Introducing 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 element 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 interact 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 highlands 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.
Last updated: Mar 24, 2009
Check out all our reviewed and recommended accommodation and book online.