One of the best day trips we found in Ho Chi Minh was Monkey Island (Can Gio). After lots of research online we wanted to share all the info we found with you:
Monkey Island is located two hours south of Ho Chi Minh City. Travel agencies in the city offer day-trips to Can Gio where you can see the monkeys, crocodiles, a mangrove park, and a Vietnamese military base from the war. Day-trips costs from 25-100 USD and includes lunch, tickets, and transport.
Since the different agencies offer different experiences at different price points, we will discuss what fits you best.
We will also give you some practical info that you will find useful.
Ho Chi Minh to Monkey Island
It is best to book your tour to Monkey Island at least a day in advance. The group-tours to Can Gio often leave early in the morning around 6:30-8:00 AM.
On most of the tours, your English-speaking tour guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel, and from there you will be transported by aircon bus to Dan Xay Bridge. The ride bus ride takes about two hours from Ho Chi Minh City.
From there you will get to ride the ferry for a good 30 min (or speedboat depending on your tour). All your entry fees are usually included in the packages.
After witnessing all the beautiful nature from the boat ride in the Vam Sat Eco-Tourist Zone you will be taken over to a rather dirty beach where you can buy some seafood or get a complimentary lunch depending on what tour you are on.
There may also be a pool available for those who want to swim after (again it depends on your package). The water by the beach is rather dirty, and I would not recommend swimming in it. This part of the trip is pretty underwhelming, but the lunch was nice.
Tips for Monkey Island
After a break at lunch, you get to finally see Monkey Island!
On Monkey Island you get to spend some time with the monkeys. We recommend that you wear shoes and socks on this day-trip, as the monkies have a tendency to try to swipe at your feet. And for everybody with long hair, it can be a good idea to put your hair in a bun to avoid having the monkies pull your hair.
These monkies also have a tendency to steal anything you have on you! So keep your lose items like hats, sunglasses, phones stored away here. Also try to not bring any food you intend to eat yourself, as it will be monkey food very quickly.
Even our guide had his water bottle snatched by the monkies so definitively be very careful to put your things away.
The monkies are rather wild, and aggressive. So if you bring younger children please be mindful.
For Older People
For those who don’t want to walk around too much in the sun and have fun with the monkies, there are huts around where you can sit down and relax for a bit. This is especially nice for those who are a bit older, and you can still watch a bit from a distance.
Monkey island is rather flat, so if you are older you can still enjoy Monkey Island.
After you are done playing with all the monkies, there are a few more stops along the in the reserve.
Mangrove Tour, Crocodiles, and Rung Sac Guerrilla Base
There is a lot of mangrove around the area, which is surprisingly beautiful. Depending on your tour, you may get to canoe through here! (we will recommend some tour options further down).
There are lots of other wild-life to see in the mangrove, this includes a crocodile farm! We heard that there would be fruit bats as well, but unfortunately, there were only a few when we visited.
After all of this, you get to see one of the military bases from the war in Vietnam. It is quite fascinating to see how the Vietcong in the area lived during the war. And while all these day trips are advertised as Monkey Island tours, the military base, and crocodile park are a big part of the experience.
At this point, you are probably satisfied with wildlife and monkies. So you are taken back to the mainland the same way you made it to the island. From here you will be transported back to your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.
After all this, you should be back at your hotel between 4:00 AM-06:00 AM. So there is still a good portion left of the day to do as you please.
The Right 1 Day Tour to Can Gio for You
After doing tons of research, we have found some good day-trip options at various price points.
Most of the tour agencies in the city will offer tours to Monkey Island. And on many of them will offer similar itineraries. The cheaper ones have fewer stops on the trip, and the transport will be slower.
We found out that most of the tours will offer friendly guides that speak English, and that all transport and entry fees are included in the price.
For the very cheap ones around 25 USD, you get transported by bus and ferry, and from there you get to see some of the attractions. You will, however, end up in a larger tour group, and the transport will be a bit slower.
There is often no food included at this price point. And you may miss out on some of the activities depending on the tour group you chose.
But for such a low price you get good value for your money. You can find lots of these tours around District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City.
Spending a bit more for more activities and food
If you shop around you will also be able to find a few different options for about 50 USD like this trip here. But I think you can get better deals if you have a look around the different travel agencies in the city.
At around 50 USD you can usually get lunch and a smaller group.
Luxurious Speed-Boat Tours
For about 100 USD, the more comfortable and luxurious trips like this one become an option.
While more expensive, you get a much smoother trip. You get a complimentary breakfast, as well as lunch. And after driving down to the river you get to ride in a luxurious speedboat instead of the ferry.
If you have the money to spend, this is a great way to see Monkey Island.
Is the trip to Monkey Island Worth it?
If you have half a day to spare on your trip to Ho Chi Minh City, then a trip to Monkey Island is a good way to spend it.
While it is a very touristy destination, going there for the monkies alone is worth it if you have never seen monkies before. Even though they are pretty aggressive, they are very cute.
The beach along the way is very underwhelming, and the monkies are only a part of the tour, but the military base and wildlife all along the mangrove is also a great experience.
We wrote an article on how to get to Con Dao Island from Ho Chi Minh City that will interest you.
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