Nestled along the southern coast of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta Region is the Bac Liêu Province. A rather large province, Bac Liêu doesn’t have as many tourists and it is often overlooked by travelers that are going to Cân Tho or Vung Tàu.
What Bac Liêu does have to offer are beautiful gardens, tranquil places of worship, and amazing beaches, all without the massive hoards of tourists. For travelers who want to explore Vietnam’s lesser-known destinations, the Bac Liêu Province should be at the top of the list.
How to Get to Bac Lieu
Even though Bac Liêu sits to the south of the Mekong River’s main outflow, the province is still a part of the greater delta. Bordered by the East China Sea and four other provinces, Bac Liêu’s location along the coast makes it an important energy source for much of South Vietnam — especially Ho Chi Minh City.
Wind farms are commonplace along the coast and throughout the province’s seven sub-divisions. Contrary to belief, just because the Bac Liêu Province is in the southern part of the country, doesn’t mean that it is all that close to Ho Chi Minh City.
Since Bac Liêu is located further south along the coast, the province is about 6 hours away from Saigon by car. The distance between the two is 178 miles (286.5 kilometers). To get to the Bac Liêu Province from Ho Chi Minh City, travelers will have to drive themselves, take a bus, or hire a taxi. There are no direct flights between HCMC and the Bac Liêu Province.
The land around modern-day Bac Liêu used to be ruled by Cambodia’s Khmer Empire. At its peak, the Khmer Empire ruled over what is now Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. A Hindu/Buddhist-based society, the Khmer Empire began to break down when people converted to other religions like Theravada Buddhism.
The downfall of Cambodia’s power ultimately led to Vietnam’s new dynasty, Nguyen, taking control of the southern half of the country. A remnant of the past, the Khmer ethnic group still lives in the Bac Liêu Province today.
Centuries after Cambodia’s fall, the 1900s were a time when Bà Liêu went through dramatic changes. In the early 1900s, before Bac Liêu became a province, it was influenced by the French. Then, the song called Vong Cô was written by Cao Van Lâu, who lived in the area. The song spoke of “longing for the past” and it became a national hit; bringing attention to Bac Liêu.
Since the creation of Vong Cô, the song has inspired numerous tunes throughout the country and it is still performed to this day.
Years after the song Vong Cô and the Fall of Saigon, the Bac Liêu Province was combined with the Cà Mau Province to create a new area that was called the Minh Hai Province. In time, as Vietnam began to recover from the war, the province grew. By 1996, the Minh Hai was dissolved and the land split in two. This split re-created both the Cà Mau and Bac Liêu Provinces as separate entities.
Interestingly, historians believe that the name Bac Liêu came from the Chinese Teochew people or from the Khmer pronunciation. Originally, the province was referred to as “Po Liaw”, which means “meager hamlet” in Teochew. Though, nowadays, Bac Liêu isn’t so meager.
With fishing, manufacturing, and farming, Bac Liêu has become an economically important province for South Vietnam.
- Bac Liêu’s total population as of 2018 is estimated to be 978,695 people.
- Prominent ethnicities in the province include Vietnamese, Khmer, and Hoa.
- Bac Liêu Province has over 56 km (34.7 mi) of coastline.
With an oceanfront view, Bac Liêu City is the provincial capital. Featuring a mid-sized urban area, about 150,000 people live in this class-2 city. Before Bac Liêu City became the provincial capital, it was called Vinh Loi. During the 1950s, the Hòa Hao religion rose to prominence in the area under the leadership of Huynh Phú Sô.
In modern times, Bac Liêu City is a combination of administrative and tourist sectors. Though many travelers skip over Bac Liêu City, there is surprisingly a widespread selection of tourist activities in the area. In town and around the coast, visitors can explore Bac Liêu’s marine ecosystem, lively culture, and delicious cuisine.
Popular attractions in the capital city include Hung Vuong Square, the Can Van Lau Theater, the central market, and the river walk. For being a city that is devoted to running the local government of a small province, there are actually many quality hotels and hostels throughout Bac Liêu.
From grand-scale plazas to quiet guest stay gardens, travelers will have plenty of options for a comfortable stay. Highly rated accommodations in Bac Liêu City are the Royal Hotel, Hotel Tran Vinh, New Palace Hotel, and the Bac Liêu Guest House.
With less tourism, travelers who do end up in Vietnam will get an authentic taste of the local cuisine. Almost all of the restaurants in Bac Liêu serve traditional Vietnamese meals like meat with rice or vegetables in a noodle soup.
International cuisine is not easily found in Bac Liêu and even then, travelers are like to run into a restaurant that serves pizza or hamburgers. Tasty places to eat in the city are the Bac Liêu Restaurant, Cu’a Hàng Pizza Gold, Quán Co’m Chiên A Chen, and the Gosanke Coffee Lounge.
Famous Places in Bac Liêu
Outside of the capital city, the Bac Liêu Province is fairly remote. The various districts are as well known as the capital and receive few travelers, although many of them are quite beautiful. With temples, sanctuaries, and statues, visitors that have the time should take a chance and adventure to Vietnam’s smaller communities.
