BAN ME THUOT – WE MEET EACH OTHER AGAIN

About Ban Me Thuot

Ban Me Thuot (also known as Buon Ma Thuot) is located in Dak Lak province, about 350 km from Ho Chi Minh City – 7 and a half hours by car. It is the largest city in the Central Highlands and the mountainous city with the largest population in Vietnam.

Ban Me Thuot was previously the residence of the Ede ethnic group and was ruled by the village elders. Around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the French came here many times to approach and explore the highlands of the West of Vietnam. Some time later, because the merchants in the lowlands often harassed and exploited local people, forcing them to go plunder elsewhere (especially Khanh Hoa), the French established the administrative center of Ban Me Thuot and plantations with the main workforce being the indigenous Ede. In addition, the French also brought Kinh workers from other places to develop Ban Me Thuot.

Due to its mild and cool climate, Ban Me Thuot became the favorite relaxing place of King Bao Dai (the last king of Vietnam) and his family.

Since February 2010, after being officially recognized as a grade 1 city, Ban Me Thuot has become the fastest growing city in the Central Highlands and the coffee capital of Vietnam.

Transportation to Ban Me Thuot

I have already visited Ban Me Thuot three times. Each time was in a different time period and by different means.

My very first time was in September 2016 by motorbike.

You can choose one of the following two routes:

  • 1. Route: Follow Highway 13 to Binh Duong, then continue to Dong Xoai town, Gia Nghia town, and follow Highway 14 to Ban Me Thuot.
  • 2. Route: Follow the Hanoi Highway to the intersection of Vung Tau overpass, then go to Highway 1, continue to Highway 20 to Madagui. Then follow Highway 28 to Dak Nong and Highway 14 to Ban Me Thuot.

The second time was at the end of June 2019 by a 45-seat bus.

And last February by sleeper bus of Tien Oanh Limousine. Highly recommend!!! Because the buses are new and clean, the driver drives fast but smooth and MOST IMPORTANT is the extremely enthusiastic staff. I departed from HCM (Saigon) at 09:45 p.m and arrived around 05:00 – 05:30 a.m. It was still dark, no one had woken up yet, and my homestay was located in an alley. After learning that I was traveling alone and there was no host to pick me up, the driver and his assistant drove me to the alley to be sure that I’m safe. Reasonable fare: 200,000VND/ seat/ 40-seat sleeper bus; 230,000VND/ seat/ 32-seat sleeper bus, and 380,000VND/ seat/ 22-seat Limousine.

If you want to save your moving time, you can also take a plane (only around 55 minutes). Because Ban Me Thuot is a major tourist and economic destination, there are flights every day.

Transportation in Ban Me Thuot

Motorbike/Scooter

You can ask for rent directly from your host (if staying at a homestay) or your reception (if staying at a hotel). Prices range from 100,000 – 200,000VND/ day/ depending on vehicle type (motorbike or scooter, old one or new one).

Bus

The number of bus routes in Ban Me Thuot is quite large. If you want to go to famous attractions like Lak Lake, Don Village, Elephant Rock Mountain,… but afraid or lazy to ride, you can go by bus. Not only cheap (only 30,000VND/ way), but also comfortable (bus is quite clean).

Note: The control of bus tickets in Ban Me Thuot is very strict. After buying a ticket for about 15 minutes, the assistant driver will check the ticket once. And about 30 minutes later, there will be a ticket checker to get on the bus along the way to check the ticket again. So hold on to your ticket until you get off or you’ll be fined (and have to buy a ticket again).

Car

If you go with a large group, you can rent a package car for a good price. There are 2 options: Taxi or Limousine.

Where to stay in Ban Me Thuot?

Last time, because I traveled with my company, I stayed at the 4-Star Hotel SAI GON BAN ME, located right at roundabout 6. Price is about 800,000VND/ Superior Room/ night, breakfast included.

This time I stayed at DON GANH HOMESTAY (152/48 Hoang Hoa Tham Str.). The homestay has only been open for a few months, so everything is brand new. The host is young, so she is very enthusiastic and takes good care of guests. Because I was traveling alone and wanted to save money, I chose to stay in a dorm room. But due to the outbreak of Covid 19 during Tet, not many visitors came to the Central Highlands. Thus I luckily kept this big room just to myself haha. Reasonable price, 350,000VND/ double room/ night, and 120,000VND/ bed in dorm room/ night (There are one 4-bed room and one 8-bed room).

Where to go in Ban Me Thuot

System of 3 Waterfalls: Gia Long – D’ray Nur – D’ray Sap

Except for coffee, when mentioning Ban Me Thuot, people will immediately think of majestic high waterfalls next to the poetic Serepok River.

About 26 km from the center, these 3 waterfalls are located close to each other: D’ray Nur Waterfall (also known as Cai/Wife Waterfall) and D’ray Sap Waterfall (also known as Husband Waterfall) just a bamboo bridge apart, Gia Long Waterfall is 5 km upstream from the other two waterfalls. You can choose one of 3 to visit if you don’t have much time.

The ticket price for D’ray Nur Waterfall is 30,000VND/ person, D’ray Sap, and Gia Long Waterfalls have the same price 40,000VND/ person.

