Mekong Delta

My Tho - Around My Tho - Ben tre - Around Ben Tre - Vinh Long - Tra Vinh - Around Tra Vinh - Sa Dec - Cao Lanh - Around Cao Lanh - Can Tho - Soc Trang Around Can Tho - Around Soc Trang - Bac Lieu - Around Bac lieu - Ca Mau - Around Ca Mau - Nam Can - Long Xuyen - Around Long Xuyen - Chau Doc - Around Chau Doc - Ba Chuc - Tuc Dup Hill - Ha Tien - Around Ha Tien
Hon Chong - Rach Gia - Phu Quoc Island


Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary
Five kilometres south of town, Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary (Vuon Chim Bac Lieu; Tell: 835 991; admission 40,000d; 7.30am-5pm) is notable for its 50-odd species of bird, including a large population of graceful white herons. This is one of the most interesting sights in the Mekong Delta and is surprisingly popular with Vietnamese tourists. Foreign visitors are rare. probably because Bac Lieu is so out-of-the-way.
Whether or not you see any birds depends on what time of year you visit. Bird populations are at their peak in the rainy season -approximately May to October. The birds hang around to nest until about January, then fly off in search of greener pastures. There are basically no birds here from February until the rainy season begins again.
The drive is only 5km but the road is in bad shape. The rest of the trek is through dense (and often muddy) jungle. Bring plenty of repellent, good shoes, water and binoculars.
Pay the admission fee when you reach the entrance of the bird sanctuary. You can (and should) hire a guide here - you'll probably get lost without one. The guides aren't supposed to take any money, so tip them (US$2 is enough) discreetly; most guides do not speak English. Transport and guides can also be arranged at the Bac Lieu tourist office (see opposite), but hiring a guide there will cost you around US$10 for the day.
Bac Lieu Beach
The same road leading to the Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary terminates 10km from Bac Lieu at this beach (Bai Bien Bac Lieu). Don't expect white sand - it's all hard-packed Mekong Delta mud. Quite a few shellfish and other slimy things crawl around where the muck meets the sea. Tide pool enthusiasts might be impressed. Locals may be willing to take you for a walk on the tidal flats where they harvest oysters. There's a simple restaurant on the beach for local seafood dishes; another restaurant is scheduled to open there in 2007.
Moi Hoa Binh Pagoda
This Khmer pagoda (Chua Moi Hoa Binh or Se Rey Vongsa) is 13km south of Bac Lieu along Hwy 1 (look to your left while driving to Ca Mau).
The pagoda is uniquely designed and chances are good that the monastery's enormous tower will catch your eye even if you're not looking for it. As pagodas in Vietnam go, it's relatively new, having first been built in 1952. The tower was added in 1990 and is used to store the bones of the deceased. There is a large and impressive meeting hall in front of the tower.
Most Khmer people in the area head for monastery schools in Soc Trang in order to receive a Khmer education. Apart from the small contingent of student monks, very few students study at the Moi Hoa Binh Pagoda.