This is your Dak Lak travel guide. These are practical experiences from those who have traveled to Dak Lak many times and experienced firsthand what it’s like. These are useful tips for those who come to Dak Lak for the first time.
Speaking of Vietnam tourism, you will probably be familiar with places like Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Da Nang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City… For those who love rural life, Ninh Binh , Mai Chau, Hoa Binh will be famous places to visit when coming to Vietnam.
For tourists who love to experience places with interesting nature along with friendly ethnic minorities, strange customs, and especially, it is still quite wild because it has not been exploited for tourism, Dak Lak is an great ideal destination for tourists.
Dak Lak is located in the center of the Central Highlands, the headwaters of the Serepok river system and part of the Ba river. This land has rich natural beauty, in harmony with rivers, mountains, valleys, primeval forests…
Table of Contents
- 1 Best time to visit Dak Lak
- 2 How to get to Dak Lak?
- 3 Top Attractions in Dak Lak
- 3.1 Buon Don tourist area
- 3.2 Ancient stilt house of the Elephant King
- 3.3 Tomb of the Elephant King
- 3.4 Troh Bu Botanic Garden
- 3.5 Alligator Box
- 3.6 Rock Elephant Yang-tao
- 3.7 Lak Lake
- 3.8 Ancient pottery village
- 3.9 Serepok River
- 3.10 Dray Nur Waterfall – Dray Sap Waterfall
- 3.11 National Parks in Dak Lak
- 3.12 Yang Prong Cham Tower
- 3.13 Wind power field
- 3.14 Buon Trap Hydropower Plant
- 4 Dak Lak Cuisines
- 5 What to buy as a gift in Dak Lak?
Best time to visit Dak Lak
Dak Lak has two distinct seasons, the rainy season from May to October, the dry season from November to April next year, and the average temperature of the year is 24 degrees Celsius.
Dak Lak is most beautiful around the end of November because the rainy season is over, the autumn sky is clear and cool, and the waterfall still has a lot of water. The weather in the first months of the year is also pleasant. So, the best time to visit Dak Lak is from December to April next year, when rainfall is low and temperatures are milder.
The end of February and the beginning of March is the season of coffee flowers, April is the season of red dandelion flowers in the mountains and hills, and November is the season for wild sunflowers.
There is also the season of reeds, yellow cassava, cherry apricots… Summer in the Central Highlands often rains in the afternoon, but it stops quickly. Therefore, you should focus on visiting in the morning.
How to get to Dak Lak?
Buon Ma Thuot city of Dak Lak is considered the center of the Central Highlands, which can be reached by means of transport such as plane, private car, bus, or motorbike depending on the starting point. Buon Ma Thuot is about 350 km from Ho Chi Minh City and about 1,400 km from Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.
Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, and Bamboo Airways all have flights to Buon Ma Thuot city of Dak Lak from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city. Round trip ticket prices from $35 to $45 if flying from Ho Chi Minh City, about 60 minutes. The direct flight from Hanoi takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes, and the return ticket price is about $87.
Bus tickets from Ho Chi Minh City to Buon Ma Thuot range from $9 to $18; Buses departing from Hanoi cost from $27. The driving time is about 8 hours from Ho Chi Minh City and about more than a day for the car from Hanoi.
If you want to freely stop and rest, you can go by car or motorbike. Starting from Ho Chi Minh City, you go in the direction of National Highway 14. The road is beautiful, so you don’t need to worry too much, but check and maintain the car carefully before you set off.
There are many options for accommodation if staying right in the center of Buon Ma Thuot city. Muong Thanh Hotel, Thanh Mai Hotel, Bazan Xanh, Biet Dien, Sai Gon Ban Me, Hami Garden… are highly rated accommodation facilities.
Prices for accommodation range from $13 to $40 a night. Some famous homestays are Zan Homestay, Lee’s House, and Doi Sao Homestay… priced from $13 to $52 per night.
If you go in a large group, you can stay in the tourist area of Ban Don or Lak lake to have a feeling of being in harmony with nature, mountains, and forests. Lak Tented Camp is a famous lakeside resort in Buon Ma Thuot.
