Natural Pools in the Mountain Stream
Bach Ma National Park is a mountainous area between Hue and Da Nang and was loved by the French for its cool climate, especially during the hot summer months. The refreshing Elephant Springs (Suoi Voi) have been attracting a large number of visitors, both locals and tourists thanks to the refreshing water that collects in the many natural pools along the mountain stream, before it eventually joins the sea in Chan May Bay.
The Elephant Springs
The warm sea and hotel pools barely relieved us from the humid, tropical air and I knew we had to make a trip to discover the cool waters for ourselves. I had seen photos of the Elephants Springs with its clear water, reminding me a lot of Sandakyo Gorge and other rivers in Japan. The Elephant Springs are located just off the main road to Da Nang and we had agreed with our driver from Vedana Lagoon, who would bring us all the way to Hoi An, to make a two hour stop at the springs on the way.
Once we arrived at the entrance gate to the Elephant Springs, our driver paid for us at the ticket office, 15.000 VND per person plus a fee for the car. From there on we drove into the mountains on a narrow dirt track, having to stop and make way for other passing cars and mini-buses. After about 10 minutes we reached a large parking lot. We agreed a time with our driver for our return to the car, he preferred to stay in the air-conditioned interior. Strolling along the footpath, the mountain stream below, we caught up with a group of locals who looked like they would be spending all day at the springs. They carried crates with beer cans and plenty of food to keep them happy and full. There was the odd track turning off towards pools filled by the stream below with empty huts and lounge areas on the embankment.
The Elephant Rock
Ten minutes into our walk we arrived at the main area of the Elephants Springs. There were a few people on terraces under the eaves of the huts and others swam in the large pool that had formed in the mountain stream. A woman approached us, offering us a space on one of the mats on her terrace. We politely declined, I had read about the fact that these women would charge you extra for the shady space, but we had already decided to find a spot on the smooth rocks instead. Under the elephant shaped rock, which lends the spring its name was a gushing waterfall.
Swimming Under the Waterfall
Jerome was keen to get into the water, he wanted to swim to the waterfall but first we crossed the make shift bridge across the creek, a fun act for our balancing skills, to see if we could find a better place to sit up stream. In the end we turned around and headed back to the area just above the waterfall, where we laid our towels onto a large, smooth rock. Be careful, these rocks can get very slippery and in sunny weather too hot for anyone to sit on! Plus watch your things do not roll into the river, Jerome later retrieved several wayward items that rolled down into the depths….
Splashing in the Cool Water
Jerome and Chris went first, which gave me an opportunity to take some photos and watch the other people around us. Jerome happily splashed under the waterfall, surprised by the sheer force of the cool water rushing onto his head and body. The boys then slid slowly along with the water into the deep pool. There were kids of all ages in the pool, some of them wore life vests for safety, which can be rented against a fee from one of the local huts. However, I would advise to bring your own floatation aids if you need them.
Jumping Off the Rocks
Jerome was glad he had brought his swimming goggles they came in handy when a group of French tourists lost their cans of drinks into the depths of the pool. To the far side of the pool was a rock, where visitors climbed onto and then jumped into the cool water, it was fascinating to watch them hesitate before actually jumping in.
I Jumped Too
Chris left the water after a while and I joined Jerome. The water was shockingly cold in the heat but pleasant once I had been in for a few minutes. Jerome was keen to get me onto the rock and jump into the water with him, I think he did not believe I would be brave enough. In the end we hopped in a few times…
Worth the Detour
The two hours went by super fast and we had to drag Jerome away in order to make it back to the car in time. The refreshing Elephant Springs were definitely worth the detour on our way to Hoi An. I would advise to avoid the weekends as they tend to get rather crowded with locals. Head further up the mountain stream to get away from the crowds if you need to. Most visitors tend to stop where we stayed. Please take all your rubbish back with you! This was the only downside we could find during our visit, there was trash left everywhere along the streams and forest paths! However, despite this niggle it is a great place to visit. Next up was a scenic drive across the spectacular Hai Van Pass to Hoi An.
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