A glimpse of the Central Highlands during trips

Two of us, one from Da Nang, one from Saigon, arranged to meet in Dak Mil (Dak Nong) and then drove together to explore a small corner of the Central Highlands.

A glimpse of the Central Highlands during trips

Compared to other places on the tourist map of Vietnam, the Central Highlands (except Da Lat) is a land often forgotten by travelers. This place includes five provinces of Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Lam Dong, with primeval forests and famous tea, cocoa, and coffee farms. Along with that are the radiant smiles and hospitality of the ethnic minorities living here.

We did not expect to cover the entire Central Highlands in the space of a few days. The two drove just to see the vastness of the mountains and forests, passing through villages and roads with no names on the map.

I started from Saigon, went to Phan Thiet and followed Highway 28 to Di Linh, to Gia Nghia and then to the meeting point of Dak Mil. The rain mixed with red soil made the road much more difficult, but the feeling at the end of the day when conquering this place is incomparable.

Viewed from Gia Bac Pass, the mountains are rolling under the clear blue sky and clouds.

Viewed from Gia Bac Pass, the mountains are rolling under the clear blue sky and clouds.

After a night of rest in Dak Mil, the next morning enjoying coffee by West Lake, we discussed whether we should take route 14C as planned or not because the weather was quite gloomy and likely to rain.

This is the road we most want to conquer in this journey not only because of its difficulty but also because there is very little information about this place. And when it rains, the road is almost impassable because of the mud and red soil. But the determination of both of them was unwavering, telling each other, “If you can’t go any further, go back to the starting point.” Starting with such a spirit, the two just left, thinking good luck and silently praying that it wouldn’t rain.

West Lake in Dak Mil.

West Lake in Dak Mil.

With that in mind, we slowly entered Highway 14C, not knowing the difficulties it would bring us.

The first section of Highway 14C is paved, the road runs through the forest, there are no residents living on either side of the road.

The first section of Highway 14C is paved, the road runs through the forest, there are no residents living on either side of the road.

However, after the asphalt section, the road is now red dirt and gravel, forcing us to drive very carefully.

However, after the asphalt section, the road is now red dirt and gravel, forcing us to drive very carefully.

Entering Dak Lak territory. National Highway 14C connects Dak Nong and Dak Lak. The red dirt road is very magical with forests on both sides but it takes a lot of energy.

But the reward for the difficulties is breathtakingly beautiful scenes like this with clouds, a river, a bridge in the middle of the jungle.

But the reward for the difficulties is breathtakingly beautiful scenes like this with clouds, a river, a bridge in the middle of the jungle.

However, the difficulties do not stop here. After the wonders of the mountains and forests, there are roads that disappoint people like this.

However, the difficulties do not stop here. After the wonders of the mountains and forests, there are roads that disappoint people like this.

The beautiful road runs through the rubber forest near Highway 19.

The beautiful road runs through the rubber forest near Highway 19.

After nearly 150 km of red soil and seemingly impassable roads, we turned onto Highway 19 towards Pleiku in the beautiful sunset of the Central Highlands. One thing to note is that because this is a road located in a border area, there are border posts along it. Therefore, when we go, we need to bring full identification documents (ID card or passport) to declare to the border station.

Pleiku is famous for many attractions, but because of time constraints, we visited Tonle Sap and Chu Dang Ya volcano. A mild sunny day with clouds above and a glass-like calm water surface make the lake extremely charming.

Clouds and trees reflect on the lake surface

Clouds and trees reflect on the lake surface

After Tonle Sap Lake, driving another 30 km, we stopped at Chu Dang Ya volcano. This is an extinct volcano. Surrounding the mountain is a fertile red basalt land, the result of lava eruptions.

The volcano lies quietly under the blue sky and white clouds.

The volcano lies quietly under the blue sky and white clouds.

The valleys around the foot of the mountain are where people cultivate crops.

The valleys around the foot of the mountain are where people cultivate crops.

We were lucky to be invited to lunch by relatives.

We were lucky to be invited to lunch by relatives.

Vast grassland next to M'He Ay lake.

Vast grassland next to M’He Ay lake.

After that, my companion and I ran back to Kon Tum to go to Mang Den, but heavy rain forced us to return to An Khe town. The next morning, we drove up An Khe Pass, connecting Gia Lai and Binh Dinh.

The view from An Khe pass.

The view from An Khe pass.

Then we drove past the An Khe hydroelectric dam lake.

Then we drove past the An Khe hydroelectric dam lake.

From there, we headed back to Ayun Pa, planning to go to Da Lat, but the heavy rains forced us to change the route, heading to Highway 1A to get home in time to work, ending the Central Highlands trip early. . Nearly 1,500 km is not a long distance but it gave us unforgettable impressions of the land of epics, mountains and the smiles of children in the villages we passed.

We didn’t go to all the original points in the plan, but that’s why we agreed to return to this majestic Central Highlands land in the near future.