Ca Mau, the southernmost province of Vietnam, is located in the Mekong Delta and has three sides adjacent to the sea, the East Sea to the east and the Gulf of Thailand to the west and south. Visitors to Ca Mau will have the opportunity to see the mangrove forest that stretches along the coast, interact with friendly locals, and enjoy excellent regional specialties. In this travel guide to Ca Mau, we will take you through some of the best things to do, see, and experience in the region.
When to go
Although Ca Mau has a pleasant climate year-round, the dry season, which runs from December to April, is the best time to visit. During this period, the weather is mild and dry, which makes it perfect for outdoor activities such as exploring the mangrove forests, visiting the bird sanctuary, and taking a boat trip through the forest at the Ca Mau Cape National Park.
On the other hand, the rainy season lasts from May to November, characterized by heavy rains and occasional floods. If you are planning to visit during this period, it is advisable to be prepared with rain gear and waterproof footwear.
If you visit during the seventh and eighth month of the lunar calendar, you will have a chance to enjoy many of the delicacies of this land, such as Ca Mau Crab, Ca Mau Pancake, and Herring Salad.
What to do
Ca Mau Cape
Ca Mau Cape, located in the southernmost tip of Vietnam, is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking to explore Vietnam’s natural beauty and cultural landmarks. At Ca Mau Cape, visitors can witness the sunrise over the East Sea and the sunset over the West Sea, making it a unique location in Vietnam.
Ca Mau Cape is more than 100 kilometers from Ca Mau City center and is the last point on the Ho Chi Minh Highway. The highway starts from Pac Bo Village in Cao Bang Province, passes through 28 provinces and cities, and ends at the southernmost tip of Vietnam. This landmark has the image of a ship reaching out to the sea and the flag tower at Dat Mui, a building with three floors, 41 meters tall, modeled after the architecture of the Hanoi flag tower. You can enjoy a panoramic view of the mangrove forest and the East Sea from the top of the tower.
Ca Mau Cape is located in the Dat Mui commune of the Ngoc Hien district. It is the southernmost point of Vietnam and is marked by the national coordinate GPS 0001, with a five-pointed star on top. The landmark is more than just a point on the map; it has long been a symbol of Vietnam’s sovereignty.
The region around Ca Mau Cape is home to the Ca Mau National Park, with over 42,000 hectares of land and sandbanks. It features a unique and diverse ecosystem, with fauna such as fish, shrimp, crab, clams, and snails, and flora such as mangroves, duoc, vet, coc, and ban. The mangrove forest at Ca Mau Cape is one of the largest in Vietnam and serves as a natural barrier against typhoons and floods.
Travelers to Ca Mau Cape can also visit the Culture and Tourism Park, where they can view the sacred national coordinate and enjoy delicious seafood at the Thuy Ta Restaurant. The park also offers a vantage point to witness the panoramic sea and sky view.
Ca Mau Cape is a must-visit destination for travelers exploring Vietnam’s natural beauty and cultural landmarks. It offers visitors an opportunity to witness the majestic beauty of nature and appreciate Vietnam’s cultural heritage.
Forestry Fishery 184
Located in the Cha La Hamlet of Tam Giang Commune in the Nam Can District, the Forestry Fishery 184 covers an area of 252 hectares in the heart of the Nam Can mangrove forest. This ecological tourist destination uniquely represents the characteristic features of the Ca Mau estuarine mangrove forest ecosystem. The conservation area boasts 44 species of plants, of which 32 are typical of the mangrove forest ecosystem, with the dominant species being over 20 years old.
In addition to these plants, there are several rare species, such as the lumnitzera racemose, Rhizophora mucronata, and Aegiceras corniculatum. The conservation area also supports diverse fauna, including six bird species, five mammal species, two reptile species, and two amphibian species. Visitors can explore the area’s diverse flora and fauna by taking a boat ride deep into the mangrove forest, where they may be surprised to spot monkeys.
The forest also has a bird sanctuary, where several bird species reside and breed. Among them are thousands of herons, egrets, and other bird species such as water rails, snipes, and bitterns. Additionally, larger birds like the stork and pelican also nest here. The forest also provides a conducive environment for various reptile species, such as the king cobra, clouded monitor lizard, water monitor lizard, and pythons.
The Forestry Fishery 184 conservation area has invested in constructing a system of forest bridges and a restaurant to serve tourists. The conservation area’s rich biodiversity is preserved for research, study, tourism, and sightseeing purposes. The forest’s lush vegetation and vibrant wildlife make it a perfect destination for nature lovers and adventurers.
