Bạc Liêu – The Wealthy Wild Child of Mekong Delta

Visiting the Mekong Delta is your wise choice to discover the beautiful treasure of Vietnam. It is a prosperous region in terms of “Agri-and-Culture” aspects. There are yet many wonderful places to discover in here. Last time, we got to know Cần Thơ – the city of floating markets. This time, let’s travel further southwards to Bạc Liêu City – the hometown of many wealthy landlords of South Vietnam.

In this article, I will suggest 5 worth-seeing destinations in Bac Lieu, I have categorized them into nature and heritage. But you should check them all out. They’re fantastic! Trust me.

Nature

Bac Lieu converges with rivers and sea. For that reason, its natural sightseeings are various. There are Strict Nature Reserve for those who love expeditions, fruit farms for the ones who enjoy a picnic full of delicious food and fruits. But hold on, for anyone who wants the most unique picture to fill in their travel journals, you should not miss the visit to the salt field.

*Vuờn Chim Bạc Liêu – Bac Lieu’s Bird Sanctuary

Enjoy the unique trekking experience in the primaeval tropical forest and observe the wonderful biodiversity in Bac Lieu’s Bird Sanctuary. It is the home for reptile, amphibian, fish and approximately 46 bird species, many of which are listed on the Red Book. The best time to witness the parade of the birds is at the break of dawn. Standing on the observatories high above, you will listen to the fantastic music sung by the animal orchestra and all of a sudden there comes flocks of birds soaring and swinging in the pinkish blue sky. This spectacular scene makes you admire the beauty of nature and later will become the memory that lasts forever in mind.

Address: Cao Văn Lầu, Hiệp Thành Dist, Bạc Liêu city.

Rare birds in Bac Lieu. Photo: mytour.vn
Ancient Longan Garden

In the early 20th century, the Chinese immigrant – Mr.Trương Hưng – brought the longan crops from China and started planting them in Bac Lieu. The result was that they adapted quickly and provided tasty fruits that have become Bac Lieu’s speciality since then.

Until now, the 100-year-old longan tree still lives well and produce its fruits annually. While picnicking in the garden, you will taste not only the succulent fruits such as longans, rambutans, mangoes, etc. but also the delicious cuisine prepared by the local cooks. Furthermore, during the day, you will listen to Đờn ca tài tử – the local music performed live by the native artists with Vietnamese music instruments. And there you are, enjoying a wonderful afternoon under the light sunbeams on the trees. When your belly is filled with goodness, your eyes will start half-closing from sleepiness. Feel free to nap cause you worth it!

Address: 2,  Hiệp Thành – Vĩnh Trạch Đông, Bạc Liêu city.

photo: giongcayanqua.edu.vn
The Salt Field

Bac Lieu is not only gifted with rivers and flat lands but also coastlines. When travelling along the shore, the salt harvest scene is the splendid view that you’d better bring a camera to capture it.

In large ponds of seawater lying in lines many heaps of salt, on which hard-working farmers are marching one by one to collect bits by bits of the white gift from the sea. Looking from outside, it feels like they are playing with snow. But let’s face the reality: under the vigorous sunshine, no snow could exist. However, despite the heat, this amazing scene is too mesmerizing for you to leave. Keep taking as many pictures as you like. And at the end of the day, this is what you’ve been longing for: sunset on the beach. Oh, what a beautiful day! A trip to Bac Lieu salt fields gives you the most satisfying photos that you’ve ever wanted.

Address: Hòa Bình and Đông Hải district, Bạc Liêu province.

Salt harvest in Bac Lieu. Photo: didauchoigi.com
Architectural heritage

Bac Lieu is home to 3 major ethnics: Kinh (Vietnamese), Hoa (Teow Cheow – Chinese) and Khmer. Together, they have created such a wonderful unique blending living environment. In every corner around towns, it is interesting, yet, very bizarre to see French-inspired buildings and Khmer temples mixing up randomly. Here are some heritages that you must visit in Bac Lieu.

