Our Central Highlands are located in the western mountain ranges, adjoining Laos and Cambodia. Not many travelers visit the Central Highlands maybe because they don’t know much about this land. But I’m sure that you will never regret a trip there. In this article, I will provide you with some brief information about Pleiku, Kon Tum, and Buon Ma Thuot – the three distinguished cities of the Central Highlands, and how to reach them.

Best Time to Visit the Central Highlands

The Central Highlands have two clearly distinct seasons: dry season and rainy season.

Rainy season starts in May and ends in November. During this time, it rains heavily and the road is hard to travel. Moreover, it becomes dirty and swampy. In short, you should avoid these months.

From December to April is the dry season, but the most ideal time to go is in December and from February to early March. This is a fun time filled with festivals put on by the ethnic minorities and tree marigold blossoming season.

central-highland-vietnam
Photo: Instagram @noodlet287

You can enjoy the yellow road made of marigolds in December, which will bring you a warm feeling even though it’s winter. In addition, this time is also the coffee harvest season. Have you ever seen the coffee cherries before picking? The stunning coffee gardens are abundant with them and some farms even have tasting rooms.

March is the month of coffee flowers. They blossom and turn the ground a pure white, like a garden of snow. But they will soon become small coffee berries. During the flower season, they blossom two to three times. In the spring, the locals also celebrate many festivals and activities such as Ha Nguyen festival, buffalo fighting festival, and elephant fighting festival.

Transportation to Pleiku

Introduction to Pleiku

Pleiku is the third largest city of the Central Highlands, after Da Lat and Buon Ma Thuot. This is the metropolis of Gia Lai province and the most important city of the north Central Highlands.

You may wonder about its name because it doesn’t sound Vietnamese. And you are right! It originated from the language of the Jrai people, one of our ethnic minorities in this area. Legend has it that the name Pleiku was actually Plơi Aku, in which Plơi means village and Aku means tail. Plơi Aku means the tail village. There were two brothers, sons of the patriarch, fighting for a buffalo tail. According to Jrai custom, the man who won the tail to worship the Earth and the Sky was very honorable. Eventually, the winner stayed in the village, became the next patriarch, and changed the village name to Plơi Aku. The loser was forced to leave for another place.

How to Get to Pleiku, Kon Tum, and Buon Ma Thuot
Photo by Chudu24h

Another explanation for its name exists, which I think is more convincing. Pleiku originated from Plơi Kơdưr. Kơdưr has two meanings: northern and high. Therefore, Plơi Kơdưr can be understood as the high village or the northern village. These two meanings are all suitable for the geographical location of Pleiku. During the Vietnam War, the government of South Vietnam used English to record the name, making it Pleiku like today.

Pleiku has pure but wild beauty that you can’t find in any place of the world. You will have a chance to adore the majesty of Bien Ho Che (tea lake), Tnung lake, Ham Rong mountain peak, Chin Tang waterfall (nine levels waterfall), Chu Dang Ya volcano, Dien Hong park, and many other tourist attractions in Pleiku city as well as in Gia Lai province.

How to Get There

There are two main ways to travel to the Central Highlands: by bus and by airplane. You can also ride a motorbike, but I recommend you go with a guide who has lots of riding experience and knows the roads well. Now I will give you some useful information to reach Pleiku.

By Bus

From Hanoi

Tran Tien Transportation Company
Route: Nuoc Ngam bus station, Hanoi city – Duc Long bus station, Pleiku city
Contact: +84 269 3883 591
Price: 550,000 – 600,000 Vietnamese Dong

Viet Hung Transportation Company
Route: Nuoc Ngam bus station, Hanoi city – Duc Long bus station, Pleiku city
Contact: +84 269 3824 117
Price: 550,000 – 600,000 VND

Thuan Tien Transportation Company
Route: Nuoc Ngam bus station, Hanoi city – Duc Long bus station, Pleiku city
Contact: +84 269 3744 777
Price: 550,000 – 600,000 VND

Thuan Y Transportation Company
Route: Giap Bat bus station or My Dinh bus station, Hanoi city – Duc Long bus station, Pleiku city
Contact: +84 934 818 171
Price: 550,000 – 600,000 VND

