About Buon Ma Thuot
A bit of a mixed bag
What we say:
Buon Ma Thuot draws tourists because of the tour and trekking opportunities in the immediate area. But, we have to admit, compared to what's available elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the offerings here don't really compare.
If you've seen the stunning waterfalls of Laos, the ones here are muddy, less tempting to swim in, and not as picturesque. The elephant riding is good, but expensive, and if you're headed to Laos or Thailand, you'll probably get a better experience there. The homestay experience is available in longhouses at key destinations, but there's nothing authentic going on in these places. Even the well-travelled treks to Karen villages outside Chiang Mai in Thailand offer a more rewarding experience of indigenous cultures. And the main park here, Yok Don National Park, is only good for trekking between October and December -- the rest of the year is either too wet or too hot, and even then there have been a lot of complaints by trekkers that they never actually see any animals during their trip.
Guided tours of the sites below can be arranged through tour agencies in town. The emphasis here is on large group tours, so those travelling in small groups will find the prices a bit steep, but they'll pretty much let you create your own tour and then name a price. We found that Dak Lak Tourist, the provincial tourism office, was the most expensive. You'll do better heading to Dam San Tourist -- you'll still end up paying US$30 to 40 per person per day for guide and transport, not including meals and accommodation, but that's about as good as it gets here in Buon Ma Thuot. They also rent motorbikes for 100,000 VND per day and they'll happily point you in the right direction if you want to explore on your own. The head guide here, Mr Tam (pronounced 'tum'), is a friendly guy who speaks English quite well.
Daklak Tourist: 03 Phan Chu Trinh, Buon Ma Thuot. T: (050) 852 108, F: (050) 852 865. daklaktour @ dnh.vnn.vn
Dam San Tourist: 212-214 Nguyen Cong Tru St, Buon Ma Thuot. T: (050) 852 506, F: (050) 852 309.
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