RICH IN NATURE AND CULTURE

Vietnam’s central highlands boast endless mountains and valleys and the diverse cultures of its ethnic minority people.

Le Cam Le on December 16,2019 09:46 AM

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The Ngo Son rice fields in Gia Lai province are as famous as the Mu Cang Chai terraced rice fields in Vietnam’s north. Surrounded by immense mountains, when the harvest season comes around this 400-ha area becomes a splendid landscape of yellow, green, and brown, with blue sky above.

Plateau after plateau, at heights varying from 500 to 1,500 meters above sea level, together form Tay Nguyen, more commonly known as the central highlands. The plateaus incorporate the five provinces of Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, and Lam Dong, surrounded by Truong Son Nam (South Annamite mountain range).

Its climate, red basalt soil, jungles and forests, valleys, waterfalls, lakes, mountains, national parks, and diverse wildlife of more than 30 species of rare and/or precious animals such as elephants, rhinos, tigers, wild buffaloes, bears, and peacocks, and the richness of its fauna all distinguish the central highlands from elsewhere in Vietnam.

Churches, pagodas, tall “rong” houses and impressive long houses, beguiling colonial buildings, endless rice fields and tea plantations, flower and vegetable farms, coffee and chestnut gardens, and quiet villages of ethnic minority groups add another layer of charm to the beauty of the scenery. Home to a large number of ethnic minorities such as the Jarai, Bahnar, Ede, Ko Ho, Ma, Xo Dang and M’Nong, the region boasts a cultural richness and uniqueness, featured in their houses, outfits, and daily traditions. Its three sub-climate zones, with cool weather, also make it a special destination, where travelers can experience different seasons within just one day.

Many travelers say the best season to visit the central highlands is from November to April, when it is covered in a colorful palette of pink grass, yellow wild sunflowers, golden rice fields, orange persimmon, brownish-red ripe coffee cherries, pink cherry blossoms, and plentiful colors and hues from other flowers and fruit together with the green of hundred-year-old pine trees and tea fields.

