Experience the authentic rural life in Pu Luong

Rural-life-Pu-LuongAs a nature lover, I was truly impressed by  Pu Luong's pristine landscapes when the first time I visited. I loved every single moment, enjoyed the great limestone cliffs, took photos of rainforests and bamboos covering lower hillsides and green rice paddies, streams, and laneways. Pu Luong to me was as the Sapa which is not yet discovered.

My return in late September gave me more to expect than just that. In fact, the trip was beyond my expectation. Pu Luong area not only gave me the remoteness, but also a chance to really soak up all the benefits of rural life, whilst not giving up any comfort.

Located 160 km Southwest of Hanoi, on the cusp of Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa province, Pu Luong is mainly home to Thai, Tay and Muong people. They live their life in Ban Sai, Ban Hang, Don and Hieu village..., and were friendly to invite me a cup of tea into their home, told me about their stories. Lives were not easy to the locals. They were working hard to support their families but it did not stop them from showing their hospitality.

Hieu-villageAfter breakfast, I started hiking through trails that were not too difficult and included a mix of jungle, mountain tracks, and sleeping villages. I then walked cross fields where farming was carried out in the traditional way. And cars were almost not seen.

Farming-tradditional-wayPart of Pu Luong’s peaceful charm is waterwheels and bamboo aqueducts.

The rice grown here needs to be submerged to thrive (unlike mountain rice which can be grown in dry paddies). Thus, the wheels are set up to harvest a large volume of water from low-lying streams and feed the crops. I did find them sitting along the rocky streams that ran through Pu Luong. Coming up close, I was surprised by seeing how effective they are. The wheel spun slowly of its own accord, propelled by the running streams, scooped up a small amount of water on its bamboo tubes. Once at the top, water is dispensed to the elevated bamboo pipes leading to the separated fields. The settings were based on detailed calculations to ensure the proper process. 

I was wondering when and how to stop the wheels from spinning. If not, it keeps running, delivering fresh water around the clock without the needs of electricity or human efforts.


There are 2 harvests a year in Pu Luong. I was lucky to catch the rice paddy view when they were turning yellow from bright green. The scenery was exceptional. Pu Luong was as plentiful villages on the clouds. 

My trip was continued with some time walking deeper into local villages. There were buffaloes and ducks near the streams and fields I went through. Dragonflies and butterflies followed my steps. Some travelers told me that they felt the true rural Vietnam while staying there. And I thought it's indeed.

Buffalo-on-fieldsAfter that, I join a bamboo boat ride along a small river, took breathtaking photos and enjoyed the sunsets with local children. I loved that place partly because there were no tactics sellers following me, but the locals giving me memorable talks instead.

river-landscapeEnding up my day with a warm dinner with the host family, I heard murmuring sounds of little streams and viewed fireflies covering the fields at night, fell to a peaceful sleep.

Pu Luong is among few “off the beaten path’ places. For those who look for an alternative to Sapa, or simply love to discover the rural life of Vietnam in a new way, Pu Luong would be worth their time and effort. I surely come back to the places, not just to enjoy what I have had but also discover the different charm of this amazing destination.


Author: Footprint Team

Always full of travel spirit and laughter. Our expertises are shown not only through knowledge of the destination but also experience working in the tourism industry for over 15 years.

Footprint Team