From Ho Chi Minh City

Thuan Tien Transportation Company
Route: Mien Dong bus station, Ho Chi Minh City – Duc Long bus station, Pleiku city
Contact: +84 269 3744 777
Price: 220,000 – 250,000 VND

Thuan Y Transportation Company
Route: Mien Dong bus station, Ho Chi Minh City – Duc Long bus station, Pleiku city
Contact: +84 906 497 697
Price: 220,000 – 250,000 VND

Duc Dat Transportation Company
Route: Mien Dong bus station, Ho Chi Minh City – Duc Long bus station, Pleiku city
Contact: +84 901 950 979
Price: 220,000 – 250,000 VND

Gia Phuc – Gia Lai Transportation Company
Route: Mien Dong bus station, Ho Chi Minh City – Duc Long bus station, Pleiku city
Contact: +84 973 360 666
Price: 220,000 – 250,000 VND

By Airplane

Every day there are many flights from Noi Bay airport (in Hanoi city) and Tan Son Nhat airport (in Ho Chi Minh City) to Pleiku airport. Check out these airlines.

Transportation to Kon Tum

Introduction to Kon Tum

Kon Tum is the name of the province in the northernmost part of the Central Highlands as well as the metropolis of that province. Kon Tum province borders Laos and Cambodia and the intersection of the three countries is called the Indochinese fork (Nga ba Dong Duong in Vietnamese). Indochina used to refer to the mainland Southeast Asia. However, due to historical reasons, Indochina now encompasses Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia only, which was once the French Indochina.

Kon Tum is also not a Vietnamese name, but the language of the Ba Na people, another ethnic minority of the region. Kon means village and tum means lake, so Kon Tum refers to a village nearby a lake, next to Dak Bla river. Today, that village is Kon Ko Nam village administered under Kon Tum city.

how to get to central highlands vietnam
Photo by Phuot.biz

There are many ethnic minorities living in Kon Tum, such as Xo Dang, Ba Na, Gia Rai, Gie Trieng, Brau, and Ro Mam. Each group retains different cultures and customs, creating the diversity of culture in Kon Tum. In addition to experiencing the distinct cultural characteristics of the ethnic groups, Kon Tum also leads you to wonderful scenery like Pau Suh waterfall, Wooden cathedral, Kon Klor communal house-on-stilts, Ngoc Linh mountain, Chu Mon Ray national park, and Yaly waterfall.

How to Get There

By Bus

From Hanoi

Viet Tan Transportation Company
Route: Nuoc Ngam bus station, Hanoi city – Kon Tum bus station, Kon Tum city
Contact: +84 260 391 3999
Price: 550,000 – 600,000 VND

Van Nam Transportation Company
Route: My Dinh bus station, Hanoi city – Kon Tum bus station, Kon Tum city
Contact: +84 965 026 886
Price: 550,000 – 600,000 VND

Dang Khoa Transportation Company
Route: Giap Bat bus station, Hanoi city – Kon Tum bus station, Kon Tum city
Contact: +84 260 386 4606
Price: 550,000 – 600,000 VND

Hong Anh Transportation Company
Route: My Dinh bus station, Hanoi city – Kon Tum bus station, Kon Tum city
Contact: +84 903 575 665
Price: 600,000 – 650,000 VND

From Ho Chi Minh City

Viet Tan Phat Transportation Company
Route: Mien Dong bus station, Ho Chi Minh City – Kon Tum bus station, Kon Tum city
Contact: +84 283 511 8888
Price: 300,000 – 400,000 VND

Tay Nguyen Transportation Company
Route: Mien Dong bus station, Ho Chi Minh City – Kon Tum bus station, Kon Tum city
Contact: +84 982 878 889
Price: 300,000 – 400,000 VND

Truong Giang Transportation Company
Route: Mien Dong bus station, Ho Chi Minh City – Kon Tum bus station, Kon Tum city
Contact: +84 914 248 457
Price: 300,000 – 400,000 VND

Nhat Tan Transportation Company
Route: Mien Dong bus station, Ho Chi Minh City – Kon Tum bus station, Kon Tum city
Contact: +84 283 898 4442
Price: 300,000 – 400,000 VND

By Airplane

From Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, there are always flights to reach Kon Tum airport. Find the booking websites in the Pleiku section.

