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Immersive Forest Bathing and Historical Exploration in Cat Ba’s Tien Duc Cave and Karst Forests

Immersive Forest Bathing and Historical Exploration in Cat Ba’s Tien Duc Cave and Karst Forests

Forest bathing, or “shinrin-yoku,” has become a cornerstone of ecological tourism, and its practice in the Tien Duc Cave and surrounding karst forests of Cat Ba National Park offers a unique blend of cultural history and natural beauty. This eco-therapy, deeply rooted in simply being in the presence of trees, is believed to improve health by reducing stress, enhancing mood, and boosting the immune system.

The journey to Cat Ba‘s karst landscapes and the Tien Duc Cave often begins from Viet Hai, a village rich in history and transformed by tourism. This ancient village, once reliant on rice cultivation, now hosts tourists from around the world, drawn by its rustic charm and the promise of tranquility. Viet Hai itself is steeped in history, originally settled by Chinese from Tay Lai and later populated by Vietnamese who cultivated the land and lived in harmony with the sea and mountains.

For those staying in Viet Hai, the Lan Homestay offers a peaceful retreat near Quyen’s restaurant, providing a rustic but comfortable accommodation option. It is here that visitors can truly engage with the local culture and lifestyle before embarking on forest adventures.

The trek from Viet Hai to the Cat Ba National Park headquarters and onward to the Tien Duc Cave is not just a physical journey but a passage through time. The cave itself served as a sanctuary for local villagers during the bombings of 1966, equipped to sustain life with amenities like kitchens and beds. Its walls, inscribed with writings from that era, whisper stories of resilience and survival.

Navigating through the dense rainforest, trekkers encounter diverse wildlife and lush vegetation, making their way along the 9 km trail that cuts across the national park. The experience is enriched by the sights and sounds of the forest, from chirping birds to rustling leaves, which embody the essence of forest bathing.

After exploring the historic Tien Duc Cave, adventurers can continue to the water reservoir below, a scenic spot reachable within 30 minutes. This area, too, is steeped in historical significance and natural beauty, offering a deeper understanding of how the local community adapted to and thrived in such a challenging landscape.

The trek and subsequent exploration not only provide a physical challenge but also a profound connection to nature and history. As visitors immerse themselves in the karst environment, they gain insights into the geological processes that have shaped this stunning landscape over millennia, including the formation of fengcong and fenglin karst structures.

This eco-tour not only caters to cruise-based and Cat Ba town-based travelers seeking an active and immersive adventure but also celebrates the rich cultural and natural heritage of Vietnam’s second-largest island. It is an invitation to respect, explore, and enjoy the serene beauty of Cat Ba National Park, a crucial site for biodiversity and geotourism in northern Vietnam.

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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