Located southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, close to where the Saigon River meets the South China Sea, the low-lying Can Gio island houses a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This is an important natural wetland with attractions like Monkey Island, Rung Sac Military Base, Vam Sat Salt-Marsh Forest Ecological Tourist Center, and a crocodile farm.
The road to Can Gio is relatively traffic-free and makes a fun scooter trip if you have the appropriate licenses, insurance, and experience; after all, Vietnam’s roads are no place for beginners. If you prefer less ambitious transportation, fast ferries run to the region from central Saigon.
Alternatively, you can arrive in style with a speedboat tour from the heart of Saigon or travel to the island on a minibus then transfer to a boat. Can Gio tours typically include a mangrove cruise, a visit to the macaques on Monkey Island, and a trip to the crocodile farm; a few also focus on the migrating birds. Some Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve tours stop at a riverside market or Can Gio Museum on route to the reserve.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve is a great destination for lovers of nature; look for small-group tours that focus on the wilderness, not the farms.
- The mangrove forests attract mosquitoes, so bring plenty of bug spray.
- With monkeys, crocodiles, and mangroves, Can Gio can make a great day trip with kids. Be sure to bring water, sunscreen, and snacks.
How to Get There
Around 27 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Can Gio island is most easily reached from Saigon by the Greenlines ferry, although schedules make that route most suitable for visitors who want to stay overnight. Assuming you want to join a boat trip on arrival, book a Can Gio tour that includes door-to-door round-trip transfers.
When to Get There
You can visit Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve (Khu dự trữ sinh quyển rừng ngập mặn Cần Giờ)
at any time of year, but if migrating birds are part of the attraction, you should come during the breeding season (November until May). Among the myriad species you can hope to see are spot-billed pelicans and painted storks.
Can Gio: the Mangrove Ecosystem
Bizarre shrubs that thrive in brackish coastal waters, mangroves create their own unique ecosystems, and the Can Gio biosphere is home to over 200 species of fauna. While the animals you’re most likely to see on a Can Gio tour are macaques, crocodiles, fruit bats, and (in season) migratory birds, the island is also home to king cobras and fishing cats.