The detailed travel itinerary in the interesting Central Highlands in 4 days for tourists

The detailed travel itinerary in the interesting Central Highlands in 4 days for tourists

Dak Lak Gia Lai - Kon Tum Dak Nong 15.03.2021

Let's see within 4 days and 3 nights, which interesting experiences the young girl Bao Ngoc had when coming to the "great land" of the Central Highlands.

Translated by nguyendo

Written by huongnt

Bao Ngoc (25 years old) had a trip to the Central Highlands with her friends. Sharing with Nem-vn.net, Bao Ngoc said: “I have been to many places in Vietnam before, including seaboard and mountainous areas, but I chose the Central Highlands as my destination because I wanted to see the differences between it and other places I've been to”.

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Bao Ngoc on the trip to the Central Highlands.

After the trip, Bao Ngoc shared her precious experiences with Nem-vn.net, so that you too, can have a fun and perfect trip to the Central Highlands:

Suitable time to go to the Central Highlands

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The best time in the Central Highlands is from December to March of the next year

According to Bao Ngoc's research, the best time in the Central Highlands is from December to March of the next year. She chose to travel to this destination in December in the wild sunflowers season with quite nice weather - the morning and night were a bit cold (about 17 degrees) while the daytime was sunny but still cool (about 22 degrees).

Schedule for a 4-day-3-night trip in the Central Highlands

Day 1: Bien Ho - Korean Road - Bien Ho Che

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The immense Bien Ho

Bien Ho: At 10am, Bao Ngoc and her friends took a flight to Pleiku, relaxed and had breakfast. At 12pm, they departed to T’nung Lake (also known as To Nueng Lake, To Nung Lake, Bien Ho Pleiku or Ea Nueng Lake), about 10km from the centre. The group rented some motorbikes (scooter: VND 180,000/day; motorbike: VND 150,000/day) to travel. The entrance ticket here was VND 15,000/person. She commented that Bien Ho was similar to Dalat because of the existence of a vast pine forest, but it was far more beautiful thanks to the large lake featured here. No matter how hot the Central Highlands is, T'nung Lake is always cool, fresh and fragrant, with a pleasant aroma of wild plants. Tourism services do not currently run here, allowing the pure beauty of nature to be preserved.

According to historical documents, the lake was originally a place where three ancient volcanoes were connected. With the high edge, you can clearly see the lake from a distance. Due to the indetectable depth, the lake is called T'nung (which refers to the "bottomless lake") and is as wide as the sea, leading people to also regard it as Bien Ho.

T'nung Lake is associated with the legends of the Gia Rai people. In the past, there was a large and beautiful village where the inhabitants lived in harmony, peace and happiness, but suddenly there was a volcanic eruption which buried the village. The lucky survivors mourned the village, and then their tears flowed into streams and formed the lake. There is another anecdote that T'nung Lake was the “water station” of Jo Rai village in the past. One day, on the way to the station, a villager (whose name is Ya Chao) discovered a very beautiful white pig and took it home. Every day, Ya Chao fed the pig, but it did not eat anything. One day, when he went to get water from the station, the pig licked all the grains of sand that remained in Ya Chao’s water jar. Therefore, Ya Chao often took the white sand from the water station to feed the pigs since then, and it gradually got bigger. On that occasion, the villagers needed a big pig as an offering to worship Giang. Unable to find the appropriate pig, they went to Ya Chao's house to take his pig and distributed the meat equally to the villagers. Ya Chao refused to accept the meat and swore: "If I eat this meat, the earth will shake and the water station will collapse". Ya Chao's nephew thought that the pork was delicious, so he cried and wanted to eat it. This led to Ya Chao giving away the meat to him. Upon doing so, the mountains and forests were shaken and the houses were buried. Ya Chao and his nephew could not run out, so they were buried and became stone statues in the lake.

