2 Hidden Treasures You Can Still Find In Central Highlands

Tay Nguyen (sometimes also called Central Highlands) can be divided into 3 sub-regions, namely: South Tay Nguyen (Lam Dong), North Tay Nguyen (inclusive of Kon Tum and Gia Lai provinces), Middle Tay Nguyen (Dak Lak and Dak Nong). Among all of these, Lam Dong is certainly familiar to you whose capital is well known Da Lat. Most travelers pay a short visit to Dat Lat via Nha Trang or HCM City and only a few of them go off the tourist trail and visit other two sub-regions of Tay Nguyen.


Buon Ma Thuot and Kon Tum are two hidden treasures that you can still find in Tay Nguyen. These are home to many ethnic minority groups with interesting culture elements, as well as beautiful mountain scenery, lakes and waterfalls. Not convinced? Read on!


Buon Ma Thuot – Coffee Drinkers’ Paradise

Often regarded as the largest coffee producer, Buon Ma Thuot is the capital of Dak Lak province. Truly, the region’s coffee plantations (259,000 ha) constitute 4/5 of the total coffee plantation area for the whole country. Thanks to its favourable soil and climate, Buon Ma Thuot is very famous and it has also been exported to many countries in the world, making Vietnam the second largest producer in the world after Brazil. Did you know that Buon Ma Thuot is home to the country’s famous coffee chain – Trung Nguyen Coffee?


Hence a visit to the coffee plantation is a must. During the visit, you will see lots of coffee seeds being dried in the sun, the locals working on their farms. Spend time talking with them and savour cup after cup of delicious regions’ specialty. More than this, you have a chance to talk with them and understand about their lives here where people are reply on coffee for a living.

Next stop is Dak Lak Museum or Ethnographic Museum. You will definitely be impressed with the architecture of the building itself as it is inspired with traditional long house of ethnic minority people here. The museum is divided into 3 sections:  minorities, biodiversity and history giving you an insight into the local life. The visual displays and language variety make it a fantastic wandering.


If you are all about outdoor adventures, Yok Don national park is a must. It’s Vietnam’s largest national reserve with the dominance of deciduous dipterocarp forest. Animal lovers will be delighted to know that many protected species including elephants, tigers, leopards and bears, and more than 450 types of birds, populate the park; most, however, reside deep in the interior. Of course, it’s better to have a tour guide who is knowledgeable about birds and know how to find them. Also, with the help of our experts, your observance will not disrupt the animals’ natural processes. What better way to appreciate the surrounding nature than trekking, boating or lazily swing in a hammock.

The elephant is a unique cultural symbol of Tay Nguyen. If you love elephant, please protect elephant here from animal abuse by not supporting any elephant activities such as riding, feeding and bathing. Footprint Travel is committed to about responsible wildlife tourism; hence, these activities are not included in our itineraries. As travelers, your choices are what could really change the face of wildlife tourism in Tay Nguyen.

For an extra cultural element, visit ethnic minority villages. This is also home to more than 40 ethnic minority groups, predominantly the Ede who are famous for their impressive long house. Other than the architecture, their identity is distinctly expressed through their language, funeral rites, Gong music, pottery and dependence on nature. Footprint Travel wants to help you delve a little deeper to discover a new perspective of Vietnam’s rich culture by local encounter and experience.

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Listen to their tales of region’s legend, dance to the traditional, UNESCO-recognised Gong. Based on the cult of the anscestors, shamanism and animism. Gong is considered a privileged language between men, divinities and the supernatural world



If you have more time in Tay Nguyen, send your time at beautiful largest natural freshwater lake in Tay Nguyen, namely Lak Lake. It’s home to Mnong people who rely on the lake for their livelihood. You can see men fishing on dugout canoes with baskets and nets while women and children on the shore collecting snails, crayfishes and crabs.



Kon Tum – Pond Village

Located in the North Tay Nguyen, Kon Tum has slowly begun to catch the eyes of travelers seeking roads less travelled. The town itself is well worth a day. First destination is wooden church of over 100 years old. Roman architecture styles were developed in harmony with shape of house on stilts in Tay Nguyen. The whole structure stands one meter above the ground on wooden pillars like many hill tribes’ houses and communal houses.

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A trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Kon K’lor Rong house (communal house) – an iconic cultural symbol of Tay Nguyen. While Ede people living primarily in Buon Ma Thuot, Kon Tum is home to a large population of Bahnar (Ba Na) people. According to Ba Na language, Kon means village, Tum means of lake and pond. The Rong house is built as a mark of the foundation of a Ba Na village; therefore, no doubt it’s important to all the villagers.

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Not only is the communal house impressive, the nearby Ba Na village also offers travelers chance to learn more about the hill tribe and join some activities with the locals. Kon K’tu is the oldest cultural village of Ba Na people. To go there, you can cross the largest suspension bridge Kon Klo via the communal house. Take a stroll around and you will be warmly welcomed by these friendly Ba Na people. Having a very little share of tourist, the local people here are not affected by tourism industry. For the reason, our travelers always feel safe traveling in this region. They call you brothers and invite you their local specialty, rice wine.

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Tour options

At Footprint Travel, we love connecting people. Hence, we have launched amazingly crafted itineraries to help you explore Tay Nguyen in different ways. With more time you can venture on an overnight island trip to Quy Nhon beach which is another hidden gem in the central of Vietnam.


Option 1: Buon Ma Thuot 2 Days

Day 1: Hanoi – Buon Ma Thuot

Day 2: Buon Ma Thuot – Yok Don National Park


Option 2: Buom Ma Thuot- Kon Tum 3 Days

Day 1: Hanoi – Buon Ma Thuot

Day 2: Buon Ma Thuot – Kon Tum, via Pleiku

Day 3: Kon Tum – Hanoi.


Option 3: Hoian – Kon Tum – Buon Ma Thuot – HCM City 4 Days

Day 1: Hoian – Mang Den

Day 2: Mang Den – Kon Tum

Day 3: Kon Tum – Buon Ma Thuot

Day 4: Buon Ma Thuot – HCM City


Option 4: Central Highlands and Quy Nhon Beach 5 Days

Day 1: Hanoi – Buon Ma Thuot

Day 2: Buon Ma Thuot to Kon Tum, via Pleiku

Day 3: Kon Tum – Quy Nhon

Day 4: Quy Nhon

Day 5: Quy Nhon – Hanoi/HCM City



Author: Hong Anh

Hong Anh is a true story-teller. For her, travelling is about stepping out of your comfort zone. Each of her stories is a unique travel experience that is told and illustrated by her own distinctive style.

Hong Anh