Top Attractions in Dak Lak
From Buon Ma Thuot city center, within a radius of about 50 km, Dak Lak has many places to explore. The beautiful natural sights during the trip are quite far from the city, so you can divide the tour into about 3 days and 2 nights, or longer if you have plenty of time. Here are some suggested attractions in Dak Lak:
Buon Don tourist area
On the first day, let’s go to Buon Don. More than 50 km from Buon Ma Thuot city, the Buon Don tourist area is a destination that attracts many domestic and foreign tourists. This place is known as the “territory” of elephants of the Central Highlands, famous for its tradition of hunting, taming, and raising wild elephants.
In Buon Don, you will hear stories about elephant hunters (who take care of and control elephants), visit the hundred-year-old stilt house, and the unique tomb architecture of the elephant hunter Ama Kong… Elephants eat and take pictures under the supervision of mahouts.
Because it is far from the city center, you should stay in Buon Don for lunch. Some local dishes available here include Lam rice, grilled chicken with salt and green chili, wild vegetable hot pot, sour fish soup…
Experience the suspension bridge in Buon Don through the canopy of hundreds of years old trees, nearly 1km long made mainly of bamboo, where many tourists enjoy experiencing the feeling of swaying when crossing.
- Tickets to the suspension bridge: $1.8 per person.
- Tickets to visit the ancient stilt house: $0.65 per person.
- Tickets to visit the Tomb of the Elephant King: $0.43 per person.
- Meal: about $4.3 per person.
Ancient stilt house of the Elephant King
Located in the complex of the Ban Don tourist area, the Elephant King’s stilt house is 130 years old. The house is built according to the architecture of Laos and the special thing is that it is made entirely of good wood. Visitors will learn more about Khun Yu Nob’s life of hunting and taming elephants.
Tomb of the Elephant King
Buon Don also has the grave of Khun Yu Nob, who is known as the Elephant King with 400 elephants he captured. The Elephant King’s Tomb has M’nong and Laotian architecture, designed by King Bao Dai himself for collectors and built to thank for the white elephant that the elephant king gave him and for building a team of statue soldiers.
Troh Bu Botanic Garden
Troh Bu is considered the first eco-tourism farm in Buon Don. There are picnic activities, fun, learn about wild orchids, forest trees, wildflowers… The resort has catering and accommodation services. Admission is $1.53 for adults and $0.87 for children.
In recent years, the blue rock lake is located in the Srepok 3 hydropower area, about 40 km from Buon Don, which many young people come to visit as a check-in point and take beautiful photos. The lake is also called Crocodile Box because the rocks around the lake look like a crocodile immersed in the water from above.
This place is available on an online map, you can easily find it, or ask the locals for directions. Because there are no people, the rocks are bumpy and the lake water is very cold, you should not bathe and climb too high. Visiting the Crocodile Box is free of charge.
Rock Elephant Yang-tao
The second day’s journey to Lak district, passing through Da Voi Yang-Tao about 40 km from Buon Ma Thuot center, before reaching Lak lake.
There is a pair of giant monolithic rocks shaped like an elephant, including a large rock close to the foot of the mountain called Da Elephant Mother, and a smaller rock called Da Voi Cha about 5 km away in the middle of a field.
Follow the directions of the online map, you see the information board saying “Visit Mother Elephant Rock”, then turn around for about 200m, park the car at the pub ($0.22/motorbike) and then walk along the short trail. will come to the foot of the rock.
For a panoramic view of the field and Chu Yang Sin forest corner, you can climb to the top of the rock at a gentle height that is not too dangerous. This place does not charge an entrance fee.
Lak Lake is the second largest natural freshwater lake in Vietnam after Ba Be Lake, Bac Kan. The lake is surrounded by large mountains with primeval forests. Going to Lak lake at around 16:30 is a beautiful time to watch the sunset about to fall on the lake.
The most prominent in Lak Lake is the dugout boat, a typical waterway vehicle of the Central Highlands. Therefore, the most interesting activities here are boating tours around the lake, sightseeing, and swimming.
In addition, you can visit Jun village or M’Lieng village, where most of the M’Nong people live, to experience community activities boldly in the Central Highlands.
