Central Highlands Travel Guide

Although guidebooks to Vietnam tend not to say much about the central highlands, the area is home to some impressive sights. Made up of a succession of plateaus and home to many ethnic groups, the region is far off the beaten track. Travelers will get a real taste of the area without meeting too many other tourists.

The most popular travel route is between Da Lat in the south and Kon Tum in the north. Local buses are the only public transportation option, so some travelers hire a vehicle with a driver. More intrepid travelers can travel with the Easy Riders from Da Lat, who will carry one person and a rucksack on the back of a motorbike.

Southernmost Da Lat is the most well known city in the region. Located 4,921 feet above sea level, Da Lat is known for its cool, spring-like climate year round. This climate makes the area an important producer of fresh cut flowers, vegetables and soft fruits. Glimpses of the old French colonial architecture of Da Lat are still to be seen among the multitude of newer, Vietnamese-style buildings.

Dak Lak province is home to around thirty ethnic groups. The rainy season from April to November gives the area a heavenly greenness. The Nam Ka forest area offers a number of home stays in ethnic villages, and travelers can ride in a dugout canoe over Lak Lake to take an elephant trek.

The more humid city of Buon Ma Thuot is located 118 miles from Nha Trang. The surrounding area has several notable waterfalls, two of which are Dray Nur and Gia Long. Gia Long is bordered by ancient forest with majestic trees and vines. The remains of a bridge built over the fall by former Emperor Bao Dai are slowly being covered up by vegetation.

North of Dak Lak province is Gia Lai province, where visitors are often struck by the magnificent waterfall at Phu Cuong, where a single roaring cascade hurtles into the waters below. Many more ethnic villages are dotted along the banks of the river.

At the northern end of the central highlands lies the area of Kon Tum, offering a selection of home stays and trekking opportunities. Vietnam’s largest national park, Yok Don, is located here and is home to several ethnic communities.