Indulging in Premier Nha Trang’s Mud Bath and Spa

Soaking in a tub of mud feels as eccentric as it sounds, but it has become a quintessential Nha Trang’s experience. The mud is claimed to have all sorts of healthy, therapeutic properties. Other than mud bath, the facilities usually include Jacuzzi, mineral water swimming pools and other novelties for a full day hydrotherapy extravaganza.

What is a mud bath?

Mud bath is soaking in a bath containing mineral mud. Mineral mud is a natural mud formed from the change of geology, mineral mud derived from plants such as trees, flowers, grass buried or from land created mineral mud.

The medicinal benefits of mud-bathing include removing dead skin cells, detoxifies, deposits minerals into your body, strengthens bones, reduces fatigue, smoothen and toned your skin. It is also believed to treat a number of diseases such as chronic arthritis, tuberculosis, insomnia, sciatica, stress and psoriasis.

I-resort

As highly recommended by Mozjo Dorm’s staff, we chose I-resort to experience my very first mud bath (Gan did it few years back at 100 Egg Mud Bath). As I-resort is located in the hillside on the outskirts of the city, the hostel arranged for us a shutter bus for a fee of 30,000VND (USD1.30). 

Since we didn’t get to do diving for this trip, we have more budget to splurge a bit to pamper ourselves. We got a private tub for 300,000VND (USD13) per person. The price includes a bathing suit (if you need), towel, locker and usage all other facilities in the resort. The mud bath was prepared right in front of us and we were then asked to enter the tub. The bath was very relaxing and calming, leaving the skin soft and refreshed.  A very unique experience to say the least!

After 20-minutes of soaking in the hot mud, we washed off with hot water and explore the rest of the facilities. There are a soaking hot mineral pool, 2 swimming pools with Jacuzzi and four hot waterfalls to enjoy. There are also hydrotherapy sprays for massaging muscles! 

Other places to consider

Thap Ba Spa

Being the first mud bath service in Nha Trang, Thap Ba Spa is considered the cheapest but most crowded mud bath compared to the rest. Starting price is 150,000VND (USD6.50) for shared tub with cold mud. 

100 Egg Mud Bath

For a more unique experience, 100 Egg is a place devoted to eggs! Everything from tubs to decoration to menu in the restaurant are all about eggs. A private egg tub is big enough to hold 3 people for the price of 300,000VND (USD13) per pax.

Apart from diving, this is a must-do experience in Nha Trang!! 

Explore the best of Mui Ne, Vietnam (for literally free!)

On the southern coastline of Vietnam, there is a little fishing village called Mui Ne. Most of the time there is the wind and a good amount of waves, which makes it the perfect spot for surfers. Mui Ne is just a 4-hours bus ride away from Saigon but it feels like you’re visiting a different country. It’s the place-to-go to escape the hectic big cities.

So, what did we do in Mui Ne…….for free?

Visiting the Red Sand Dune

The red sand dune is a must visit in Mui Ne. It’s a tiny piece of desert in Vietnam, which gives you a whole different view of the country. Just 20-minutes from the town centre, it is a spectacular place to be during sunset. Honestly, there isn’t too much to do around the Red Sand Dunes. However, do prepare yourself as there will be children as well as women who will approach and offer you to rent a plastic sled to slide down the dunes for about 20,000vnd (USD1).

Entrance Fee: None

Strolling barefooted along Fairy Stream

I was skeptical about this thinking that it is probably a tourist trap. We even walked far off from main entrance to avoid being asked for entrance fee. This stream is tucked between the beaches and the fishing village. You will be impressed by the colors and the limestone formations which look like a mini scale of Grand Canyon. Do be careful of local teenagers coming to you trying to be your guide and helping you to take pictures, just politely refused and walk off.  

When you decided to start your long walk at noon

Side entrance to the stream

Only local tourists walk through this entrance

Feeling good to soak our tired feet in this cooling stream

Popped-up stalls along the stream

If you walk through the red sand dune, you can reach fairy stream too!

Entrance Fee: 5,000VND if you enter from main entrance or with a tour

Sightseeing in Fishing Village

A local small school

Wet market

Less than a dollar chicken rice

Entrance Fee: None

Awed at Kite-surfers

Kite-surfing is a big deal in Mui Ne. Locals and travelers all enjoying the wind and waves.There are a lot of kite-surfing shops where you can rent the equipment or pick up the skill from an instructor. However, the prices aren’t cheap.

Chasing Sunrise and Sunset

Sunrise at the beach

Sunset at the fishing village

Hiking up on Random Hill

Yes! We saw a hill at the end of the beach where we were staying…why not hike?

