Visitors to Dak Lak Province in the central highlands have an opportunity to ride an elephants and learn how local people hunt and tame elephants.
The province is home to several ethnic minority groups: E De, M’Nong, Gia Rai, Lao and Thai. Let's take on a tour of ethnic minority villages in Dak Lak.
In Dak Lak, the villages of Don and Jun are the most popular tourist destinations. In this region, the air is pure and life is calm.
The villages are famous for taming elephants. The Ede, M'nong or Gia Rai ethnic minority people live in stilt houses whose doors are open all day to tourists.
Ama Thanh who lives in Jun village said “In the past, only a few people came to visit us because the roads were bad. To get here, you had to walk or ride an elephant. There was no car”.
The Nha Rong or Communal House of the ethnic people in the Central Highlands is a venue for community activities. Located in the center of the village, the house is built entirely of wood.
The house is like a miniature museum of culture and customs of the local people. Among the items on display are bows and arrows, shields, spears, gongs, wine jars and items used in local sacred ceremonies like elephant worshiping and prayer ceremonies for bumper crops.
The communal house also hosts major social events in the village and serves as a place for the village elders to teach the younger generation about local customs and culture. Long traditional stilt houses with their unique architectural styles attract a lot of tourists.
H Nom, a tour guide in Don Village, said “If you want to explore the Central Highlands’ culture, you should begin with the long stilt house. The architecture of the long stilt house reflects the matriarchy of the M'Nong.”
“When a girl gets married, her husband has to come live with her. The house is then extended. Normally, a longhouse can house a family of about 10 couples,” he noted.
Riding elephants around the village attracts a lot of tourists. You can ride across the Serepok River or explore Yok Don national park.
Don’t miss the house of Ama Kong, the King elephant hunter. In this 120-year old house, you will find documents and photos depicting the hunting and taming of elephants.
Returning to Jun village, you can ride an elephant or boat around Lak Lake, the second largest lake in Vietnam. Travelers can also enjoy local specialties like com lam- sticky rice cooked in a small bamboo trunk – or grilled wild chicken.
Nguyen Khac Chinh, a tourist from Ho Chi Minh City, said “Visiting the village, I feel closer to nature. I love the forests, the streams and the river here. I feel really comfortable. At the same time, I can eat local specialties which are very delicious”.
If you stay overnight with a local family, the experience will be great. Staying in a stilt house, you can join traditional dances with the villagers or watch a gong performance. Scenic landscapes and cultural peculiarities make the ethnic minority villages of Dak Lak places that are really worth a visit.