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Introducing Kon Tum

There is not a whole lot of action in Kon Tum, but it makes a good base to explore the surrounding countryside. Most foreigners who pass here are on their way to see hill-tribe villages (there are 700 dotting the area), to pick up the Ho Chi Minh Hwy or to cross the remote border to Laos. Besides a couple of Bahnar villages on the edge of town, there’s little in the way of conventional sightseeing spots.

Kon Tum saw its share of combat during the American War. A major battle between the South and North Vietnamese took place in and around Kon Tum in the spring of 1972, when the area was devastated by hundreds of American B-52 raids. In March 1975 the South withdrew from the province after Buon Ma Thuot fell to the North and many civilians joined them in the ‘Convoy of Tears’.

More recently, in the 2004 protests against government policies in the highlands, hill tribes in Kon Tum province clashed with police and soldiers. On the surface things have cooled off, but relations between the hill tribes and the authorities remain fraught.