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The Korean road with cool shade of conifers

Korean Road: This road, which is very beautiful and fresh, is located on the way from Bien Ho to Bien Ho Che. With a length of 14 kilometers, the road is covered by the cool shade of conifers along the two sides. If you come here in the early morning, you can admire the mist on the leaves and listen to the peaceful murmur.

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The immense green of Bien Ho Che

Bien Ho Che: About 10km from the north of Pleiku city center, Bien Ho Che (in Chu Pah district) is a combination of an irrigation lake and vast tea fields with green young tea buds and pure white tea flowers. Tea trees have been cultivated in this land since the 20s of the last century. In 1919-1920, the French began to reclaim the northern land of the Central Highlands as a place for tea cultivation. By 1921, they had established Bien, Bau Can and Dak Doa tea plantations in Gia Lai. At that time, the workers of the plantation were mainly from the Central of Vietnam. The fertile basalt soil of this land has created favorable conditions for the development of tea trees, helping its people cultivate teas in the middle of the highlands. Currently, Gia Lai has 2 main tea producers: Bien Ho and Bau Can Tea Company. Annually, Bien Ho Tea Company cultivates 365 hectares of tea with a yield of 9 tons of fresh tea buds.

Following the road leading to Bien Ho Che, visitors can feel the scent of tea leaves in the wind. You should come here in the early morning when morning mist remains on the trees, creating a sparkling picture under the dawn light. From above, you can see the immense green of tea fields in a vast space.

You can admire the unique beauty of the tea fields in each season, but November or December will be the ideal time when wildflowers are in full bloom over the mountains. You can also travel to this destination in February or March to see the pure white of coffee flowers.

Day 2: Minh Thanh Pagoda - Coffee Museum - Trung Nguyen Coffee Village

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Minh Thanh Pagoda with the typical architecture of the Ly - Tran dynasty.

Minh Thanh Pagoda: Bao Ngoc and her friends dropped by the pagoda at 7am. Minh Thanh Pagoda is about 2km from the center of Pleiku city, at 348 Nguyen Viet Xuan street, Hoi Phu ward, Gia Lai province. The pagoda is chaired by the Venerable Thich Tam Man.

Minh Thanh Pagoda is a typical work with the unique style of the Ly and Tran dynasties with the alternating ancient roof structures of Vietnam. The 16 meter high main hall is built in the form of a mandala with a symbolic circle like a fully bloomed lotus flower - the basis of tantric cosmology. The ceiling is made of hinoki wood and sindoer; inside the main hall is the statue of Vairocana (6m high, 16 tons); Buddhas are carved into each lotus petal, and the back wall is called Eighty Eight Buddhas. The main hall door is 6m high with a 4-inch thick frame, including 6 2-inch thick doors carved 6 Great Bodhisattvas. In the main hall there is a set of lamps made of ceramic materials, restored based on the style of the Le Mat dynasty.

In addition, Minh Thanh has Tu An Tower worshiping the ancestor who built the pagoda. This tower has 3 layers of the roof, tiled with yin and yang patterns and decorated with dragons and stylized lotus flowers. In the courtyard of the pagoda is the stone statue of Buddha Amitabha (7.5m high, 40 tons) located solemnly in the middle of Lien Tri lake with lotus flowers.

After visiting Minh Thanh pagoda, at 8:00 am, Bao Ngoc and her friends went to Duc Long station to take a coach to Buon Ma Thuot. There are many coach companies with different running hours, but you should book the tickets in advance at the price of about VND 150,000/person with the travel time of about 3.5 hours. Bao Ngoc arrived in Buon Ma Thuot at 11:30 a.m, had lunch and rested before starting her afternoon journey.

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Bao Ngoc and her friends visited the World Coffee Museum.

The World Coffee museum: The museum is located on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, about 4km from the center of Buon Ma Thuot city. The World Coffee Museum has a unique and novel architecture, and it is beautifully decorated inside. Bao Ngoc confided to Nem-vn.net: “The architecture of the museum is very beautiful, unique and modern. You can also explore and enjoy coffee there. There are thousands of extremely beautiful backgrounds for you to take pictures. I think this is also a difference the Central Highlands has compared to all other places in Vietnam”. 

