Totaling 1,200 hectares – that’s over 1,463 international-grade football fields and almost the size of a national park – Madagui is one of the largest nature preservation sites and adventure getaways in Vietnam.
A 22 kilometer wall circles Madagui, protecting the wildlife roaming its ecologically undisturbed confines, including monkeys, deer, hogs, snakes and birds – most scared away by the sound of human footsteps. The management takes preservation seriously, and staff often compulsively picks up small items of trash and tosses them in the many garbage cans lining the grounds. The on-site resort villas also sport eco-friendly options to keep pollution and energy spend to a minimum.
Forest City Activities
Madagui is first and foremost an adventure getaway. Zip lining, canoeing, human hamster balls, paintball, and other solo and team activities draw crowds from both central and south Vietnam.
Foreigners not used to Vietnam’s typical idea of a diversion may find some of these peculiar, such as crocodile fishing, where you feed crocodiles pig lungs by way of a long fishing rod. The crocs are on the small end (100 – 450 kg), and relatively docile. You buy a lung for VND10,000 and send it to its demise in the waters below. The crocodiles eat it up, thankfully without pulling you in. Since lungs float, lost bait is turned into an afternoon snack rather than polluting the bottom of the lake.
Those seeking a more physical thrill probably want to check out the giant hamster ball area, where you get into a human-sized plastic ball and get pushed off a hill. A sled is provided for a less intense alternative. You can see a video of our writers getting some sledding action below.
The shooting range has an array of ear-piercing guns in various shapes and sizes to target-practice with (don’t worry, the guns are fixed in a single direction, an instructor is always presents and you are given decent headphones to protect your ears). AK-47s (VND35,000 per bullet) are a popular option and are easy to shoot. An M60 (VND35,000) is available for those who have the VND to spray like Rambo, or a simple K-54 (VND20,000 per bullet) for those who want a lighter alternative.
Madagui’s paintball course was built in 2008 and houses a decent array of course and weapon options. You’ll be spending a minimum of VND120,000 for at least 50 paintballs and various fees. Those looking to calm their nerves without simulating warfare can go fishing on a boat at a nearby lake for VND50,000.
Madagui’s primary focus lies in exploring its expansive grounds. A bulk (80%) of Madagui is preserved forest. The sky trails consist of areal bridges built around flora, meaning sometimes you’ll have a tree sticking out in the middle of your crossing. This feels way more authentic than the usual kitsch you get at family adventure parks (although Madagui still has its fair share of swan-shaped paddle boats).
Perhaps the most stirring experience in Madagui is exploring the four caves, each ranging in difficulty and depth of descent. Each cave features an associated deity, like the bat god cave, or the most difficult cave – with a 20 meter depth and a 200 meter width – the cave of the god of the dead.
If that sounds cool, it is. Don an explorer’s cap and go spelunking underground, or navigate the overworld trails and admire the giant boulders carved out to resemble effigies of power animals. It feels like a movie set for an ancient Amazonian civilization.
There is also a drive-through zoo activity, but the only section that’s open for roaming (and thus the most interesting) is at the beginning of the zoo, where deer and hogs lazily saunter under the shade.
Fruit Picking Season
Peak season (June to October) is also fruit-picking season. Along the hills grow fruit trees with the likes of durian and 10 varieties of mango. Paying the entrance fee (VND50,000 on a normal day and VND60,000 on a holiday) means your free to go about the grounds and pick fresh fruit to your heart’s content.
Since there is much to explore, a few days might be needed to soak everything in. Several overnight options exist.
Camping is especially popular among school kids. Students rent a tent (VND 1 million) or camp out among the stars and lakes with one of their own. The area is safe and quite convenient – four (relatively expensive) eateries are within walking distance, and a three-tiered pool with a capacity of a thousand guests is available for VND25,000 nearby.
Standard dorms are practical for large groups unconcerned with modern convenience and that simply want a place to sleep. Couples are recommended the garden view deluxe room, and pool villa suites are an affordable high-end alternative consisting of a kitchen, dining table, semi-private pool, living room/bedroom combo, private balcony, rain shower and a “robot” toilet.
The pool villa rooms (the Kiwi Villas) are quite nice too, with four in total facing a shared pool, each room housing a large bathroom and private Jacuzzi.
Be forewarned that Wi-Fi is spotty in some villas and may be shared with an adjacent villa.