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Village of Ta Phin, Province of Lao Cai, Vietnam View on Map

Many things To do

Things To Do

Take a Herbal Bath in my home… a Red Dao specialty

Our people, Red Dao, are very well known for out traditional “herbal baths”, dia dao xin in Dao language. We boil a collection of fresh and dried plants and bark in a water filled giant wok, over a charcoal fire. You can enjoy the beautiful smell of these natural medicines as they are brewing. After several hours of brewing, the water is transferred to a wooden barrel tub. It is now ready for you to come and soak your bones in our Dao traditional bath and wash away your aches, pains, worries and woes all at once in the privacy of our new separate bathhouse. It is important to let us know if you would like a bath because we have to collect the fresh plants and herbs from the forest on the mountains and it takes several hours to prepare.

We provide all our guests with a clean towel.

For Your Information: FYI

Dr. Tran Cong Khanh of the Vietnam Traditional Herbal Medicine Institute concurs that the herbal bath of Dao people in Vietnam has a good record for treating common colds and the flu as well as relieving arthritic pain. “It’s estimated that there are approximately 120 kinds of herbs, plants and bark used for the baths,” he says. “But of that total there are 39 which are popular and about 10 which are indispensible.”


Ta Phin Village near Sapa is widely known, not only for its natural beauty, attractive caves, colorful brocades and traditional culture, but also for its specialty medicinal baths by the Red Dao ethnic minority, based on ancient remedies handed down over the generations.

Red Dao people live in mountainous areas and their lifestyle is firmly linked with the forest. They are very good at medicine; their traditional healthcare remedies consist of medicinal herbs, the exact mix of which is preserved as a secret and handed down through the family, only known to the women.

Each herbal remedy for bathing is created from different medicinal herbs collected in the forests by the Red Dao people. They are very careful in setting the time to start off on a trip to pick medicinal herbs. If met by somebody on the way, they will never let him know the purpose of their trip, it’s a taboo. Picked herbs are washed clean and put into pots to be boiled, a little alcohol is added, then family members take baths in turn, of course, the bath water is changed after each turn, firstly parents, then children. Guests are prioritized.

Bath water is made up of ten herbal plants; there are even roots which are used, dry or fresh. The herbs are boiled for 3-4 hours and then the water is kept at 30 – 37C, giving the bath a strong scent. The scent is naturally kept for a few days. Bath-tubs are made of precious wood. Essential red oil is added, and then the water is poured into the wooden bathtubs. Once you enter the steamy, fragrant room, the calming properties of the herbs soon take effect.

Strong people can bath from 25 – 30 minutes, weaker ones just 15 – 20 minutes, to avoid an overdose. After a bath, tourists will feel relaxed and comfortable; all weariness seems to be gone.

According to the wisdom of the Red Dao people, an herbal spa is especially helpful for physical and mental fatigue, as it relaxes your body and renews your energy by enhancing overall circulation, soothing your daily tensions. For women, the herbal bath promotes skin beauty by opening pores, removing dead skin and impurities, and leaving the skin soft, clean, and silky smooth. The bath also relieves some chronic illnesses including rheumatism and joint pain.

If you have a chance to visit Ta Phin, consider giving these amazing baths a try. It’s relaxing indeed!

travel blog posted April 03, 2012


The round bathtub is made from the wood of the Pu Mu tree, as the Vietnamese call it. It is a precious timber valued for its characteristic aroma and its exceptional light weight.


Help With Our Daily Chores- Start The Early Morning Fire

Join Us In Our Meal Preparation

Help gather and prepare our food to feed our animals…pigs, chiickens and our water buffalo

We gather assorted greens from the mountain to feed our water buffalo and our pigs. Some of the are chopped finer and cooked to soften the texture, for our pig food. We also de- kernel our dried corn cobs for the feeding of our chickens.

Trek up the mountain, with myself or Ma, to gather wood for our fires and a selection of fresh herbs for your next Herbal bath.

Help to put out the next batch of rice to dry on a warm sunny day, turning occassionally, while you spend your time relaxing…maybe reading a book or updating your travel journal.

