Monkey Island Eco Forest Park

Nature Reserve in Can Gio

This island is home to a monkey sanctuary, which houses at least a hundred wild but unafraid simians. Take care: like monkeys everywhere, the line between cheeky charmer, thieving pest and dangerous beast is very fine. Keep a firm hold on your possessions.

While this is the most accessible part of the forest to visit, it’s hard to stomach the cruel conditions in which the stars of the adjacent animal circus (including bears, dogs and monkeys) are kept.

The circus operates mainly on holiday weekends for domestic Vietnamese tourists, and has been criticised strongly by animal rights organisation Animals Asia. See www.animalsasia.org for the latest information and a petition to close this circus on what is a Unesco-accredited island reserve.

The motorboat ride (about 250,000d) through the waterways to the VC’s Rung Sac base is the absolute highlight of a visit. At the reconstructed base, dummies portray VC cadres sawing open unexploded American bombs in order to salvage the explosives, and wrestling with crocodiles, which were once common here but are now confined to crocodile farms like the one by the entrance. A small museum has wildlife displays, along with exhibits relating to local war history and archaeological finds.

Coming from HCMC, Monkey Island is to the right of the main road, about 34km past the ferry.

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