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Embracing the Slow: A Forest Bathing Journey in Viet Hai

Embracing the Slow: A Forest Bathing Journey in Viet Hai

Nestled within the lush embrace of Cat Ba National Park, Viet Hai Ancient Village offers an enchanting retreat from the relentless pace of modern life. On a quest for tranquility and authentic connection with nature, I chose to immerse myself in the slower, more reflective tourism experience this village provides, rather than the usual day trip.

A Partnership of Progress and Preservation

My friend Quyen, who runs a thriving restaurant and bike rental service, embodies the transformation of Viet Hai. Once a modest community sustained by rice cultivation, the village has evolved dramatically due to tourism. Quyen and his wife, Tuyen, are at the forefront of this change, enhancing the lives of the local community while honoring their cultural heritage.

From Historical Roots to Tourist Haven

Viet Hai’s origins trace back to the Tay Lai Chinese, with Vietnamese settlers later cultivating the land and forming a robust community. The village is dramatically set against karst mountains and accessed through a naturally eroded gateway, adding a touch of mystical allure to its already fascinating history. In the 1970s, the village expanded as families from Vinh Bao relocated here, growing the population to around 80 households today.

A Gateway to Exploration

Accessible from both Hong Bay and Cat Ba, Viet Hai has become a vital stop for travelers exploring the region. As a cruise owner, I’ve collaborated closely with Quyen to offer our passengers a unique culinary experience during their day trips. This partnership has allowed us to provide a deeper, more enriching encounter with the local culture and landscape.

Rustic Comfort at Lan Homestay

Seeking a deeper connection with the place, I stayed at Lan Homestay, conveniently located near Quyen’s restaurant. This rustic yet comfortable accommodation, surrounded by a lush garden, provided the perfect backdrop for my adventure into forest bathing and trekking.

A Trek Through Time and Nature

Together with Quyen, I embarked on a challenging trek from Viet Hai to the headquarters of Cat Ba National Park, aiming to explore the historic Tien Duc Cave. It had been nearly a decade since Quyen last ventured on this path, and he was eager to revisit the experience, likening it to a refreshing bath in nature.

Starting our journey early, equipped with sturdy shoes and essential supplies, we trekked the 9-kilometer trail through the heart of the national park. The trek was not only a physical challenge but a passage through the rich tapestry of the area’s natural and historical narratives.

Rediscovering Tien Duc Cave

At Tien Duc Cave, we delved into the stories of local resilience during the Vietnam War, where villagers sought refuge to escape bombings. The cave, equipped historically with necessities like kitchens and beds, served as a sanctuary for the entire village during tumultuous times.

The Journey Continues

Our trek extended to the serene Frog Pond, though devoid of water and frogs during the dry season, promised a vibrant ecosystem in the rains to come. Along the way, we encountered diverse wildlife and shared stories with fellow travelers, enriching our understanding and appreciation of this special place.

A Return to Roots and Reflection

After hours of trekking, discussions, and immersive experiences, we concluded our journey at Beo Harbor. The return trip was a quiet reflection on the profound connection we’d fostered with nature and the enduring spirit of Viet Hai.

A Call to Experience
For those drawn to the allure of adventure and the promise of tranquility, a visit to Viet Hai offers much more than just a scenic escape. It’s an invitation to slow down, breathe deeply, and rediscover the rhythms of nature and humanity intertwined. Whether through a leisurely day trip or a deep dive into its historical and natural wonders, Viet Hai awaits to tell its timeless tales to all who venture its way.

Dr. Pham Ha is the Chairman and CEO of LuxGroup (, a conglomerate of prestigious companies and a leading expert in the luxury tourism industry. Besides his business activities, he is also passionate about collecting paintings, antiques, writing about branding, economics, business management, and books on cultural heritage, history, and art.

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