Just a short ride away from the downtown area of Nha Trang, Vietnam, are natural mud baths overlooking the valley. I made a reservation at I-Resort, having read about the sustainably designed (and visually interesting) 9-Spa. Upon making a reservation, you can request a shuttle pickup (a golf cart), which makes the rounds almost every hour for guests from a wide list of hotels in the town center.
Arriving at the spa after a winding dirt road uphill was a breath of fresh air. I was starting to question my decision to visit Nha Trang but here in this oasis of mud and mineral baths known for their healing and therapeutic powers, I felt immediately at ease.
Private Spa treatments can be booked at 9 Spa but the I-Resort is open for general use of the mud baths and mineral pools. After registration, I was taken by another golf cart to the top of the resort, where the namesake 9 huts sit, joined by a single thatched roof. Designed and built by Vietnamese architecture firm A21 Studio with sustainable techniques and natural materials, (the walls are from locally quarried stone and the roof is made of timber and coconut leaves), the houses are placed at a specific distance from each other to allow the flow of rain. It rained sporadically on the day of my visit but I was lucky to squeeze in some swim time in between showers.
Reserving the Luxury Service package at I-resort comes with use of the private suite for a few hours which includes multiple soaks in herbal mineral water as well as a mud bath, a massage, swimming in the private pools, and a meal of choice from the restaurant. It was the ideal balance between feeling pampered and being left alone to soak in the incredibly sensory experience, from the warm feeling of the mud on my skin, to the visual beauty of the natural space, to the silence of the mountains (I requested the radio music to be turned off).
Lounging in my robe, I took a few moments to scribble in my journal, a requisite item on my travels. Being able to jot down observations in the moment and allowing headway for new ideas to flow through is what drives many of my travel experiences. I often find myself selecting destinations to arrive at a mental space often elicited by being in an inspired environment, with thoughtful intentions behind it's creation.
A few spa day essentials:
- Shampoo/body wash (included in most places but nice if you have your own preference)
- Skincare (face wash, moisturizer, etc)
- Face mask (Sometimes I end up skipping it but it's there if you decide to indulge further; spa day is the perfect time to let the ingredients soak in sans the interruptions of daily life)
- Change of clothes
- Hairbrush/hair products/hair ties
Nha Trang is accessible by bus or plane. Because I had limited time on my short visit, I flew into Cam Ranh International Airport on one of my new favorite domestic airlines, Vietnam Airlines. Domestic flights, when booked about a week in advance, are very reasonably priced and include a bag check. Because I waited until a few days prior to book mine, it came to about $63 USD but if I booked it earlier it would have been just over half that amount. The nice differentiating factor is that it is not more than a budget carrier and includes a bag check, fresh towel on board, and optional beverage (if you're in the air long enough for the drink service). I probably took at least 5 domestic flights during my week in Vietnam and each one of them was perfectly on time, affordable, and a pleasant experience.
Airline digression aside, I left the spa feeling nourished and relaxed. Another nice touch is that I took care of payment on arrival, so I was able to stay in that dreamy head space, meandering the grounds and lingering for awhile before catching the next shuttle back to my hotel.