Central Highlands Travel Guide
The Central Highlands (Tây Nguyên) of Vietnam are a distinct contrast from the tropical south, with an arid climate, rolling hills, and blue skies. The region sees few foreign visitors, and many of them go to revisit old battlefields or see the indigenous tribes.
Central Highlands (Tay Nguyen) contains the five inland provinces of south-central Vietnam. Almost of this region is mountainous. While mostly inhabited by ethnic minorities, there are many Vietnamese living here:
- Daklak province- The most famous sceneries are world-famous waterfalls and visit primeval forests with diversified ecological systems such as Dray Sap, Gia Long, Trinh Nu, Krong Kmar, Yok Don National Park, etc.
- Dak Nong province- suitable for tourists who like discovering superb natural fall scenery
- Gia Lai province- has a chance to discover many impressive, poetic scenes (Kon Ka Kinh, Kon Cha Rang tropical forests, Xung Khoeng Waterfall, Phu Cuong Waterfall, Da Trang, Mo springs and Ayaun Ha Lake, etc)
- Kon Tum province- enjoys mountainous landscapes like Ngok Linh Mountain, Chu Mon Ray Primitive Forest.
- Lam Dong province - Made from the combination of topographical, climatic and hydrographical factors like the natural scenic spots include Xuan Huong Lake, Dan Kia - Suoi Vang Lake, Tuyen Lam Lake, Lake of Sighs, et
The best time to travel Central Highland
The best time of year to visit the Highlands is between November and January when the landscape is lush, the rain minimal and the weather temperate.
How to get to Central Highland Region
Da Lat, Buon Ma Thuot and Pleiku all have airports and are serviced daily by Vietnam Airlines. For detailed fare and timetable information, please see Vietnam airline website.
Ho Chi Minh City - Buon Ma Thuot: daily flights offered by Vietnam Airline and Jetstar Pacific (low-cost).
All the provincial capitals have large bus and minibus connections with Mien Dong bus station in Ho Chi Minh City. See the individual sections for details on price and frequency.
Things to do and top deep attractions in Central Highland
- Enjoining space of gong culture - recognized it as a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity on November 25, 2005.
- Visiting Shielding grave statue- is a unique spiritual culture identity of the Highland community. It combines with the grave house, making amazing art-working, including architecture, sculpture, art and decoration reflecting daily activities, working activities. They are put around the graves which are built as a small house.
- Enjoying a cup of Central Highlands coffee: grown from this fertilize land is an unforgettable memory in your life. Buon Ma Thuot is best known for its production of famous Vietnamese coffee.
- Visiting Ako Dhong village was set up by Ama Rin for a long time ago, with the featured longhouses of Ede ethnic group and a beautiful picturesque green landscape around. Besides, the village still preserves traditional customs as well as traditional craft such as weaving or brocade.
- Riding elephants in Don Village: Don Village has long standing fame for elephant hunters and trainers. Besides elephants ride, there are a lot of other activities for you in Don village, such as home staying at stilt houses, canoeing on the dugout canoe crossing Serepok River to seven-branch waterfall, enjoying Can wine and exploring traditional customs and cultures of ethnic minority community.
- Tay Nguyen in blossoming seasons: November is the ideal time to visit Tay Nguyen because this is the blossoming time of Mexican sunflower. At the beginning of January, Tay Nguyen turns to a bright red and yellow color of fallen leaves of India rubbers. In March, Tay Nguyen turns to a pure white of blossoming coffee trees
- Explore the heritage of Lak Lake: is the largest natural lake within Vietnam’s Central Highlands and visitors are treated to a glimpse of everyday traditional life that takes place on the banks of the lake.
- Visiting fierce waterfalls: This highland has many imposing waterfalls for you to explore, including Yaly waterfall (Yali commune, Sa Thay district, KonTum province), Thuy Tien waterfall (Tam Gia ng town, Krong Nang district, Dak Lak province), etc.
Local specialties in Central Highlands
Photo: Goi La
- “Goi La” (Leaves salad) - a traditional salad call: made from 40 kinds of leaf, taken from Tay Nguyen’s forests. These leaves are eaten with roasted shrimp or boiled pork, with some other local ingredients.
- Ruu Can- Tube Wine: Ruou can is a fermented rice wine produced in mountainous areas like the Central Highlands or the Northwestern region. It is made of cooked glutinous rice mixed with several kinds of herbs (including leaves and roots) in the local forests.
- Com Lam- Rice in a bamboo tube: Com lam is a rice dish found in the Central Highlands. It originated when mountain people would prepare for long journeys by pressing wet rice (com) with added salt, into bamboo tubes, and cooking.
- Bamboo foot: Bamboo shoots can be processed into a lot of cuisines, such as boiled bamboo shoot served with sesame and salt, bamboo shoot fried with beef or pork, bamboo shoot soup
- Deer meet: This is a specialty of the Central Highlands, mainly in Dak Lak province. There are a lot of cuisines processed from deer meat but the most popular is dried meat
- Don Village grilled chicken: Chickens are embalmed with salt, chili, and citronella and honey before they are clipped by bamboo sticks to roast on charcoal. Roasted chicken is served with pepper or citronella salt and com lam.
- Trekking in the Central Highlands is undeveloped - especially in the more remote, little-visited provinces like Kon Tum and Pleiku. Per-person costs tend to be high and the frequency of tours low.
- There is no problem finding both cash and travelers cheque exchange facilities along with international access ATMs in Da Lat, Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku, Kon Tum and Dong Xoi.