Central Highlands contain some of Vietnam’s best-kept secrets where visitors willing to get off-the-beaten track will discover pristine lakes, clear rivers, vast swathes of old-growth jungle ..
Day 1: Saigon Arrival
Pick up upon arrival and transfer to the city for hotel check-in. Overnight at hotel in Saigon.
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh – Fly to Buon Ma Thuot – Rai Village (B,D)
Take a flight to Buon Ma Thuot in the afternoon, then driving about 80 km to the rural village of Nam Ka before walking the final 3 km to our home for the night. Our homestay is in Rai village, which is an Ede minority village. Our accommodation, a traditional long house-on-stilt of Ede group, is very simple but clean and comfortable.
Buon Ma Thuot – provincial capital of the Highland’s Dak Lak province, was the largest of Vietnam’s Central Highland provinces. The remainder holds interesting natural attractions including lakes, waterfalls and national parks. It was originally a part of the Kingdom of Champa and was annexed by Vietnam in the 16th century. Most importantly, Buon Ma Thuot has some great coffee.
Day 3: Nam Ka forest – Buon Triet Lake – Jatu (B,L,D)
Taking a full day trekking trip weaving the lush forest to the magnificent of Buon Triet Lake, covered 15 square km and played an important part in supplying water for local coffee and black pepper plantations. The 18 km trek with graded easy and the temperature remains quite comfortable. We are picked up by pedal boats and enjoy a ride across this beautiful lake before enjoying an afternoon swim. This evening is spent in Jatu village where our hosts belong to the M’Nong minority.
The M’Nong lives in houses built on stilts or level with the ground. Each village usually has dozens of households. The village chief plays a major role in village life. They like to drink alcohol from jars with pipes and smoke tobacco threads rolled in leaves. Matriarchy is observed and the children take the family name of their mother. The wife holds the key position in the household.
Day 4: Jun village – Lak lake – M’lieng village (B,L)
We will take private transport to Jun village. Enjoy a ride across Lak Lake by elephant to M’Lieng village. The Lak Lake of 500ha is 56km from Buon Ma Thuot City and is untouched by mass tourism. The lake is on the way between Buon Ma Thuot City and Da Lat. Walking around the village to discover the daily life of ethnic minority in the Central Highlands. Back to Jun village by boat. This evening is spent at a hotel in Buon Ma Thuot where you can take the delights of a hot shower. By night, you take a walk on streets and enjoy some coffee which has the best quality in Vietnam.
Day 5: Buon Ma Thuot – Kon Tum (B,L)
There are some interesting things to do this morning. Visit Ethnology Museum where we can see many things comes from the daily life of ethnic minorities in Vietnam such as: clothes, cultivated tools, musical instruments… We continue on to Khai Doan Pagoda, the last one of Nguyen Dynasty in the Central Highlands. The architecture of this pagoda is mixed between long house-on-stilts of Ede group and traditional house in Hue. Visit Buon Ma Thuot’s bustling regional market. You can buy some souvenirs before driving to Kon Tum in the afternoon. Overnight at hotel in Kon Tum.
Kontum is a relaxed little town with few sights in their own right. What nevertheless puts it on the map of interesting places in Vietnam are the surrounding minority villages, including settlements of the Sedang, Bahnar, Jarai, Gieh Trieng and Rengao ethnic groups. Each village has a Rong, a huge and impressive communal house where the villagers gather for special occasions.
Day 6: Kon Tum – Kon Ko Tu village (B,L,D)
Visit the Big Seminary, the Wooden Church and drive to Kon Ko Lor II village. Start hiking through Kon Ko Ri village, across rice and sugar-cane fields. You will meet Bana ethnic people and discover the architecture of Rong house which looks like an axe blade pointing in to the sky. Later in the afternoon, enjoy a ride on the river by rubber boat to Kon Ko Tu village. This evening is spent in Rong house that belongs to the Bana minority.
The Rong houses are traditionally found in all hill tribes villages. They are a community house and are used for village meetings, celebrations and public gatherings.
Day 7: Dakto – Plei Phun – Pleiku (B,L)
The private transport will take us to Dakto hill, as the battle in Vietnam – America war. Walk across a suspension bridge to visit some villages of Se Dang minority. Back to Kon Tum and transport to Pleiku.
Visit Phun village, a traditional village of Jarai ethnic group with a typical cemetery in the Central Highlands. The tombs are decorated by wooden statues. Go on to T’nung Lake before checking in hotel in Pleiku.
