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Where to Watch Fireflies in Vietnam

Fireflies glowing just after sunset
Fireflies glowing just after sunset | © N G / Flickr
Fireflies, or photuris lucicrescens as scientists know them, are winged beetles famous for using bio-luminescence to attract a mate. Watching these little creatures emit flickering, warm light while listening to the comforting sounds of crickets is a tranquil experience visitors to Vietnam can experience. Here are the best places to see them.

Mỹ Tho

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is the best spot to see hundreds of fireflies dotting the evening sky. The Delta is so famous for fireflies that there are dedicated tours for visitors just to witness these glowing creatures!

It's best to see fireflies along the Mekong river at sunset © Anne and David / Flickr

Mỹ Tho is the region’s capital city that is bustling with open-air restaurants, colourful markets, and meandering alleys. This city has more nightlife than its quieter neighbours and is best for tourists seeking a mix of fun and relaxation. It’s easy to hire a local boatman to take you down the river for some firefly-watching, or you can book a day trip from nearby Saigon. Daily Travel Vietnam offers a one-day tour from Saigon that costs $25 USD and includes meals, transportation, and an evening gliding down the river in a small boat to see hundreds of flickering fireflies.

Bến Tre

Bến Tre is a peaceful village also located in the Mekong Delta. The local Revolutionary Museum and coconut candy factory attract a fair share of tourists, but this relaxing town is equally famed for the hundreds of fireflies illuminating the river’s shores. It’s best to head down the river on a small boat just before the beautiful sunset and watch the stunning colours melt into the darkening sky. As the boat glides down the river, you’ll start to notice lights in the river banks. Along the river there are hundreds of fireflies near mangrove bushes emitting their bio-luminescent glow.

Fireflies glowing just after sunset © N G / Flickr

Tour companies from Saigon normally stop in Mỹ Tho, so if you find yourself in Bến Tre check out these little wonders by hiring a local boatman to take you down the river at twilight.

Sa Đéc

Sa Đéc is a sleepy village that is situated along the Mekong River. This relaxing town is the setting for French novelist Marguerite Duras’ The Lover, and the tourists that do stop in Sa Đéc make a beeline for the buildings mentioned in the book. This lovely town features colonial-style buildings, a beautiful flower nursery, and a beautiful pagoda in the center of the town. In the evening, you can hire a boatman to guide you down the river to view glowing fireflies amidst the peaceful sounds of crickets and frogs.

Cát Tiên National Park

Cát Tiên National Park is a sprawling tropical forest reserve in southern Vietnam that takes about four hours by bus from Saigon. This gorgeous tropical forest features centuries-old trees, many species of birds, wildlife, flora and fauna. The park’s Crocodile Lake is reachable by a trek through the park where you can see these beasts lazing in the sun or swimming in the serene waters. This stunning reserve is also where hundreds of fireflies can be found at twilight, flickering between the bushes and enormous trees. Catch a glimpse of their trademark glow by hiking through the trails just before sunset.

Crocodile Lake, Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam © C/M/E/Flickr

Cúc Phương National Park

This gorgeous national park is located in Vietnam’s Ninh Binh province which lies on the Red River Delta. The park is a sprawling area featuring thousand-year-old trees, beautiful waterfalls, ancient monasteries and an endangered primate rescue center. Exploring Cúc Phương is an adventure in itself but it’s also a great place to go in the hope of seeing fireflies. While walking the trails at twilight you’re likely to encounter thousands of flickering fireflies creating an enchanting glow amidst the near-deafening noise of cicadas!

Cúc Phương National Park is home to thousands of fireflies © pululante / Flickr

Cúc Phương National Park is about 135 kilometers south from Hanoi and is the country’s largest nature reserve. There is plenty of on-site accommodation and visitors can choose to camp outside if they wish, but camping is strictly limited and you’ll need the assistance of a park guide.

Vietnam can be a great place to watch fireflies, but they are fickle little creatures – they are not often seen out during the full moon or if weather conditions are poor. You’re more likely to see these flickering bugs during the rainy season from May-October.