Early in the morning, the group set out the first “forest bathing” trip after 2 years of the pandemic. Experiencing many hours of traveling deep into mountains and forests with dusky Bach Ma’s white mist, filling your lungs with the purest air and letting cool vapors flow through the skin of the face. Legs may get weary, but life hasn’t felt this good in a long time.
“Bach Ma” border
Bach Ma National Park is located in Phu Loc district, Thua Thien Hue province, approximately 40 kilometers from Hue city. Bach Ma, with a total area of about 37.5 thousand hectares, has long been a name that draws young people who enjoy trekking due to its spectacular natural landscape and cool climate (about 20-26 degrees in summer, about 4-10 degrees in winter). Along with that, the trekking route is not too challenging, but it is not easy, making it perfect for amateur mountain climbers after long and stressful working days.
There are several tales associated with the name Bach Ma. Some claim that clouds blanket the mountain all year, and that when viewed from above, it resembles a white horse’s mane, thus it is called Bach Ma. Another story is that a great warrior rode a white horse up the mountain to shelter and then mysteriously vanished. The mountain was named after the horse he rode. The real history of the name is unknown, but everyone believes that the name Bach Ma is especially fitting for the year-round green massif shrouded with clouds, with the straight horseback and these majestic areas of primeval forest. Hence, it gives us a really adventurous sensation, as if we were riding on horseback, galloping towards mountains and forests with many challenges ahead of us.
The best time to visit Bach Ma is from December to April. This is the time of year when the weather is bright, free of severe floods, and ideal for travel. When traveling with a group of elderly and children, it is common to rent a car and spend the day visiting Vong Hai Dai, Ngu Ho, Do Quyen waterfall, ancient French villa, and Hobbit dwarf village. The entrance ticket costs 60,000 VND for adults and 20,000 VND for children, while car rental costs between 1-1.5 million VND, which is reasonable for a crowded trip.
As for young people who enjoy exploring will, of course, choose to climb for two days and one night to enjoy a “forest bath” to their hearts’ content, making up for the hard-working days of burying their heads in computers, books, and schoolwork… in urban cities.
“Forest bathing” trekking Bach Ma
If you prefer to trek, bring essential supplies such as water, food, sweets, medical first aid, etc., as well as comfortable long clothes and sturdy climbing shoes. From the gate of the National Park, you will trek 17km from the foot of the mountain to Hai Vong Dai – the highest point of Bach Ma National Park (1,430m). The concrete paved path is fairly wide and easy to travel. However, this is also a “fatal weakness” since concrete absorbs a lot of heat, there aren’t any huge trees along the road, and the heat causes you to lose strength rapidly.
In the first 6 kilometers, you will come across several streams. The stream in Bach Ma is still fairly clean because it runs from the deep forest and is as cold as ice. If water is scarce, you may fill up big bottles in this section, save it for the next stage from km7 to km11, which has no waterfalls or streams. In return, the landscape along the journey, particularly the destination of Hai Vong Dai, will provide you with additional strength to push through.
Hai Vong Dai is a project built by the French. Looking out into the distance from this vantage point, you can get a panoramic view of Lang Co Bay, Truoi Lake, the Bach Ma mountains, and Hue city. All are mellow blue with different shades. At night, if you are lucky enough to have a clear sky at night, you may roll out the tarpaulin, lie down and watch the galaxy glide before your eyes – a luxurious experience if you are in a city with a lot of light pollution. From afternoon to night, the temperature will gradually drop and turn quite chilly. In this case, a decent warm coat will be your savior.
It’s likely that your second day will begin with thick fog, numbing cold, with everyone huddled around the fire, preparing noodles for breakfast. In the city, you might look down on a bowl of instant noodles with no eggs, veggies, or meat. But here, at an altitude of nearly 1,500m, even sipping instant noodles is delightful.
After breakfast, you will proceed through the forest for 5 kilometers to Ngu Ho and Do Quyen waterfall. This is a tough trek since you must climb over boulders and walk on a slippery forest track. In return, the magnificent vegetation on both sides will help you forget about your tiredness.
Before reaching Do Quyen waterfall, you will come across Ngu Ho, a huge lake formed by five small streams, where you may bathe comfortably. The water is clear and incredibly calm; feel free to swing and let the soothing water relieve your fatigue and aches.
After bathing to your heart’s delight in the stream, put on your shoes and climb another 1-2 kilometers to the top of Do Quyen waterfall, which falls from a height of more than 300 meters. If you travel in March, you will see thousands of white and red rhododendrons blooming brightly among the green mountains, creating a picturesque sight. Those who are still in good enough shape can descend the 700 steps to the waterfall’s foot, admiring the majestic beauty of the white silk strip beside the rhododendron forest. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Following the trail back to km12, concluding the journey of “forest bathing” in Bach Ma, everyone will have some regrets after viewing the waterfall, flowers, and “bathing” in the natural environment for many hours. Bach Ma’s greatest gifts on this tour are the green hue of the trees, the cool and clear water, and the peaceful and chirping sounds of the natural mountains and forests. Don’t forget to save and return to soak in the delicacy of unspoilt nature many more times!