All photography by Christian Berg
Bamboo grows down the length of Vietnam, and features in many aspects of Vietnamese culture, including wellness. Young bamboo canes, dried in the sun and warmed just before treatment, are rolled over the body to soothe tense muscles. If you’ve never tried a bamboo massage, expect a firm, warm pressure smoothing knots and releasing aches from tired limbs.
HARNN Spa at Intercontinental Phú Quốc has a unique menu of bamboo treatments (the spa’s floating rooms are also made of bamboo.) Book the signature treatment, featuring an aromatic bath, bamboo body brushing, acupressure foot massage, bamboo body massage, and pearl facial to finish.
Natural hot spring baths are regarded the world over for their stabilising and balancing mineral properties. In Vietnam, tropical greenery creates a singular setting for thermal bathing. Hot spring bathing benefits the skin, and is a wonderful way to slow down before a massage, or calm your mind before bed. Take a dip under the stars to connect to nature and absorb the water’s benefits.
Alba Wellness Valley by Fusion - Hue is nestled amid rolling hills outside the former Imperial City of Huế. The resort is set at the source of a rare hot spring, delivering naturally heated water from below the Trường Sơn Mountains. The mineral water is routed to small pools throughout the gardens, so you can pick the perfect temperature for a soothing soak.
Sapa’s Red Dao ethnic minority are known for their herbal baths. Selected roots and leaves are foraged from the jungle, chopped, dried, and boiled for hours over a fire. This concentrated mixture is poured into tubs made from Pơ mu wood and diluted with warm water. Traditionally the baths are given to women after childbirth, and are also used to alleviate pain in joints and muscles.
Topas Riverside Lodge is one of the few places where you can join a Red Dao woman and learn the process of preparing the bath from beginning to end. The lodge’s spa is set along the rushing Nậm Cang River in a Dao village. On a cold evening in Sapa, sinking into one of these steaming, fragrant baths is a deeply restorative experience.
The practice of reflexology or acupressure is an integral part of Vietnamese massage therapy. During a Vietnamese massage, whether it’s on the feet, head, or full-body, the therapist will apply pressure to specific points to relax and calm designated organs or zones within the body. Vietnamese massages are usually done with oil, and often include clapping and stretches.
The Anam Spa in Cam Ranh is set within the lush gardens of an award-winning beach resort. The spa’s Vietnamese Fusion massage uses local techniques and quality aromatherapy oils to bring focused relief to tendons and muscles throughout the body. The spa’s dedicated therapists will happily tailor every aspect of the treatment to your wishes.
Cà phê phin isn’t the only way Vietnamese use coffee beans. Body scrubs made with coffee grounds improve blood circulation, reduce cellulite and tone the skin. Antioxidants in the coffee beans are directly absorbed during the scrub, helping to counter the ageing process. After exfoliation, the scrub is rinsed off to reveal skin that’s soft and supple again.
Six Senses Spa Con Dao offers a detoxing body scrub at its island spa. The star ingredient is coffee from Buôn Ma Thuột — a highland region in Central Vietnam — combined with sea salt from Côn Đảo, as well as carrot and coconut oil. After the scrub, the therapist applies a full-body mask with coffee and citrus to nourish the skin.
Mud baths are a lot more than playing in dirt. This isn’t to say they aren’t fun, but sitting in warm, soft mud is more likely to be a gentle, reflective moment. The mud used is normally rich in minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and sulfur, which aid with inflammation, skin conditions, and even sunburn. Mud-bathing is also a form of stress relief, which makes it a great activity on holiday.
Amiana Resort in Nha Trang is a favourite spot for leisurely mud-bathing sessions. The spa offers seven private mud-bath rooms with ocean views, as well as steam, sauna and Jacuzzis facilities to enhance your visit. After taking a mud bath overlooking the ocean, rejuvenate your body with a massage and a meal of healthy Vietnamese dishes.
Cupping therapies from Traditional Chinese Medicine are used widely throughout Vietnam to address swelling, congestion and muscle pain. Cupping is said to drain toxins, move energy, and increase blood flow in specific parts of the body. A gentle form of cupping uses silicone cups on the shoulders and back to lift and loosen the skin and connective tissue for several minutes at a time.
The Spa at Amanoi has created a signature spa journey that spotlights cupping alongside kneading, meridien and acupressure work. The Grounding Treatment at Amanoi’s hilltop spa addresses the whole body, with reassuring rituals and rare ingredients chosen to foster a sense of peace and connection.