Panhou Village Ecolodge, Ha Giang

First published October 2018 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

INTRODUCTION | REVIEW | MAP | RELATED POSTS

Deep within the folds of steep mountains and plunging valleys, Panhou Village Ecolodge is set in the middle of a remote and seldom-visited part of Ha Giang, Vietnam’s northernmost province. A cluster of bamboo, brick-and-thatch structures constructed on a lush patch of land by a clear-flowing river, Panhou Village Ecolodge is a boutiquey blend of local ethnic minority architecture and a few modern comforts. In recent years, Ha Giang has become famous for the extraordinary landscapes of the Extreme North Loop, which lies to the east of the Lo (Blue) River, a major waterway that bisects the province. But the territory west of the Lo River is far less trodden, yet it offers equally beguiling countryside. Panhou Village Ecolodge is an ideal base from which to explore this scenic region. The hiking and biking are excellent, and the Ecolodge is a cosy place to call home for a few days in the green embrace of Vietnam’s northern highlands. [Average rates are $40-$50. To check availability & make a reservation for Panhou Ecolodge please BOOK HERE]

*Please support Vietnam Coracle: I never write a review for money: all my content is free & my reviews are independent. You can support the work I do by booking your hotels via the Agoda links & search boxes on my site, like the ones on this page. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Any money I make goes straight back into this site. Thank you.

Pan Hou Village Ecolodge, Ha Giang, VietnamDeep in the mountains of remote Ha Giang Province, Panhou Ecolodge is a cosy & unexpected hideaway

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REVIEW: PAN HOU ECOLODGE


Address: Thong Nguyen Hamlet, Hoang Su Phi District, Ha Giang Province, Vietnam [MAP]

Average Rates: $40-$50 | Website: www.panhou-village.com


MAP:

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Located on a small, paved lane, about 20km west of road DT177, Panhou Village Ecolodge is accessed via a narrow, wooden bridge, suspended above a rocky river. Even when you’re on road DT177, you’re already off the beaten path, so by the time you reach the Ecolodge, you’re way off the grid. Panhou is a few kilimetres north of Thong Nguyen hamlet, which isn’t much more than a cluster of concrete houses at a rural crossroads. The nearest town of any size is Hoang Su Phi, 25km to the north. And Ha Giang, the provincial capital, is a 3-hour drive northeast of the Ecolodge. What’s more, many of the local roads are regularly blocked due to landslides, such is the mountainous nature of the surrounding terrain. In short, Panhou Village Ecolodge is remote.

The bridge to Pan Hou Village Ecolodge, Ha Giang, VietnamPanhou Village sits on an island in a stream: a wooden bridge leads across the water to the ecolodge

With this isolation comes spellbinding landscape. For most Vietnamese, the name Hoang Su Phi, the district in which Panhou is located, conjures romantic images of a wild, mist-shrouded mountainscape, where forests are punctured by waterfalls, and rice terraces grace the valleys. And this romanticized image is, well, pretty much accurate. It’s a majestic part of Vietnam; a region with genuine grandeur. And yet, there’s still very little tourist infrastructure here, which is one of the reasons Panhou Ecolodge is so special and unique. It was established specifically for travellers who wanted to experience this part of Vietnam, especially on trekking holidays. Personally, I think of Panhou as a place to treat myself in the middle of a long motorbike road trip, specifically the Borders & Back-Roads route, between Sapa and Ha Giang.

Guest room at Pan Hou Village Ecolodge, Ha Giang, VietnamPanhou Ecolodge makes a great stop for travellers on the back-roads route between Sapa & Ha Giang

Unsurprisingly, given its remote location, getting to Panhou Ecolodge requires a long journey. You can get here independently by motorbike (or a very challenging bicycle ride) or hired private vehicle. The nearest transport hub is Ha Giang city, but from there, local buses will generally only get you as close as the town of Hoang Su Phi. Or, if you book in advance, the Ecolodge can arrange transportation for you from Hanoi or Sapa, at an extra cost. Either way, it’s a day’s journey, perhaps more if road and weather conditions are bad.

