A crossroads town

One of the least densely populated provinces of the country, Gia Lai sits in the centre of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, perched atop a large plateau surrounded by mountains and valleys formed from volcanic activity 25-30 million years ago.

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Sandwiched between Dak Lak and Kon Tum provinces, the provincial capital Pleiku lies at the junction of Routes 14 and 19, making it the crossroads of Highland exploration. Most travellers who find themselves here tend to be on the way to somewhere else, including the nearby Cambodia and Lao border crossing. At first glance little entices foreigners to linger as the redevelopment of the city after it was torched at the end of the Vietnam War has created a sprawling, charmless, nondescript town. By contrast, quaint Kon Tum, just 45 kilometres north of Pleiku, is far more welcoming to the small trickle of travellers that do make it to northern part of the Central Highlands. While both boast the same ethnic diversity, interesting culture and traditions worthy of exploration, Kon Tum has developed to make it accessible to visitors.

Time to eat. : Cindy Fan.
Time to eat. Photo: Cindy Fan

However, before you give Pleiku a skip, it has some spectacularly beautiful countryside and unexpected natural wonders — wonders that have been left natural, too, which is a rarity in Vietnam — like Phu Cuong Waterfall, truly breathtaking and completely off the radar. There’s also no boat rides or concrete animals on the pine-fringed blue waters of Bien Ho Lake, a flooded volcanic crater ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 500 words.)

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5 other destinations in Central Highlands

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Smell the roses

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