Adventure trek to conquer Pu Luong summit - the journey of my lifetime experiences

Adventure trek to conquer Pu Luong summit - the journey of my lifetime experiences

Three weeks have passed since the day I did a trek to conquer the summit of Pu Luong nature reserve, I still feel emotional with the experiences now : both be amazed at its breathtaking beauty of mountain & forest, and be scared at things I encountered during the adventure. It was my most impressive trek ever, leaving me with so much impression. If you are interested in natural landscapes, adventure trek & exploring new destinations, trekking to conquer Pu Luong summit should be listed as one of your top things to do when travelling to Pu Luong Nature Reserve - Vietnam.

Trek from Don village to Pu Luong summit

Day hike Don village to Pu Luong peak

Working as a sale executive for Golden Holiday Travel, we have recieved a number of tour requests from the clients around the world to plan their trips to Vietnam since the reopening of Vietnam on 15th March 2022. Among them, there was a request for 11 day Northern Vietnam exploration in October 2022 with 5 day Pu Luong hiking to remote villages & conquer Pu Luong summit. That was one of the reasons why I revisited Pu Luong nature reserve last June to inspect other trekking routes to Kho Muong village & Pu Luong peak. In this blog, I would love to share my own adventure to Pu Luong summit, together with some useful travel tips, which could be great of use for your coming hike to Pu Luong mount.

Pu Luong Summit - where it is?

Pu Luong nature reserve is a new tourist destination in Vietnam travel map and much beloved among local & foreign visitors doing their trip to this nature reserve.Pu Luong impresses tourists with the natural beauty of its primary forests, rice terraces and the peaceful life of the local ethnic minorities.

Just 180km far from Hanoi, Pu Luong Nature Reserve belongs to Ba Thuoc and Quan Hoa districts of Thanh Hoa province (in Vietnam's northwest mountain region), and you can easily get to this destination in 4 hour car transfer.

Travelling to Pu Luong, it is great to trek along the valley & mountainside and visit local villages of Thai - Muong ethnics such as Son Ba Muoi, Ban Hieu, Ban Don, Ban Kho Muong.....If you are a challenge lover, trekking to conquer Pu Luong summit ( the highest point in Pu Luong mountains, at 1700 meters high compared to the sea level) could be your most exciting experience in Pu Luong - Vietnam

My adventure to conquer Pu Luong Peak - the journey of my lifetime experiences

1. Commit the adventure alone without any tourguide

A day before, I did a trek to Kho Muong village with a local guide as the trial hike and preparation to conquer Pu Luong summit. I knew the trek to the peak would be much harder and pre-arranged a local guide of this hiking route in advance.

I woke up after really a good night, felt energetic & eager for the summit trek that day. The morning was really clear & cool, and I could see white clouds covering Pu Luong peak - the point that I could cheer up my victory later on.

Summit view with cloud

Summit view from the village with clouds

After breakfast, while I was putting on hiking shoes, socks, insect repellents & packed lunch, I got a phone call from the tourguide saying that he couldn't go along my trek because of his sudden family business. At once, I made up my mind taking my own adventure without the guide's support.

2. Find the trail up thru local people's information

At 7h30 a.m from the valley of Ban Don hamlet, I came across a local shop to buy a few bottles of water and asked the shop seller whether she knew the local entrance to Pu Luong peak. The lady at her mid 60 years old was happy to point me the way up & told me that she had used to hike up the mount twice a week to pick up the forest's bamboo shoots for her family food and it had taken her around 3 hours normally to reach the summit.

I thanked her for her great information & hiked up to the entrance of the jungle (on NR15 near Pu Luong retreat). For sure of the right trail, I asked two more locals near the trail : the first lady busily taking care of her baby said she hadn't known anything about the route; the second man at the homestay told me : "that is the trail but it is a hard one along the stream which can take you 6-8 hours to the summit & it is better to spend night up there...."

Trails to hike up with stones

The trail to hike up near NR15C

3. Journey ahead with scared, then excited feelings

Feeling a bit confused with recieved information but much trust on the old lady from the shop, I hiked up the trail of challenging stones - resulted from the past erosions. The very first steps of the journey were quite challenging, which reminded me of a saying " a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first steps" giving me a motivation of moving forward.

The first part of hard trail, along with the early sun & no wind of the morning made me out of breath, my clothes got soaked with sweat. No other ways but constant breaks & water did support me to head up the journey.

Trekking to Pu Luong summit - me

I was myself on the rocky trails up & up

After one hour, the trail suddenly appeared two different routes to go. I had no choice but made a clear sign of this junction ( as a signal to realize) , then trialed the first route, which leaded to some other small directions. I took no risk that way but came back to the the sign of junction & went ahead with another route (though it got covered by trees), then the trail became clear again so I felt confident to keep going.This kind of lost direction happened a few times later but I followed my same technic to find down the right track to go up.