Restaurant & fireplace at Pan Hou Village Ecolodge, Ha Giang, VietnamPanhou Village is very remote, but the lodge is cosy & comfortable, including this restaurant & fireplace

The Ecolodge is nestled on a patch of flat land between the riverside and the hills behind. It’s a small complex that resembles a traditional hamlet. The grounds are extremely lush: tropical plants, trees, and flowers grow profusely all around the property – you can almost see the foliage growing as you walk through the gardens. In amongst this jungle are dotted several thatched structures, connected by meandering stone pathways. The gardens and buildings are very well kept and cared for by a staff that includes local people from ethnic minority groups. Twenty three guest rooms, including doubles and triples, are tastefully but minimally furnished. Wooden desks, bamboo chairs and curtain rails, bedside lamps, crisp white sheets, and tiled en-suite shower and toilet are enough to make the rooms comfortable and cosy. There’s a ceiling fan, but no air-conditioning. Windows open onto the lovely gardens and feature mosquito netting so that you can leave them open at night for the breeze without letting the bugs in – a simple feature, but one that most accommodations in Vietnam lack.

Garden at Pan Hou Village Ecolodge, Ha Giang, VietnamThe gardens at Panhou are incredibly lush – tropical foliage grows all over the property

As the name suggests, Panhou Ecolodge is ostensibly an environmentally friendly property. Solar panels heat the water, local materials are used for building, local people are employed, and local ingredients – many of which are grown on the property – are used in the cooking. I always find it difficult to judge, but on the surface at least this eco-lodge does appear to be low-impact and sustainable.

Garden at Pan Hou Village Ecolodge, Ha Giang, VietnamPanhou Ecolodge appears to be relatively low-impact & eco-friendly, including the use of solar power

Breakfast, including excellent bread and home-made jams, is included in the room price. Lunch and dinner are set menus consisting of good Vietnamese highland dishes. There are vegetarian options, too. All meals are a flat rate of $13 per person. If you have your own transport, you can go a few kilometres down the road to Thong Nguyen hamlet for a meal at a quán cơm (rice eatery), but otherwise the only option is to eat at the Ecolodge. The restaurant and bar are (somewhat unnecessarily) housed in separate structures close to one another, both of which appear to blend traditional architectural motifs with modern flourishes. The bar offers a good list of cocktails, which must be the only ones for miles around. A gin and tonic or Campari and orange next to the blazing, open fire after a long day’s trekking or motorbiking in the mountains is a real treat. Another treat after an excursion is to indulge in one of the traditional, herbal, therapeutic baths on offer. 

Dinner at Pan Hou Village Ecolodge, Ha Giang, VietnamGood, home-cooked, locally sourced meals are available & cocktails & wine are served in the bar

But all this comes at a price, and that price is usually around $50 a night for bed and breakfast, double occupancy. For a couple, or two friends sharing, this seems pretty reasonable, especially considering the location is so remote, and the fact that it’s a generally low-impact and environmentally friendly property. But, for the price, some guests might have higher expectations when it comes to the level of comfort and amenities. When I first visited the Ecolodge, I was quite surprised (but not disappointed) at how sparse the rooms were. This is something to bear in mind, particularly if you’re a budget traveller thinking of ‘splashing out’ for a night. Whenever I’ve stayed at Panhou Ecolodge I’ve shared the cost with a friend and felt that the room rate represented value for money. In any case, it’s such a lovely, lush, well-maintained, and pretty place that you won’t be thinking about the money. [Average rates are $40-$50. To check availability & make a reservation for Panhou Ecolodge please BOOK HERE]

*Please support Vietnam Coracle: I never write a review for money: all my content is free & my reviews are independent. You can support the work I do by booking your hotels via the Agoda links & search boxes on my site, like the ones on this page. If you make a booking, I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Any money I make goes straight back into this site. Thank you.

Pan Hou Village Ecolodge, Ha Giang, VietnamPanhou Village Ecolodge is atmospheric, remote, cosy, comfortable & very scenically located

Disclosure: I never receive payment for anything I write: my content is always free and independent. I’ve written this review because I want to: I like this ecolodge and I want my readers to know about it. For more details, see my Disclosure & Disclaimer statements here

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