Descending over high cliffs, the dynamic Lieng Nung Waterfall in Dak Nong province is surrounded by the lush green of the jungle.
Descending over high cliffs, the dynamic Lieng Nung Waterfall in Dak Nong province is surrounded by the lush green of the jungle.
The Ede people give Dray Sap (left) the romantic name of Smoke Waterfall, in which Dray means “waterfall” and Sap means “smoke”, while the nearby Dray Nur (right), bears the name “bamboo rats” (Nur). Less than 30 km from Buon Me Thuot city, the two waterfalls on the legendary Serepok River are considered the most mysterious and magnificent in the region, with many stories to tell. Around the waterfalls is primitive jungle with centuries-old trees.
The Ede people give Dray Sap (left) the romantic name of Smoke Waterfall, in which Dray means “waterfall” and Sap means “smoke”, while the nearby Dray Nur (right), bears the name “bamboo rats” (Nur). Less than 30 km from Buon Me Thuot city, the two waterfalls on the legendary Serepok River are considered the most mysterious and magnificent in the region, with many stories to tell. Around the waterfalls is primitive jungle with centuries-old trees.
The Ede people give Dray Sap (left) the romantic name of Smoke Waterfall, in which Dray means “waterfall” and Sap means “smoke”, while the nearby Dray Nur (right), bears the name “bamboo rats” (Nur). Less than 30 km from Buon Me Thuot city, the two waterfalls on the legendary Serepok River are considered the most mysterious and magnificent in the region, with many stories to tell. Around the waterfalls is primitive jungle with centuries-old trees.
The Ede people give Dray Sap (left) the romantic name of Smoke Waterfall, in which Dray means “waterfall” and Sap means “smoke”, while the nearby Dray Nur (right), bears the name “bamboo rats” (Nur). Less than 30 km from Buon Me Thuot city, the two waterfalls on the legendary Serepok River are considered the most mysterious and magnificent in the region, with many stories to tell. Around the waterfalls is primitive jungle with centuries-old trees.
Its plateau terrain means that travelers can view mountains and hills everywhere in the region. Chu Dang Ya (“wild ginger” in the Jarai language) Volcano in Gia Lai province is covered on all sides by vegetable, tea, and flower fields - a stunning scene just 20 km from Pleiku city.
Its plateau terrain means that travelers can view mountains and hills everywhere in the region. Chu Dang Ya (“wild ginger” in the Jarai language) Volcano in Gia Lai province is covered on all sides by vegetable, tea, and flower fields - a stunning scene just 20 km from Pleiku city.
Unlike Chu Dang Ya, which is largely unknown to most, 12 km away is Bien Ho Che (Bien Ho’s Tea Field), a famous attraction thanks to its impressive tea fields. It truly is a paradise for tea lovers, with fragrances mingling in the air amid endless greenery from the tea trees.
Unlike Chu Dang Ya, which is largely unknown to most, 12 km away is Bien Ho Che (Bien Ho’s Tea Field), a famous attraction thanks to its impressive tea fields. It truly is a paradise for tea lovers, with fragrances mingling in the air amid endless greenery from the tea trees.
The Ngo Son rice fields in Gia Lai province are as famous as the Mu Cang Chai terraced rice fields in Vietnam’s north. Surrounded by immense mountains, when the harvest season comes around this 400-ha area becomes a splendid landscape of yellow, green, and brown, with blue sky above.
The Ngo Son rice fields in Gia Lai province are as famous as the Mu Cang Chai terraced rice fields in Vietnam’s north. Surrounded by immense mountains, when the harvest season comes around this 400-ha area becomes a splendid landscape of yellow, green, and brown, with blue sky above.
Close to Bien Ho tea fields are beautiful forests of old pine trees, which lead to the 83-year-old Buu Minh Pagoda, one of the oldest in Gia Lai. Facing towards T’nung Lake, the tranquil pagoda features diverse architectural styles from the northern and central regions and also Japan, built in harmony with nature.
Close to Bien Ho tea fields are beautiful forests of old pine trees, which lead to the 83-year-old Buu Minh Pagoda, one of the oldest in Gia Lai. Facing towards T’nung Lake, the tranquil pagoda features diverse architectural styles from the northern and central regions and also Japan, built in harmony with nature.
The central highlands and Buon Me Thuot city are considered the
“coffee capital” of Vietnam. In the ninth and tenth lunar months (October to December on the Western calendar), local farmers are busy harvesting coffee cherries. Every two years, a Coffee Festival is held in Buon Ma Thuot, with a host of activities honoring coffee and related culture.
The central highlands and Buon Me Thuot city are considered the “coffee capital” of Vietnam. In the ninth and tenth lunar months (October to December on the Western calendar), local farmers are busy harvesting coffee cherries. Every two years, a Coffee Festival is held in Buon Ma Thuot, with a host of activities honoring coffee and related culture.
“Unique” and “refined” are the words often used to describe the gorgeous “Wooden Church”, as the Kon Tum Cathedral in Kon Tum city is often called. The century-old church’s architecture features the Romanesque style from Europe combined with elements of the traditional houses of local ethnic minority people. Its sophisticated interior décor features the works of skilled Vietnamese artisans.
“Unique” and “refined” are the words often used to describe the gorgeous “Wooden Church”, as the Kon Tum Cathedral in Kon Tum city is often called. The century-old church’s architecture features the Romanesque style from Europe combined with elements of the traditional houses of local ethnic minority people. Its sophisticated interior décor features the works of skilled Vietnamese artisans.
“Rong” houses, commonly found in Kon Tum and Gia Lai, are a typical type of stilt-house with special architectural features. The thatched-roof communal houses are often located in the center of villages and are where important events of the ethnic minority residents take place.
“Rong” houses, commonly found in Kon Tum and Gia Lai, are a typical type of stilt-house with special architectural features. The thatched-roof communal houses are often located in the center of villages and are where important events of the ethnic minority residents take place.
Museum lovers will find in the Dak Lak Museum (in Buon Me Thuot) rich information on the history, culture, and lives of people from more than 40 ethnic minority groups living in Dak Lak as well as the bio-diversity of the province and of the central highlands.
Museum lovers will find in the Dak Lak Museum (in Buon Me Thuot) rich information on the history, culture, and lives of people from more than 40 ethnic minority groups living in Dak Lak as well as the bio-diversity of the province and of the central highlands.
“Unique” and “refined” are the words often used to describe the gorgeous “Wooden Church”, as the Kon Tum Cathedral in Kon Tum city is often called. The century-old church’s architecture features the Romanesque style from Europe combined with elements of the traditional houses of local ethnic minority people. Its sophisticated interior décor features the works of skilled Vietnamese artisans.
“Unique” and “refined” are the words often used to describe the gorgeous “Wooden Church”, as the Kon Tum Cathedral in Kon Tum city is often called. The century-old church’s architecture features the Romanesque style from Europe combined with elements of the traditional houses of local ethnic minority people. Its sophisticated interior décor features the works of skilled Vietnamese artisans.

As a region not adjacent to the sea, lakes are like gems in the central highlands. Surrounded by jungle and canopy and the villages of ethnic minority people, their green waters play host to fleets of long boats, together giving travelers a sense of serenity. The lakes are also the source of many families’ livelihoods.

“The Gem of Pleiku”, T’Nưng Lake is also called Sea Lake because of how large it is, and is a popular attraction in Gia Lai.
“The Gem of Pleiku”, T’Nưng Lake is also called Sea Lake because of how large it is, and is a popular attraction in Gia Lai.
Part of Ta Dung Natural Reserve in Dak Nong province, Ta Dung Lake, or “Mini Ha Long Bay of the central highlands” as it is sometimes called thanks to its more than 40 small islets, is a new destination for backpackers and those who enjoy fresh air, the wilderness, and camping.
Part of Ta Dung Natural Reserve in Dak Nong province, Ta Dung Lake, or “Mini Ha Long Bay of the central highlands” as it is sometimes called thanks to its more than 40 small islets, is a new destination for backpackers and those who enjoy fresh air, the wilderness, and camping.
The largest freshwater lake in the central highland, Lak Lake is a must-see attraction in the region. One of the best times to visit is in the afternoon of the last two months of the year, when the sky is covered by cloud and sunsets are long and streaked by various colors.
The largest freshwater lake in the central highland, Lak Lake is a must-see attraction in the region. One of the best times to visit is in the afternoon of the last two months of the year, when the sky is covered by cloud and sunsets are long and streaked by various colors.
For generation after generation, people have earned a living from fishing on the lake.
For generation after generation, people have earned a living from fishing on the lake.

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