T’nung Lake, also known as Ia Nueng, is located in Bien Ho Commune in the north of Gia Lai Province, about 7 kilometers from the heart of Pleiku City. The lake, surrounded by pine forests and mountain, is 230 hectares wide, expanding up to 400 hectares in the rainy season, and about 30 meters deep. In the early morning when the sun is still low in the sky the sun beams reflect like a silver band on the lake.
Day 8: Pleiku – Quy Nhon (B,L)
Today we drive to Quy Nhon via Highway No.19 with stopover at An Khe to visit the former bases: 1st Bn 7th CAV Base Camp, 3rd Bde “Garry Owen” Base Camp, Looking West from 3rd Bde, The Barrier Line, 1/9 CAV Area and Manyang passes, having lunch on the way. Proceed to Quy Nhon.
Overnight at a beach resort in Quy Nhon.
Within 90 days of becoming the Army’s first airmobile division, the First Team was back in combat as the first fully committed division of the Vietnam War. An advance party, on board C-124s and C-130s, arrived at Nha Trang between the 19th and 27th of August 1965. They joined with advance liaison forces and established a temporary base camp near An Khe, 36 miles inland from the coastal city of Qui Nhon. The remainder of the 1st Cavalry Division arrived by ship, landing at the harbor of Qui Nhon on the 12th and 13th of September, the 44th anniversary of the 1st Cavalry Division. In the Oriental calendar year of the “Horse”, mounted soldiers had returned to war wearing the famous and feared patch of the First Cavalry Division. The First Team had entered its third war – and the longest tour of duty in combat history.
Day 9: Quy Nhon – Nha Trang (B)
Morning departure for the beach city of Nha Trang by Highway 1, stopping over at any point that interests you along the way.
Arrive at Nha Trang, check into hotel. Free evening for strolling around the city. Overnight in Nha Trang city.
Day 10: Nha Trang diving tour (B,L)
Morning, we will take private boat trip to visit Mun island, which has many coral, which is great for diving. Below the depth of 5 metres the coral is a spectacular sight. This island is managed by Marine Protected Area (MPA) Nha Trang. Sea food lunch served on board. Free for swimming, relaxing. Coming back to your city at about 04: 00pm in afternoon.
Overnight at hotel in Nha Trang city.
Day 11: Nha Trang – Fly to Saigon (B)
Free at leisure until transferring to Cam Ranh airport to take flight to Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam’s largest city has an exciting buzz as millions of people rush around on their daily business. We’ll see the historic Reunification Palace and some great examples of French colonial architecture from the comfort of a cyclo. You will be free at the rest of day to make your own exploration to discover the city. Overnight in Saigon.
Day 12: Saigon – Mekong Delta (B,L)
Leave your hotel at 7.30 for a 3-hour drive to Cai Be and have a soft break at Trung Luong Bonsai garden for minutes before starting the trip. Upon arrival, board a motorized boat to visit the popcorn cake, rice paper making family before visiting the lively floating market of Cai Be. Then continue by boat towards Vinh Long province to see the diverse fish traps in order to learn a kind of lazy fishing. After cruising along small shady canals, we step ashore and take a chance to watch a typical and interesting music show of the Mekong cultural life. Lunch is at the home/ bonsai garden. Afternoon, take a walk for about half an hour to enjoy the rural peaceful atmosphere of the countryside life, on the way we can also stop en route to learn more about fruit trees. Continue by boat to visit the brick and pottery factories. Back in the car at about 3 pm to drive to Can Tho. On arrival in the capital city of the Mekong Delta, do a walking city tour, including the local evening market to take photos of the busy trading activities before checking in the hotel. Overnight in Can Tho.
Day 13: Mekong Delta – Saigon (B,L)
Boarding for a 3-hour cruise to 2 big floating markets Cai Rang and Phong Dien in the early morning with en route stop at Bun Tau noodle factory and a short trek before arriving at a local rice-husking mill. You can even try passing one of the many fragile monkey bridges along the canals photo shot. At the floating markets, you will discover a typical way of displaying and advertising farm products of local people gathering on the Mekong River to trade their goods. Drive back to Saigon with a lunch stop at My Tho.
Day 14: Saigon – Departure (B)
Free at leisure until transferring to Tan Son Nhat airport to take departure flight onward.
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