Xiêm Cán Pagoda

In 1887, the Khmer people built this religious architecture complex. It has several buildings, all of which serve specific religious functions. There’s an interesting fact that you must know: the architecture of the pagoda adapted the Angkor style from the Khmer, however, its name “Xiêm Cán”, meaning “near the water”, is indeed a Chinese name.

The pagoda is decorated with meticulous details in vibrant colours from the inside out. The most eye-catching decoration is the five-head-snakes carved on the edges of the roofs, on the arches, walls and stairs. People believe that the Buddha had tamed this treacherous species and made them guard the sacred place. It takes around 2 hours to explore this marvellous pagoda. Walking in a pure and serene atmosphere, you should take a moment to zen. Just simply close your eyes, control our breath, think slowly, and let your stress drift out to the breeze.

Address: Tỉnh lộ 31, Xã Vĩnh Trạch Đông, Thành phố Bạc Liêu, T. Bạc Liêu.

Interior decoration at Xiem Can Pagoda. Photo: gody.vn
Công Tử Bạc Liêu’s Villa

 For Bac Lieu, the late XIX-early XX century was its era of wealth as many prosperous landlords had settled their families there. At that time, the “ Công Tử Bạc Liêu” – ( Bạc Liêu Sons) were notorious for their lavishness. There were many anecdotes about their uncontrollable spendings, but the truths behind those stories were not yet proven. Still, there is one true and famous legacy of the “ Công Tử Bạc Liêu” remains until now: the villa of Trần Trinh Huy (1900-1974).

Trần Trinh Huy had lived the wildest dream. As a consequence, he went bankrupt and left his descendants nothing but misfortunate. Today, the villa belongs to the city and has transformed into a hotel/ tourist attraction. The villa was built French-style with all the materials imported from Paris, and it was the fanciest villa in Southern Vietnam. The place reserves the original fancy belongings of Trần Trinh Huy. There are luxurious items of furniture, cars, and rare decorations that will make you burst out: “How could he be that rich?”. Unfortunately, the legacy wasn’t passed down to his children. The Tran family has then been struggling for their lives. You can hear the true story told by Trinh Huy’s grandson, who is now a tour guide for the villa that once belonged to his family.

Address: 13 Điện Biên Phủ, Ward 3, Bạc Liêu

Fancy furniture pieces inside Cong Tu Bac Lieu’s villa. Photo: vietfuntravel.com.vn

Levi.

Recommended Places and Food in Hanoi By Local

As a city lying on the fertile field of Hong River, Hanoi keeps a-thousand-year cultural history of Vietnam and withholds unique attractive East Asian cultural values. Many valuable historic remnants were left in Hanoi since the year 1010 when King Ly Cong Uan moved Vietnam’s capital from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh province) to Thang Long (Hanoi’s former name). 

In this article, I will recommend you some must-visit destinations and must-eat food in Hanoi that should be in your bucket list when travelling to Hanoi. 

I – Best Season To Visit Hanoi:

There are four seasons in Hanoi,mostly humid and hot with a lot of rain. In the summer, it is quite hot and rainy, but cold and dry in the winter. The spring and autumn, with comfortable weather, play the role as a transiting season and enrich climate diversity for the city. Every season of Hanoi is glamorous and worth exploring.

For instance, if you visit Hanoi in the spring from January to March, you will experience the exciting atmosphere of traditional Tet festival (Lunar New Year) in the light rainy weather with blossomed peach flowers coloring all streets with red and pink. As for romantic people, please come to Hanoi in July and September and you will be amazed by the leave-changing mosaic beauty of such streets as Phan Dinh Phung, Hoang Dieu, Kim Ma, etc.

Phan Dinh Phung street. (Photo: hanoihotels.info)

II – Must-visit Destinations in Hanoi:

Here, I will skip some popular destinations like Hoan Kiem Lake, Old Quarter, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, etc.

