Pu Luong Eco Retreat
A little visited region of rice terraces, mountain passes and traditional villages, a visit to the Pu Luong Nature Reserve in northwest Vietnam offers an authentic insight into the life of the ethnic minorities who live and farm in the region. Here, the Pu Luong Retreat sits hidden on a hillside, the thatched roofs of its traditional buildings just poking though the treetops.
The lodge has an enviable vantage point — Pu Luong means 'the highest peak of the region' — and it offers panoramic views over the rice terraces and mountains beyond. A cluster of stilted houses made from locally-sourced wood and stone are built around mature trees and are furnished with simple wooden furniture, bamboo chairs, woven lamps and baskets, and locally-made fabrics.
The open-sided restaurant looks out over the broad valley and serves a range of traditional regional dishes, while the nine bungalows are more modern with tiled floors and marble bathrooms. Their white walls and linens contrast with the bright throws and pillows, while the spacious balconies provide a place to sit and admire the views.
A small infinity pool and spa offer relaxation at the end of a day spent trekking or cycling, bamboo rafting or visiting Thai ethnic villages.
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Simple but comfortable, each of the nine bungalows has its own spacious deck overlooking the valley and rice terraces below. Inside, the spacious rooms have white walls and linen, rustic wooden furniture and tiled floors. Pillows and bed throws made from traditional hand-woven or embroidered textiles add a touch of vibrancy. Although the marble bathrooms are compact, they are well equipped with a good shower. Free Wi-Fi and tea and coffee are also available in all rooms.
Surrounded by rice terraces, valleys and mountains, the Pu Luong Eco Retreat sits in a remote setting 150km (93 miles) southwest of Hanoi. Although there is little in the way of development here, the region offers an authentic insight into rural life, the cultural traditions of the local ethnic Thai and Muong people, and the option to get well off the beaten track while hiking or cycling around the region.
Food and drink
The rustic open-sided restaurant is made from strong wooden pillars supporting a traditional, woven roof. Bamboo furniture spills out onto the outdoor terrace with views of the valley and rice fields and the welcoming local staff cook up hearty traditional dishes from local ingredients. Expect plenty of rice and noodles with fresh herbs and vegetables for lunch and dinner, and a simple breakfast.
Facilities and activities
Along with a small infinity pool and spa, there's a rock garden and a wide array of activities that aim to introduce guests to the local community and their way of life. Visits to Muong and ethnic Thai villages, trekking and cycling through the nature reserve, bamboo rafting with a local family and visits to the rice terraces can all be arranged.
With its bucolic location and strong connection to the local community, this rustic retreat is great for those looking to get an authentic glimpse into rural Vietnam.