Are you looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Saigon? Head to Can Gio Mangrove Forest – one of the most beautiful forests in Southeast Asia!
We had a fantastic day exploring this beautiful place with Les Rives.
The history of Can Gio Mangrove Forest
First, let’s learn a bit about the history of this beautiful place!
Before the Vietnam war, the Can Gio forest had a vibrant ecosystem with many mangrove trees. However, during the war, bombs and toxic chemicals destroyed the forest. The area became barren and lifeless.
In 1979, Ho Chi Minh City launched a campaign to replant and restore the Can Gio mangrove ecosystem.
On January 21, 2000, Can Gio mangrove forest was recognized by UNESCO as Vietnam’s first biosphere reserve.
Nowadays, Can Gio mangrove forest covers more than 310 square km and is becoming a popular tourist destination.
The importance of Can Gio Mangrove Forest
The forest has become a “green lung” of Ho Chi Minh City, purifying the air and wastewater from the industrial cities in the upper areas of the Dong Nai River.
Over roles include:
- Preventing flooding
- Providing food and habitats for many animals
- Providing many medicinal plants
Best time to visit Can Gio Mangrove Forest.
The rainy season in Vietnam is usually between July and August.
It usually rains for 1-2 hours per day during these times. Check the weather report so you can plan your venture accordingly.
Also, avoid going when a storm is predicted!
Avoid visiting during major national holidays, such as Tet Holiday, because the area may be too crowded.
How to get from Saigon to Can Gio, Vietnam
Can Gio is about 50 km from Ho Chi Minh City.
Saigon to Can Gio by motorbike or car
Because Can Gio is not far from Saigon, you can get there by motorbike or car.
From the center of Saigon, follow the direction of Tan Thuan bridge.
Then, you can turn into Nguyen Van Linh street, then Huynh Tan Phat street, and then travel towards the direction of Binh Khanh port.
After crossing the river by ferry, continue to Vam Sat natural reserve. Along the way, you can visit monkey island.
A few tips:
- The road to Can Gio has few gas stations, so don’t forget to fill your gas tank before leaving!
- The condition of some of the roads is not good. Check your vehicle carefully before going and driving slowly.
- This road usually has many traffic police. Remember your papers and license.
Saigon to Can Gio by bus
You can also travel by bus to Can Gio.
You can take bus number 20 toward Nha Be from Ben Thanh market. Get off at Binh Khanh ferry, cross the river and catch bus number 90 to Can Gio.
We decided to try the speedboat tour offered by Les Rives. Learn more about this below.
Best things to do in Can Gio
Visit the local market
On the way to the Can Gio nature reserve, we stopped at a local market.
Our tour guide showed us the different stands and explained the offered products.
The sellers were friendly and welcoming. Everybody was smiling!
Paddle through the mangrove forest
We then visited Vam Sat Mangrove Forest, a sustainable ecosystem that is carefully managed.
Vam Sat Ecotourism Area covers more than 18 square km, with over 140 rare plant species.
Dense mangrove forests enclose this area, once used as hide-outs for soldiers during the war.
Vam Sat serves as a habitat for many animals, such as pythons, crocodiles, monkeys, and birds of prey.
See the bats
Bat Park is one of the most exciting places for visitors to see these unusual animals.
We took a rowing boat and were paddled along the narrow river between the mangroves.
The bats concentrate in a small lagoon.
We could see the bats in groups, sleeping high up in the trees.
Some of them were huge! These were the fruit bats. We had to keep quiet so as not to disturb them.
Thanks to this reserve, the bats have been reproducing, and their population has increased significantly over the last 20 years.
View Can Gio forest
After saying goodbye to Bat Forest, we continued our journey to the center of Vam Sat.
Coming to the Vam Sat Center, Tang Bong Tower appeared before us.
About Tang Bong Tower
Tang Bong Tower is 26 meters high and shaped like a bow facing the sky. The tower is considered the central point of the Vam Sat eco-tourism area.
You are allowed to go up to the observation deck.
At the top, we stood in awe of the breathtaking surrounding scenery and could see the nearby watchtower at Vam Sat Bird Sanctuary.
In addition to observing and protecting the forests, the tower was built to commemorate the thousands of soldiers who fought and died in the area.
Feed the monkeys
Vam Sat Ecotourism Area is also home to long-tailed monkeys!
We all jumped on a little electric tour bus and journeyed deeper into the forest.
As we continued, monkeys started appearing and chasing our bus. We stopped to feed them.
The monkeys here are quite brave but well-behaved. Nothing was stolen, and they were adorable and friendly!
Feed the crocodiles
At the crocodile farm, our tour guide explained the process of raising and hatching crocodile eggs.
Crocodiles here are raised in a unique and semi-natural way. Our guide explained this fascinating process and how it dramatically increases the likelihood of successful hatchings.
We then boarded a special protective boat and ventured into the crocodile swamp.
The crocodiles started to lift their eyes out of the water as we floated in. They swarmed around the boat, waiting to be fed.
We were each given “fishing” sticks with long strings and the bait attached. We hung our sticks out over the protective fence of the boat and watched as the crocodiles came closer.
They jumped out of the water and loudly snapped at the bait. A slightly scary but thrilling experience!
Enjoy the seafood
The food here is appealing and delicious, with many specialties. The shrimp and fish were straight from farm to table.
Can Gio Tour Review
We took the Les Rives Speedboat Can Gio tour. Was it worth it? We think so.
The tour included speedboat travel between each of the destinations listed above.
Our tour guide was very informative. We learned a lot from him about this fascinating area. We were also given a very satisfying lunch, made using local ingredients.
Even though you can travel on your own and explore Can Gio at your own pace, it’s challenging to travel between the areas without a boat and a tour guide.
The tour included:
- Hotel pick-up and drop off
- Effortless, fast travel between all attractions
- A light breakfast including coffee and sandwiches
- A satisfying lunch made using local ingredients
- Unlimited refreshments and local fruit during
- Clear-English-speaking and very informative guide
- Tickets for each attraction included in the price
How to book a Can Gio tour
The booking process is very easy. You can select your preferred travel day, fill in your information and pay. You’ll then receive confirmation.
You can book the tour here.