"Last year, I was ever lost for 3 hours in the middle of jungle on a trek to Cuc Phuong national park with a local guide because of a big tree fallen down to hide the trace of the trails. With the signed marks done by the guide, we finally could find down the route and escape the situation"

Trekking Pu Luong - my experience

It was so hot that I had to take off my T-shirt

The higher I climbed up, the hotter it became, the trails were also steeper, which made me so hot that I had to take my T-shirt off. Water was essential in long treks to keep me going up, a walking stick was also an important tool to hold my balances. I could not complete my journey without those things along

Leeches crawled into my socks & sucked their foooood....

When trekking to the certain level of jungle, I suddenly felt quite itchy on my ankle, where I found some leeches crawling on my shoes & others sucking blood from my ankle. In fact, there were many of them ( tiny & big ones) on the ground trying to approach my steps, which I have never seen in any trekking routes before. At first, I was a bit scared when facing up the scene but quickly calmed down to take one after another out of my shoes.So now, besides the feeling of getting lost in the middle of no where, my journey was troubled by this little insect. Eventhough I sprayed some insect repellent but it didn't chase the leeches away.In every 5 minutes walking, I needed to check & made sure that no leeches were approaching my shoes & my body. Anyway, I could not avoid some of them sucking my blood during the journey because at the end of the trek, I found at least 10  black bites in my leg, feet, shoulders & arms, which still make me itchy now with its left venom.

Notes : at certain level of height in Pu Luong jungle, the environment is constantly wet & humid with little sun - really good place for leeches to develop abundantly and at its best in rainy season.

Pu Luong summit trek

The view from the summit of Pu Luong nature reserve

After 4 hour trek, I approached a high mountainside. From here, I could see the summit nearby & trekked in 1 hour more to reach Pu Luong peak at 1700 meters high. The scenery was breathtaking with magnificent surrounding mountains & endless green valley - really worth my effort.

I was excited to take as many photos as possible, cheered myself with victory & took some break for lunch at the summit with my prepared picnic meal of bread, ham & salad.

At 13h00, I slowly trekked down the same route which I already marked with signs  and I could came down safely & confidently without any loss of direction at all. Until 16h30, I was in Ban Don village & came to the lady's shop with my story & some cans of cold beers - so grateful & refresh.

I myself love this hike very much because this trek is not only a journey to conquer Pu Luong summit but also an adventure to conquer myself - overcame any obstacles I met during the journey & went ahead with the target. More importantly, this trip gives me the feeling that " I can do it" and the courage of "overcoming any coming challenges in life"

Pu Luong summit beauty

Travel tips for your coming adventure to conquer Pu Luong summit.

1. Plan the right time to hike Pu Luong peak

You can visit Pu Luong nature reserve at any time of the year for scenic hikes to visit local villages, rice terraces, watefall & water wheels.Rainy season ( April to October) are ideal time to visit green & golden rice fields & it is fine with normal treks in Kho Muong, Ban Hieu, Ban Don, Co Lung..... but it is not convenient for your hike to Pu Luong summit, it will be slipery and you may be more constantly attacked by the leeches. Dry season ( October to March), the weather is dry & cool - an ideal condition for hiking trip, especially adventure trek to Pu Luong peak - easier to climb up & less troubles caused by leeches.

Trails to Pu Luong summit

Bamboo forest with hidden dirt trails

2. Good preparation for your conqueration of Pu Luong mount.

A good preparation will come along with wonderful travel experiences. The trails to Pu Luong summit are steep & slipery so you'd better go with a good pair of trekking shoes, long socks & a walking stick to affirm your relaxing journey. In the jungle, the mosquitos, flies, leeches & other insects are popular so you should put on long pants & sleeved T- shirt, together with insect repellents to avoid the bites. Another important thing is drinking water you have to pack for this adventure - not enough water, you may not complete the journey to the top.

Trekking shoes to Pu Luong mount

Slipery & dirt shoes while trekking thru bamboo forest

3. Trek with tourguide or in an organized tour

You are new to this region, especially this off-the-beaten-track trek to Pu Luong summit, you'd better not do it on your own like my shared adventure. For the safe side & more wonderful travel experiences during the journey, you should get a local tourguide along, who will support you with the faster route & avoid the risk of getting lost in the middle of nowhere. The best way is to go thru a travel company with an organized trekking tour to Pu Luong peak ( 1 day or 2 day/1 night with a camp for overnight at the summit), they will organize a team of English speaking tourguide & porters to assist & make sure of your smooth adventure. If overnight on camp at the summit, the climate was cold at night, so make sure to arm yourselves with warm clothes as well.

Customiize Pu Luong Tour summit

Conquer Pu Luong summit with Golden Holiday Travel

As local & licensed tour operator, Golden Holiday Travel have operated many successful tours for our past clients to explore Pu Luong nature reserve. My recent adventure to Pu Luong summit was one of my inspection trips to make sure our customers good journeys with memorable experiences ahead. We hope that this blog has brought you some insights of this trekking route. Plan your journey to Pu Luong nature reserve with trekking tours to local villages or to conquer Pu Luong peak, in need of local consultancy or travel services of Pu Luong tour package or car hire Hanoi to Pu Luong, don't hesitate to contact us at +84.988451530 (whatsapp) or email us to, we are more than pleased to support you...!

See you in Pu Luong nature reserve - Vietnam !

Golden Holiday Travel Team 

Need local support, please, let us know!

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