It was formed from silt washing downstream from the river, so don’t expect to see any white-sand beaches. A few hopeful resorts have been built along the murky 10km shoreline and more are planned to be built in the future, even though it’s not easy to imagine them appealing to international visitors.
The highlight is the forest . This listed Unesco Biosphere Reserve contains a high degree of biodiversity, with at least 200 species of fauna and 150 species of flora. If you’re looking for a relatively traffic-free route to discover by motorbike, it’s a wonderful day trip.
Monkey Island Eco Forest Park NATURE RESERVE
(www.cangioresort.com.vn; admission 30,000d) With a lot of ‘ecotourism’ activities in Vietnam, Saigon Tourist has got in on the act and turned the experience into a bit of an event. As this is the most interesting and accessible part of the forest to visit, it’s hard to stomach the extreme conditions in which the stars of their animal circus ( such as bears and monkeys) are kept.
The island is also home to a monkey sanctuary, which has more than one hundred wild but unafraid simians. Pay attention : like monkeys everywhere you go, the line between cheeky charmer, thieving pest and dangerous beast is okay . Hold tight your things .
Remember that the highlight of this visit is the motorboat ride (around 150,000d) through the waterways to the VC’s Rung Sac base . At the reconstructed base, dummies portray VC cadres sawing open unexploded American bombs so as to salvage the explosives and wrestling with crocodiles, which were once popular here but are now confined to crocodile farms such as the one by the entrance. A small museum has wildlife displays, with exhibits relating to local war history and archaeological finds.
Coming from HCMC, Monkey Island is to the right of the main road, about 34km past the ferry.
Vam Sat NATURE RESERVE
This section of the forest is common for crab-angling, a crocodile farm and Dam Doi (Bat Swamp), in which fruit bats nest . Boats to Vam Sat (around 150,000d) depart from under Dan Xay Bridge, which is on the main road, 22km south of the ferry and 12km north of Monkey Island.
Duyen Hai TOWN
This town, which faces Vung Tau at the southeastern tip of Can Gio district, has a Cao Dai temple and a large market, which is made very conspicuous by some rather powerful odours. Seafood and salt are the local specialities ; they also import vegetables, rice and fruit by boat from around HCMC. Adjacent to the local shrimp hatchery is a vast cemetery and war memorial (Nghia Trang Liet Si Rung Sac), 2km from Can Gio Market.
- Getting There & Away
Car & Motorbike
It is around 60km southeast from Can Gio to the central HCMC , and travelling by car or motorbike is the fastest way (about two hours). There’s a ferry that crosses (motorbike/car 2000/10,000d) 15km from HCMC at Binh Khanh (Cat Lai), which was a former naval base of the US . As you get past the ferry, there is not much traffic and the sides of the road are lined with mangrove forests. The motorbike ride is an excellent day out in itself.
Café Kim Tourist and Saigon Tourist offer the day trips from HCMC with the price of the former US$25 and of the latter US$56 . A boat trip to Can Gio is also offered by Les Rives, which starts at 7.30am and takes a total of seven to nine hours. The trip is comprised of hotel pick-up, meals, refreshments, guide and admission fees. Saigon Riders operates a fun motorbike trip to Can Gio, which costs US$109 per person (all-inclusive, minimum two people), kicking off at 8am.