What we didn’t do:

Rent a Motorbike

We were being advised by the locals that the police in Mui Ne often organizes “road block” to stop foreigners riding motorbikes. Even if you do have an International Driving Permit, the police will still find an excuse to make sure you pay some money to them. We had witnessed the scene and glad we heeded their advice. The fine is usually about 200,000vnd (USD8-10). 

Police behind me stopping foreign riders

White Sand Dune

The white sand dune is about 25-kilometers away from town center; too far for us to walk, and no public bus to go there. Besides, it’s just another land with sand.

Take a Tour

A standard half-day tour inclusive of white and red sand dunes, and fairy stream will cost USD5 from most hostels. It sounds reasonably-priced, but you may not get to enjoy each attraction at your own pace, and usually the guide will lure you into tourist traps like quad-biking at white sand dune or paying a fee for fairy stream. Moreover, there is a frequent local bus (no.1) which stops at red sand dune, fairy stream and fishing village which costs only 13,000vnd (USD0.50) per trip!

We were lucky that the local bus stop right outside the resort

Where we stayed?

We stayed at Long Son Mui Ne Campgrounds located on Suoi Nuoc Beach, 15-kilometers north of Mui Ne. The campgrounds have an east facing beach, meaning the place is ideal for sunrise views. It is a secluded yet well-located campground resort for travelers who would like to escape from the hustle and bustle of the main tourists spots. We stayed in a double-tent comes with mattress, pillows and blankets. Over here, you will experience resort living at backpacker’s prices$1 menu, $1 cocktails, free wifi, clean beach and lots of activities. 

Lobby

Common area

Dinning area

Bar

Lockers

Beach double-tent: USD7/night

Chilling area

Getting There

There are many bus companies that run from Saigon to Mui Ne, but we put our trust on The Sinh Tourists to travel around Vietnam. The bus journey is about 4-hours, costing 119,000vnd (USD5) inclusive of a bottle of water and wifi onboard. 

Simple Guide on Phú Quốc Island, Vietnam

Known as the jewel in Vietnam’s crown, Phú Quốc is a gorgeous tropical island off of Vietnam in the Gulf of Thailand, situated near Cambodia. Being the largest island of Vietnam, Phú Quốc boasts idyllic beaches, romantic sunsets, evergreen forests, and a serene atmosphere, making it a whole different world from other parts of Vietnam. 

Getting There

Flight from Saigon: The fastest and easiest way to get to the island is fly from Saigon. We paid USD60 per person for round tickets via Vietjet.

Mekong River view from the sky

Bus-ferry from Saigon (via Ha Tien or Rach Gia): A much cheaper way of travelling starting from USD19, but the journey will take you about 11-hours. 

Bus-ferry from Cambodia (via Kampot): A popular way of travelling among the backpackers.

Take note: Ferry tickets sell out fast during high or holiday seasons.

Where we stayed?

You will be pampered with so many choices on different types of accommodation this island can offer! Accommodation ranges from cheap dorm-bed hostels to luxurious beach-villas. Over our 4 nights on the island, we stayed in two different places for different experiences.

9 Station Hostel

Located along the Long Beach district in Duong Dong Downtown, 9 Station Hostel features a bar-restaurant (with free flow beer every evening), outdoor pool, pool table, free laundry and daily night activities such as beer pong and pub quiz. The hostel not only provides scooter and bicycle rental but also offers affordable boat tours to small islands where you can experience snorkeling, swimming, fishing and corals sightseeing.

What we love: friendly staffs equip with good knowledge on the island, open space bar, daily free beer, walking distance to beach and night market, dorm-beds with privacy, large locker for backpacks.

Average price per night/bed: USD9

Sen Lodge Bungalow Village

Located away from the main street, Sen Lodge is a little oasis if you prefer a quieter environment. The bungalows are super cool built with charming wooden structures that are nestled around a beautiful garden and pool area. We can only afford to stay for a night just for the treehouse!

What we love: super helpful staff, laid-back environment, peaceful, clean and tidy everywhere.

Price for Treehouse/night: USD37

When to go?

Source: Phu Quoc Island Guide

What we ate?

Apart from Phở, we fell in love with the Vietnamese grilled pork chop rice which is a popular dish in Southern Vietnam, along with other street food!

Grilled pork (marinated with coca-cola) with broken rice: USD1.50

Beef Pho: USD2

Pork noodles: USD1.80

Street snacks: from USD0.50 onwards

Note: Food on Phú Quốc’ Island are slightly more expensive than in mainland. 

What we did?

Cruising on Motobike

The cheapest and easiest way to explore the island is by riding motorbikes. Luckily, Phú Quốc’s traffic is nothing like Saigon or Hanoi. The island is pretty quiet traffic-wise, so even first-time motorbike riders can get around without too much hassle. We rented a motorbike from 9 Station Hostel for 150,000VND (~USD6.50) which is much cheaper than renting from other motorbikes rental shop. Petrol costs 45,000VND (~USD2) for full tank and can actually last us for one whole day’s journey.

