A highlight of Chau Doc
Published/Last edited or updated: 8th September, 2018
The roughly square–shaped Tra Su Ecological Park makes for an excellent half day trip out of Chau Doc and if you’re over-landing between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh and have an overnight stay in Chau Doc, it presents a pretty compelling argument to make your stay a two night one.
Tra Su Ecological Park/Wildlife Reserve/Bird Sanctuary (depending on what you are reading) is around 30km to the south south west of Chau Doc, and importantly (if you are cycling, as we were), the official entrance is at the southwest corner of the reserve. Once you reach the parking area, you need to pop in to pay admission (on a sliding fee depending on the number of people, see below for details).
Once paid up you get into a long motorised boat which takes you into the reserve, through large lotus ponds to a landing point where you are then transferred into a small sampan and paddled through a sunken green cajuput forest.
This second part, padding through the forest is the highlight of the trip, as there is no engine noise and you are well positioned to observe plenty of bird life, along with lizards, frogs and other swampish critters. The paddling follows a set route (you can see how netting has been used to keep nature under control and to allow an easy path through the brackish waters) and we imagine on weekends and holidays when many are visiting the park it can be a bit hectic, but on a mid-morning, mid-week visit, we were the only people on the water (aside from out paddler) and it was pretty special and very beautiful.
After the paddling, you jump back into the larger boat which then takes you right into the centre of the park, where there is an observation tower you can climb, allowing you to see the entirety of the park along with Cambodia in the distance. Surrounding the base of the tower there are a bunch of salas and a few places to eat so you are welcome to spend as much time as you want here, and just jump on a boat back when ever you feel like it (the boat that dropped you off doesn't wait for you). Between the paddling point and the look out tower, boatmen will stop to point out roosting birds—don’t hesitate to ask them to take their time, we found the boatmen to be very accommodating.
There is no public transport from Chau Doc to the park, but it is a straightforward ride or drive here. Tours can also be arranged in Chau Doc (mostly by xe-om though a car transfer is also possible) expect to pay $10-15 for a half day excursion. We cycled here which made for a long, but very pleasant day, as we were able to randomly pick and choose our way along the back roads and canals to get here. Figure on about a 65km round trip. If you are travelling by scooter a visit to Tra Su is easily combined with Sam Mountain.
Admission is staggered by the number of people. 130,000 dong for one, 75,000 dong per person for two, 65,000 dong per person for three and so on. The price struck us as being incredibly reasonable for all the boating that was included.
Address: Around 30 km south south west of Chau Doc
T: (0296) 221 8025;
Coordinates (for GPS): 105º2'55.4" E, 10º34'18.37" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: From 130,000 dong
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.