ALOHA VALLEY VILLA HOMESTAY – SOC SON
We love it when we turn up to a resort or a homestay that does not seem to wrestle with nature to make its mark but appears to make its place symbiotically in harmony with it.
Aloha Valley Villa Homestay at Soc Son was one such place. Soc Son isn’t new to us. We have been there several times. Nature here is unspoiled, the hiking trails well marked. It is heaven for those who live around Hanoi as it’s just 30 minutes away from the city. You can submerge yourself in the calm, peaceful and serene atmosphere. There are hikes for all levels but if that is not your thing then there are plenty of lakes to dive into as you wash away your stresses and tensions and get into a meditative state. But it was the first time we actually decided to spend a night here.
After passing through the countryside with few houses here and there, we took a turn towards a concrete path that was shadowed by pine trees growing on both sides. We passed an open gate and followed a narrow lane by the hill to arrive at what seemed like a beautiful house surrounded by tall pine trees. It instantly felt like a perfect getaway. What we didn’t realize then was that it was not just all. The homestay is located at the foot of a hill with lush green pine trees. The backyard of the house had benches and swings for the kids. A small path went down the hill and led to the swimming pool. Down further at the bottom of the hill was a ground used as a campsite. A new villa facing the campsite was going through the final stages of completion. This elevated structure made of metal and glass reminded us of why we love the idea of tiny houses but this being surrounded by lush green nature made it even more special. Another villa nearby was made using the same idea. That would be our home for a night but for now, we were to stay in a camp, something that we really missed and songs of the birds. It was still a bit early to check in so we left our bags with the kind and friendly staff and went to explore the area around. We had not come to this site before. There are plenty of well-marked hiking trails here too. They are far less challenging and much different from the other trails as these are mainly pine forests. Colorful butterflies with unique patterns flew around happily. The mushroom rose their head from the straw-like dead pine leaves. The forest echoed with the sounds of crickets, some things that you don’t often get to hear in the bustling city of Hanoi. The paths were well-marked yet not visited often so we had to be careful of the giant spider webs and their proud owners.
By the time we came back, our camp was already set up. We quickly jumped into the swimming pool to cool off and just lazed around. The resort has mini trails of its own that lead to the other side of the hill. There is a beautiful pond with lilies growing in it along with another swimming pool. There are dorms and private rooms here too. But in contrast to the other side where the architecture of the villas is more modern, this side is more traditional, perhaps more suitable for bigger groups or those on a budget. There is also an arrangement for making your own food if you like as well as to do your own BBQ.
The mattress in our tent was comfortable. The see-through gauze meant that you could see all around the forest while sitting lying on your bed with full protection against mosquitoes. As the sun went down and the lights turned on, the campsite and the villas around looked magical. As if you were transported to a magical land. We slept early, woke up very early too, and felt fresh like we hadn’t in a long time. Another day of hiking, swimming, and chilling followed. We felt like we could stay here forever.
On the third and final day, we moved to the villa. It was also made of metal and glass mostly. It presented a 300-degree view of the forest. Since the slopes of the hill were mostly left untamed, it really felt like being in unspoiled nature but with all the luxury you could ask for, including a traditional-style bathtub. Although the villa was small, space was used very well. There were two big beds, one on the ground floor and one on the second floor. It still felt spacious and the fact that nature was all around you, it could hardly get any better. It was also great for wildlife watching. We noticed a red-bellied squirrel, some unusual and charming birds, and countless butterflies all around totally unaware of our presence. To top it all up, there was also a balcony, not that you needed it.
Aloha Valley Villa Homestay Soc Son would easily make it to the top ten places we stayed during our travels and we can’t wait to visit again and especially try the new villa that is most probably already completed and looked fantastic.