Work with us in our fields

I can give you a lesson or two, and teach you to sew Dao “silk” embroidery

Embroidery is the daily work of the Dao Women. Our Dao Community, uses natural plant extract, indigo, to provide the base colour for our wonderful garments made from hemp bought from our tribal neighbours, the H’Mong.

We do not embroider from patterns, we embroider our personality, culture, and symbols of our culture onto a new set of clothes.

I will invite a few friends to join us to embroider, gossip, and laugh together.

Join Us or One of Neighbours in Making a Batch of Our Delicious Rice Wine

We always need help to keep that fire going.

Our Village is Very Famous for Trekking

After your arrival, I can arrange a variety of treks for you with one of our local Red Dao tour guides that can speak English well. A few itineraries follow.

Trek into Sapa Town

Spend a leisurely 2-3 hours strolling up and down 10 kilometres of hills through a beautiful mountainous landscape. You will follow the trail which runs on high elevations around the valley for a real life discovery. You will see our people working in their terraced fields and travelling back and forth from the market in Sapa Town to their homes, with the baskets on their backs brimming with or vegetables. Enjoy a lovely lunch at one of the many restaurants in Sapa town and catch a 30 minute motor bike taxi back to the village for $60,000 VND ($3 USD ).

Trek around our Village of Ta Phin

Ta Phin is home to approximately 1000 Red Dao and 1500 Black H’Mong and a handful of Kinh. The village has 13 hamlets and 20 or more many small communes scattered throughout these hamlets. Stroll through the village and surrounding countryside and enjoy the picturesque landscape of spectacular rice fields, mountains, streams, and hill tribe houses. Travelling to and from Red Dao and Black H’Mong communes you will learn the difference between our traditional tribal cultures. Some of the locals may invite you to go to their homes to show how they live and what they have, and tell you about their families. On following them to their houses, you will find out how simply we live. If they welcome you into their home, it would be a nice gesture to buy a piece of merchandise, that you like, from them, as a tip for what they have shown you. Ta Phin is a village of Red Dao’s people possessing a rich culture that is trying not to be damaged by the modern life.

Purchase a Piece or Two of our Hand Embroidered Silk Handicrafts and Much More

With a homestay, you have the time to browse and purchase handicrafts at your leisure. Our village of Ta Phin has officially become the “Brocade Village”, where you can find the distinctively hand-made brocades of my people, Red Dao. Our brocades are eye-catching with numerous bright patterns and colours. We have countless products : from bags of all sizes to finely crafted Dao Tunics…..scarves, purses, cushion covers, wall hangings, tablecloths, and traditional Dao clothing for men, women and children

Visit our Small Village Cave located very close to my homestay

At the far end corner of the village is Hang Ta Phin or Ta Phin Cave. This is an old small cave with many stalactites of many shapes which may tweak your imagination. There are installed electric lights but you can’t depend on them being turned on. The cave is very dark and our Dao children may want to rent you a flamed torch or a regular torch for a small fee. I would suggest you bring your own fully charged torch for back up lighting. Like many caves in Vietnam, the winding passageway inside Ta Phin Cave is not large enough in some sections toward the end for larger people to pass through. So we advise big foreigners not to go further.

Visit the old French monastery just outside our village

The monastery, built in 1942, is a structure of ruins that has been deserted for more than 65 years. There, the seminary stands quietly amidst a garden of green artichokes and grass pershed on the side of a small windy hill. The remains are stone pillars and walls covered with moss that reminds visitors of the building’s glory in the past. Although the ruined building has been deserted for years, it is certainly a place of interest for those who want to look into old French architecture and the history of a village.

