What used to be a plain old walk in the woods has taken on new shades since the '80s when Shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) was first introduced in Japan. The practice has spread further over the years as people seek an antidote to too much time online. Just like unwinding in a bath, forest bathing is about immersing yourself fully in the present moment. The practice has a myriad of health benefits, from reducing blood pressure to boosting the immune system.
Not all forest bathing is the same, of course. There are many ways to take a bath. Here are a few from Vietnam to Thailand that you might want to dip your toe in.
Walking with Intention in a National Park in Vietnam
Set within 108-square-kilometers of protected natural forest at Ba Vi National Park, Melia Ba Vi Mountain Retreat is one of the first properties in Vietnam to offer this mood-boosting, stress-releasing practice. The guided experience involves walking with intention through the resort's surrounding tropical forest to a hidden stream. Guests are encouraged to tune into all their senses, noticing everything from bark to birdsong. The expansive park, west of the capital, has subtropical and tropical evergreen forest to bask in and diverse wildlife, including over 150 bird species to provide a one-of-a-kind soundtrack. The whole experience lasts around two hours and is roughly five kilometers.
Meet Banyan Tree Krabi's Neighbors - the Waterfalls and Mountains
With a bountiful and beautiful variety of flora and fauna in adjoining Khao Ngon Nak National Park, including a panoramic viewpoint offering stunning views of the surrounding islands in the Andaman Sea, Banyan Tree Krabi is the ideal jumping-off point for for a hike up Naga Mountain. Banyan Tree's half-day walking tour includes ample time for birdwatching, soothing your feet in a waterfall pool, and wallowing in the tranquility and splendor of a tropical forest. "Leave your phone in the villa for one morning and come with us into the forest," said Sustainability Manager Thepsuda Loijiw." It's suitable for all ages, and you'll never regret spending time with Mother Nature." The national park is open from 5am to 2pm every day. For bookings, contact Thepsuda and her team at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +66 75 811 888.
Elephant 'Poo Poo Paper' Walking Tour
While forest bathing and elephant poo poo don't necessarily go hand in hand, there are many ways to skin a cat when it comes to Shinrin-yoku. What they're doing at "Elephant POOPOOPAPER Park" is a case in point. From Meliá Chiang Mai, the mindful traveler embarks on the park's "interpretive walking tour" through lush gardens and eight different pavilions to demonstrate the sustainable practice of making tree-free paper products from elephant poop fibers, from poo collection to rinsing and final product assembly. During the self-guided tour, guests are encouraged to pull up a stool, roll up their sleeves and join the park's talented artisans and guides to participate in the fascinating process to handcraft the paper used for cards, paper pads, journals and more.
Credit image to Elephant POOPOOPAPER Park Chiang Mai, Thailand