Transportation to Buon Ma Thuot

Introduction to Buon Ma Thuot

Buon Ma Thuot is the metropolis of Dak Lak province and the largest city in the Central Highlands. During French colonialism in Vietnam, it was called Ban Me Thuot. Therefore, it has another name which is Ban Me Thuot, or Ban Me for short.

In the language of the E De people, Buon means village, Ma means father, and Thuot is a proper name. The city’s name means the village of Father Thuot. According to the local legend, Thuot was a patriarch who led the villagers to fight against the invasions by the Cambodians and Lao people in the past. To commemorate him, the village was named after his name.

how to get to buon ma thuot
Photo by Foody.vn

Buon Ma Thuot, as well as Dak Lak, belonged to the Vietnamese territory since the 14th century and it has an important position in our national defense.

This city is known as the cultural center of the Central Highlands and the capital of coffee in Vietnam. You can enjoy the immense coffee fields, high waterfalls, or the magnificent beauty of the legendary river Seropok. Visit Buon Ma Thuot and don’t miss such places as Dray Sap waterfall, Dray Nur waterfall, Gia Long waterfall, Don village, Ea Kao lake, Thuy Tien waterfall, King Bao Dai private palace, and Trung Nguyen coffee village.

How to Get There

By Bus

From Hanoi

Hoang Quy Transportation Company
Route: Giap Bat bus station, Hanoi city – Dak Lak bus station, Buon Ma Thuot city
Contact: +84 914 041 006
Price: 600,000 – 650,000 VND

Loan Hay Transportation Company
Route: Giap Bat bus station, Hanoi city – Dak Lak bus station, Buon Ma Thuot city
Contact: +84 914 225 312
Price: 600,000 – 650,000 VND

Vuong Chi Transportation Company
Route: Giap Bat bus station, Hanoi city – Buon Ma Thuot bus station, Buon Ma Thuot city
Contact: +84 262 386 6041
Price: 600,000 – 650,000 VND

Minh Vuong Transportation Company
Route: Giap Bat bus station, Hanoi city – Dak Lak bus station, Buon Ma Thuot city
Contact: +84 262 386 6041
Price: 600,000 – 650,000 VND

From Ho Chi Minh City

Thinh Phat Limousine Transportation Company
Route: Binh Thanh District, Ho Chi Minh City – 118 Dien Bien Phu street, Buon Ma Thuot city
Contact: +84 262 389 9898
Price: 300,000 – 400,000 VND

Hoang Kim Phat Transportation Company
Route: 242, 3 Thang 2 street, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City – 253 Y Jut street, Buon Ma Thuot city
Contact: +84 898 819 819
Price: 300,000 – 400,000 VND

Loan Sang Transportation Company
Route: Mien Dong bus station, Ho Chi Minh City –South Buon Ma Thuot bus station, Buon Ma Thuot city
Contact: +84 0947 490 947
Price: 300,000 – 400,000 VND

Thao Lan Transportation Company
Route: Mien Dong bus station, Ho Chi Minh City – Buon Ma Thuot bus station, Buon Ma Thuot city
Contact: +84 985 573 573
Price: 250,000 – 400,000 VND

By Airplane

Buon Ma Thuot airport in Buon Ma Thuot city is a domestic airport that you can access.

buon-ma-thuot-airport
Buon Ma Thuot airport | Photo: CPG Consultants

I hope this article is useful for you to choose the best way to reach the Central Highlands and discover the splendid beauty of this land.

Follow our blog to receive more information about travel in the Central Highlands as well as the whole of Vietnam. Here are a couple more articles:

The Most Photogenic Points of Interest in Da Lat

Your All-in-One Trekking Guide to Vietnam

What and Where to Eat in Pleiku

If you enjoyed reading this article and would like some more fun info about what to see, do and eat (and a bunch of interesting cafes!) in Vietnam, follow us at The Christina’s Blog

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