Around the lake, there are two architectural monuments for visitors, namely the M’Nong longhouse and the palace of King Bao Dai.
Tickets for a canoe boat ride:
- $3.5/boat for 30 minutes at Buon Jun.
- $6.6/boat carrying two guests for 30 minutes at Lak lake tourist area.
Ancient pottery village
Less than 10 km from Lak lake is Yang Tao commune, the only place in the Central Highlands that still preserves the ancient pottery craft of the M’nong Rlam people. Here, visitors can learn about the art of handmade pottery as well as buy ceramic products as gifts at affordable prices.
The Serepok flows into Cambodia before joining the Mekong River, which then returns to Vietnam. The 406 km long river with many majestic waterfalls and unspoiled rapids are the highlights that attract tourists.
Serepok is a combination of two lines Krong Kno and Krong Ana. Another strange thing is that the two streams are parallel, but one is red all year round, and the other is always blue and clear.
Dray Nur Waterfall – Dray Sap Waterfall
The legend of Serepok created beautiful waterfalls such as Dray Sap, Dray Nur, Gia Long, Trinh Nu, Bay Branch, Krong Kmar, Bim Bip… Dray Nur is considered the most majestic waterfall in the Central Highlands, far from the center of Buon. Ma Thuot is close to 30 km.
The white waterfall is about 250m wide in the high water season, more than 30m high, pouring into the giant bed. The most interesting thing is to cool off in small rock holes and under the water rushing from above on the cliff behind the waterfall.
Locals consider Dray Nur as the wife waterfall and Dray Sap as the husband waterfall. Although they are all waterfalls created by the Serepok River, Dray Nur waterfall is in Dak Lak province while Dray Sap waterfall is in Dak Nong province. However, you can go from Dray Nur waterfall to Dray Sap side only 2 suspension bridges apart.
From Dray Nur waterfall, you can walk to Gia Long waterfall (Dray Sap Thuong) 2 km away, or travel by road about 12km to the main area of Dray Sap waterfall. Although Dray Sap Waterfall is not as large as Dray Nur, it also makes visitors shudder at the white foaming water – true to the name “smoke waterfall” in the local language.
Admission to Dray Nur waterfall is $1.32. You can buy combo tickets for Dray Nur – Gia Long for $2.2.
National Parks in Dak Lak
Dak Lak has two famous national parks, Yok Don and Chu Yang Sin, in addition to Nam Ka and Ea So national reserves. Besides exploring the forest, you also have many activities to participate in when visiting the national park such as camping in the middle of the forest, bathing in waterfalls or trekking, discovering the lives of ethnic minorities…
Chu Yang Sin National Park has a spectacular landscape with more than 40 different high and low mountain ranges, with many steep slopes, vast forest carpets, and alternating streams, rapids, and waterfalls.
Chu Yang Sin mountain range divides the garden into two zones North-South is the highest mountain range, with a peak of 2,442 m. Chu Yang Sin Peak is known as the second roof of the Central Highlands, after Ngoc Linh peak in Kon Tum province. The journey to conquer Chu Yang Sin requires at least 3 days and 2 nights.
With an area of up to 589 km2, Chu Yang Sin is spread over many communes and is more than 60 km from the city center. You can travel by motorbike from Buon Ma Thuot to Lien Son town, then follow the trail for about 20km to the national park.
Yok Don National Park is one of the largest nature reserves in Vietnam, home to many large mammal species such as bison, gaur, wild buffalo, elephant, monkey, gibbons, tigers, leopards, peacocks, and peacocks.
This is also a place to preserve many unique cultural values of the Central Highlands ethnic groups such as Ede, M’Nong… Because of the diversity in the fauna here, Yok Don National Park in Dak Lak is considered one of the forests with the most biodiversity in Vietnam.
With an area of more than 1.15 km2, Yok Don is spread over the territory of 2 provinces of Dak Lak and Dak Nong. In the national park, up to 90% of the area is primeval forest, of which the main area is dipterocarp forest. This is also the only forest in Vietnam that still preserves this special forest.