Taking the shape of a cube, the architecture of the museum is based on the style of a longhouse and the sound waves from the bells which are stylized into polymorphic curves. The highlight of this place is that it holds more than 10,000 artifacts related to the three typical coffee civilizations of the world in the last 3 centuries, which were brought from the Jens Burg museum of Germany. This is considered one of the richest collections of coffee production and processing tools in the world. It is noted that many Vietnamese tools from the very beginning to present days are also displayed. There is also a coffee exhibition area, seminar area, “light library”, etc. for visitors to freely explore. The ticket price is VND 75,000/person.

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Trung Nguyen Coffee Village

Trung Nguyen Coffee Village: is also known as Coffee Village - located at the Ly Thai To - Nguyen Huu Tho junction, Buon Ma Thuot city, Dak Lak province. This is a place with a  traditional architecture and a unique coffee space with an area of up to 20,000m². It consists of 5 functional areas which are information, entertainment, cuisine, supermarkets and museum. Notably, the most prominent one is the food area serving more than 50 dishes of the three regions of Vietnam as well as local specialties, for example coffee fried rice and chicken wings with coffee sauce. Tay Nguyen Ethnic Museum displays the oldest and most valuable ancient artifacts of the Central Highlands such as a collection of ”cong chieng”, agricultural tools, weapons, etc. which are necessary in daily life, culture and beliefs of the people in the Central Highlands.

Day 3: Don Village - Troh Bu - Sac Tu Khai Doan Pagoda

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Visit Don Village and try riding an elephant

Don Village:  is a famous place in Vietnam that has a tradition of hunting and taming wild elephants. Don Village used to be the capital of Dak Lak province. Later, in order to facilitate socio-economic development and to get the strategic defense and security, the French relocated the capital into Buon Ma Thuot. Currently, this place is a tourist destination located in Krong Na commune, Buon Don district of Dak Lak. Bao Ngoc said that they came to Don Village mainly to visit some elephants, try riding them (VND 200,000/2 people/time in about 3 minutes) and take some pictures. The ticket price to visit Don Village is VND 40,000/person.

Additionally, Don Village has many beautiful landscapes such as Bay Nhanh waterfall, Cau Treo tourist area, Duc Minh lake, ancient stilt houses, elephant king's tomb and Yang Prong - Ea Sup Tower, attracting many tourists.

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The entrance to Troh Bu Ecotourism Area

Troh Bu Ecotourism Area (located on the way to Don Village): This is the place used to restore the wild orchids collected for propagating. Currently, there are more than 200 species of orchids here, of which the most prominent ones are the two unique species of Giang Huong Hoang Nhan and Soc Lao of Buon Don and Ea Sup dipterocarp forest. There are various types, such as Thuy Tien, Buom Long Chau, Que Lan Huong, Nghinh Xuan, Gia Hac Phuong Vi, Hong Nhan, Lan Say, Lan Dam Lay, etc. These precious orchids are under threat in the Central Highlands. At the end of May 2017, the Vietnam Record Organization (VietKings) established and awarded the Vietnam Record Certificate to Troh Bu - Buon Don for the largest collection of wild orchids. There are also many lovely works of humans to create a highlight for the wild nature. The admission fee is VND 30,000/person (2020).

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Sac Tu Khai Doan Pagoda. Photo: Halo travel

Sac Tu Khai Doan Pagoda: This is the largest pagoda in Buon Ma Thuot city and Dak Lak province, which is about 5km from the city center. The name Khai Doan is a combination of the name of King Khai Dinh and his wife, Queen Doan Huy. The pagoda was built in 1951 and is the last pagoda in Vietnam to be conferred on the feudal regime. The pagoda includes the main gate (the Three-door Gate) towards the southwest, the main hall, the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva hall and the ancestral house. With a space of 320 m², the main hall consists of two parts, first of which is influenced by the architecture of the longhouse of E De people, but the pillars are based on the communal house of the Vietnamese. The second half was built in a modern style. On the right side of the main hall, there is a 380 kg bronze bell made in 1954.

