While travelling, sometimes you want to go “off the beaten track” to explore some of the more untouched parts of the world. In Vietnam, this is actually easier than it sounds, and one of the most undiscovered places to visit in your Vietnam private tour is the coastal province of Bac Lieu in Southern Vietnam.
Bac Lieu is known for its rich culture, productive industries and friendly people, and while it is less frequented by private tour guides in Vietnam than other centres of the country, it has so much to offer travellers looking to experience more of this country’s great diversity.
Whether you’re interested in Vietnamese history and architecture, cultural experiences, local economies, or new kinds of delicious food to try, this southern province can satisfy your curiosities - and it’s just a bus journey or short flight away from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)!
Cao Van Lau Theater and Literature Exhibition Center
Recently, this theater has become one of the most recognizable structures in Bac Lieu because of its unique architectural design. Considered the most modern theater in Southern Vietnam, Cao Van Lau Theater actually takes the shape of three traditional conical hats but is made using contemporary building materials and techniques. The three conical hats are symbols of Southern Vietnam’s culture of harmony and solidarity.
Cao Van Lau Theater takes the shape of three traditional conical hats (Source: Internet)
Cao Van Lau Theater regularly showcases traditional art performances such as Don Ca Tai Tu (also known as amateur folk singing) and is suitably named after Cao Van Lau, a Vietnamese musician famous for a popular Don Ca Tai Tu love song called ‘Dạ cổ hoài lang’ (Night Drum Beats Cause Longing for Absent Husband).
Vinh Hung Ancient Tower
This incredible relic dates as far back as 892 BC, according to Sanskrit scripts found by archeologists. Discovered in 1911, the well-preserved ancient tower stands at 8.9m high on a hill in Vinh Hung which is about a 40-minute drive from Bac Lieu City.
Vinh Hung Ancient Tower is said to have been built in 892 BC (Source: Internet)
Research suggests the tower is Angkor architecture from the Khmer people of the Mekong Delta region. The exterior is a simple brick structure and the inside contains worshipping objects such as Buddha and Brahma heads and goddess statues.
Bac Lieu Longan Garden
Also known as the Centennial Longan Garden, the longan garden in Bac Lieu is well-known in the Mekong Delta region for its orchards and gardens stretching over 11km of land.
Longan, not to be confused with the loganberry, is a tropical fruit tree which produces fruit similar to a lychee. When visiting the garden on your Vietnam private tour, you can pick the fruit fresh from the trees while taking in the fresh air and enjoying authentic Don Ca Tai Tu folk music being played by local musicians.
Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary
A special sight to see in on your discovery of Bac Lieu is the bird sanctuary which covers around 384 hectares of land including a beautiful forest.
The sanctuary is famous for being the home of 150 animal species, 109 plant species, and of course, 49 bird species - the number of which peaks during the rainy season.
Bac Lieu bird sanctuary is famous for being the home of 49 bird species (Source: Internet)
You can take a trek at the bird sanctuary which takes you through the forest so when packing for your Vietnam private tours, remember to bring decent walking shoes, insect repellent, water and if you want a good look at the different birds bring some binoculars!
Not many people in the sanctuary may speak English but you can hire a Vietnam private tour guide at the entrance if you want more information as you walk around.
Bac Lieu Salt Fields
Have a go at joining in the salt making process in Bac Lieu! The province is the biggest producer of salt in the Mekong Delta region.
A salt farmer in Bac Lieu piles up his harvest
The seawater in Hoa Binh and Dong Hai districts are said to be so salty and clear that extracting the sea salt is easy. Apparently the best season for salt making is between December and April.
Xiem Can Pagoda
In addition to Vinh Hung Ancient Tower, another impressive Khmer religious structure in Bac Lieu is Xiem Can Pagoda you should visit on Vietnam private tours.
It’s located only 7km from the city and is worth visiting to experience why it’s the biggest and most reputable Khmer pagoda in Southern Vietnam.
Xiem Can Pagoda is the most reputable Khmer pagoda in Southern Vietnam (Source: Internet)
The unique Angkor style structure was built in 1887 and it’s the attention to detail in its construction which impresses visitors to the site including: its intricate layered roof, multiple statues of Buddha and sacred animals, three-tower gate, and decorative walls and ceilings.
Cong Tu Bac Lieu House
Being designed by a French architect, this mansion was built in 1919 with imported materials from France.
It used to be known as the largest house in Bac Lieu City and is still famous for once being occupied in the early 20th century by the Prince of Bac Lieu, Tran Trinh Huy, also known as the Dark Dude.
Cong Tu Bac Lieu House was built in 1919 with imported materials from France
The house also operates as a boutique hotel, so rather than just admiring the house as a passer-by you can stay there as a guest! There are six guest rooms in total including the Dark Dude’s, which is the most popular room, so make an advance reservation if you want to stay in this room.
Bac Lieu Wind Farm
Since May 2013, Bac Lieu Province has been producing renewable energy with a large scale, grid-connected wind farm.
Vietnam’s largest wind farm in Bac Lieu makes for beautiful travel photos (Source: Internet)
The multiphase construction of this power plant has gained international attention and popularity with tourists. Not only is it a beautiful landscape for taking photos at, but it’s also the largest wind farm in Vietnam producing sustainable, clean energy.
Specialty cuisine in Bac Lieu
To literally get a taste of Bac Lieu you can’t leave without trying some of the province’s special dishes!
You could start your day with some crispy banh cu cai (white radish cakes) and for lunch try one of these noodle dishes: bun bo cay (spicy beef vermicelli), or banh tam bi (thick noodles tossed with herbs, pork, and creamy coconut milk).
Bun Tam Bi is made of thick rice noodles mixed with chopped pork, herbs, and creamy coconut milk (Source: Internet)
Being a coastal province you should also try some of the local bounty of seafood in the comforting dish, lẩu mắm (fish hot pot).
Transport to and around Bac Lieu
Bac Lieu City is approximately 280 km from Ho Chi Minh City which is a 5-6 hour drive. Or if you’re coming from Can Tho it’s only 110 km away, or a 2.5 hour drive. You can catch a bus to Bac Lieu and the bus station is conveniently located on the main road into town, just 1km from the centre.
There are cheap flights from Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City to Ca Mau, a city just 67 km from Bac Lieu. Flights to Bac Lieu from Ho Chi Minh City (via Ca Mau) cost around $75 USD one-way.
From the airport in Ca Mau, you can take the local bus going to Bac Lieu City, take a local taxi for about $10 USD (converted to VND), or book a private transfer. Get around Bac Lieu City using the xe om (motorcycle taxi), local town bus or by walking (especially to explore downtown).
Travelling to Vietnam’s undiscovered corner of Bac Lieu Province will be an enriching experience for all. Ask your private Vietnam tour guides for more details!
In Bac Lieu, you can appreciate a balance of the impressive local industries and the interesting cultural history, while enjoying nature's flora and fauna, and tasting the area's unique specialty cuisine.