Yang Prong Cham Tower
Unlike the Cham towers along the central strip, which are located on high hills, the Yang Prong Cham Tower is nestled in the old forest, with murmuring streams, singing birds, and the bright yellow flowers of wild anemone on the trail to the tower.
The Yang Prong Tower was built at the end of the 13th century to worship a god called Siva (also called Mukhalinga). We can see now that it stands as a peaceful symbol at the end of the Ea Hleo River.
Wind power field
The main fan field is the Dlieyang Wind Power Plant, located in Dlieyang Commune, Ea H’leo District, Dak Lak Province. The field belongs to the Central Highlands Wind Power Farm Project. The path to the wind farm is beautiful, but there are difficult passages.
To go to this place, from Buon Ma Thuot city center, you follow the map to Ea H’leo district, then continue to Dlieyang commune. If you don’t know the way, you can ask more locals. On the way, you will see Y-Jut Middle School, go straight to the road next to the school for about 3-4km to see the fan field.
Buon Trap Hydropower Plant
The road leading to the hydroelectric power station is beautiful, there are sections stretching to the horizon, sometimes through a large valley, sometimes through a ravine…
Below the dam is the Buon Trap bridge spanning the Serepok River. One side of the road is a mountain, the other side is a green lake that conquers passionate tourists.
In addition to the above places, you can combine visiting a number of attractions in Buon Ma Thuot city center such as the Coffee World Museum, Dak Lak Museum, exile house…
Dak Lak Cuisines
Dak Lak keeps a rich culinary culture, which is the crystallization of the ethnic groups living here. Coming here, visitors will freely enjoy all kinds of delicious dishes such as chicken satay, chicken cooked with Giang leaves, Lam rice, sour soup cooked with special salmon of the Serepork line, Can wine, wild vegetable salad, bitter tomato salad… and an indispensable cup of fragrant coffee in the fresh morning here.
Red vermicelli is a specialty of this highland city. The name of the dish comes from a bowl of vermicelli with the characteristic red color of the broth. The dish is a combination of many ingredients such as crab bricks, quail eggs, vegetables… You can enjoy this popular dish at the sidewalk restaurant on the corner of Le Duan – Phan Dinh Giot street.
Wet cake with grilled meat mixed with many ingredients: a plate of wet cake, a plate of grilled meat, next to it are cucumber, green mango, sauerkraut, herbs… All are rolled up and served with a cup of dipping sauce. tongue tearing. Visitors can visit the address 43 Tran Nhat Duat.
The leaf soup of the Ede people is also known as leaf hotpot. The dish is made from 10 different types of forest. When eaten, it has a very strange and bitter taste. You can find this dish in specialty restaurants in Buon Ma Thuot City.
Pangasius sour soup or salmon hotpot is a delicious dish and has a very good cooling effect on sunny days. In addition, lentils are also used to braise and soup with lentils.
Address: Dak Me restaurant – 143 Ngo Quyen.
Lam rice and a fire chicken are two famous dishes of the people in Don village. Coming here, you can enjoy this dish in restaurants in Buon Ma Thuot City.
Do not forget to enjoy coffee in the place known as the capital of this drink. If you wonder about choosing a shop, you can go to Coffee Village located at the end of Le Thanh Tong Street in the heart of Buon Ma Thuot city.
Coming here in the cold autumn weather, under the drizzling rain, enjoying a sip of coffee embracing the Central Highlands culture with the Ede long house, Can wine jar, and gong rigs is always an interesting experience. taste.
Enjoy can wine by the ancient jar, by the pipe of the primeval old forest, by the spring water of the deep forest right on the stilt house, adding the melody of the gongs and rhythmic swaying dances in the traditional festivals.
That is the original Can wine, the soul of the wine culture of the Central Highlands. New rice offering ceremony, buffalo stabbing festival, water wharf worshiping ceremony, child naming ceremony… are festivals where visitors should arrange a schedule to experience and enjoy the right wine.
What to buy as a gift in Dak Lak?
Famous Vietnamese coffee, Can wine or specialties of the Central Highlands such as beef jerky, dried bamboo shoots, wild honey… are suggested things to buy as gifts. There are also unique and beautiful wooden handicraft products.