Hieu Waterfall stands out in the green jungle deep inside Pu Luong Natural Reserve, about 25km from Canh Nang Town in the central province of Thanh Hoa.
Whoever sets foot here agrees that Hieu is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in central Viet Nam.
Following the rugged stony path from the centre of Co Lung Commune, visitors arrive in Hieu Village, which is also the furthest village in the commune and the location of the waterfall.
Local cultural researcher Ha Nam Ninh from Ba Thuoc District said the name of the waterfall, which originated from the language of the Thai ethnic minority people, means “protrusion like a tree branch”, just like the area where Hieu Village and the waterfall are located.
The most interesting feature of the area near the waterfall is that nearly everything that the water flows over, such as trees, turns into stone. This is because the water contains a large quantity of limestone substances and flows all year round.
It is unclear where the source of the waterfall is located. Some people say that it starts in Mai Chau District in the northern province of Hoa Binh, while others think it originates in the limestone mountain range. Thanks to its limestone content, the waterfall is cool and clear in summer and warm in winter.
In order to reach the top of the 800m waterfall, visitors have to spend about an hour climbing the mountain and wading through water.
But it is worth the effort. They can see stunning beauty from the top. The flowing water bifurcates in the middle of the mountain, creating two different waterfalls that flow in two different directions, but reunite at the bottom. The cliffs create many layers of water that burst into several beautiful white bubbles.
Visitors can also enjoy a wonderful view of the surrounding beauty, such as the modest stilt houses of the Thai ethnic minority dotting the foot of the mountain or set among green terraced fields, or the stream water wheels that provide fresh water to the local people as well as beautify the jungle and the mountains.
At the foot of Hieu Waterfall is a natural “swimming pool” that is just a little more than 1m high and has a bed full of sand. Adventurous visitors can try jumping from the top of the waterfall into the natural pool below, while the less adventurous ones can swim leisurely in the cool, transparent water.
There are also three caves located deep in the mountain, the most beautiful of them being Tinh Yeu (Love) Cave. It is about 3m wide and 10m deep, with several sparkling and colourful stalactites inside.
Swimming in the cool water of the fall in the wild and poetic natural atmosphere helps to erase the daily worries of the visitors. They get even more pleasure when they are welcomed with delicious local wine made from the cascading waters.
A trip to the area is not complete without a sampling of local specialties such as bamboo shoots and the tender and delicious Co Lung duck.
A meal in Hieu Village is very reasonably priced between VND150,000-200,000 (US$7.5-9).
A favourite tourist spot on the way back to Hieu Village is Don Market, a special fair of the local people that is held only on Thursday and Sunday mornings every week. There the visitors can enjoy bowls of bitter soup made from a kind of bitter vegetable, leisurely walk around the market, and purchase local specialties such as honey and bamboo shoots.
With spectacular natural views and delicious food, Hieu Village and Hieu Waterfall are surely destinations that should not be missed by tourists in their journey to discover the western region of Thanh Hoa Province. — VNS