Take note: By law, in order to drive a motorbike, foreigners must have an International Driving Permit. This is enforced through regular traffic stops and if you’re caught, expect to pay a fine.

Beach Hopping

There are so many beaches on the island and it was quite impossible to visit all during our short stay (okay, we tried to do it on one day but we got bored after seeing more or less the same stuff).

The first beach we explored was Sao Beach, which is supposed to be the best beach on the island due to it’s powdery white sand. However, maybe due to it’s popularity with tourists, the beach is no longer as pretty as it should be. There are a lot of accumulated rubbish and the sand isn’t that white. 

Finding a clean spot to settle down without paying money

There’s always a pretty spot to take photos

The instagrammable “Paradise Swing” is a scam: USD1

We visited Thom beach by chance while riding around the Northern area. Located on north-eastern part of the island, Thom beach is a wild and not well-maintained rugged beach. We weren’t sure if there is an entrance to the beach, so we just rode into one of the home-stays along the coast which offers reasonable-priced meals. 

Thom beach aka Local beach

Lunch by high tide shore

Sea urchin!

Stretching over 20-kilometers, Long Beach is the most popular beach clustered with hostels and villas. It is considered the main beach of Phú Quốc where you get to enjoy roof top bars and international music festival being held here. 

Most crowded beach but is well-maintained

Found another pretty spot for a picture!

Random structures for photo-taking

And here’s to our favorite beach: Ong Lang Beach. Not the most idyllic of spots, but this is one of the peaceful beach away from hustle and bustle of Long Beach. This is also one of the best places to catch sunsets!

Visiting Night Markets

Eating and shopping at night markets are probably one of the few things you can do at night on the island. The most popular and well-known night market is Phú Quốc Night Market (used to be known as Dinh Cau Night Market) where you get to eat the freshest seafood right out from the tanks. However, this market is “made-for-tourists”, thus prices are much higher compared to the mainlands of Vietnam. 

Again, we had “accidentally” came by a local night market on the other side of the island. However, this night market is more of selling common necessities and has a carnival with games and stage performances (guess that what the admission fee is for). We were later being told by a local that this market only happens a few times to encourage locals to buy more stuff as everything sold here are much cheaper than he norm.

Admission: 20,000VND(<USD1)

Gambling game

Carnival games

Stage entertainment

Discover the dark side in Coconut Tree Prison 

Also known as Phú Quốc Prison, this war museum serves as a bleak reminder of Vietnam’s turbulent past, where thousands people were imprisoned and tortured during the Vietnam War. Since 1995, it houses authentic torture instruments, photographs of former detainees and exhibits of brutal punishments.

Price: 3,000VND (we got in for free during the lunch break)

Trek the Off-Beaten Stream

Instead of visiting the popular Tranh Stream, we chose to ride further and rugged path for a hidden gem. 

Drove for almost 2-hours on rugged paths

Suối Tiên (a.k.a. Fairy Stream) is a small stream and forested area near a fishing village which is not easy to find. The place is renowned locally for its scenery, giant flat rocks, and ambiance. At certain places the small stream splits into several arms or flows into a pond, surrounded by interesting plants.

Price: Free! However, you will need to pay 5,000VND to the local family who will help you look after your motorbike.

Be a kid at Vinpearl Land

Vinpearl Land Amusement Park Phú Quốc  is a massive entertainment hub that contains several sections, including an outdoor water park, a safari, indoor arcade centre, an aquarium, and shopping street. It’s an incredible resort that is absolutely the best family friendly entertainment centre on Phú Quốc  Island.

Combo Ticket: Vinpearl Land & Safari

Token-free arcade!

Every themepark has a castle

View from on top of ferris wheel

Price: 750,000vnd from Sen Lodge (USD33/pax for combo tickets)

We think that one should spend at least 4-5 days to explore this beautiful island, any lesser will do injustice to yourself.

A day at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Gardens by the Bay (GBTB) is not just about Supertrees and the tallest indoor waterfall, there are so much more to explore beside that. And the best thing is, most of the gardens are FREE! And so, Gan and I decided to explore this one-of-the-best-attractions in Singapore on our self-guided trails by foot.

Map of Gardens by the Bay

Getting There

The cheapest and easiest way to get to GBTB is by MRT (railway system in Singapore). You can either take a Circle Line (Yellow Line) or Downtown Line (Blue Line) to Bayfront Station. Take Exit B and follow along the underground linkway till you see a flight of stairs leading up to exit. 