World biosphere reserve
The Ca Mau Cape World Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO-recognized natural mangrove ecosystem, comprises Ca Mau Cape National Park, U Minh Ha National Park, and the West Sea coastal protection forest area. The reserve offers visitors an opportunity to take a boat trip through the forest at Ca Mau Cape National Park and participate in mangrove planting. The area is home to various flora and fauna, and travelers can also experience bee-eating with local people in the U Minh Ha forest.
In 2006, the Vietnamese government converted the Vồ Dơi conservation area into U Minh Ha National Park, which spans over 8,256 hectares in the U Minh and Trần Văn Thời districts. The park features a distinctive plant and animal ecosystem of waterlogged land on a layer of mudstone created by long-standing plant material accumulation. The unique plant species found in the park include tram, mop, nan, say, and choai, while notable animal species include the long-nosed rat snake, slow loris, deer, long-tailed macaque, wild boar, turtle, snake, freshwater fish, birds, and insects. In 2009, UNESCO added U Minh Ha National Park and Mũi Cà Mau National Park to its list of world biosphere reserves.
Besides conserving and restoring natural landscapes, ecological environments, and biodiversity, U Minh Ha National Park is also responsible for preserving and developing rare animal and plant species, cultural and historical heritage sites, and research opportunities for scientific inquiry, tourism, and development. The park’s Ramsar site is recognized as the second in Vietnam and the 2,088th worldwide, covering 41,862 hectares of the natural area within the Mũi Cà Mau biosphere reserve.
The Mũi Cà Mau National Park is located in the Mũi Cà Mau biosphere reserve, which UNESCO recognized in April 2010. The park spans 41,862 hectares, featuring diverse fauna and flora, including many endangered species, such as the great hornbill, white-winged duck, and mangrove pitta. The area is also home to many fish, crab, and mollusk species, including horseshoe crabs, and numerous bird species, such as migratory shorebirds. In 2013, the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Cà Mau Provincial People’s Committee held a ceremony to recognize Mũi Cà Mau as the fifth Ramsar site in Vietnam and the 2,088th in the world.
Ngoc Hien Bird Sanctuary, located in Ngoc Hien District, covers an area of 130 hectares and is home to a diverse range of bird species and flora. The sanctuary offers stunning views of red alluvial river branches among vast green swathes of mangroves. If you visit early in the morning, you can witness thousands of birds foraging or flying across the sky to return to their nests.
Other bird sanctuaries in Ca Mau include Tu Su Bird Garden and the bird sanctuary in the heart of Ca Mau Town. Ca Mau is home to many bird sanctuaries with hundreds of bird species, including many rare ones that need conservation. They gather in the mangrove and cajuput forests of the area.
The bird sanctuary in Ca Mau Town is unique, situated within the President Ho Chi Minh Memorial Area in Khóm 1, Phường 1, in the city’s heart. The sanctuary spans 4.5 hectares and is home to more than 10,000 waterbirds, which come here to breed and settle. Many species of birds, such as herons, egrets, storks, and cormorants, can be found here, making it a must-visit destination for bird lovers.
Ngoc Hien Bird Sanctuary boasts a diverse ecosystem, with the Bay Hap River and interlaced rivers creating beautiful natural scenery. The bird garden has the largest number of amphibians, reptiles, and mammals in the Mekong Delta. The best time to visit the sanctuary is in the morning when you can witness birds foraging for food. In the evening, flocks of birds call each other to return to their nests after a day of foraging, creating a charming spectacle.
The sanctuary is a breeding ground for many bird species, with up to 10,000 individuals breeding during the rainy season. The most common species include titmice, white storks, gray herons, madden, amphibians, and reptiles. Ngoc Hien bird sanctuary is an ecological area that needs to be preserved, and Ca Mau tourism invests heavily in bait and trees to retain resident birds.
In conclusion, the bird sanctuaries in Ca Mau are home to many rare bird species, making them an essential destination for bird lovers. The sanctuaries offer stunning natural scenery and a chance to witness birds in their natural habitat.
Hon Khoai Island
Hon Khoai Island is an impressive national, historical, and cultural relic in Ngoc Hien District, Ca Mau Province, Vietnam. This stunning island is characterized by its rocky ranges, undulating hills, and green forests that provide incredible scenic beauty. The island is 14.6 kilometers away from the mainland, covering an area of about 4 km2, and the peak of the island is 318 meters above sea level.
