|Buon Ma Thuot||Dalat|
Like Kontum and Pleiku, the main attraction of Buon Ma Thuot is not the town itself but the surrounding area. There are numerous ethnic villages and also some spectacular waterfalls, all of which are within a day's trip. Although on the Central Highlands, Buon Ma Thuot is at a lower altitude than Dalat at 451 m, so does not necessarily offer the same cool escape from the hot weather.
Ede Minority Hilltribe
A visit to the Ede tribe (or Rhode Tribe) makes a trip to Buon ma Thuot worthwhile. This tribe is primarily matriarchal. The women own the property and after marriage the man must move in with the woman's family whose house is extended to accommodate the new couple. The houses of the Ede tribes are long (up to 30 m) and thin (4 m). Each time there is a wedding, a family house is extended like carriages on a train. Each section can be closed off and has its own door and kitchen. The houses are also on built stilts so that wood, food and even livestock can be stored under the house.
Ede tribe has a different ceremony for their dead than the Bahnar at Pleiku tribes. They bury the deceased just below the surface of the ground so that the spirit can fly to the heavens. Around the grave they keep wooden carvings of elephant tusks and on four pillars built around the grave they picture four birds to protect the dead. The Ede tribe practices animalistic beliefs.
There is a very interesting Hill Tribe museum at No. 1 Doc Lap street. It includes some of the tools or arms used by the Ede tribe to hunt elephants. The museum also provides very valuable information about the culture of the tribe.
Lak Lake is situated 50 km south of Buon Ma Thuot. To see the lake you must obtain a permit that costs $20 US for a group of people. It is also possible to sleep in the Ede houses there. In this village, you can take up to a three hour elephant ride around the area.
Dalat is an ideal holiday retreat, set amongst the low hills of the Central Highlands. It was originally founded in 1897 by Alexander Yersin and Dalat city was established in 1912. The city served as a hill station for the French trying to escape the heat of the plains and the delta. The city enjoys a year round spring-like climate and as a result, this lovely setting and ideal climate has made this city a hit with domestic and foreign tourists alike.
Dalat has a charming French district which is located behind the Rap 3-4 cinema. It is well worth exploring. It is also in the French District where a number of the hotels are situated. In the center of town there is a large fresh produce market which sells some of the nicest strawberries (when in season) that you can ever hope to taste!
This town is also the center of kitsch in Vietnam. Keep an eye out for the Dalat Cowboys, who ride around the town on horseback. For relaxation, you may want to take a ride on a swan boat on the lake or even buy one of the dozens of different types of souvenirs available in the market.
Dalat has a lot worth visiting, especially if you are into kitsch. Dalat has a public eighteen hole golf course and so is a worthwhile place to visit for the avid golfer. A few hours could quite easily be spent riding bikes around the lake and stopping off at the many interesting sights near it. Another place worth visiting are the lovely Botanical gardens.
Bao Dai's Summer Palace
Set atop the ridge overlooking Dalat, this residence is one of the more bizarre buildings that one can visit. The building is best described as complete art decor. When one looks at it, it is easy to conclude that it should be in Paris rather than Dalat. It was used as a place to relax by Bao Dai, the last feudal king of Vietnam who was overthrown during the August rebellion in 1945. The palace is located deep in a pine forest. It is renown for its beautiful flower gardens and wonderful embroidered artwork created by talented local girls. It is really worth a half-day visit.