Mangrove Forest in Nha Trang offer Nature-lovers an Extraordinary Treat

How we are all so used to the comforts of modern-day tourism and the unending call for trying out new things to do and new places to see. No matter if tourists head to the most pristine beaches, all the convenience await when they head back to their booked cabins, equipped with TV, air conditioning and everything else to make one’s life easy, and one’s holiday grand. The extravagance of beauty and attraction of Nha Trang is no longer a secret to many. Thus, tourists arrive by the thousands to experience for themselves all the good stories they hear about its beautiful islands, sandy beaches and magnificent diving spots. Indeed, what will unfold to tourists in Nha Trang is already a paradise on earth. And they could not bother much to look further for something better. As far as they know, they have found the best.

But just when they thought they have found the glory of Nha Trang, the real gem sits very close by. Three kilometers from the town’s center is a mangrove forest that was cultivated and tended to for the past two decades by Nguyen Van Hung. Covering 25,000 square meters in land area, it is undeniably a huge contribution to the only 11 hectares of mangrove forests left from what used to be 500 hectares some 30 years back. Shrimp farming had a big hand in quickly reducing this part of the environment in such a short time. Seeing the damage done, Hung became determined to cultivate the forest. Allowing trees and shrubs to grow in their natural habitat, he also raised fish and other species in his forest.

Looks like all his hard work finally paid off. The mangrove has now grown thick and sustainable to the lives that thrive within it. The path that leads to this hidden treasure is less-traveled, indeed. But no secret remains kept forever. As more and more people heard of this wonderful part of Nha Trang, Hung finally decided to open the forest to visitors as long as it is kept as pure as how he grew it. He called the place Tu Rung Duoc Resort. And just as he was determined to maintain it, everything that harms the forest in any way, and the lives in it, is never allowed. Motorboats are never seen around. Hung insists that it can greatly harm the underwater creatures and scare them away with their engine noise. As wildlife naturally knows if they are safe, blue storks have chosen the forest to build their nests and stay the night.

For tourists who wish to spend the day or night and savor more of this purest part of nature, Hung has set up ten huts with thatched roofs, five of which (at VND100,000 per day) are situated deep in the forest and can be reached only on a raft. No motorboats, remember? Five others (at VND50,000 per day) are built under the shade of big trees on the banks of the Tac River. Don’t expect cable TV and microwave when you stay for the night. If you rent one of these huts, there isn’t much that await you but a mat to sit on and a few bowls to have your meals with. And if you ask, you have to work for what you dine. There are plentiful of shrimps, fishes and crabs around. You don’t have to pay for them. Only, you have to catch them (rent fishing rod at VND10,000 per day). When the tide is low, you could find lots of ba khia and nha (small crabs unique to the Mekong Delta) at the root of the mangrove trees, if you can keep up. But don’t worry, you can also ask Hung to do it for you. Food is cooked by grilling on coals. And as long as you don’t litter, you are free to toast your catch over the fire.

If you come to think of it, it may be a lot of extra work versus sitting back in your hotel room and watching TV while waiting for your order. But the challenge, the rewards, the experience and knowing there is still a part of Vietnam (which is a known tourist destination) that still offers this kind of experience is so much worth all the cost and trouble. Trouble? I must say adventure is a more likely term - - - and we have all but Hung to thank for it.

To get there, take the road along Le Hong Phong Street, then take a turn at Phong Chau Street. From there and some 800 meter-long ride, turn left where you can see the Nha Trang Export Shrimp Farm. The Tu Rung Duoc Resort is around 700 meters away from that farm. No worries, parking and admission are free.