Hon Khoai Island has many other names, such as Đảo Giáng Tiên, Hòn Độc Lập, and Poulop, which were given during the French colonial period. The local people call the island Hòn Khoai because its shape resembles a giant sweet potato. In the past, many people came to this island from the mainland to cultivate crops and fruits such as cassava and fatty yam. Even now, sometimes you can still find cassava and yam bushes on the island, which might be why it is called Hòn Khoai.
The island is surrounded by several smaller islands, such as Hòn Lớn, Hòn Nhỏ, Hòn Tượng, Hòn Sao, and Hòn Đồi Mồi. There are two beaches on Hon Khoai Island, including Bãi Lớn, located in the southeast, and Bãi Nhỏ, located in the north. A three km-long asphalt road connects Bãi Lớn to the peak of the island, which was built during the French colonial period. The road around the island is bumpy with scattered rocks, providing a challenging yet adventurous experience.
The island has many streams, including two freshwater streams that flow all year round, providing water for the island, fishing boats in the area, and the local people in Rạch Gốc and Tân Ân. Hon Khoai Island is famous for its pristine forests, which belong to the tropical island ecosystem. The vegetation is diverse, with over 1,400 species, many of which have high economic value. There are fruit trees such as mango and coconut and timber trees such as lim and bằng lăng, making Hon Khoai Island a valuable natural resource.
Hon Da Bac Island
Hon Da Bac Island, located about 50 km from the city of Ca Mau and 500 meters from the mainland, is a cluster of three islands: Ong Ngo, Da Le, and Da Bac. It covers an area of 6.34 ha and is situated in the west of the Ca Mau peninsula, belonging to Kinh Hon Hamlet, Khanh Binh Tay commune, Tran Van Thoi district. Hon Da Bac is not a large island, but it is very convenient for sea exploitation vehicles to anchor and avoid storms.
Hon Da Bac Island is estimated to have been formed 180 million years ago and features pristine landscapes and colorful rocks. The highest peak of the island is about 50 meters above sea level. The island is a beautiful destination for tourists and a strategically important location for economic, national defense, and security purposes.
Looking at the map, Hon Da Bac Island appears as a watchtower guarding the skies and seas in the southwest of Cape Ca Mau. The island is surrounded by thousands of granite rocks of all sizes that stack up to form various shapes as if arranged by human hands. Visitors can see the footprints of fairies, fairy wells, and tiger paws when walking on Hon Da Bac Island. On the eastern peak of Hon Da Bac Island, there are large rocks and a relatively broad surface. Between the two rocks is a deep hole that looks like a foot. Legend states that the foot belongs to a fairy, and the rock is a fairy court.
The island has small temples, such as Hang Temple and Tinh Do Temple. Notably, at the highest peak of Hon Da Bac Island, there is a temple dedicated to Ong Nam Hai – a place to worship the 13-meter-long fish bones of Ong. On May 20, 1995, the fish was swept into the Ong Doc River mouth area. About three days later, Ong Luy (dead), and the fishermen of Song Doc buried it. In 1996, they brought the fish bones back to Hon Da Bac Island for worship. Local fishermen are grateful to Ong for rescuing them in the event of big waves and strong winds at sea. Therefore, they worship Ong as a heroic figure who saves needy people. According to legend, the fish was a prince who fell in love with a fairy and was later transformed into a fish to stay with his beloved.
Khai Long Beach
Khai Long Beach is a beautiful sandy beach located in Khai Long Hamlet, Dat Mui Commune, Ngoc Hien District. It stretches along the coast and is surrounded by a pristine mangrove ecosystem. The beach is about 4 km long and varies in width from several dozen meters to over 100 meters. It covers an area of 230 hectares and continues expanding towards the sea yearly.
During low tide, the beach expands and forms beautiful, undulating sand dunes that resemble waves. The surrounding environment is also untouched and magnificent, with a clean ecological system of marine forests.
Inside the beach, there is a wild species of seaweed called “rau muống biển,” which blooms with purple flowers similar to that of the “hoa tường vi” plant. Along the coast of Khai Long, many marine creatures such as shrimp, fish, clams, oysters, and other shellfish species can be found living and nesting.
