Can Gio was shaped from silt washing downstream from the river, so don’t expect to see any white-sand beaches. A few fine resorts have sprung up along the murky 10km shoreline and more are planned to be built in the future, even though it’s difficult to imagine them appealing to foreign tourists .
Of more interest 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 quite traffic-free destination to discover by motorbike, it’s an amazing 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 part of the forest is the most amazing and accessible for travellers to visit, it’s not easy to stomach the extreme conditions in which the stars of their animal circus ( such as bears and monkeys) are kept.
A monkey sanctuary is also living on this island, which has at least a hundred wild but unafraid simians. Take care: like monkeys everywhere you go, the line between cheeky charmer, thieving pest and dangerous beast is okay. Hold tight your things.
The motorboat ride (about 150,000d) through the waterways to the VC’s Rung Sac base is the highlight of a visit. At the renew base, dummies portray VC cadres sawing open unexploded American bombs so as to salvage the explosives and wrestling with crocodiles, which used to be common in this place yet are now confined to crocodile farms such as the one by the entrance. There is a small museum which has wildlife exhibitions, with exhibits about local war history and archaeological finds.
Coming from HCMC, Monkey Island is to the right of the main road, which is around 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. There are many boats to Vam Sat (about 150,000d) which leave from under Dan Xay Bridge on the main road, 22km south of the ferry and 12km north of Monkey Island.
Duyen Hai TOWN
Facing Vung Tau at the southeastern tip of Can Gio district, this small town has a Cao Dai temple and a large market, which is made very conspicuous by some powerful odours. The specialities here are seafood and salt; the vegetables, rice and fruit are all imported by boat from around HCMC. Adjacent to the local shrimp hatchery is a vast cemetery and war memorial (Nghia Trang Liet Si Rung Sac), which is 2km from Can Gio Market.
Getting There & Away
Car & Motorbike
Can Gio is about 60km southeast of central HCMC, and it is the fastest way to travel by car or motorbike (about two hours). It has a ferry that crosses (motorbike/car 2000/10,000d) 15km from HCMC at Binh Khanh (Cat Lai), a former US naval base. Once you get past the ferry, there is little traffic and the sides of the road are lined with mangrove forests. It will be a great experience for tourists to ride motorbikes and discover this destination .
Can Gio Tours
Travellers can book day trips from Hochiminh city of Daily Travel (US). Les Rives also offers a boat trip to Can Gio, which starts at 7.30am and takes around seven to nine hours. The trip includes 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), setting off at 8am.