Ca Mau

Introducing Ca Mau

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This 300-year-old land is the ending point of the S-shaped Vietnam. In this province, Ca Mau Cape, located 180 kilometers away from Ca Mau City, is the only place in Vietnam where people can see both ocean sunrise and sunset in one day. A place where humans and nature co-exist in harmony, Ca Mau is dotted with bird parks, swamplands, channels and forests. Among these natural beauty, U Minh National Park, laying right beside the Gulf of Thailand, is the habitat of many unique animals and plants. In terms of cultural heritages, the most visited destinations are Tan Hung Temple and Quan Am Pagoda.

Ca Mau province is located in the southern tip of Vietnam with 307 kilometers long coastline. The province shares the common border with Kien Giang, Bac Lieu provinces on the north and east; the other directions are surrounded by the East Sea. Its name came from the Khmers who inhabited the area before the arrival of the Vietnamese, “Ca Mau” means "black" in Khmer. 

With its left shoulder braced against the Bac Lieu Canal, Highway 1 heads westwards from Bac Lieu towards the Ca Mau Peninsula, which constitutes not only the end of mainland Vietnam but of Southeast Asia as well. In this part of the country, waterways are the most efficient means of travel – a point pressed home by the slender ferries moored in all the villages the road passes. Much of this pancake-flat region of the delta is composed of silt deposited by the Mekong, and the swamplands covering portions of it are home to a variety of wading birds. In addition to rice cultivation, shrimp farming is a major local concern – along the way you’re sure to spot shrimp ponds, demarcated by mud banks that have been baked and cracked crazily by the sun.

CA MAU itself, Vietnam’s southernmost town of any size, has a frontier feel to it, though rapid development is changing that fast. Things have changed since 1989 when travel writer Justin Wintle described it as a “scrappy clutter…a backyard town in a backyard province”, though there are still pockets of squalor between the glitzy new buildings. Ca Mau sprawls across a vast area, with broad boulevards connected by potholed lanes and a couple of busy bridges spanning the Phung Hiep Canal that splits the town in two. To the west, the town is bordered by the Ganh Hao River, which snakes past as though trying to wriggle free before the encroaching stilthouses squeeze the life from it.

Although few Western travellers currently visit Ca Mau, there are now speedboats to Rach Gia that cover the journey in less than three hours, and improvements to Highway 63 make the journey by road less arduous, so incorporating Ca Mau in a circular tour of the delta is now a tempting possibility, as it takes you off the tourist trail and through classic delta scenes.

See

There is a bird park (Lâm Viên) in the city with thousands of birds nesting there. Nearby destinations include U Minh National Park (about 20 km from the city) and Lower U Minh National Park, about 2.5 hours by express boat. Both national parks protect wetlands.

U Minh NationaI park is not primarily for visiting, but to preserve the fauna and flora. Follow the signs to U Minh Ho (26km from Ca Mau) and you will drive. A motorbike or bycicle is needed, and there is a paved road with banana trees on both sides. You will see some long canals full of mangroves and a lot of colored and big birds, snakes and other animals can be seen. The area is surrounded by small canals, swamps and wetlands and it is not recommended to walk off the road. The road ends more or less in the centre of the park where a 'Ranger station' and small path can be seen. In the north of the park, accessible from the northeast road, there is a jail, and some prisoners can be seen doing useful work for the community.

Dat Mui National park is located 90km in the south of Ca Mau. Can be reached by boat from Ca Mau (4 hours) or better from Nam Cam (1 1/2 hours), be ready to pay an exagerate amount of money (rate between 2milions and 500.000 dong, it depends on your negotiations skills). A third option is possible and you need at least 2 from Nam Cam: by motoscooteer or dirty bike or mountbike. At the small roundabout of Nam Cam turn right and go straight, you will find a dirty road after that you will cross a new bridge then dirty road again for 1,5 km and then another big new bridge on the left. Just at the end of the bridge turn 180 right and after 100 meters left. A dirty road, in a very good shape, and sometimes cemented road stars for about 6-7 km. Then the road ends...a small bridge take you to the last village of Vietnam and turn left and a small paved path is driving south to the peninsula and the national park, at the end turn right and after other 5km...you are at Dat Mui.

 

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