(No.9, Vol.6,Nov-Dec 2016 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

Mud bath at the Binh Chau Hot Springs.

If you are planning a weekend getaway from the bustle of cities to a serene place where you can enjoy lush trees, the murmur of streams and loquacious sounds of birds, or bury your legs in soft sand on beautiful beaches with crystal water or just display your tanned skin and splendid pictures, then Binh Chau Commune, Xuyen Moc District, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, 140km from Ho Chi Minh City, is an ideal destination.

Walking on a pristine beach
Binh Chau Commune, 20km from Phuoc Buu Town, has a 12km shoreline, flat sandbank and gentle waves convenient for swimming.
Ho Tram and Ho Coc are beautiful and pristine beaches in Binh Chau Commune with crystal water and white, soft sands. Ho Coc is away about 5km from Ho Tram. There are many impressive rocks with many shapes scattered or flocking together on the beach of Ho Coc. Taking a walk on the beach, inhaling a deep breath of fresh air, feeling the sea flavour in the wind and enjoying a picturesque sunset, I restored balance in my noisy and tired life. 
Do not forget to go to the Binh Chau Market to buy some seafood for dinner by the beach. You will have an unforgettable memory with delicious food, murmuring waves and a myriad of stars in the night sky.

The Binh Chau-Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve – A green lung in the South-eastern region of Vietnam
Although it is very difficult to pull out yourself away from the pristine beach, you should change your slippers for sport shoes for an adventure discovering the Binh Chau-Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve.
The Binh Chau-Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve, formerly Binh Chau-Phuoc Buu Protected Forest, was established in 1978. In 1986, it was placed on the list of Special-Use Forests in Vietnam with the aim of conserving nature, heritage relics and the genes of forest creatures, researching science and serving ecotourism.
Binh Chau-Phuoc Buu is one of the few areas along the coastline of Vietnam to retain a significant cover of natural forest. It has total area of 11,293ha. The natural forest is predominantly deciduous. The nature reserve supports 49 species of mammal, 106 species of birds, 38 species of reptiles and 12 species of amphibians. These include several globally threatened and near-threatened species, such as Bear Macaque (Macaca arctoides), Siamese Fireback (Lophura diardi) and Pale-capped Pigeon (Columba punicea). There are 732 plant species, including 114 rare ones.

Hot mineral water pools; Hot mineral water lake; Egg-boiling wells, at the Binh Chau Hot Springs; Ho Coc Beach. Photo: Le Thang My

The nature reserve contains three areas of low hills: the Hong Nhung group (which reaches 118 m) in the north, the Ho Linh group (which reaches 162 m) in the south, and the Mo Ong group (which reaches 120 m) in the west. There are 43 km of rivers, lakes and streams, some of which some have water all year round.
Challenge yourself with walking trails through the forest, rowing a boat, crossing streams and climbing the mountains. Standing on the top, you will be treated to the tranquil scenery.  

The Binh Chau Hot Springs – Medical Tourism
The highlight of the nature reserve is the Binh Chau Hot Springs, surrounded by the lush of Melaleuca trees. Binh Chau’s hot springs have earned recognition as one of 65 potential areas for sustainable eco-tourism development among 47 countries worldwide. It has a total area of 7 ha and has 70 visible thermal springs in the area, forming a huge hot pot with valuable water and sedimentary mud, which are believed good for health recovery and skin. After a 15-minute soaking in hot springs and a 45-minute mud bath, you will own a lively body and a soft skin.  
Located in the primeval forest with a spectacular landscape and valuable resources, the Binh Chau Hot Springs attracts a number of local and international tourists. A Japanese visitor said that: ‘This is the first time I came here. My family loves this tourist site. The splendid views remind me of onsen, hot spring, in Japan where I usually come after work to relax and meet my friends. My kids like to cover their bodies with dark mud and scamper everywhere. It is an interesting experience.’ Moreover, a Russian told me that: ‘This is not the first time I travelled to Vietnam. The first time I was in Mui Ne and Phan Thiet. This time, we chose here because of the hot mineral water source. This is a suitable place to rest and refresh the mind and body. It is very cold in Russia. So, it is good for my children to travel to a destination which has warm sunlight.  My wife can soak in hot springs and enjoy spa services. Also, the view is so beautiful.’      
You will be starving after rolling in the mud and bathing in warm water. So you can enjoy the eggs boiling in hot wells with the temperature of 82oC, while you admire the view in vapours from hot lakes bubbling and the backdrop of green Melaleuca trees.  
What are you waiting for? Bring necessary items such as sun glasses, swim suits and sport shoes to come Binh Chau for swimming on the beach, discovering the forest and relaxing in hot springs.

By Tu Anh