Lào Cai Province is becoming a top destination for tourists seeking physical, mental, and spiritual health improvement. VNA/VNS Photo Hương Thu

Endowed with beautiful natural landscapes, a refreshing climate, and the vibrant cultures of ethnic minorities, the northern province of Lào Cai is becoming a top choice for tourists seeking wellness tourism.

The province has introduced a variety of new wellness products this year that are expected to attract even more high-end tourists, in line with its commitment to sustainable tourism development and its green tourism strategy.

Wellness tourism is known as a type of tourism that focuses on balancing health. It's a combination of traditional tourism and healthcare services that aim to cater to each tourist's need for a healthy lifestyle.

The destinations for wellness tourism often include spaces with pristine natural landscapes and abundant plant ecosystems that offer tourists a pure connection to nature.

Lào Cai is one of the eight regions in Việt Nam with a strong focus on cultivating medicinal plants, making it a key element of the country's plan for medicinal plant development until 2030.

It is home to around 850 species of medicinal plants, including many rare and endangered species under conservation. Not only does Lào Cai have a rich and diverse array of medicinal plants, but it's also a region with 25 ethnic groups and a wealth of local knowledge in various forms of healthcare.

Red Dao ethnic women are seen picking medicinal herbs to prepare herbal baths for tourists. VNA/VNS Hương Thu

Stress relief and relaxation

Phạm Ngân Hạnh from HCM City and her friends are among those choosing Tả Van Village in Lào Cai as their destination for stress relief and relaxation. Upon their arrival at a homestay owned by Lương Thị Chi, a Giáy ethnic woman in the village, they were immediately served a hot bath by the host.

The bath water has a honey-like colour, in a wooden tub made of pơ mu (Fokieni) wood emitting a warm vapour and a sweet, distinctive aroma from 23 medicinal herbs that help to restore health and relieve fatigue.

"After about ten minutes, I could feel my body gradually recovering and my mind becoming clear. After the 35-minute soak, my whole body felt relaxed, my skin was rosy, and my mind was refreshed," Hạnh recalled.

Herbal baths of the Dao ethnic style in Lào Cai are beneficial for both body and mind. Photo ivivu.com

After relaxing with a herbal bath, the group of tourists were treated with a meal including fragrant seven-coloured sticky rice made of various herbs and leaves from the garden, stir-fried goat meat with herbs, banana flower salad, and fish grilled in bamboo shoots.

Located on a small hill and surrounded by lush green rice fields, Chi’s homestay enjoys a fresh atmosphere all day long.  Every morning, visitors meditate and practice yoga on the lawn outside.

"This is not only a place to stay but also an ideal place to recharge and connect with nature. That's why this is our third time choosing this homestay for our wellness-focused trip, to heal from the stresses of our busy lives,” Hạnh said.

'Wellness Tourism 2023'

Tourists are offered therapeutic massages using precious local herbal remedies. VNA/VNS Hương Thu

Unlike medical tourism which focuses on treatments and procedures, wellness tourism emphasises rest and relaxation, helping guests nurture their physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

Simply put, wellness tourism involves a combination of healthy activities and therapies for the body, such as a trip to the spa, yoga, sports, herbal foods, and for the mind, such as meditation, sound therapy or art, during a vacation or travel, aiming to provide comprehensive support for overall health -- body, mind and spirit.

In response to the increasing trend of wellness tourism demand, Lào Cai has recently launched series of new tourism products called "Wellness Tourism 2023".

According to Hoàng Thị Vượng, director of the Department of Culture and Information of Sa Pa town, tourists joining Wellness Tourism 2023 can experience five wellness tours combining yoga practice.

Yoga performance by over 500 practitioners from 25 domestic and international yoga clubs at the Fansipan legend tourist area in Lào Cai Province. VNA/VNS Photo Hương Thu

They include yoga on the famous Hàm Rồng mountain; yoga combined with traditional therapeutic methods of the Red Dao ethnics in Tả Phìn Village, yoga and terraced rice fields sightseeing; yoga combined with the bathing therapy at Vàng Stream – Tình Yêu (Love) Waterfalls; and yoga combined with exploring the Mông ethnic culture in Hầu Chư Ngài Village.

All the healthcare activities on wellness tours are based on the principle of respecting and relying on nature.

Tourists can enjoy a range of activities such as herbal steam baths, foot massage soaking with herbal remedies, taking herbal remedies and getting immersed in local cultures. They can also participate in hands-on activities such as harvesting and processing herbs or trekking into the forest to enjoy the fresh air and the frangant of pure nature.

"Lào Cai offers a space full of energy. It is an ideal choice for tourists who want to connect with nature through quiet activities such as walking, meditation, or yoga," said Nguyễn Ngọc Lan from Ninh Bình Province, one of the first tourists to experience Wellness Tourism 2023. VNS