Vietnam – Getting to know Vietnam’s Central Highlands
One of the least visited, yet most intriguing and beautiful areas of the country is Tay Nguyen – known in English as the Central Highlands. The striking scenery, ethnic diversity and striking traditional homes are a big draw for those who are intrepid enough to make the journey. Stretching westward from the borders with Cambodia and Laos, this area comprises a series of contiguous plateaus, mostly notable the Lam Vien Plateau, which reaches 1,500 meters in elevation.
The easiest way to get into the Central Highlands is bus local bus from the major cities, including Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City and even Hanoi. The main terminus for arrivals is located in Dalat. Getting around, you won’t be able to rely much – if at all – on public transport, but there are still a number of options available to you. You can hire a motorbike, hire a local driver or boat owner to take you on a tour. Cycling is also an option, but most people who pass through here do so on foot. The real appeal of the area lies in its scenery and charming villages, which are best appreciated while trekking. Unlike much of the rest of the country, this region is still home to wild animals such as the Indochinese Tiger, Asian Elephants and the Asian Water Buffalo.
Dalat itself is home to numerous restaurants catering to all tastes. If you’re hoping to experience local ethnic cuisine, it’s better to try your luck in one of the smaller villages dotted around the area. The area has a surprisingly wide variety of fruits, vegetables and other delicacies. Most notable among these, should you wish to try, are the artichoke tea, dried venison and avocados. Dried fruits and local candies are on sale at the Nguyen Thi Minh Khai market, which also sells a variety of locally made clothes and handmade goods.
The journey from Dalat to Kontum is punctuated with a number of scenic and interesting spots that are well worth the visit. The first of these which you will come across, is Lak Lake, which you can tour on the back of an elephant, taking you to and from a number of tribal villages spread around the perimeter of the lake. Getting closer to Kontum you will begin to spot the villages of the Banhar tribal group, with their towering, thatched structures. The combination of the area’s natural beauty, the opportunity to spot rare wild animals, and the serene peacefulness and charm of the Banhar villages, give this area an almost other-worldly feeling, for those more used to the hustle and bustle of modern day city life.
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