Day 4: Dray Nur Waterfall - return to Hanoi

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The great Dray Nur waterfall.

On the last day, Bao Ngoc and friends continued to book a taxi to Dray Nur waterfall (about 40km from the city) at the price of VND 400,000/4 people. Dray Nur refers to the wife, so the waterfall is also colloquially known as Wife waterfall. This is the midstream waterfall located in the system of 3 waterfalls: Gia Long - Dray Nur - Dray Sap of Serepok river, Dak Nong province. Visitors will be surprised by the majestic waterfall 30m high and 250m long. The most impressive thing is to be able to admire the nearly 3,000 square meter cave behind the waterfall with rushing and powerful torrents of water pouring down from above. Standing inside the cave and overlooking the “long wall of water”outside, the dim light will shine on bizarre shaped rocks.

One thing you should remember is that the road to Dray Nur waterfall is quite dusty, so Bao Ngoc advises not to ride a motorbike, but to rent a taxi.

In the afternoon, the group went back to the hotel to rest and prepare to take the flight back to Hanoi, ending the trip of 4 days and 3 nights.

What to eat when coming to the Central Highlands

In Pleiku, Bao Ngoc recommended grilled chicken in To Nung or PleiTieng restaurant. There are delicious dishes at the night market, such as rotten crab vermicelli, rice vermicelli with grilled meat, steamed rice roll, spring rolls and dried rice noodles. The most special dish is perhaps the rotten crab vermicelli, with the main ingredient considered the crab sauce. They crush raw crabs, then filter the mixture to get the extract and brew for a day to make it fermented and smelly, leading to the broth of this dish becoming a fancy dark brown. Just from a distance, you can also feel the smell rising from the hot bowl of rotten crab vermicelli. Some places add sour bamboo shoots to the dish to create the natural sweetness. A bowl of rotten crab vermicelli will have sour spring rolls, grilled pork, fried pork rind, pork belly and broth. The highlight of the dish is not only the smell, but also the salty taste of the broth mixed with the fatty and chewy grilled pork.

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Rotten crab vermicelli is one of the specialties of Pleiku. Photo: Kenh14

In Buon Ma Thuot, you can try dishes such as beef with tamarind (Ca Te restaurant), Lang fish hotpot (Sau Quang fish hotpot), calves (Bo To 129 Ly Thai To) and goat meat (Fresh Goat 68 Nguyen Huu Tho).

How to travel to the Central Highlands

Bao Ngoc and her friends booked a flight ticket from Hanoi to Pleiku, and they returned from Buon Ma Thuot to Hanoi. As a result of the nice flight time, the return ticket price was VND 1.8 million/person.

Staying in the Central Highlands

During the trip, Bao Ngoc stayed in both Pleiku and Buon Ma Thuot, so she booked the hotels in both places.

In Pleiku, she chose Hoai Thuong hotel (on Truong Chinh street), priced at VND 500,000/4 people/night. Bao Ngoc complimented that the hotel was new; the room was clean; the view overlooked the beautiful city; the staff were friendly, and the hotel was near Minh Thanh Pagoda, which is quite close to the center.

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Many affordable hotels and motels in the Central Highlands. Photo: taynguyenhotelkontum.com

In Buon Ma Thuot, she chose the Lys hotel, which was near Trung Nguyen Coffee Village and priced at VND 380,000/4 people/night. To Bao Ngoc, the hotel room was also quite new, clean; the staff was enthusiastic, but it was not near the center.

The cost for a 4-day-3-night trip of Bao Ngoc was about VND 4 million/person. She told Nem-vn.net that the Central Highlands was really suitable for those who wanted to “leave the smoke and dust” in big cities to enjoy the super fresh air, the extremely beautiful weather, the sincere and friendly people, the delicious but cheap food, and importantly, many cool backgrounds to take pictures.

Photo: Bao Ngoc