1/ Imperial Citadel of Thang Long:

In 2010, it was 1000 years since the day King Ly Cong Uan moved the capital to Hanoi, Thang Long royal castle was recognized by the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee as the World Cultural Heritage. Although Thang Long Citadel was torn down throughout history, fortunately its main entrance to the Forbidden City (‘Cấm Thành’) – Doan Mon Gate is still remained. The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is one of the regrettable things of Hanoi people, and Vietnamese people as general. If it was still in its complete shape, it would be comparable to the Forbidden City of China (‘Tử Cấm Thành’.)

  • Address: Quan Thanh District, Ba Dinh, Hanoi.
  • Opening hours: 08:00 – 17:00 every day except Monday.
  • Entrance ticket: 30.000 VNĐ ($1.32) (for students is 15.000 VNĐ ($0.64).
  • Public transportation: Bus number 22, 33, 45, 50.
Photo: TourHanoi

2/ St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church:

Catholics is the second biggest religion in Vietnam after Buddhism. From the sixteenth century, the European missionaries began to introduce Catholics to Vietnam. Over 5 centuries, Catholics became familiar with a large Vietnamese community. The religious values also left for Hanoi some beautiful architectures carrying uniqueness of European Gothic architecture, namely St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church, Ham Long Church, Cua Bac Church, Phung Khoang Church, An Thai Church, Thinh Liet Church, and Ha Dong Church. Out of those, St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church is the most famous one.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church was built in 1884 and consecrated on Christmas day in 1887. It is one of the first western architectures that were reconstructed in Hanoi. Its original name was Saint Joseph because Pope Innocentinus XI wanted to honour Saint Joseph as a saint protecting Vietnam and neighbouring countries. However, people usually call it ‘Nhà thờ Lớn’ (the Big Church.) It was also a cathedral of the Hanoi archdiocese.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church. (Photo: timeoutvietnam)

One interesting point to attracting tourists to St. Joseph’s Cathedral Church, which also has led to unique trademark of Hanoi people, is ‘Trà chanh nhà thờ’ (Church’s Lemon tea.) This area has become a familiar place of young Hanoians. With a cup of iced tea, sitting opposite to the church, visitors can feel relaxed enjoying the whole view of the church in ‘one of a kind’ area of the capital. In addition, there are famous night street food nearby, including cheese sticks, roasted fermented pork roll.

  • Location: Nha Trung street, about 5 minutes of walking away from Hoan Kiem Lake.
  • Small tip: Visitors can choose visiting Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, and rent a cyclo, which is always available on two side of pedestrian zones, to go to the Big Church.

3/ Temple of Literature:

In Hanoi, there is a place considered as the soul of Hanoi, the heart and symbol in the mind of Hanoi people. That is the first university of Vietnam – The Temple of Literature. Built in 1070 (King Ly Thanh Tong,) it was originally the school for princes and the place to worship Confucius scholars and sages, namely Khong Tu (Confucius), and Chu Van An.

The architecture of the Temple of Literature is unique with Confucius style. The most outstanding of the whole relic site is 83 Stelae of Doctors on turtles (only 1 stelae has only turtle). Those stelae were carved the names of the doctors who had passed the exams in Han language. According to archaeologists, the oldest stelae was constructed in 1484, and the newest in 1784. Those stelaes did not only have historical value, but also philosophical, architectural, and art values.

>>>We have a full article about the Temple of Literature, please click here.

Stelae of Doctors on turtles. (Photo: dkn.tv)

The relic site of the Temple of Literature was placed 23th on the list of National Monuments in Vietnam. If you have a chance to visit Hanoi, should not miss this place.

  • Location: 58 Quoc Tu Giam street, Dong Da District, Hanoi City.
  • Opening hours: 
    Monday – Friday: From 7:30 – 18:00 (I checked it from Mon- Fri not Thurs)
    Saturday – Sunday: From 8:00 –  21:00.
  • Entrance ticket: 30.000 VND/1 time ($1.32), 50% off for the disabled, students, the elder from 60 years old to above.
  • Public transportation: bus number 2, 23, 38, 41.