Walk along this linkway till the end where you can see a flight of stairs leading up to Bayfront Plaza

If you are walking from Marina Bay Sands, there is an overhead bridge (Lions Bridge) located at Marina Bay Sands Hotel which leads to GBTB as well. However, do note that the door only operates from 0800-2300 hours. Alternative, you may walk along the waterfront from ArtScience Museum which leads you into Bay South Garden.

Cruiser Services

It can be quite a walk from Bayfront Plaza to the Conservatories which are the main attractions in GBTB. Be it sunny or rainy, the cruiser services seem like a popular option among the tourists and the locals to go around the gardens. There are 3 types of cruisers for you to choose from and only for a small fee.

Shuttle Service

This service loop between Bayfront Plaza and the Conservatories only. For a fee of SGD3 (USD2), you can take unlimited rides for the whole day. 

OUTDOOR GARDENS AUDIO TOUR

For a fee of SGD8 (USD6), you can enjoy a 25-minutes ride around the outdoor gardens with informative commentary on the cruiser. This tour will go around the cooled conservatories, Heritage Gardens, The Meadow and Supertree Grove. 

Auto Rider

This is the coolest transportation we had ever seen in a garden. The Auto Rider is a fully operational self-driving vehicle which allows visitors to see more of the Gardens from the comfort of an air-conditioned tour vehicle, with live commentary on board. Due to limited capacity (6 passengers per rider), the tickets are sold on a time-allocated basis which starts from Bayfront Plaza to Flower Dome for SGD5 (USD3.50).

Outdoor Gardens Trails

One of the fun things to walk around GBTB is to find as many art sculptures as you can spot! There are more than 40 sculptures from around the world featuring in unique pieces, intriguing crafts and stone works. Unfortunately, we didn’t managed to spot all of them.

Map of the sculptures’ locations, which is quite confusing

On a sunny afternoon of 27°C

One of the iconic buildings in Singapore: Marina Bay Sands

The first sculpture which greeted us was a giant baby named “Planet”. 

Each sculpture comes with a description panel

Walking further, we entered into “World of Plants“, which learns all about the spectacular myriad of tropical plants and the systems these plants support. Our favorite theme here is “Web of Life” with 8 life-sized topiary animals from Southeast Asia. 

Once done with “World of Plants”, we arrived at the center of GBTB where Supertree Grove is. This is the first time I see these Supertrees in the day time. They are not as enchanting as night time but still awed to look at. 

There are two pairs of guardian lions’ sculptures placed to welcome visitors at both ends of the Supertree Grove.

It is believed the male lion (Right) guards the entrance, the female lion (Left) protects the interior of the dwelling

We went into a shady area to plan where to go next, and found more stone works hidden among the lush greens. 

Tiger among the bamboo trees

Can you spot the lion’s head?

Seated old man stone

Moving on, we went to “The Canyon” which showcases a large collection of sculptural rocks and exotic plants species unique to arid regions. But before that, do not miss the Floral Clock which is located beside the Canopy. 

Chinese Totem (HuaBiao)

Dragon-Turtle

Once out of “The Canyon”, we were wowed to see a big water play area for children, and that’s where “Children’s Garden” is located. What surprised us was that this play area is much bigger than we were expecting. 

Instead of walking along the waterfront promenade after “Children’s Garden”, make a loop and you will find yourself in a secluded area of the Gardens: Victoria Lily Pond.

Can you spot the tortoise sun-bathing?

There’s a mini aquarium!

Out of the loop led us to “Sun Pavilion” with amazing desert-like landscapes and over 1,000 desert plants! 

Turk’s Cap

“Sun-bathing” on the unique chair

Mexican Columnar Cacti

Last of the free outdoor gardens we had explored was “Heritage Gardens” which separated into 4-themes: Indian, Chinese, Malay and Colonial. 

Flower Dome

Another reason why we have decided to visit GBTB was because of Autumn Harvest Floral Display (From 1 Sep to 29 Oct 2017) exhibiting in Flower Dome. Being the largest glass greenhouse in the world as listed in the 2015 Guinness World Records, Flower Dome has its permanent floral display as well as an area for seasonal displays. So, no matter which month you visit, there’s always something to see! 

Waiting for Cinderella to come out from her “Pumpkin” carriage

Cloud Forest

Cloud Forest is famous for its World’s Tallest Indoor Waterfall of 35-meters. Entering Cloud Forest is like stepping into the world in “Avatar” movie. As you walk along Cloud Walk and Tree-top walk, you will have a closeup view of various plant species that clad the side of the whole “mountain”.

Cost of Flower Dome & Cloud Forest: SGD20 (Local Resident Rate) / SGD 28 (Foreigner Rate) 

**Purchase tickets online for better discounts!

Last but not least, do catch the free light and sound show at Supertree Grove! Shows run every night at 7.45pm & 845pm.