It slides in a silky, smooth brown torrent over my skin. A slick, slippery cascade of liquid mud, pouring through my wet hair, down my back, over my face and back into the pool from which it came.
I gasp and giggle. It’s in my eyes, my ears, my cleavage. My friend Chris scoops up some more in the plastic jug provided and tips it relentlessly over my head. We shriek with laughter. Happy as pigs in mud, as the saying goes.
We’re at the Thap Ba Hot Springs, near Nha Trang, wallowing in the mineral-rich mud that we’re hoping will leave us looking years younger. We already feel it, as the sheer fun of the experience bubbles to the top. Crowds of happy Vietnamese – and a lot of tourists – are plopping into similar pools around us, all grins and grimaces.
Before stepping into the mud, we’ve hired towels, stowed our gear in lockers, and taken a hot mineral shower (the water is about 40 degrees C). Then it’s into the tub to soak and splash and sloth around. There are private spa facilities for those who are shy, but we don’t fit that bill and there’s a real sense of fun in the public areas.
Some people choose to sunbathe after their mud bath, baking a crusty brown shell on their bodies before showering off again. We are happy to soak instead.
The centre has about 25 hot springs, a dozen mud baths and larger swimming pools and artificial waterfalls. There are market stalls, lovely gardens set around a lake (no swimming there) and plenty of people-watching opportunities.
Mud baths cost around $12 per person, less if you’ve got a private group of six and want a pool to yourselves.
For those who prefer privacy, the VIP Spa has 14 treatment rooms where you can get a health examination, sauna or steam bath, mud and hot spring baths, and a full-body massage with essential oils. Prices are about $105 for a single room or $170 for a double.
Did we emerge looking younger? Who cares? It was such fun. Check out the video and see for yourself!
A Glass Half Full travelled to Vietnam as a guest of Footsteps in Asia and AirAsia.