of the Central Highlands is a series of flat plateaux, mainly
inhabited by various ethnic groups. Apart from Dalat, the
tourist guide books are somewhat dismissive of the area.
Many remarkable sights and attractions are not even mentioned,
probably because they are too far off the regular tourist
At present, this
is a blessing for Haivenu travellers because it provides an
opportunity to visit one of Vietnam’s most fascinating areas
without bumping into groups of tourists. However, the Ho Chi
Minh Highway, a new north-south scenic route, makes the area more accessible.
to as Trung Nguyen (the Central Highlands), the area is home
to a large number of ethnic minority communities mostly living
around a series of small towns strung at long intervals on
a road from Dalat to Danang. The climate and topography of
the area means that they have evolved entirely different cultures
to those of their northern counterparts.
live further north, but the mountains there are far less accessible.
The three main
highland towns, Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku and Kon Tum are bisected
by the single road that runs the length of the plateaux area.
They have a few interesting features, but the main attractions
lie outside in the scenery, wildlife and ethnic diversity.
All three are associated with events occurring during the
of the scenery is stunning. Forests, waterfalls, lakes and
rivers are accessible for hiking and trekking, and there’s
plenty to see. To the south, Nam Cat Tien National Park is
one of the most biologically diverse locations in Indochina.
in the area is very limited. Both Buon Ma Thuot and Pleiku
have small local airports with regular flights connecting
with Ho Chi Minh City and Danang.
The only international
hotels are in Dalat – the rest are what we regard as ‘local’
standard. Nevertheless, several offer comfortable accommodation
and acceptable service.
attractive to many of our prospective customers are the possibilities
for homestay accommodation and opportunities to get close
to the communities in the area. In general, the people you
encounter will be very friendly. They have a gentle, relaxed
lifestyle, and are remarkably welcoming and hospitable despite
the poverty in the area. A singular feature is the lack of
beggars and the gangs of children who normally materialise
as soon as you appear anywhere else in Vietnam.
The Central Highlands
is one of the most fascinating areas in the country, but to
enjoy it at its best, it helps to have a phlegmatic approach
to any inconveniences that occur. For example, it’s not unknown
for the police to suddenly decide that you’d be happier in
a hotel than homestay. A sunny smile, a glass of local rice
wine, and some gentle persuasion by your guide can usually
solve the problem – if not, we’re only a ‘phone call away.