Khai Long Beach is adjacent to the Mui Ca Mau National Park, which is located in the world’s biosphere reserve of Mui Ca Mau. The park is home to the Nam Can mangrove forest, the Ca Mau Cape, and is adjacent to the Hon Khoai island group and the Vam Lung pier, which receives weapons from the North to the South via the Ho Chi Minh sea route.
Cai Tau Rambai Garden
Cai Tau Rambai Garden, located in Nguyen Phich Commune, U Minh District, Cà Mau Province, Vietnam, is famous for its many rambai trees. Visitors can enjoy the peaceful scenery by sitting on a canoe and traveling through the small canals while savoring the sweet and fragrant rambai fruit. Cai Tau rambai fruits are known for being large, succulent, and having a thin skin with a sweet and slightly sour taste. When the first rain of the season begins to fall, it is a sign that the rambai is ripe, and many local gardens are opened for travelers to enjoy Ca Mau’s special fruit.
Cai Tau has long been known as the “kingdom” of the golden fruit in the Mekong Delta. To the people of U Minh, Cai Tau rambai is not just a fruit but also a symbol of the region. It represents a deep connection between people and fruit trees. The locals say that nearly a century ago, seafarers brought rambai trees from the islands and planted them on this land. People then distributed the seedlings to grow on their own land. The unique taste of the sweet and sour rambai quickly became popular, and the people of Nguyen Phich developed it into a garden until today.
During the “golden age” of Cai Tau rambai (around 1990 and earlier), almost every house in the area had rambai trees. Some had only a few for eating, while others had over one hectare of land. In some gardens, there were several hundred rambai trees that had been growing for decades and produced tens of tons of fruit every year.
Cai Tau rambai is known for its large size, thin skin, juicy flesh, and sweet and slightly sour taste. The fruit is ripe at the end of spring when the first heavy rains of the season fall, and it turns yellow and looks attractive. In recent years, during the annual holiday season of April 30th and May 1st, many visitors came to the gardens to experience the taste of this special fruit.
Overall, Cai Tau Rambai Garden is an excellent place to relax, enjoy the scenery, and taste the delicious rambai fruit, which has become an essential part of the local culture in U Minh, Cà Mau.
The Trem River is a stunning waterway that flows for about 42 kilometers, originating from the junction of Tan Bang and Can Gao, and eventually merging with the Ong Doc river. This winding river is known for its ever-changing waters, which shift colors depending on the season. During the rainy season, the water turns dark brown, with striking blue water hyacinth flowers floating along the stream. In contrast, the dry season sees the river turn milky white, with lush green nipa palms lining its banks.
One of the most unique features of Trem River is the U Minh mangrove forest, which is located in the river basin. The forest is home to over 300 species of plants and animals, including a collection of 130 plant species belonging to 62 families that are protected in 100 hectares of land. The primary forest in U Minh remains undisturbed by humans, and visitors to the area can spot a variety of birds, animals, and fish.
Two gardens of U Minh, Upper and Lower, stretch along the poetic river, which has been an inspiration to many artists over the years. In fact, the novel “The Trem River” by Duong Ha is famous for its tragic love story between a man named Trieu Vi and a rural girl named My Lan. The story is set against the backdrop of the Trem River, with its gentle and romantic atmosphere leaving a lasting impression on readers.
Trem River is a remarkable destination that offers visitors an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Vietnam. Its ever-changing waters and rich biodiversity make it a unique and fascinating location to explore. With its rich cultural history and stunning natural landscapes, Trem River is a must-visit for any traveler to Vietnam.
Thi Tuong Lagoon
Thi Tuong Lagoon, also known as Dam Ba Tuong, is the largest lagoon in the Mekong Delta region, covering an area of about 700 hectares. The lagoon is located in close proximity to the Ba Keo canal, which connects it to the Gulf of Thailand through the My Binh river. The lagoon is about 10 kilometers in length, 2 kilometers in width, and has a maximum depth of 1.5 meters. It is divided into three segments: the upper, middle, and lower lagoons. Thi Tuong Lagoon is an ideal location for fishing, and visitors can enjoy delicious seafood while taking in the breathtaking scenery.
The lagoon is not only a source of livelihood for the locals, but it is also steeped in legend. According to the legend, Mrs. Tuong, who was one of the first people to settle in Ca Mau, refused to give up her land to Lord Tiger’s birds, who were sent to take stones for the sea backfilling. She persevered day and night, chasing the birds away, and as a result, the lagoon was formed. The people of Ca Mau named the lagoon after her in honor of her courage and determination.
