Around Ho Chi Minh City

Cu Chi Tunnels - Tay Ninh - Nui Ba Den - One Pillar Pagoda - Can Gio - Buu Long Mountain -Tri An Falls - Vung Tau - Long Hai - Loc An Beach - Ho Tram Beach - Ho Coc Beach - Binh Chau Hot Springs - Cat Tien National Park - Con Dao Islands


IDD Code:(+84) 8
Notable for its mangrove forest, Can Gio is a low palm-fringed island some 25km southeast of HCMC. The island, which is at the intersection between the Saigon River and the sea, was created by silt washing downstream. It's hard-packed mud rather than sandy beach, so attracts few visitors and the area remains entirely undeveloped. The principal attraction here - and it's a minor one - is Can Gio mangrove forest (Lam Vien Can Gio; Tell: 874 3069; fax 874 3068; admission 15,000d). Formed by sediment deposits from the Dong Nai and Long Tau Rivers, this forest sounds impressive on paper: its 75,000 hectares contains a high degree of biodiversity with more than 200 species of fauna and 50 species of flora. Infrastructure, however, is lacking, and only mangrove enthusiasts will truly enjoy the trip out. There is also the Can Gio Museum, which has displays on the wildlife of the forest, along with exhibits relating to local war history; the park also has a monkey sanctuary, home to at least a hundred simians. Admission to the Can Gio mangrove forest also covers the museum.
Though much smaller than the Cao Dai Great Temple at Tay Ninh, Can Gio boasts a Cao Dai temple of its own. It's near the market and is easy to find.
Can Gio has a large market, which is made very conspicuous by some rather powerful odours. Seafood and salt are definitely the local specialities. The vegetables, rice and fruit are all imported by boat from HCMC.
Adjacent to the local shrimp hatchery is a large and conspicuous cemetery and war memorial (Nghia Trang Liet Si Rung Sac), 2km from Can Gio Market. Like all such sites in Vietnam, the praise for bravery and patriotism goes entirely to the winning side and there is nothing said about the losers- Indeed, all of the former war cemeteries containing remains of South Vietnamese soldiers were bulldozed after liberation - a fact that still causes much bitterness.
The southern side of the island faces the sea, creating a beachfront nearly 10km long. Un - fortunately a good deal of it is inaccessible because it's been fenced off by shrimp farmers and clam diggers. Nevertheless, there is a point about 4km west of the market where a dirt road leads off the main highway to HCMC, heading towards the beach. The road is easily distinguished by the telephone poles and wires running alongside it. At the beach you'll find a handful of stalls selling food and drinks. The hills of the Vung Tau Peninsula are easily visible on a clear day.
Getting There & Away
Can Gio is about 60km southeast of central HCMC, and the fastest way to make the journey is by car or motorbike (about two hours). There's a ferry crossing (motorbike/car 2000/10,000d;15km from HCMC at Binh Khanh (Cat Lai), a former US naval base. The road is paved all the way from HCMC to Can Gio. Once you get past the ferry, there is little traffic and the sides of the road are lined with mangrove forests