Pu Luong nature reserve is located in Thanh Hoa province. The area is closed to Mai Chau and Cuc Phuong national park. Thus is a good place for doing some trek and spending one night or two in a local stilt house.
There are different villages where you can spend the night including Ban Kho Muong village, Ban Sai village, Ban Hin village…Most of these villages are inhabited by the Muong. Some other by the Thai. If you take a three or four day Pu Luong trek, you have the opportunity to experience both the culture.
Homestays in Pu Luong are commonly with ethnic minority families in their stilt houses. Most of them are Muong. Taking a Pu Luong tour, you will spend a few nights in homestays in Pu Luong and you will love the experience.
Stilt houses consist of a large, usually sparsely furnished communal area under a thatched roof. The kitchen is sometimes at one end of the room, sometimes in the open space underneath the building. The communal area is used for relaxing, eating and sleeping, and in a genuine homestay it’s all of you in together, hosts included.
At night mattresses are laid out on the floor in a row, separated by individual mosquito nets and curtains for privacy. In Mai Chau, homestays tend to be more commercialized, but only in the sense that you sleep in a separate stilt house from that of the hosts – you will still be on a mattress on the floor and there might be other tourists in there with you.
The bathroom facilities are basic and housed in separate blocks. They have Western-style toilets and are invariably clean, but not all things are always in working order, especially the showers.
Food is just good, prepared by local host in the house’s kitchen, located just by the main house.
In Ninh Binh and Mai Chau there are upmarket hotels (or rather one in the case of Mai Chau), but there are absolutely none in Pu Luong and it’s really not worth going there unless you can throw yourself into the homestay experience.
If you’re a fan of luxurious and comfortable hotels, homestay is sure not our suggestion. But in Mai Chau or Ninh Binh, you can also find good hotels – Mai Chau lodge 3*, Ninh Binh Legend Hotel 4* and Emeralda Resort 5*. There are 4 other luxury resorts are being constructed in Tam Coc and the works are about to be completed soon (updated August 2013 – Thierry, Lotussia).