Visit Buon Don for the majestic waterfalls, eat red noodles and drink the world-famous coffee of the Central Highlands.
Day 1: Buon Ma Thuot city – Da Voi mountain – Lak lake
In Buon Ma Thuot, the capital of Dak Lak, visitors often start their morning with a cup of coffee in Le Thanh Tong Street. For breakfast, you can try pho (Vietnamese noodles soup) or vermicelli, especially the delicious 2-bowl pho of Gia Lai style. Gia Lai Province is a neighbor of Dak Lak.
Dak Lak Museum of Ethnology in Buon Me Thuot. Photo by Shutterstock/vivanvu
Then, you can visit the Dak Lak Museum of Ethnology in Buon Ma Thuot or go to the KoTam resort to learn about the culture of the Ede and M’Nong ethnic minority groups.
You can visit a house on stilts and learn about the gong culture. The air is fresh with a nearby lake, bamboos and an artificial waterfall. Flowers grow in the garden all year long.
After going around Buon Ma Thuot, visitors can hit Highway 27 to go to Da Voi mountain. Entry to the mountain is free, but you can tip the vehicle security guards. Standing atop the mountain, visitors can see houses below, the green canopy of forests and green and gold rice fields.
Highway 27 also leads to Lak lake. As you travel along this road, you will see a lot of rice fields. At Lak Lake, visitors will be bowled over by the landscapes around Vietnam’s second largest freshwater lake, smaller only than Ba Be lake in the northern province of Bac Kan.
A woman sailed a long boat on Lak lake. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
You can visit the long houses of Buon Jun (June village) to buy handmade souvenirs of the Ede and M’Nong. On the other side of Buon Jun is Buon M’Lieng, home of the M’Nong people. This village remains unspoiled by tourism.
Elephants on the field near Lak lake in Dak Lak Province. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
Day 2: Buon Don (Don village)
Buon Don, about 40km west of Buon Ma Thuot city, is a stopover on day 2. Here visitors can understand more about the ethnic cultures of Dak Lak.
On the way to Buon Don you will pass many tourist resorts such as Troh Bu and Buon Don – Thanh Ha. But if you just want to go to Buon Don, you can head straight to the Buon Don Cultural Center in Krong Na Commune.
Here you will find many long bridges, centuries-old trees, stilt houses, and souvenir shops.
Visitors can rent E De costumes for VND50,000 ($2.16) to wear and take pictures. If you have time you can continue on to Buon Lanh, which has many traditional long houses.
Day 3: Krong Bong district
Krong Bong is a district that attracts visitors with its rice fields and the Chu Yang Sin mountain. It is around 80 km from Buon Ma Thuot.
Krong Kmar Waterfall at Krong Kmar originates in Chu Yang Sin and flows smoothly, winding through huge rocks. On the waterfall is a beautiful iron bridge from where you can get a panoramic view.
You can take pictures of small European-style houses nestling among pine forests. At the foot of Chu Dang Ya is a café where you can wind down.
In the afternoon take a stroll around the town of Krong Kmar and visit Krong Bong market to try local dishes. For just VND5,000 ($0.21), you can buy 5 orange cakes while VND2,000 ($0.09) will get you a bowl of pho.
Scenic view of the Dray Nur waterfalls located in Dak Lak Province. Photo by Shutterstock/Elena Ermakova
Nature lovers can also visit other waterfalls like Dray Nur, Dray Sap and Gia Long. The admission ticket at Dray Nur costs VND35,000 ($1.5).
To visit Gia Long, you have to buy a tour with the price depending on whether you choose to ride a bicycle or walk.
If you like to take photographs, you can visit rubber hills, pepper hills and coffee hills on Highway 14 to Gia Lai, the Se Re Pok 3 hydroelectric power plant and the road from Krong Pak to Khanh Hoa Province.
Buon Ma Thuot is considered the Central Highlands’ center. Most visitors come here to start their trip. You can get there by plane, bus or motorbike.
The bus fare from HCMC ranges from VND200,000 ($8.62) to VND400,000 ($17.24); from Hanoi it is VND600,000 ($25.87).
Flights to Buon Ma Thuot cost VND500,000 ($21.55) one way from HCMC and up to VND2 million ($86.22) from Hanoi. You should plan early to get a decent fare.
Traveling to Buon Ma Thuot by motorcycle is a wonderful experience. Between November and April you will see many species of flowers like lily, sunflowers and cherry along the way.
Motorbikes can be rented for VND120,000-200,000 ($5.10-8.60) per day.
Travelers can easily find a place to stay because Buon Ma Thuot is a big city. If you want to save money, you can sleep in a hostel. Some hostels in the center also offer a coffee shop for tourists to relax or work. You can also choose a homestay to get a glimpse into the life of local residents. These are available in Cu M’Gar district, north of Buon Me Thuot.
If price is not a concern, you can stay in one of the larger hotels for greater convenience. The cheaper hotels are mostly at the city entrance and on Nguyen Cong Tru street.
A bowl of red noodle in Buon Me Thuot. Photo by VnExpress/Di Vy
Some dishes that you must definitely try are rice cooked in bamboo with grilled chicken, red noodles, wild vegetables hot pot, hemibagrus with bamboo shoots, Vietnamese vegetable dip, grilled half-dried beef and yellow ant salt. These are the specialties of the Central Highlands.
If you do not fancy the local foods, you can easily find stuff like grilled rice rolls with meat, beef with tamarind sauce and red noodles on Le Duan street and snails, fetal duck eggs on Mai Hac De and Nguyen Viet Xuan streets.
Le Hong Phong and Nguyen Thi Minh Khai are the main places for stuffed pancakes, snails and grilled sausages. Beef steak is a must-try food
Finally, in Buon Ma Thuot, you cannot miss its famous coffee. One place you can explore is the coffee village on Le Thanh Tong street.