Central Highlands (Vietnam)
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.
- Bao Loc - good resting spot between Ho Chi Minh City and Dalat
- Buon Ma Thuot - home of the most famous Vietnamese coffee
- Dalat - the old French hill-station with "eternal" spring climate
- Khâm Đức
- Kontum - where communal life centers around the towering rong-houses
- Ngoc Hoi - small town near border crossing to Laos (Bo Y)
- Gia nghia
- Lak Lake - ride an elephant around the long houses of the Ede.
Besides the pleasant city of Dalat, it is the scenery and the ethnic minorities living here that draw travellers to this region. Although most people around here, different to their counterparts in the north-west highlands, only don their traditional clothing for special occasions, the shape and structure of the housings is much more diversified and striking. From long houses to bamboo huts, stilthouses and large communal houses, every region and ethnic has its own distinct style. Everyday life is the same simple agricultural routine, and you are likely to get invited for a mug of rice wine rather often.
Buses from the coastal cities of Nha Trang and Qui Nhon can get you to the region. Dalat is connected to every major city in Vietnam. Otherwise, you can take the bus to Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku, Gia Nghia, Da Lat, Bao Loc from Ho Chi Minh City. However, you have to bear in mind that the quality of those buses may not be good, except the route to Dalat which operated by Mai Linh Express.
Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat: Phuong Trang bus (high-quality) takes 10 hours and costs 210,000 dong. Phuong Trang collects passengers at hotels in Dalat, and can drop you off at D1 in Ho Chi Minh City. From Ho Chi Minh City, the bus leaves from their office in D5, and from Ben Xe Mien Tay (West coach station).
Da Lat to Nha Trang: Phuong Trang bus takes 4 hours and costs 130,000 dong. The road is very scenic with tall waterfalls in the rainy season. They collect/drop off passengers in both Dalat and Nha Trang.
Da Nang to Kontum: Minibuses leave regularly from Da Nang central bus station (159 Ton Duc Thang St) from 05:00-17:00. Trip takes 5 hr, costs 140,00-170,000 dong. Buses can get very crammed.
Da Nang to Pleiku (Gia Lai): Minibuses leave from Da Nang central bus station from 06:30-08:30 (every half hour), and again from 17:30-21:30 (every 15 or 30 minutes).
Da Nang to Buon Ma Thuot: Minibuses leave from Da Nang central bus station from 05:00-08:00 (every hour), and from 15:30-19:10 (every hour or half hour).
Ho Chi Minh City - Buon Ma Thuot: daily flights offered by Vietnam Airline and Jetstar Pacific (low-cost).