Thi Tuong Lagoon is surrounded by lush vegetation, and the scenery is simply breathtaking. The lagoon is a popular spot for fishing, and it is not uncommon to see boats and fishermen casting their nets on the water’s surface. At night, the lagoon transforms into a stunning display of thousands of sparkling lights. Tourists can enjoy the beauty of nature and sample the local specialties of fish and shrimp while exploring the Thi Tuong Lagoon.
Explore the Delights of Ca Mau’s Seafood Cuisine
Ca Mau is famous for its seafood delicacies that draw foodies from far and wide. From crabs, mud clams, and sea snails to mangrove crabs, spotted scats, and mudfish, the region offers a diverse range of seafood dishes that cater to all tastes and preferences.
One of the most popular dishes is Ca Mau crab, which is known for its sweet taste and freshness. You can choose from a variety of cooking styles, such as boiling, steaming, charcoal grilling, stir-frying with tamarind sauce, or in a hot pot or crab noodle soup. The crabs with roe are particularly sought-after and cost between VND300,000 and VND500,000 per kilogram.
For a unique taste, try the mud clams that are chewier and sweeter than those found in other regions. You can enjoy them in a sour soup, boiled, steamed, stir-fried, or grilled with scallion oil. Sea snails are another must-try delicacy that can be found in mangrove forests and are often stir-fried with coconut milk.
Mangrove crabs are a specialty that you cannot miss when visiting Ca Mau. Their distinct and irresistible flavor sets them apart from regular crabs, and you can savor them in dishes like mangrove crab salad with sticky rice or boiled or stir-fried with tamarind sauce.
Try the braised spotted scats with bush grapes if you’re feeling adventurous. This fish has a chewy and sweet taste, and the sourness from the fruit adds an exciting twist to the dish. Mudfish is another unusual delicacy that has firm meat and no fishy flavor. You can try it grilled with salt and chili, deep-fried, or in a sweet-and-sour soup.
For a unique taste experience, try bee pupae salad, a local specialty that uses bee pupae processed into porridge, stir-fried, or salad. Mam ong, fermented bee, is a unique specialty you can enjoy with white rice or pork belly rolls with vegetables.
In addition to seafood, cattails are a popular vegetable that grows along the edges of lagoons and lakes. You can enjoy them in different dishes, such as cattail salad with seafood or pickled cattails. And don’t forget to take home some of the freshest and most affordable seafood, as well as pickled cattails and pure honey from the U Minh Melaleuca forest, to share with your family and friends. Ca Mau’s seafood cuisine is truly a feast for the senses that you won’t want to miss!
Where to stay
When looking for accommodations in Dat Mui, it’s best to stay in the city center for easy access to dining and entertainment options. While there aren’t many hotels available on online booking platforms, you can contact hotels directly to make reservations. Prices for hotels range from VND200,000 to VND600,000 per night, depending on the quality of the accommodation.
For a luxurious stay, the four-star Muong Thanh Luxury Hotel is a top option with a nightly rate of around VND1,400,000. Another option is the three-star Anh Nguyet Hotel, which costs approximately VND900,000 per night.
If you’re seeking a more immersive experience in Dat Mui’s natural surroundings, consider staying at eco-tourism destinations or homestays like Rung Duoc, Huong Dat Mui, Dan Ba Khia, Ba Su, Tu Nhuan, or Nam Huong. Prices for these accommodations start at VND70,000 per person per night.
Getting to Ca Mau
Ca Mau is located over 300 kilometers southwest of Ho Chi Minh City. The following are different options for traveling to Ca Mau:
By plane: If you are coming from the north, you can take a flight to Can Tho with Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, or Bamboo Airlines. Ticket prices range from VND1,500,000 to VND2,000,000 ($63.88 to $85.17). Once you arrive at Can Tho Airport, you can take a passenger bus to Ca Mau. The distance between Can Tho and Ca Mau is about 150 kilometers, and a bus ticket costs from VND125,000 to VND150,000.
By Bus: From Ho Chi Minh City, you can take a passenger bus or drive yourself. There are several reliable bus companies, such as Phuong Trang, Giap Diep, Mai Linh, and Tuan Hung, that offer one-way fares between VND190,000 and VND200,000. The journey usually takes 7 to 8 hours, and buses usually depart in the evening.
By boat: Boats and motorboats are also popular modes of transportation in Ca Mau due to the interlaced system of rivers and canals.