Located in An Minh and Vinh Thuan districts, Kien Giang Province and about 365km south-west of Ho Chi Minh City, U Minh Thuong National Park is recognized as one of the three highest priority sites for wetland conservation in the Mekong Delta.
- Location: U Minh Thuong District, Kien Giang Province
1. How Is U Minh Thuong National Park Special?
U Minh Thuong National Park is attractive to visitors worldwide thanks to its wide varieties of impressive features, historical values and biodiversity values as well.
One salient characteristic that will strongly impress you is that U Minh Thuong National Park is situated in an area of freshwater wetlands, comprising peat swamp forest, seasonally inundated grassland. The core zone of U Minh Thuong National Park is surrounded by a perimeter canal and dyke system, with a series of gates, which are used to manage the water level.
This area was used as a military base by resistance forces during the First and Second Indochina Wars. Due to the complete loss of natural forest in the Mekong Delta region, U Minh Thuong is one of the few places where you can see the landscape as primary as it was. In addition, you can find the archaeological remains dating back to the Oc Eo civilization in this area.
U Minh Thuong National Park supports one of the last significant areas of peat swamp forest remaining in Vietnam as well as one of the three highest priority sites for wetland conservation in the Mekong Delta.
In the past, the park supported one of the largest breeding colonies of water birds in the Mekong Delta. However, this was heavily disturbed by a fire in 2002.
Surveys to date have confirmed the presence of 187 bird species at U Minh Thuong National Park, including 9 species of global conservation concern such as: oriental darter, spot-billed pelican, painted stork, lesser adjutant, black-headed ibis, glossy ibis, greater spotted eagle, grey-headed fish eagle and Asian golden weaver. In addition, at least eight species of economically valuable fish are found at this park.
The Melaleuca forest in the core zone of U Minh Thuong National Park plays an important role in maintaining the soil and water quality in the buffer zone by preventing the acidification of topsoil and surface water, filtering groundwater and storing freshwater during the dry season.
This park harbors a diversity of flora with 226 species of non-cultivated vascular plants which are very rare in South-East Asia. The natural vegetation was classified into 10 types, belonging to four main classes: Melaleuca forests, seasonally inundated grasslands, permanent swamps and vegetation along canals and streams.
2. What to See in U Minh Thuong National Park?
There are so many interesting things to see in U Minh Thuong National Park and they are divided into 2 smaller parks with different features.
- U Minh Thuong (Upper Park)
This area is located 65 km from Rach Gia city and has a total coverage of nearly 22,000 hectares. Its rich and diverse plant system ranging from the distinct melaleuca tree to the rare non-cultivated vascular plants like lemna tenera, duckweed and so on.
In addition, U Minh Thuong also consists of many other endemic species, some of them are even listed in the global Red Book. For all of them, U Minh Thuong is considered to be the most diversified fauna and flora area in the Delta region.
- U Minh Ha (Lower Park)
U Minh Ha is 25 km from Ca Mau city. If U Minh Thuong is famous for its diversity of flora and fauna, U Minh Ha has a reputation for its picturesque rivers such as Doc, Trem and Cai Tau. There are also a great deal of reeds and cajuputi in this area.
3. Best Time to Visit
Actually, people can pay a visit to this destination all year round. However, it is highly recommended to avoid March and April as this is the dry season in this region when there are not so many activities available and people focus on prevent the fire as well as control for the forest.
4. What to Eat?
These are the must-try specialties you should not skip once coming to visit U Minh Thuong National Park in the Mekong delta.
- Fried elephant ear fish
The fish is caught from the rivers nearby. Then, it is seasoned well and dried in such a hot pan before being served. So as to enjoy the perfect taste of the dish, you should wrap the fish with some vegetables and rice paper. Don’t forget to dip it into the Vietnamese fish sauce.
- Vietnamese pancake-banh xeo
Western region in Vietnam is home to banh xeo, one of the most popular street foods here. Unlike other places, banh xeo in the Mekong delta is made of rice flour, flour, coconut water and green bean spouts. The chef will fry the flour mixed with coconut water for a while before putting other ingredients inside.
- Spring roll
If you have a chance to visit Vietnam, do not miss this typical food – Spring roll. Its main ingredients are rice paper, meat like pork, beef and shrimp as well as some kinds of herbs. However, the dish will not be completed without the special fish sauce which is combined with chili, onion, garlic, sugar and vinegar or lime.
5. Where to Stay
There are some great suggestions available for you.
- Phuc Ngoc Hotel
Location: 844 Nguyen Trung Truc, An Hoa, Rach Gia, Kien Giang
Tel: 0297 3812 229
- Kiet Hong Hotel
Location: 40 Nguyen Cong Tru, Vinh Thanh, Rach Gia, Kien Giang
Tel: 0297 6251 252
6. How to Get There?
It is better to start your journey from Ho Chi Minh city because it is nearer to U Minh Thuong National Park than other big cities. Then, take a bus or a car to Kien Giang Province. Here, you will see many signposts along the roads. Just follow them and you will reach U Minh right after that.
U Minh Thuong National Park deserves to be on the destination list of anyone planning to travel in southern Vietnam!