Photo: Home of the Lover.

Things to see and do

Around 12km north of Sa Dec

Making for a fascinating half day trip from Sa Dec, Xeo Quyt is a part war–period part ecological destination set close to due north of Sa Dec that delivers to our mind, one of the best examples of just how dreadful (yet beautiful) fighting a war in the Mekong Delta must have been.

During the American War, Xeo Quyt was a secret Viet Cong base, but unlike the Cu Chi tunnels, here the officers lived above the ground (it is challenging to tunnel in swamps) in bamboo and thatch huts, recreations of which stand today. There are a few small bunkers, simple affairs compared to what you’d see at Cu Chi or Vinh Moc, but while you could possibly have a poke around in dry season, when we visited in August 2018, they were all flooded and, to be honest, even if they had been bone dry we doubt we would have ventured into them.

Impressive. Photo taken in or around Sa Dec, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

Impressive. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Another of the war-period attractions is also a recreation—of a minefield laid above ground on stakes, designed to ensnare helicopters as they landed, and likewise to maim and kill soldiers as they slogged their way through the reedy terrain. The other war vestige is a series of craters (the US bombed the area heavily) which you’ll probably only notice by accident (though they are marked on the flyer you might be handed) as you are being paddled around and the canal you are in suddenly drastically widens—quite astounding that bombs dropped so many decades ago remain largely still in situ while the jungle has taken so much back.

While Xeo Quyt’s anchor is the war period angle, a large part of the attraction is of a more natural aspect. The jungle here is considerable—not impenetrable—but certainly pretty dense, and the idea of sludging through it in wartime—regardless of what side you were on, is extremely humbling. Upon arrival but after ticketing, you walk straight ahead for a couple of hundred metres and to your left there is a bridge leading over a canal, take this and you’ll be delivered to a boat landing where the guides and boat paddlers wait (weaving baskets in their non-paddling time). You then jump (carefully!) into a small sampan and you’re then paddled around the area for about 45 minutes.

Housing was very primitive—thatch. bamboo and wood. Photo taken in or around Sa Dec, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

Housing was very primitive—thatch. bamboo and wood. Photo: Stuart McDonald

While a similar route to what you are paddled on can be walked on a concrete pathway (do that after the boat trip) the boat trip is the highlight of Xeo Quyt. The canals are as tight as the forest are tall—you’ll see plenty of birdlife—especially electric blue Kingfishers—but the real attraction is just the density and beauty of the place. Because you are being paddled by oar, there is no motor noises to scare off the wildlife—watch out for large lizards slipping into the water and our oarswoman pointed out a magnificent green tree snake wrapped around a tree branch barely a metre above us as we slowly passed under.

When the boat trip finishes, you alight and then follow a concrete trail which follows a similar route around the same area. By doing this you’ll be able to ascend a small observation tower that lets you see the recreation of a minefield, along with taking a poke around the bamboo the thatch huts and sticking your head into the above–mentioned bunkers cum defensive positions.

The forest is very keen to take everything back. Photo taken in or around Sa Dec, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

The forest is very keen to take everything back. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Once you have the loop twice (once by boat and once on foot) grab a coffee at the attached restaurant area and then make your way back to Sa Dec.

Xeo Quyt is best reached by scooter or xe-om from Sa Dec. Head north to Tran Phu, take a left and cross the Sa Dec River, then go straight until you hit the Mekong, then turn left. Follow the river north for about a kilometre and you’ll reach the ferry landing. Once off the ferry, just keep going straight! There is a small admission charge (aside from the boating fee) but we lost the ticket!





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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Sa Dec? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Vietnam.


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