For those who are in love with the beauty of wild nature, Tra Su Cajuput Forest will be the ideal choice for you to explore. The forest is considered the most interesting and attractive tourist attraction when you come to An Giang Province, Vietnam.
Tra Su Forest, also referred to as Tra Su Flooded Forest, Tra Su Mangrove Forest, Tra Su Bird Sanctuary or Tra Su Melaleuca Forest, is an ecosystem of cajuput trees that line dusty dirt paths and home to a large variety of birds and other wildlife.
Tra Su Cajuput Forest is located near Tra Su mountain area of Tinh Bien, An Giang. In 1983, from a desolate lowland area heavily contaminated with alum, the forest was tested by Tinh Bien Forest Enterprise by planting Cajuput trees in order to contribute to soil improvement and watershed prevention. The forest is 850 ha wide in total, located in 3 communes: Vinh Trung, Van Giao and O Long Vy.
Prior to 1975, Tra Su was destroyed by the American’s bombs and became uncultivated area. After the war, authorities of An Giang province have invested to reforest cajuput and build a 12km long, 4m wide and 4m high dyke system that helps prevent the area from being swamped during flood season. The forest has been designated as a special restoration zone since 1983, with the target of becoming a renowned scientific forest and nature reserve.
Today, with the area of 850 ha with a very rich ecological ecosystem, Tra Su offers a marvelous beauty of immense wetland, emerald-green duckweed carpet and dense cajuput forest. Visitors will be overwhelmed by the forest’s magnificence while penetrating inside. Lines of cajuput trees along the waterway make the vista more alluring. Moreover, it is great to witness wide paddy fields dotted with Palmyra palm trees in proximity to the forest.
Tra Su cajuput forest has a significant effect on the water environment and climate regulation for the whole of the Seven Mountains (Bay Nui) region. It is the habitat of more than 70 species of birds and storks, of which two species named in the Vietnam Red Book are painted stork (Giang Sen) and oriental darter (Dieng Dieng). Also, there are 22 species of reptiles, 11 species of mammals, 23 species of aquatic animals. Not only rich in animals, there are up to over 140 species of flora spreading through the forest.
The forest is sub-divided into several sites to make getting around easier, that include a 3,000m2 fishing area, a 3,200m2 bird sanctuary and a 2,500m2 bat sanctuary, all of which cater to the specific individual demands of different types of tourists.
1-Best time to visit
The best time to discover Tra Su cajuput forest is from September to November – By this time of the year, when there are more water filling the rivers and ranks, the whole forest is covered with a green color, full of vitality as if all of the natural beauty gathers here, creating an extremely alive and vibrant picture of nature. This enables boats to ride around and make an incredible sight especially when the sunlight reaches down the water surface.
To admire the most vibrant perspective of the forest, you should be here from 7 A.M to 9 A.M as the weather is quite pleasant and you are rewarded to witness thousands of birds flying for food and singing songs of the wildlife. Between from 5:00 P.M and 6:30 P.M, it is also the right time to see birds returning their nests. Otherwise, you can hike to observation tower to watch closely the life of birds and storks through binoculars.
However, Tra Su is a year-round destination and it is worth to stop over for visitors traveling to Chau Doc or Mekong Delta.
To visit the forest, you will have to buy a ticket at the pier, and then rent a boat. This is undoubtedly the highlight of a tour to Tra Su Cajuput Forest. You will have the chance to take a boat tour to go deeper into the forest an explore the most valuable natural scenery of Vietnam. At first, you will slowly go through the rank to enter the core zone of the forest. On the way, you will see 2 sides filled with tall cajuput trees, covered with cool green shade that soothes your mind very well. You will also see a lot of different types of animals, particular birds.
To the core zone, you will switch from your boat to a manually controlled boat to go deep into the nook and cranny of the forest. Without any engine noise or other noisy sounds, you will just gently drift along the water, weaving between small creeks, through the cajuput canopy overhead. Here, you can see a large and thick layer of green duckweed covering the surface of the water. You can touch it and enjoy the beauty of golden flowers and cajuput, creating a wonderful picture of the nature.
