I was so disgusted by the Nha Trang beaches I had seen the day before that I gave up the idea of swimming in the sea (which I was very much looking forward) and decided to try out a mud bath instead.
MUD BATHS AROUND NHA TRANG
There are two affordable mud bath spas near Nha Trang . Both of them include the collective as well as private mud baths and thermal pools:
Thap Ba: cheaper but more crowded, located near Po Nagar towers; features artificial waterfalls
Tram Trung (100 egg): egg-themed park with higher standard facilities; it has a cheap shuttle departing from Nha Trang Centre Shopping Mall
We were lucky to stay relatively close to the Thap Ba so we decided to pay a visit there.
SEEK AND YOU’LL FIND
We left in the morning, carrying with us 4 kg of dirty clothes which we were going to drop at the laundry on the way. Zigzagging through the back lanes behind our hotel, we discovered Vinh Hai market. It was quite a big and lively market with local prices. I was delighted to try dumplings made of rice flour, served with fried onion and soy sauce. Sayak had an upgraded version with shrimps. To his great relief, he also managed to find a local cafe.
Walking along a busy road in the direction of Po Nagar towers I spotted a com chay (vegan eatery) called Quan Chay Vien Giac 3. What a joy it was to know we’d have a tasty and affordable dinner that night!
Eventually we reached the laundry, only to discover that it was closed. What were we supposed to do with all those clothes we were carrying? Luckily there was a phone number written on the doors and the guy who picked up miraculously spoke fluent English. After a short wait, somebody turned up to open the doors for us. We had our clothes washed for a bargain price, the cheapest during our entire trip in South- East Asia
MUD BATH SPA
Shortly after, we finally could leave the main road and turn into smaller, quiet streets. We did enjoy the walk along Ngo Den road leading parallel to Cai river. It was quite a nice stroll since we had the river on one side and green hills on the other.
The mud bath centre turned out to be an aesthetically pleasing and well run place. There weren’t many people around when we arrived in the late morning. The price for the whole day use of a swimming pool, a 15-minutes mud bath and a mineral bath was 200 000 dong which we found fair for such a package.
We left our stuff in a locker, deposited our valuables sealed in a plastic bag at the reception and followed the signs to the mud bath. Once there, we asked the staff member for some guidance. We were told to join a Russian family in a small pool full of watery mud.
IN THE MUD
The mud was nothing like what I imagined. It was basically looking like dirty water. I was disappointed that the mud was not thick at all and barely lukewarm rather than hot. The Russians left soon after we entered so we could stay in the pool all by ourselves for quite some time. It was very boring, though, so even though nobody told us to leave, we left before the scheduled time.
We followed the procedure as it was described on the information board. We waited in the sun until the mud dried out and then had a shower. Next, we went through a corridor where powerful streams of water were hitting us mercilessly. We were supposed to do it for five minutes but couldn’t endure more than two.
Next, we were led to another set of small pools, this time filled with warm mineral water. Once again, we were momentarily sharing it with the same Russian family. There was quite a nice view at the green hills from the pool but besides enjoying the scenery there was nothing to do.
Finally, we moved to the swimming pool zone. There was an artificial waterfall with hot mineral water and a large pool with a very hot water, around 40 degrees. It was a hot and sunny day so it wasn’t that pleasant to stay in the thermal pool for too long. There was another, smaller pool with cooler water which I used for swimming and behind it, a few ever- popular jacuzzis.
We stayed at that section for quite a long while, alternating between two pools and resting at the sun beds. Just when we were getting ready to leave, busloads of Vietnamese tourists started arriving. We congratulated ourselves for timing our visit well.
NOTHING TO KEEP US THERE
We walked back home, stopping for an amazing avocado smoothie on the way. We picked our laundry and had a lovely meal at the com chay which we spotted in the morning. It was actually quite an enjoyable day.
I didn’t want to stay in Nha Trang any longer, though. We were ready to go back to the highlands the following day, silently hoping the weather would be better than in Da Lat.
How to get to Nha Trang?
Nha Trang is one of the destinations included on the open bus ticket.
The nearby bus destinations are: Mui Ne (5h), Da Lat (3-4h) , Buon Ma Thuot (4h), HCMC (8-9h) and Hoi An (13h)
Nha Trang is a major station on the main south-north railway line. The train from Nha Trang to Hanoi would take 26h, to Da Nang -10h and to HCMC- around 8h. Soft berth sleeper trains are the most expensive but the most comfortable options while hard seats would be very cheap but difficult to endure on the longer distances.
If you’re short on time and can afford it, you could use Vietnamese budget airlines to get from the Cam Ranh airport (30 km from Nha Trang) to HCMC, Hanoi or Da Nang.
Prices [in Vietnamese dong as of July 2018]:
200 000 lunch for two at a road side eatery near the beach
200 000 entrance to Thap Ba mud spa
140 000 sleeper bus Nha Trang- Buon Ma Thuot
100 000 sleeper bus Nha Trang- Da Lat
40 000 4kg laundry
22 000 entrance to Po Nagar towers
20 000 avocado smoothie
16 000 milk coffee
15 000 vegan rice buffet