***From Hanoi, it is easy to visit other provinces like Sapa, Moc Chau, Cao Bang, etc.

II – Must-Eat Food in Hanoi:

Hanoi is not only famous for interesting places, but also for various cuisines which have all the quintessence of Hanoians. Let’s move on those already popular dishes, which had been introduced from the past Vietnam Track’s articles such as pho, bun cha, bun thang, cha ca La Vong, bun dau mam tom, banh tom Ho Tay, etc. Here, I will recommend you some other delicious dishes that you must try in Hanoi:

1/ Bún ốc (snail vermicelli soup)

Bun oc is easy to find because of its popularity; from street booth to restaurants, they all serve it.  The main ingredient is vermicelli noodles and snails, which have been cleaned. A bowl of bun oc is always colorful with distilled tomato and yellow banana. The taste is a perfect combination between soup with a little bit of greasiness, sour, and smell of vinegar. With thin slice of banana flowers and vegetables, the bowl becomes full of different flavors.

Bún ốc. (Photo: i.ytimg.com)

Recommended restaurants:

Ms. Beo at Hoe Nhai street,

Ms. Luong at Khuong Thuong street, 530 Thuy Khue,

Tinh Que restaurant at Cao Dat street,

Inside Dong Xuan market,

Around Tay Ho (West Lake).

2/ Banh cuon (Rolled rice crepes)

Banh cuon is made from rice flour through the skillful hands of the cooks to create a very thin and soft layer. Banh cuon has different types to keep up with the various tastes of people such as Banh cuon without filling, banh cuon filled with wood ear mushroom, banh cuon filled with egg, or shrimp, salted shredded meat, roasted cinnamon pork, etc.

However, the only thing to make banh cuon delicious is sour and spicy fish sauce, which is the cook’s secret. Using chopsticks to dip a piece of banh cuon in the sauce then put it straight into your mouth will give you an unforgettable experience.

Bánh cuốn. (Photo: i.ytimg.com)

Recommended restaurants:

Banh cuon Phuong, 68 Hang Cot (Hanoi),

Banh cuon Ms. Thoa at Ham Tu Quan street,

banh cuon Thanh Van at Hang Ga street.

3/ Pho cuon (rice noodle rolls)

If you already felt familiar with the pho with broth, then pho cuon (rice noodle rolls) will be an interesting thing for you to try when visiting Hanoi. It is different from pho with broth, but rather similar with banh cuon (rolled rice crepes). However, the flour is tougher and thicker. Inside the roll is fried beef, egg, vegetable; and it is served with sweet and sour fish sauce. The most delicious pho cuon is at Ngu Xa village, near Truc Bach lake; it is also the original place of the dish.

Phở cuốn.(Photo: chiecthiavang.com)

Recommended restaurant: Hung Ben restaurant at 33 Ngu Xa, Hanoi.

>>>For drinking beer, here is a good place to check out.

>>>Hanoi has a very special tea, click here to discover.

Writer: Linh Dang.
Translator: Diem Nguyen.

Ben Tre – A Coconut Land

Are you looking for a place outside of HCMC, but not too far away, for experiencing rural life with local people?

Well then, Ben Tre is a good destination for you.

Why to visit?

Situated in Mekong River in the Southwestern Vietnam, Ben Tre – a major rice producer – is a fertile plain criss – crossed by a network of channels and adorned by immense rice fields, long coconut tree lines and large fruit gardens. In contrast to modern HCMC, the charm of Ben Tre lies in its peaceful countryside scenery, coconut-flavored food, and historical values.

Continue reading “Ben Tre – A Coconut Land”

Vinh Hy Bay – A Hidden Pearl of Vietnam

Do you want to look at the beauty of Vietnam from another angle or have a different experience in this S-shaped country? If you say yes, the eastern coast of Vietnam – Vinh Hy Bay (Ninh Thuan Province) – should be on your bucket list. The Nature Mother has given this place a majestic scenery with emerald water and white sand.

Continue reading “Vinh Hy Bay – A Hidden Pearl of Vietnam”