A mosaic of Vietnamese flora, Lò Gò-Xa Mát National Park is host to semi-deciduous, deciduous, evergreen, and mangrove forests. Amongst the trees, there are also lowland marsh areas found within the park. Flourishing and biodiverse, Lò Gò-Xa Mát has become a crucial habitat for endangered bird species.
One of only a few protected wetland areas in Vietnam, the national park is quickly gaining fame as an international hotspot for birdwatchers. Established to protect Southern Vietnam’s vulnerable habitats, Lò Gò-Xa Mát is in the Tây Ninh Province and Tân Biên District. The main entrance to the park is about 19 miles (30 kilometers) from Tây Ninh City.
Located northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, the national park is close to Vietnam’s border with Cambodia. While not entirely remote, Lò Gò-Xa Mát is still considered to be relatively “undiscovered” by international tourists. Calm and quiet, the national park is ideal for travelers who want to avoid large crowds.
Similar to most of Southern Vietnam, Lò Gò-Xa Mát National Park has had its ups and downs. Conservation efforts began in 1986 when the area around Lò Gò-Xa Mát was declared as a nature reserve. By 2002, it was upgraded to a national park. These conservation efforts were crucial for Vietnam to begin reclaiming its war-ravaged nation.
Battles and chemical warfare during the American War destroyed the land, killing both plants and animals. Seeing that the environment was slowly decaying, the Vietnamese government began a strict program to rehabilitate the area. While conservation is an ongoing process, Lò Gò-Xa Mát has made leaps and bounds in its recovery.
What to Do
Featuring a relatively flat landscape, Lò Gò-Xa Mát National Park has become one of Vietnam’s newest hotspots for hiking and biking. Unique to the park, trails in Lò Gò-Xa Mát are designed to be multi-functional for both non-motorized and motorized access. Additionally, visitors can head off the trails to explore the local culture, historical sites, and take in the view from the panoramic point.
Designed to enthrall any outdoor enthusiast, the Lò Gò-Xa Mát uses a multi-functional trail system. This means that visitors are allowed to explore the trails on foot, bike, and motorbike. Mostly flat, the park has become one of the best places in Vietnam to tour on a set of wheels.
Local tour companies will provide the bikes and equipment, so visitors can focus on enjoying nature. Those who are interested in seeing the local wildlife should book the quieter hiking or bicycle tours. If seeing more of the national park is your goal, motorized tours are great for those in a time crunch.
Culture and Cuisine
Protecting more than the land and animals, Lò Gò-Xa Mát National Park also preserves the local way of life. Frequently part of tour itineraries, visitors are encouraged to experience the local culture first-hand by booking a homestay. Contrary to most homestays, visitors are not required to spend the night in the park.
Instead, visitors can spend part of their day connecting with locals by sharing a meal. Guests who would like to book an overnight homestay should inquire about an extended visit by contacting the park’s main office or making a reservation with local guides.
Historical Sites and Panoramic Point
Preserved within the national park a series of historical sites from the days of the American War when revolutionaries used the land as a military base. Moreover, there are buildings that were once a radio studio and printing house. Converted into a museum, park guests are invited to tour the sites to learn more about the area and Vietnam’s history.
Considered to be a “soft trek”, visitors can hike up the grassy hills to Lò Gò-Xa Mát’s panoramic point. With a 100-foot (30m meter) tower, the panoramic point has excellent views of the park’s waterfalls, valleys, and forests. For part of the journey, visitors will hike along the Vam Co Dong River, which is an essential water source for the locals, plants, and wildlife.
Plants and Wildlife
Specific to Lò Gò-Xa Mát’s wetland habitats, a plethora of water-based plants can be found growing in the national park. Various species of legumes and latex thrive in wet conditions and add to the flora’s diversity. Due to their rarity, many of the plants have been listed as endangered in Vietnam’s Red Book.
Animals living in the park are reliant on the national park’s abundance of water. The local lakes, rivers, and marshes have become key habitats for waterbird species like the red-headed sarus cranes. More recent discoveries in the park have also found populations of Germain’s peacock pheasants and Siamese firebacks, which are rare sights for even avid birdwatchers.
Lò Gò-Xa Mát is a bird’s paradise, but it is also home to 10 threatened mammal species. With limited numbers surviving in the wild, primates like the pygmy loris and northern pig-tailed macaque have been confirmed to live within the national park. Visitors may also come across one of Vietnam’s rare animal species, the black-shanked duoc.
About a 3-hour drive away from Ho Chi Minh City, Lò Gò-Xa Mát National Park is well-suited for short trips away from the city. Quite a few tour companies operate out of Saigon, which means that park visitors won’t have to worry about arranging for their own transportation. Those who wish to travel to the park on their own have the option of hiring a car or taking a train to Tây Ninh City.
From Tây Ninh City, the park’s main entrance is only about an hour’s drive away. With plenty of accommodation options, most visitors choose to stay the night in Tây Ninh. However, visitors can arrange for a homestay to spend the night inside the park in one of its three communes. Camping tours can also be arranged and require guests to be accompanied by a local guide at all times.
When to Visit
The wet season, which starts in April and ends in early November, can put a damper on outdoor activities. For optimal exploring weather, visitors should visit Lò Gò-Xa Mát during the dry season, which begins in December and ends in March. Less rain makes the national park more accessible, though it is also the busiest time of year for visitors.
However, most international tourists are drawn to Ho Chi Minh City or Phú Quôc National Park, which ensures that even in the busy season, Lò Gò-Xa Mát is still a quiet destination.
Holiday in Tây Ninh
Shielded from mass tourism, Lò Gò-Xa Mât National Park will take visitors on a journey as they step into their own private wonderland. Those who are exploring the Tây Ninh Province shouldn’t miss out on the chance to visit this national park. With a unique wetland environment, Lò Gò-Xa Mât enchants its guests and showcases the best that nature has to offer.
Address: 235 QL22B, Thạnh Tây, Tân Biên, Tây Ninh, Vietnam
Phone: +84 276 3872 682