Tram Chim National Park, Dong Thap

A Masterpiece of the Nature in Dong Thap, Vietnam

Rachel Tran
Rachel Tran | Published: November 20, 2019

Covering an area of 7.600 ha, Tram Chim National Park was established in 1999 and situated in Tam Nong District, Dong Thap Province, Vietnam. It is designed to preserve the typical submerged in-land ecosystem that develops mainly in Ha Tien; the Plain of Reeds and U Minh areas.

    Location: Tam Nong District, Dong Thap Province
    Map to the Tram Chim National Park:

Topography and Hydrology of Tram Chim National Park

Tram Chim National Park is located 19 km to the east of the Mekong River, at an elevation of about 1m. The topography of the national park is flat, slopes slightly to the East. In the past, several natural streams and rivers flowed from west to east, distributing water from the Mekong River to the plain of reeds. Now, these streams and rivers have been replaced by a system of canals flowing through the national park.

Topography and Hydrology of Tram Chim National Park

Prior to canalization, the plain of reeds was seasonally flooded with standing water for continuous periods of up to seven months per year. Since canalization, flood waters drain more rapidly and the national park is flooded for less than six months per year. Water levels in the canals begin to rise in June, at the beginning of the rainy season. Between September and December, the national park is inundated to a depth of 2 to 4 m, with a peak in October.

Since the mid-1980s, 53 km of dykes fitted with sluices have been constructed around the national park, with the aim of impounding flood water for longer as well as reducing the lowering of the water table during the dry season. The national park is fragmented by canals into five management zones; the water level of each can be managed separately.

Biodiversity Values of Tram Chim National Park

Biodiversity values of Tram Chim National Park

The vegetation of Tram Chim National Park comprises a mixture of seasonally inundated grassland, regenerating Melaleuca forest and open swamp. Melaleuca is distributed throughout the national park, both in plantations and in scattered patches in areas of grassland or open swamp. 

There are five widespread grassland communities at Tram Chim, of which the community dominated by Eleocharis dulcis and wild rice Oryza rufipogon is of the highest conservation significance. 

Tram Chim is one of the few places in the Plain of Reeds where community is likely to survive to any extent, and, therefore, one of the most important sites for the conservation of wild rice in Vietnam. The other grassland communities are dominated by Eleocharis ochrostachys, Panicum repens, Ischaemum rugosum and Vossia cuspidata.

The Park is in the lowest area of the Mekong River water logged plain submerged and in the centre of Dong Thap Muoi. With a system of swamps, grass-plots and crossing canals, the 7,612 ha Tram Chim National Park has become an ideal habitat of more than 100 vertebrates, 40 species of fish, and 147 rare and precious species of birds, especially the red-head cranes. Hence, it is also an ideal place for scientists to research into the life of migratory birds. 

To date, at least 88 bird species have been recorded at Tram Chim National Park. The site is famous for its population of Sarus Cranes that inhabits the site in the dry season. In the 1990s, hundreds of Cranes spent the dry season here. However, due to some inappropriate development in the late 1990s and early 2000s, maximum counts of cranes fell dramatically to some 82 birds in the 2005 dry season. 

In addition to Sarus Crane, the globally endangered Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis has also been recorded at Tram Chim National Park. The status of this secretive grassland specialist at Tram Chim is not fully known but it is likely that birds vacate the area during periods of substantial inundation in the late wet season. 

Local people believe that the species breeds at the site, and claim to have found both eggs and young of the species but this has yet to be confirmed. A number of other globally threatened and near-threatened bird species regularly occur at Tram Chim, including Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala and Asian Golden Weaver Ploceus hypoxanthus.

Other wetland bird species of note recorded at Tram Chim include Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus, Greater Painted-snipe Rostratula benghalensis and Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus. Because of its importance for globally threatened and bird species, Tram Chim qualifies as an Important Bird Area.

What to Do in Tram Chim National Park

Topograophy and hydrology of Tram Chim National Park

This wonderful land offer tourists so many great activities to join. If you do not have much free time, you can consider the list below:

1. Take part in amazing games

There are a number of recreational activities for tourists to enjoy in Tram Chim National Park including fishing, harvesting rice and bathing. 

Fishing: Prepare yourself a fishing rod and catch the fish when the boat stops. Then, the caught fish will be delivered to the processing area where they are served right after that.

Bathing: If you love to bathe, there is also a place for you to do this recreation activity. Besides having a chance to go swimming in such clear water, you can take many wowing photos in the river. 

2. Take a boat to do sightseeing

Tram Chim National Park has lots of interesting scenery, which creates a good chance for tourists to do some sightseeing while sitting on beautiful boats. In a tranquil atmosphere, visitors can admire the elegance of colorful lotus petals and smell the freshening aroma of them. This may create a memorable experience in every visitor’s life. 

3. Try some typical cuisine

Some delicious specialties that are mostly recommended by tourists here are crab hotpot, crispy fried fish, fish sauce hot pot and snakehead fish salad. If you come here, do not forget to enjoy some of them, you will be amazed by the amazing cuisine of Vietnam, which are very famous not only in Southeast Asia but also in all over the world. 

Conservation Efforts for the Park

In 1985 when red-head cranes appeared in Tram Chim National Park, scientists held a workshop in China to find out measures to preserve them and develop Tram Chim National Park in Tam Nong Natural Site into a typical cultural and ecological tourist area in Southeast Asia.

Since then, many international organizations have participated in researching into red-head cranes in Tram Chim, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and others.

In February 1994, Tram Chim officially became the national nature conserve zone under the Prime Minister’s decision, where the State invested more than VND 4bil, the Bhrem Fund of Germany granted US$15,000 and the UK and Danish Embassy donated US$ 60,000 to the protection of the “Red-head cranes’ house” and the improvement of Tram Chim’s buffer zone.

In 1995, ICF wanted to conduct surveys on the breeding sites of red-head cranes and in March 1998, scientists began putting electronic tracking rings worth US$10,000 on cranes to observe their migration and reproduction. The activity was funded by the Japanese Government with the participation of American, Japanese and Vietnamese scientists. The signals received from red-head cranes provide good information for scientists to research into the red-head cranes’ migration and reproduction.

Best Time to Visit Tram Chim National Park

A lot of people visiting Tram Chim National Park has said that the perfect time to get to this park is in February and March, according to the lunar year. This is because during this time, birds will fly back from their migration places. Therefore, tourists may have a chance to observe a wide range of different birds in the sky. Furthermore, in case you want to taste the delicious flavor of Dong Thap’s fruits, you can visit Tram Chim park from August to November each year. 

How to Get to Tram Chim National Park

In order to get to Tram Chim National Park, you need to depart your trip from Cao Lanh. You can book a tour from any tourist agencies. Or else, take a public bus from the Cao Lanh bus station. The bus leaves at 5 am every morning and the price is around 14,000 VND. When the bus stops at Thanh Binh bus station, take another bus to reach Tram Chim. 

Tips on Visiting Tram Chim

  • Mosquito repellent is highly suggested when you come to visit Tram Chim National Park
  • In case you want to have some pictures with birds, nature-look clothes should be prepared 
  • If you want to eat more, you can bring some cakes and fruits from home but please, throw the trash in the right place in order to save the environment

Tram Chim National Park, with natural history of collective ecology of geomorphology, hydrography and underwater creatures, is an ideal rendezvous place of tourists from all over the world.

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