Kiên Giang, a province in Mekong River Delta located in the South East of Việt Nam, has an area of 6.348,5 km2 and more than 200 km shoreline and over 56 km border line sharing with Cambodia. Like a small-scaled Vietnam, Kiên Giang is blessed with a system of river, mountain, delta and sea with hundreds of islands of different sizes. In 2006, Kiên Giang was recognised as the world’s biosphere reserve with a total area of 1.146.078.7 ha including the sea, land and island. This biosphere has 3 core zones which are U Minh Thượng National Park (NP), Phủ Quốc NP and Phú Quốc Marine Protected Area, Hòn Chồng Nature Reserve and West coastal mangrove belt.
In Kiên Giang, most tropical ecosystems such as marine ecosystem, coastal ecosystem, mangroves, islands, coral reef, swamps, seasonal melaleuca wetland, primary tropical forest and secondary tropical forest on Phú Quốc Island, the only forest existing on limestone mountain in the South are all available. Kiên Giang is also home to dugong population which has a close relationship with the dugong population in Cambodian sea. These dugongs live on the seagrass line along the two countries’ coast. Besides, this area is also the habitat for rare species of turtle in the world such as chenolia mydas, eretmochelys imbricata, lepictochelys elivacca and dermochelys coriacea. Coastal mangrove forests are like green walls that help to minimise possible climate change effects, rising sea levels and tsunamis. Kiên Lương Limestone range of mountain is regarded to have high biodiversity. Scientists have found species of endemic plants and animals to suplement the world’s list. Of these, two species of birds being grus antigone and pelargopsis capensis now in danger have been found here.
Until now, the overall planning with an aim to develop tourism activities has been approved by the Government. The goal is to turn Phú Quốc Island into a high quality ecotourism zone of Việt Nam and the region and develop key tourism zones such as Kiên Lương, Kiên Hải and U Minh Thượng. Neighbouring zones such as Hòn Đất, Kiên Hải and U Minh Thượng are also highlighted. At the same time, geographical location of Kiên Giang is also favourable for open door economic development on account of the availability of ports, airports and relatively short distance from ASEAN countries. Kiên Giang also shares border with Cambodia, Thailand; therefore it is possible to exploit potential ecotourism value.
Phú Quốc Island
Kiên Giang has more than 140 islands of various sizes, of which Phú Quốc Island with an area of 589,19 km2 is the largest of Việt Nam. Rich biodiversity with its typical ecosystems such as forest ecosystem with broad-leaved trees and tropical rain; mangrove ecosystem, acid forests (rừng úng phèn), coral reef ecosystem, seagrass bed.
Given its significant potential for tourism development, Phủ Quốc is one of key zones which have been selected by the Government for investment and development planning. It is expected that Phú Quốc will soon be a high quality ecotourism zone which can compete well in the region and the world with its distinct characteristics and styles.
Phú Quốc - commonly called Pearl Island of the Easten Sea, boasts various unique beauty spots, rivers and springs, especially beaches lying along the coast, namely Sao, Trường, Đất Đỏ, Thơm, Gành Dầu, Dài, Cửa Cạn, Vòng, Khem. These beaches have shallow sand, and plants growing close to the water thus creating an appealing ecotourism landscape. Beside, there are other types of tourism such as resort, sport, exploring forests, sea and caves, cultural tourism, recreational activities on beach, in the sea or along the coast.
Phú Quốc in particular has evergreen rainforests with different kinds of primary rain forests, suitable for study tours and it is possible to satisfy tourists of all kinds. Some products such as pepper, sim wine, dried sea food, lacquer paintings, pearl and in particular two kinds of being Spratelloides gracilis and Stolephorus indicus being main ingredients for well known Phú Quốc fish sauce are well received.
U Minh Thượng NP
For tourists who love the country river waters and fruit gardens, it is worth paying a visit to U Minh Thượng NP, being one in three core zones of Kiên Giang Biosphere Reserve (BR). U Minh Thượng, once one of revolutionary bases, contains typical submerged melaluca forest growing on peat swamp. Tourists can also enjoy local specialties such as honey, dried fish such as ca sac, fish sauce “mam ca luoi trau”… There are various activities for tourists to choose from as well: kayaking, fishing, picking up vegetable in the forest, eating ancient food which all help tourists to gain an understanding of the past of the country. Besides, there are other forms of tourists which seek to combine studying the lifestyle of the people living in Cà Mau Peninsula and researching relics of Óc Eo - Phù Nam such as Cạnh Đền, Nện Chùa, Kè Một. U Minh Thượng is therefore considered as a living museum.
Hà Tiên - Kiên Lương Landscape
Hà Tiên - Kiên Lương is a must-visit destination for any tourists in Kiên Giang for its coastal mangrove forest and limestone ecosystem. Hà Tiên is commonly compared to a “natural silk picture” for its mountains, caves, pagodas, islands which are more or less close, namely Mũi Nai, Thạch Động, Tô Châu mountain, Đá Dựng mountain, relics of Bình San Historical and Cultural Relics, Hang Pagoda, Phụ Tử Islet, Dương Beach, Mo So Mountain, Trẹm Islet, Hải Tặc Archipelago and Bà Lụa Island are all attractive to tourists with sight seeing or resort needs.
Culture and History
Kiên Giang BR contains a rich biodiversity not only in terms of flora and fauna but also takes pride in its cultural heritage with 43 historical and cultural relics designated at national and provincial level. Annually, the province witnesses 389 festivals, of which 91 being traditional festivals, 235 being religious, 62 historical festivals and 1 for both King, Khmer and Chinese Vietnamese people.
Besides promoting ecotourism - cultural tourism activities in order to exploit effectively the local potential, over the last years, Kiên Giang has made numerous attempts to preserve and enhance high value traditional craft village. In particular, when tourists visit a village in Phú Mỹ Commune, Giang Thành District, tourists can see a variety of products such as mattress, bags, and household items made from “bang” grass, a readily available material. Until now, products made from this material have been exported to Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, America, Italy, Swizelands, Chile, Germany and France. Project on Phú Mỹ bang grass preservation in Kiên Giang was supported by International Crane Organization with an aim to protect the grass field effectively and sustainably.
This BR is known for its modest yet effective projects which combine preservation and development needs, help to maintain its local unique cultural identity. Employment for Khmer indigenous people has been created. Groups of researchers, interested businessmen, domestic and international students have come to Phú Mỹ to watch grus antigone crane and visit Khmer traditional craft village, which forms favourable conditions for development programs to promote tourism, and access local investors locally and from other provinces in Mekong river delta.
Nguyễn Thanh Hải
Trần Thị Hồng Gấm
(Source: Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine, English Edition I- 2021)