Soaking in the hot mineral water with a picturesque natural background
is a rewarding treat for visitors to Tram Tau District
Located around 2km from Tram Tau District, the springs in Hat Luu Commune lie under a small valley, surrounded by terraced fields and hills of pine forests that sway with the gentle breeze. Travellers can also choose to stay overnight at a homestay next to the spring to enjoy a night in the mountains.
According to Vu Manh Cuong, the owner of a homestay, the springs cover 600sq.m with temperatures ranging from 35 to 38 degrees Celsius. Its water is so transparent that the bathers can even see the pebbles sparkling at the bottom. Even on winter days, they do not feel the cold while soaking themselves in the springs, he said.
Travellers pass terraced fields before arriving at Tram Tau at this time of the year
The best moment to enjoy the hot baths is in the springs with the steam rising above the water, mingling with the early mist to create a fairytale scene.
According to locals, the hot springs are naturally fed from the earth. It used to be a local secret, but over the past year, Cuong has constructed his homestay and attracted more tourists to the area.
Cuong said the homestay had two outdoor baths, 10 double rooms and one communal room, all of which can accommodate nearly 80 guests. It costs from VND300,000-700,000 (US$13-30) for a night in a double-room and VND100,000 ($4) in the communal room with free bathing in the hot mineral springs.
“Even though my homestay is not finished yet, it has attracted an increasing number of tourists. I receive about 100 guests per day on average. That number can even reach 300 on weekends or holidays.”
The spring in Hat Luu Commune lies under a small valley,
surrounded by terraced fields and hills of pine trees
“The locals swim in the hot springs for free. Tourists who are not guests only have to pay VND10,000 (40 US cent) for children and VND20,000 (80 US cent) for adults,” Cuong added.
His homestay also serves trustworthy local food of the Mong and Thai ethnic groups like grilled meat, grilled fish, five-coloured sticky rice, dried meat and grilled bamboo shoots.
At weekends, guests can enjoy art performances by local ethic people such as Khen dancing and try making local specialties like day cake.
To many backpackers like Nguyen Tuan Vu from the northern province of Tuyen Quang, a visit to the hot springs and homestay is a memorable experience.
“I learned about the springs by chance: I visited my university friend nearby and was led there,” Vu said.
“I was really overwhelmed by the stunning picture stretching out in front of my eyes: the hot springs lay just below the foot of a hill, overlooking a wide space of interminable ripen terraced fields.
The cold of winter doesn’t hit tourists as they bathe in the spring
“Everything was nice and comfortable in the homestay,” he added.
“Immersing myself in the warm water and enjoying the steam rising up against a stunning natural background helped me to relax and recharge,” said Nguyen Xuan Huyen, another visitor from Ha Noi.
Cuong said that in the years to come, he plans to expand his accommodation and renovate the transport system to offer convenient travel for tourists who wish to visit and bathe in Tram Tau’s hot springs.
A room in Vu Manh Cuong’s homestay
He also plans to grow fruit trees to offer community-based tourism in the area.
“Tourists will be able to plant vegetables and pick fruits to take home. I hope that more people will discover Tram Tau, which is one of the poorest districts in the country, but also a land full of tourism potential,” he added.
Vu Manh Cuong’s homestay has 10 double rooms and one communal room
which can accommodate nearly 80 guests overnight
The springs are located around 200km from Ha Noi and there are a plenty ways to get there. If you travel by bike or car, follow the route Ha Noi –Thang Long Avenue – Highway 21 – Son Tay – Trung Ha Bridge – Thanh Son – Thu Cuc – Khe Pass –Van Chan – Nghia Lo – Tram Tau. Otherwise, you can take a coach to Tram Tau District from either My Dinh or Giap Bat stations with tickets ranging from VND200,000-300,000 (US$9-13).