VIETNAM TRAVEL

 

Central Highands

Da Lat - Around Da Lat - Di Linh - Bao Loc - Dan Nhim Lake - Ngoan Muc Pass - Buon Ma Thuot - Around Boun Ma Thuot - Pleiku - Kon Tum

Central Highlands

It's easy to get off the beaten track in this wonderfully scenic part of the country. Only Dalat makes it on to most tourists' radars, meaning that the rest of the region still allows an ele-ment of adventure. This is a great part of the country to see on the back of a motorbike - stopping at will to admire an amazing mountain view, to explore a wild waterfall or to in teract with villagers from the local hill tribes. The cooler climate also makes a good respite for those not used to tropical climes. However, there's a darker side to this region - large tracts of the highlands around Pleiku and Buon Ma Thuot bear the scars of Agent Orange deforestation from the American War, and children in these areas continue to have a high rate of birth defects. Also in February 2001 the government forbade travellers from visiting the central high lands because of unrest among the local tribes. In March 2004 a clash in Buon Ma Thuot precipitated another brief closure of the area, so before heading to the hills make local inquiries to confirm that your destinations are accessible. At the time of research, the only restrictions in place likely to affect tourists were around Pleiku. The upgrading of the historic Ho Chi Minh Trail has made it easier than ever to visit out-of-the-way places like Kon Tum. It remains to be seen whether increased tourism will leave these delightful backwaters unchanged. There's still an openness and friendliness in the highlands that is becoming harder to find in the tourist traps of the coast.
Getting There & Away
The region has three main airports - Dalat. Buon Ma Thuot and Pleiku. You can reach them all from HCMC. From Hanoi you can only fly directly to Dalat; for the other two you'll need to fly through Danang. There arc no trains .servicing this region. By road you can access Dalat via Hwy 20 from HCMC or Phan Rang. Hwy 14 is the main north-south route, passing through Buon Ma Thuot, Pleiku and Kon Tum. Pleiku I is connected to the coast by Hwy 19, which hits Hwy 1A near Quy Nhon. Similarly, Buon Ma Thuot can be reached from Ninh Hoa, just north of Nha Trang, by Hwy 26. There are frequent buses on all of these routes, although only Dalat is served by open-tour buses.