Finding new spots to visit while living in Ho Chi Minh City is not that easy if you are looking for a quiet chilled nature-like place. But, there are some places that offer the tranquility of nature and Can Gio is one of them.
Can Gio is still Ho Chi Minh City and therefore there are local buses connecting the center and the far-out place. Can Gio is not as crowded and crazy as the rest of the city, at least in terms of traffic. And why did I decide to visit this area? Because of a place called monkey island that seemed to be involved by nature and I was craving a nature trek.
Ho Chi Minh center to Can Gio
To get from the city center to Can Gio, I hopped on bus number 20 which took me to the ferry that crossed the river to the other side. Yes, this part of the city is not yet connected by a bridge so there is a ferry service operating to connect both sides of the river. As far as I know, there is a direct local bus to go to Can Gio. It is bus number 75 that costs 30K dong but only has 3 departure schedules daily. That was very limited so I opted to use another bus route.
So first I hopped on bus number 20 that took me to the ferry and cost 6000 dongs. Then the ferry was 1000 dong and didn’t take long to do the crossing, and finally, bus number 90 cost 7000 dongs and goes all the way to the sea where there is nowhere else to go further.
This was my choice and it was easy as the bus stops are really next to the ferry. Once on bus number 90 I just asked the driver to stop at Tourism Rung Sac Gio. The bus stop is very near and I just needed to walk about 5 minutes to get to the entrance of the park. The entrance fee is 35K dongs which is acceptable.
Monkey Island Ho Chi Minh
The first thing you should be aware of here is that the reason why they call it monkey island has a purpose. Monkeys can be found at the very beginning of the park, and lots of them. A bit further you will not find them anymore…
But, these monkeys are the worst monkeys I ever had to deal with in Southeast Asia. They are professional thieves and they will steal everything they can from you. EVERYTHING! The first thing that happened to me as soon as I saw people was listening to their warnings. Don’t wear glasses, hats, shiny things, absolutely nothing that may tease the animals, and boy they are too easily teased. But, I wear prescription glasses… You can not just ask me to take them off. I can’t lol. So I put a chain on them and while walking near the monkeys I always had my hands on my glasses. Backpack in front and protect your belongings carefully. I was being careful and even with all my attention paid to my glasses, I couldn’t avoid having one bastard trying to steal them!! They sit nearby and you have nowhere else to go but walk near them. As soon as I walked by he grabbed my glasses from behind in such a fast way that I couldn’t even have a reaction. Luckily I was already holding my glasses otherwise they would be gone. Still, they managed to steal a unicorn I had hanging on a bag that I thought I have hidden properly, but the bastards found a way to it. I had a monkey climbing on me from the back as if I was a tree and pulling the unicorn with such strength that the thing couldn’t resist. That was actually scary having the monkey jumping on me like that. He literally climbed my legs!! And why do they do this? People find it funny and some of them tease the monkeys. They do it because they know if the people want their belongings back, they will have to exchange them for something the monkey likes. They are not dumb!! They don’t accept just anything! They want food or drinks… saw a guy struggling to get his hat back. Scary monkeys. Hated this part!
There are also some crocodiles at the beginning. They are in some ponds and you can pay for some food to feed them. I think they are kept there as an attraction.
Then, what I was thinking to do was a boat trip through the mangrove forest. Yes, this place is nice because it is based in a mangrove forest that is very pleasant and I was willing to spend some time in nature. I saw the boat’s departure spot and tried to ask people how could I get on. Not a single soul was helpful or even pretended to care. There were a bunch of people around noticing that I was trying to get info to go on the boat and they all ignored me successfully! Wow I confess I was kinda surprised. This is not Thailand anymore. It would never happen there I thought. I found not a single friendly person on Monkey Island. They were all Vietnamese. Bad luck this day I guess…
Since no one dared to help me and I saw the trail ahead, I decided to walk instead, and I’m glad I did. It was such a pleasant walk and silence that I was happy no one helped me before otherwise I wouldn’t have had this experience. I thought I would be simply walking through the forest until the path finishes, but I didn’t know that the path stops in a “ Cu Chi-like” place. Yes, this is a tourist attraction that gave me Cu Chi feelings. In the middle of the jungle, there are these kinda war remnants with jungle huts, people figures, marks that talk about the war, and even movies about it. I was surprised. There were several huts with war information, and several military figures alluding to that time spread across the area to give it a more real feel. This was where the boats were heading! So I was even happier to know I didn’t hop on one cause the place was not so far…
From here on you can’t go any further. So I went all the way back through the forest trying to see some life among the trees and muddy waters. It was still a nice walk. I liked to visit the place but I thought it would take me longer to see it all.
As it didn’t take long to visit and I still had a lot of time, I decided to go back to the street and hop on the same bus all the way down to the sea. I left the bus when the sea was nearby and went on a search to find it. Not bad. Very quiet and relaxing. I actually didn’t visit the beach, but I know there is a beach not far from this bus route, so maybe another day I will do the same journey to meet this beach that is probably the closest to the city center. And I’m sure it will not be a crowded one. The rest of the day I just wandered around the area looking at things and being stared at haha. Surely not many foreigners come this far out. I got back to Ho Chi Minh the same way. It was a nice day filled with relaxing vibes, a great Ho Chi Minh city getaway.