Gradually going deep inside the forest, you will be able to see a lot of rare birds dwelling. With the fresh air filled with birds chirping, Tra Su is really suitable for travellers who want to escape from the noisy and dusty city to find the peace of mind among nature.
2-Check-in at The Pier and The Love Bridge
For people who love to take beautiful photos as memories, the pier and the Love Bridge are 2 places that you should never miss if you come to Tra Su Cajuput Forest.
The pier is interestingly designed with many houses for the pigeons. All the houses are made with wood and painted white and brown, together with the wooden pier and the river, creating a beautiful and romantic, vintage-looking background. Occasionally, there will be many pigeons that are looking for food on the land. When they come, you can take pictures with them very easily.
The Love Bridge (a.k.a the bamboo bridge) is also a very attractive destination to tourists. The bridge is completely built with bamboo, and it is written in the Guiness Record as “the longest bamboo bridge”. Wandering on the charming, winding bamboo bridge, visitors will enjoy the feeling of time slowing down to fully immerse in the nature. The transport network “Bamboo” is decorated like beautiful flowery roads that weave through ancient cajuput rows. No dust, no noise, the bamboo bridge is like an extended arm that supports Tra Su’s resources to grow faster.
Tip: Choose a white or light-coloured outfit to best fit with the colour of the forest and these destinations.
When finished exploring inside the forest, do not forget to stop by the Observatory (Vong Gac) to admire the entire vast Cajuput Forest through the telescope with a view of 25km wide. You will have to walk the stairs to reach the Observatory (not recommended for people with weak health condition). From here, you will be able to see many tall cajuput trees, creating a large green area on the land. You can also glimpse through the further villages of Khmer and Kinh people. If you have time, you should also visit the special handicrafts villages that produces many natural products such as silk weaving, Khmer brocade, beekeeping for honey, Cajuput essential oil, …
Tip: The fees for a one-time telescope viewing is VND10,000
3-Enjoy the Local Food of Tra Su Cajuput Forest
As the navel area of the Long Xuyen Quadrangle, there are a lot of countryside types of food here. There are some restaurants around the area, and you can there to enjoy delicious rustic dishes. A few popular dishes here are: Eel/frog/snake/chicken hot pot, grilled fish/chicken/frog, steamed chicken, quail … Among them, the most famous are the grilled ham and chilli salt, grilled snakehead fish, grilled chicken with melaleuca flower honey. In the flooding season, do not forget to enjoy the classic reishi fish hot pot!
The prices here are very affordable, and you won’t have to worry about being ripped off. A meal with bold Western flavors with a very rustic feeling in the romantic scenery of this forest will surely be an unforgettable experience for visitors.
4-How to Get to Tra Su Cajuput Forest?
- From Ho Chi Minh City: Take the bus to Long Xuyen or Chau Doc. You can buy a bus ticket at the Western Bus Station. The average price is 150,000 – 300,000 VND/way, and it takes about 4 hours travelling. Some recommended coach brands are: Phuong Trang, Thao Nguyen, Hue Nghia, Lien Hung Hiep Thanh,
- From Can Tho: Take a coach from Can Tho bus station Long Xuyen or Chau Doc. On average, there are about 4 trips per day at different times. Some brands you should choose are Van Khoa Nguyen, Phuong Trang,.. The time for travelling would be around 3 hours.
- From Chau Doc: follow the route Tan Lo Kieu Luong connecting with National Highway 91. When passing Tra Su Bridge of Nha Bang town, Tinh Bien district, turn left along Tra Su canal and keep going for a few more kilometers to reach Tra Su Cajuput Forest
- From Long Xuyen: go along Highway 91 to Chau Doc, then follow the above route.
Tips: Tra Su Cajuput Forest is located only about 30km from Chau Doc and 64km from Long Xuyen. Therefore, after arriving in An Giang, you can rent a motorbike, taxi, travel car … to continue the journey.