A little more in depth details of the history of the monastery

At the end of 1941, twelve nuns belonging to a congregation of devout Reformed Cistercians, whose only purpose was prayer and penitence», were thrown out of the monastery of Our Lady of the Angels in Hakodaté (Japan). Eight of them as well as the prior wished to stay in Asia. On January 8th, 1942, the French ambassador in Japan wrote to the bishop of Hung-Hoa, Mgr. Vandaele, and solicited that they be welcomed on missionary ground. On February 13th, 1942, for the token rent of one piastre per year, the Superior Resident granted a long-term lease over « the estate of the old fruit-growing station of Ta Phin (44 hectares of buildings and lands), uncultivated or fallow land. On June 11th, 1942, the sisters arrived at Lao Cai railway station and were installed in a wooden building in poor condition, each had only the clothes she was wearing, and 200 yens. On June 19th, the French Resident in Lao Kay gave them 8 milk cows, 9 calves, 2 oxen, 2 heifers, 1 bull, and farming implements The aim was to start large-scale raising of pigs and chickens and to usefully complement the dairy products, milk, butter and cheese produced by the Chapa station in insufficient quantity for the number of summer visitors both civil and military . The sisters also set about to grow black wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat… and develop fruit trees, potatoes, vegetables and vineyards . As of September 1942, the sisters were producing peach, apple and other fruit jams and had difficulties satisfying the numerous orders for butter and cheese of the Port Salut type coming from Hanoi. As of August 1942, legionnaires were supervising the Annamite workers digging a platform on which the new monastery was to be built. The foundation stone was lain on October 8th, 1942 in the presence of the Superior Resident, and a parchment was deposited in a cavity made in the south-east corner-stone of Our Lady of Peace Monastery. In fact, only the first phase of the work was to be completed, and the rest of the convent, which was supposed to welcome a hundred sisters, lay sisters and novices was never built. Nor were the planned guest quarters and chaplaincy. Only the farmhouse buildings were ever built. During the 1947 unrest, the sisters hurriedly fled to Hanoi and the monastery was burned down. This was when Ho Chi Minh`s Viet Minh began their assaults on the vichy French colonial establishment.

Volunteer Work

Do a little volunteering and contribute directly to our village while living with us. You would pay for your homestay and your meals, but the rewards and appreciation from the villagers is very gratifying. In the village we have 6 pre-schools, 6 primary schools, and 1 intermediate/secondary school with approximately 160 students ( grades 6-9 ), so there are plenty of areas to contribute in many small ways.

Teach an English Lesson at one of the Local Schools or to Anyone Around You

Everyone in the village is always eager to learn a little more English, children and adults alike. A few simple supplies would bennefit in your lessons…..flash cards with the alphabet, numbers and one word pictures. A couple of hard covered books with my “first words” are always fun.

Plan a Personnal Hygiene Lesson on Correct Handwashing Procedures

The following poster is a great teaching aid. Collect a few small bars of soap from your hotel stays during your travels to the village. I can always lend you a small basin for the water and a clean towel for the perfect lesson.

Plan an Oral Hygiene Lesson Demonstarting Correct Teeth Brushing Techniques

At my home, I have a large set of plastic teeth with the matching extra large toothbrush for a great lesson.

Twice a day for two minutes!!!

Organize a Garbage Clean Up!

Choose a location……at one or more of the many schools in the village, a neighbourhood clean up in our hamlet or in any of the other hamlets. If this activity is of any interest to you, I would suggest picking up a box of latex disposable gloves for the children to wear.

Attend a Traditional Red Dao Wedding

If you are lucky enough, you may have a chance to participate in a Red Dao wedding. You will be able to observe how carefully we prepare for this special occasion. All brides, including myself, spend about 1 year to make to make our beautiful wedding clothing including our red veil.

Participate in a Ceremonial House Building Project

Our neighbourhood and village has both big and small building projects. We can always use a helping hand and you are always rewarded with a customary feast when done for the day.

Visit Our New Community House and Conservation Garden

It is currently still under contruction but we had the official opening in May, with the conservation garden an ongoing project. The community house was designed to have the shape of our traditional women’s Red Dao head dress. We can always use an extra hand on the finishing details.

Wade or Have a Dip in one of the Many Local Streams

Make a Reservation

Send us a message with your arrival date and number of nights you'd like to reserve, and we will contact you.