A small town on a plateau among the hills, surrounding by ethnic minority villages, A Luoi doesn't get a lot of western visitors, but you're guaranteed a lot of smiles and curiosity if you show up. Sometimes visited as an overnight for those riding the Ho Chi Minh Highway north or south, the road to the north and south of A Luoi is incredibly beautiful, and even if you're just going between Hue and Dong Ha, plan to take the long way round with a stop here if you have the time.
While there are some historic war sites in the area, there are no travel companies or guides based in A Luoi, so you won't be able to base a trip from here. In any case, there are no war remains at any of the sites, they are unmarked, and would only be of real interest to returning Vets, who will do best to make arrangements in Hue or Dong Ha. Sites in this category include Landing Zones Razor, Cunningham and Erskine as well as Hamburger Hill.
If you're with a guide, you'll probably be visiting an ethnic village at some point in your journey. But if you're in A Luoi independently with time on your hands, you can visit on your own. Take the road along the south side of the central market heading west. You'll soon cross a bridge after which you'll take a left. The road continues for about 5km, passing through some great countryside and a number of ethnic Pa Co and Bru villages.
The Bru women are known for smoking pipes -- in fact they never seem to stop smoking them, even when they are up to their knees in mud collecting manioc. They seem to be pretty easy going about posing for pictures, and we have to admit, it makes for a great pic. The road eventually winds back to highway 14, just to the south of A Luoi.
This area is very close to the Lao border. If you wander around, you may pass some signs saying that you are entering the 'Frontier Zone.' Our best information is that the area is not off-limits to foreigners, at least not in any way that's enforced. We do it all the time, and we've never been stopped by the fuzz. We can't guarantee, however, that no one will ever run into trouble with the authorities.
There aren't a lot of restaurants in town, other than the basic com and pho places you'd find everywhere. Thanh Tam Restaurant is located across the road from the south-west corner of the market. It's run by a friendly family, and they serve good chao (rice soup) and other basic dishes, and is popular with locals for its xi quach, which is chopped up, boiled, cow's head, eaten as an accompaniment to drinking rice wine. The owner will probably give you a tour of his tree fungus collection, which he uses to make medicinal rice wine. The second place is De Tay Son, located across the street from the north-west corner of the market. You can eat anything you want here, as long as it's goat.
There are no banking services for foreigners or ATMs, though internet is available up and down the main road, and also across from the north side of the market at Internet Linh Giang. The main post office is 500 metres north of the central market on the west side.
A Luoi Post Office: Highway 14, A Luoi. T: (054) 878 216. F: (054) 878 211. Hours: 06:30 to 21:00
De Tay Son: North-west of the central market, A Luoi. T: (054) 879 439. Hours: 16:00 to 23:00
Internet Linh Giang: North side of the central market, A Luoi. T: (054) 878 831. Hours: 07:00 to 22:00. 3,000 VND per hour
Thanh Tam Restaurant: South-west of the central market, A Luoi. T: (054) 879 480. Hours: 06:00 to 23:00
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Text and/or map last updated on 25th September, 2015.
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