1. Cong Tu Bac Lieu’s House
The Cong Tu Bac Lieu House is located at No. 13, Dien Bien Phu Street in Bac Lieu Town. PHOTO: MINH HUNG
Tourists can either visit or stay at the Cong Tu Bac Lieu (Prince of Bac Lieu) House. The facility has been partly converted into a hotel that offers guests the chance to experience the life of the province's prodigal sons.
"Cong Tu Bac Lieu" was a term applied to children of rich landlords who enjoyed lavish lifestyles in Southern Vietnam during the colonial period.
The home was built by landlord Tran Trinh Trach in 1919 and designed by a French architect. The two-story estate features long halls, spacious bedrooms and winding staircases.
In 2003 Bac Lieu Tourism Company upgraded the structure into a hotel and cultural-tourist site.
Vo Kim Cuong, director of the hotel, says they're often full and Room 101 (once home to a famous playboy) must be reserved 7-10 days in advance.
Room rates range from VND600,000-2 million (US$28-95).
2. Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary
Located about six kilometers from Bac Lieu on the way to the beach is a 385 hectare (950 acre) Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary.
The lowland mangrove forest offers an ideal home to 46 species of birds, many of which are listed as endangered.
The marsh was looked after by a single household until 1962 when the local authorities took over.
In addition to a diverse range of wading birds like storks, herons, night herons and cormorants, the sanctuary boasts a rich ecosystem of fish, amphibians and reptiles.
There are currently some 40,000 birds and 5,000 nests in the sanctuary, which serves as a breeding ground for many birds between May and October.
3. Ancient longan orchards and 300-year-old mango tree
A couple minutes' drive from the Bird Sanctuary, ancient longan orchards, or Giong Nhan Bac Lieu, stretches 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) from Nha Mat Ward to An Trach Dong Commune.
The orchards were planted some 200 years ago by the first migrants on wild land along the coast. Their age and unique location lends the fruit a distinctive sweetness.
Locals dry the fruit and brew it into wine.
The star of the orchard is a 300-year old mango tree that's believed to be the oldest in the Mekong Delta.
It is surrounded by Chinese cemeteries and sits atop an underground freshwater stream. People say the subterranean water source has kept the tree alive for centuries despite encroaching saltwater.
Along the road to longan orchards hawkers sell local fruit and scores of restaurants prepare Bac Lieu’s special banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake).
4. Bac Lieu Beach and mangrove forests
Two restaurants on the beach near a mangrove forest during high tides. PHOTO: NHAT NAM
Bac Lieu's 54-kilometer (33.5 miles) coastline is home to numerous mangrove forests and vast beaches.
Although the seawater is far from clean due to silt collected in the surrounding river estuaries, tourists can walk and play on large beaches during low tide or swim in an “artificial sea” at the Nha Mat Resort, some eight kilometers from the provincial capital.
Bac Lieu has more than 5,500 hectares of forest land, a majority of which is mangrove forests.
Tourists can row boats through the trees and fish in them.
Not far from Nha Mat Resort is the Avalokitesvara Buddha Temple. Built in 1973, the temple has attracted thousands of tourists and pilgrims every year. Locals hold a ceremony every March to pray for good luck, especially for local fishermen.
5. Vinh Hung Ancient Temple
The Vinh Hung Temple, built in the 9th century. PHOTO FROM BAC LIEU'S WEBSITE
Located in Vinh Loi District’s Vinh Hung Commune, some 20 kilometers from Bac Lieu Town, this ancient temple was built centuries ago on 1,000 square meters of forest.
According to a Sanskrit stele at a nearby pagoda, the temple was built in 892.
The remaining structure stands more than eight meters high. Archeologists say the bricks are bound by an unknown adhesive and have found pottery and copper items belonging to the Oc Eo Culture (1st-7th centuries).
During an excavation in 2002, they unearthed tiles at the site featuring special patterns alongside copper figurines that have yet to be identified.
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