Throughout Vietnam, there isn’t a shortage of interesting people to meet, places to visit, and food to eat. But after you’ve visited the major cities once or twice before, you might find yourself wanting something different.
In these cases, you may want to go for something more relaxing and picturesque by heading off the beaten path. One great way to do this is by taking a tour of the country’s central highlands region, or Tay Nguyen in the local tongue. The area has great scenic vistas, interesting cultural spots, delicious food, and many more to offer tourists.
Bao Loc is near the southern edge of the region and is a good starting point. Despite being a major city in the area, it has a very quiet vibe, with coffee plantations and fruit farms dotting the countryside around the city proper. The central part of the town also has the Ho Dong Nai lake, while the beautiful Dambri Waterfall is only about 16 kilometers away from the city.
With its small-town vibe, great views, and accessible landmarks, you might even want to book a Bao Loc accommodation for a quick stay. If you’re a native Tieng Viet speaker who’s looking for the right place, just do a quick search for “Khách sạn Bảo Lộc,” which simply means “Bao Loc hotel in English. This should provide a wide selection to choose from.
Nestled high up in the Lang Biang plateau, Da Lat is a highlight for both local and foreign tourists. Indeed, its high elevation gives it a cooler climate than the rest of the country. It’s also just a two hour’s drive up northeast from Bao Loc and is conveniently connected to most of the important major cities throughout Vietnam.
More importantly, however, its unique position gives it its status as the country’s “summer capital.” Great places to visit include the Da Lat Flower Garden, Lang Biang Mountain, and the well-preserved French Colonial Villas along Ana Mandara.
Buon Ma Thuot
Go further north towards Dak Lak province and you’ll reach the city of Buon Ma Thuot, which is the largest city in the region. It’s also known as the nation’s coffee capital, so make sure to try out the local cafés for their coffee, which is said to possess a distinct quality and a unique taste.
Buon Ma Thuot is also a great place to stay if you plan on checking out Yok Don National Park, which is the country’s largest nature preserve. Reaching up to the Cambodian border, its sheer size of more than 1,100 square kilometers also makes it one of Vietnam’s most biodiverse. The villages around Buon Ma Thuot are also where you’ll start encountering a greater number of indigenous people, with the surrounding area populated by the Rade.
Nearing the northern end of the central highlands region lies Pleiku, which is another major transportation hub. It’s also home to people of the Jarai ethnic minorities. They are known for their distinct native clothing, consisting of knitted jumpers, cool-weather scarves, and embroidered headbands.
Pleiku itself is home to the famous T’Nung lake, a very calm freshwater lake that can be as big as 4 square kilometers in the rainy season. Further north, you can visit the Kong Kinh National Park, which is home to the Dak Bok Waterfall—nicknamed the “110 Waterfall” for its many diverging streams.
Last on our list is Kon Tum, which is a rather small city with a relaxing ambiance. Despite its own collection of old French-era buildings and other landmarks, it is mostly known as a great place to experience Vietnam’s indigenous culture. Indeed, the surrounding area includes settlements of the Bahnar people. And just 8 kilometers east from Kon Tum is Kon K’Tu, which is a major Bahnar village. Here, you can also catch a glimpse of the unique rong-style communal houses. These are structures with tall and steep roofs that are built on stilts.
However, do note that it’s highly recommended to hire an experienced guide if you’re looking to visit the more remote towns. After all, you don’t want to inadvertently break some taboos that the indigenous tribes hold dear.
Exploring Vietnam isn’t just about staying holed up in the bigger cities or going through all the temples and museums. Try to go for something more adventurous, and take an extended tour of the countryside. This way, you’ll have a better chance of developing your own unique experiences and stories to share once you get back home.
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