D’ray Nur Waterfall (Cre: Internet)

Ea Kao Lake

In the Ede language, it means a lake that never dries up, because the water here is always full of water at all times of the year thanks to the inflow of multiple streams. In the rainy season, the water surface of Ea Kao Lake rises to the level of the irrigation dam and in the dry season, the water level in the middle of the lake is mid-calf high.

Only 12 km from the center (about 15 minutes by scooter) with fresh air and peaceful wild beauty, Ea Kao Lake has become a great relaxing place for many locals, as well as a favorite attraction of visitors.

Elephant Rock Mountain Yang Tao

About 30 km from the city center and about 15 km from Lak lake. Includes a pair: Elephant Father Rock located in the middle of a field and Elephant Mother Rock located near the foot of the mountain. The road to the top is quite steep, but don’t worry, your shoes can grip firmly because it is Granite – with high roughness. Although it’s a bit scary going down, the beautiful scenery at the top will make you defiant. haha.

Note: You should wear sports shoes. In case of wearing high heels or sandals, it’s better to go barefoot (super painful) otherwise you’ll slip easily.

During the time on my way back to the center, there was a thought in my mind: “Nature is truly amazing in a mysterious way. In the Central Highlands – where Elephants are considered a cultural symbol, a rock shaped like an Elephant suddenly appeared. How cool!”

Well, the way to Elephant Rock Mountain/Lak Lake is also the way to the airport. Both sides of the road are extremely beautiful pine forests. If traveling by motorbike/scooter, you can stop for a while to visit and definitely have many beautiful pictures.

Khai Doan Pagoda

Khai Doan Pagoda is the largest pagoda in Buon Ma Thuot city in particular and in Dak Lak province in general. This is also the first pagoda built in the Central Highlands. The name Khai Doan was a combination of the name of King Khai Dinh and his wife – Queen Doan Huy (father and mother of King Bao Dai).

The pagoda is designed entirely of wood in the style of Hue “ruong house” with the main yellow-brown color, creating a nostalgic space reminiscent of the ancient Hue royal court.

Akõ Dhông Village

In the Ede language, it means “upstream of the stream” (Akõ: upstream, Dhong: stream). So named because this village is located right upstream of Ea Nuol stream. Ako Dhong Village is considered the richest and most powerful in the Central Highlands and the most beautiful city in Ban Me Thuot. In addition, it is also the only one that still retains the appearance and uniqueness of an Ede village. But sadly, the old architectural space is gradually being broken down.

Dak Lak Museum

When traveling to any place new, I always visit the museum to gain more knowledge about its history, culture, and people. Entrance fee is 30,000VND/ adult, and 20,000VND/ child.

The camphor tree: hundred-year-old heritage tree of Dak Lak province

The World Coffee Museum

A favorite check-in place of tourists recently. The ticket price is 75,000VND/ person for the upper area, 100,000VND/ person for the basement, and 150,000VND/ person for both zones.

Personally, I think that taking pictures outside is enough. It’s not really a museum because apart from the beautiful architecture of the Central Highlands longhouse styled after rivers and streams, the exhibits inside are nothing special, even unrelated to each other and extremely meager captioned.

Lee’s House

Because I saw many people complimenting and checking in this place, I decided to make a try. But it’s really not my type. Even so, I took lots of pictures to not waste my 50,000VND for the entrance ticket haha.

What to eat in Ban Me Thuot?

Bun Do (Red Noodles)

A typical but simple dish of the Central Highlands. For locals, this is a snack but for me, it’s more like a main meal. Only 15 – 20,000VND/ bowl with lots of noodles and vegetables, plus a big slice of crab meat and quail eggs. Way too full!!!

Baked Rolls Thanh Loan

Delicious marinated grilled meat, clean fresh green vegetables, tasty dipping sauce (a bit like minced meat porridge), enthusiastic and quick service staff. 40,000VNĐ/ serving 1 person.

Address: 226 Y Jut Str., Thang Loi Ward

Chicken Bread Soup/Vermicelli in Central Market

Take the elevator to the 2nd floor and enjoy a bowl of shredded chicken bread soup/vermicelli for only 30,000VND/ bowl or chicken thighs bread soup/vermicelli for 40,000VND/ bowl. I ate at Dam diner recommended by my Ban Me friend.

Vegetable Garden Cafe “Bo Cong Anh Coffee And Cookies”

What I like most about this coffee shop is the view of the front vegetable garden. Green, fresh, extremely eye-catching to stimulate appetite. I turned to my friend and joked: “I wish there was a plate of fresh vermicelli and boiled meat here. Then I would ask the owner for some vegetables. Then wrap them together. Best taste ever!!!” hahaha

Address: alley 24/8e Luong The Vinh Str., Tan Tien Ward, turn right 50 m

Wooden House Cafe “B’s House”

According to my friend, born and raised in Ban Me Thuot, this wooden house was formerly built in the forest by a Teochew Uncle (a group of Han Chinese people native to the historical Teochew prefecture of eastern Guangdong province). It was moved to its current address just a few years ago. Then, for personal reasons, it was sold to the young owner and became a popular coffee shop today.

Although it was redecorated to suit the business, there are still many characteristics of the Teochew people remaining.

Address: 65 Thi Sach Str., Tan Lap Ward

Some pictures along the way

Early in the morning when I arrived, it was the 16th of the Lunar Calendar, so the moon was full.
A corner of the Chinese-style altar in my friend’s house

The review comes finally to an end. See you next time!!!

From Anh Trần with Love ♥️

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