Hanoi Red River Island Nudist Camps
On a slender alluvial island in Hanoi Vietnam’s Red River, nudists meet in crude camps to work out, socialize and skinny dip in the languid waters. Various groups of nudists — almost all exclusively male — call the Hanoi Red River home. For most of the men who come here, nudity is practiced for the health benefits of sun and water on skin.
Friends of the Red River
On three occasions in January and February 2018, I had the great fortune to spend time with a boisterous multi-generational group whose name translates as Friends of the Red River. Ranging in age from 23 to 92, this collection of men included medical students, government officials, soldiers, university professors and engineers. Coming from diverse backgrounds, they represented a broad swath of Vietnamese life. They welcomed me in as a member of the family, placing a pot of tea on the campfire and inviting me to swim, sit and socialize.
Fitness and Fun
On my second visit, the men where deep into party mode when I arrived. It would be the last time many of them would be together there before heading off in separate directions to spend the upcoming Tet holiday — Lunar New Year — with family. And so pre-holiday festivities were in order. We dined on simple yet delicious food and washed it down with plenty of drink including homemade rice wine.
But, on this particular day most participants were clothed due to cool temperatures. This however did not stop several from stripping off long enough for a quick skinny dip in the river. In this fact is essential to the ideals of this group: to reap the great health benefits of swimming naked there, one must do it daily. Or as close to daily as schedules allow. And the men there swear by the beneficial aspects of a dip. Calisthenics, aerobics and yoga pursuits at the camp add to the mix of healthy activities.
Getting to the Hanoi Red River Camps
If you choose to pay a visit to a Hanoi Red River Camp, you can get there on foot or by motorbike on the Long Bien Bridge. The bridge is located at the northeastern corner of the Old Quarter. Crossing the bridge, when you get about half way, you’ll see stairs going down. There are stairs on each side, so it doesn’t matter which side you chose to walk on. If you go by motor bike, there is a pull-off area on the bridge itself where you can park. Or just go down the steps. Ramps in the center of the stairways permit motorbikes and bicycles to be taken down.
At the bottom of the stairs, walk along the path near the shore to the right to get to the Friends of the Red River camp. You’ll see a small, dirt driveway beneath banana trees to the left after a 3-5 minute walk. This leads directly to the camp area which sits at the mid-point between the Long Bien and Chuong Duong bridges. There are other camps and gym areas along the shore path to the right, including one with a tennis court at the end of the path.