Hông Dân District
Travelers who are interested in local industries and crafts must take a trip to the Hông Dân District in Bac Liêu. Known for its fish, farming, sugar cane, textiles, lace, and knitting, tourists can shop for souvenirs and support local families. With an abundance of fresh seafood, travelers should also have a meal in Hông Dân because it is guaranteed to be delicious.
Giá Rai Town
Giá Rai is a small town located slightly inland from the coast. Decently sized, the town of about 125,690 people has become a tourist destination in Ban Liêu. Most visitors in the town will hit the local restaurants or markets, but city tours are also a fun activity.
A common stop on many tours is the Tomb of Father Diep. Also called the Tac Say Church, the building was constructed in the late 1800s by the local Catholic people. Visitors are allowed to tour the stunning structure and join in on daily prayers.
Vinh Loi District
One of the older districts in Bac Liêu is the Vinh Loi District. Still bearing the old name for the province, Vinh Loi also has ancient artifacts from the days of Cambodian rule and Chinese influence. Visitors can tour historic sites like the Vinh Hung Ancient Tower to get firsthand experience learning about the culture of South Vietnam.
Travelers frequently misjudge Bac Liêu as being a province without attractions. This assumption is entirely wrong because the Bac Liêu Province actually has many fun things to see and do. From the capital city to the rural districts, visitors in Bac Liêu can immerse themselves in nature, culture, and architecture while exploring the province.
Attractions that travelers love in Bac Liêu include the Prince’s Mansion, Bac Liêu Bird Sanctuary, Bac Liêu Wind Farm, Hung Thien Pagoda, and Nông Trai Tôm Khoe.
Bac Liêu Bird Sanctuary
Home to more than 50 aviary species, the Bac Liêu Bird Sanctuary is an important ecosystem for the province’s coastal area. Tourists gather to see various species, like the White Heron, which uses the sanctuary to nest during the rainy season, as well as species of fish, mammals, reptiles, and plants. At the entrance, tourists can hire a local guide to show them around the area.
Bac Liêu Wind Farm
Developed by a US-Vietnam private sector agreement, the Bac Liêu Wind Farm sits just offshore from the province’s capital city. Powered by multiple turbines, the operation officially opened in 2016 and now acts as a site where visitors can learn about Vietnam’s push towards clean every. Travelers should keep in mind that boats and tour guides will be required to reach the wind farm.
Hung Thien Pagoda
Located in the Hung Hoi Commune, the Hung Thien Pagoda comes to life with its red and gold gate. A landmark that can’t be missed, the pagoda is famous for its 32 statues of Guan Yin Buddha. At the center, a massive statue of Buddha Guanyin Bodhisattva stands tall at over 40 meters (131 feet). Currently, the pagoda is open to visitors during the day.
Nông Trai Tôm Khoe
Nông Trai Tôm Khoe is a tourist attraction on a canal that runs just outside of Bac Liêu City. The quiet waterways are lined with trees and locals have built a circular arch of branches that have become an Instagram hotspot. Boat and hiking tours are the best way to experience Nông Trai Tôm Khoe.
Once the home of Prince Tran Tinh Huy, the Prince’s Mansion in Bac Liêu City has become a landmark feature in the capital. In reality, Tran Tinh Huy wasn’t a prince but simply very wealthy. As a show of his wealth, he built an elaborate home in Bac Liêu City. The mansion has become a tourist site with free entry to the public. Inside, the home is decorated with ornate wood furnishings.
In tune with many provinces in South Vietnam, Bac Liêu’s biggest celebration is the Whale Festival. Occurring during the 9th and 10th days of January, the Whale Festival honors the ocean and its inhabitants. Elaborate ceremonies, big parades, and lion dances are all performed during the festival. Tourists are encouraged to join if they happen to be in the province at the time.
Since the Bac Liêu Province is located on the southern coast of Vietnam, the weather in the area is mild enough to make it a tourist destination throughout the year. However, the province does have a wet and dry season. The wet season in the province starts in May and ends in October. Rain during this season can start and end quickly.
Most tourists avoid visiting Bac Liêu during the rainy season unless they want to see nesting birds at the sanctuary outside of the capital. The best time to take a trip to the Bac Liêu Province is during the fall, winter, and spring months. From November to April, the rains cease and the weather is perfect for spending time outside in nature, making these months the busiest.
Not every trip has to follow the crowds. Getting off the grid and traveling to lesser-known places is a great way to explore new places too. Bac Liêu is one of those destinations, where travelers won’t run into crowds but wide-open land, warm people, and good food.
With urban excursions and picturesque views of the Mekong Delta, Bac Liêu is a fantastic destination for curious adventurers that are eager to explore new places.
Activities near Bac Lieu Province
- Can Tho (127 km)
- HCMC (286 km)
- Long Xuyen (177 km)
- Phu Quoc (313 km)
- Rach Gia (153 km)
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