.

Day 2: Discover Pu Luong

Get up early and visit some locations around Pu Luong, like Kho Muong Cave and the Thai ethnic people’s culture. Roll down to Pho Doan, and explore the market if the fair is occurring before hitting the Hieu Waterfalls. After weaving through Son – Ba – Muoi Villages, go cloud watching in Lung Van (Hoa Binh). Head back to Hanoi on National Highway 6 from Lung Van. Another option for the second day: Skip Lung Van and return to Cam Luong fish stream. Go over the Ho Chi Minh Trail to get back to Hanoi. On the way back, we will meet at Cuc Phuong National Park, so if you have time, stay there for a day. 

Day 2: Discover Pu Luong by motorbike

Check out other scenic motorbike tour routes from Hanoi to Pu Luong designed by BM Travel Adventure, which are best for off-road riding. To adventure lovers, these are ecstatic motorbike routes to challenge and explore! Just choose the one that suits your plan most and head to Vietnam in no time! 

Northwest Vietnam Motorbike Tour from Hanoi to Ninh Binh via Pu Luong – 6 days​

Motorbike Route: Hanoi → Mai Chau → Moc Chau → Pu Luong → Cuc Phuong → Ninh Binh → Trang An → Hanoi

The Northwest Vietnam Motorbike Tour from Hanoi to Ninh Binh – 6 days takes you from Hanoi to the valley of Mai Chau to Moc Chau Plateau. Then, you will embark on a journey to three notable nature reserves in Thanh Hoa and Ninh Binh provinces: Pu Luong, Cuc Phuong, and Trang Ang 6-day road trip is below.

Northwest Vietnam Motorbike Tour from Hanoi to Ninh Binh via Pu Luong - 6 days​

Hanoi to Mai Chau Motorbike Tour via Pu Luong on Ho Chi Minh Trail – 3 days

Motorbike Route: Hanoi → Pu Luong → Mai Chau → Hanoi

The 3-day Hanoi to Mai Chau Motorbike Tour on Ho Chi Minh Trail is one of the shortest tours to conquer a part of the Ho Chi Minh trail and bring unforgettable memories for visitors on this legendary road. Only a few hours riding west of Hanoi lies the peaceful valleys of Mai Chau– Pu Luong, where green rice paddies embrace solemn karst mountains. This area is perfect for you if you only have a few days to explore the vast nature of Northern Vietnam. Experience the daily lives of ethnic minority people with a night in a traditional house on stilts on this Mai Chau motorbike tour.

Hanoi to Mai Chau Motorbike Tour via Pu Luong on Ho Chi Minh Trail - 3 days

Contact us for more interesting information​

  • Address: 3/7/36 Duy Tan Street, Cau Giay District, Ha Noi City
  • Mobile: +84 976 024 986
  • Email: info@vietnammotorbiketoursclub.com
  • Website: https://vietnammotorbiketoursclub.com/


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