On summer holidays, after a trip to the sea, you can travel to the highlands to discover nature and breathe the air of the forests. Buon Don Town in Buon Ma Thuot City in the highlands province of Daklak is a nice country retreat.
From HCMC, take National Road No. 14 about 500km to Binh Phuoc and Daklak Province. If you are coming from Nha Trang it’s 207 kilometers.
Tourists take an elephant ride around Buon Don Tourist Area – Photos: Mai Ly
Located nearly 50 kilometers northwest from Buon Ma Thuot City, Buon Don is home to the M’Nong, J’rai, Ede, Lao and Thai ethnic minority groups and for the last two centuries has been the center of all elephant hunting and taming in Vietnam.
Buon Don is a Lao name, meaning “island village” as it is near many islets in the swift flowing Serepok River.
About 15 kilometers from Buon Don is Ban Don Village and Bay Nhanh Waterfall. From the bamboo bridge you can see the waterfall and the stilt houses of the local tribe people.
Four kilometers from Ban Don is Buon Don Tourist Area. For about VND80,000 for three people, you can ride an elephant around for about fifteen minutes. If you have time and feel adventurous, you can hire an elephant to cross the Serepok River. Then walk across the100 meter long Buon Don Bamboo Bridge under the shade of banyan trees. It is veiled by vines and roots. The swinging bridge is not for the feint hearted.
Beyond the bridge is a swimming hole called Ea No oasis with many orchids. Beside the oasis, restaurants and hotels are tucked among the trees, one of which has a tree house in it with great views.
Next stop is an old stilt house built 120 years ago in Lao style with displays of utensils used by ethnic people and old weapons to hunt elephants. There are many stories about Buon Don’s history and customs of hunting and taming elephants. In March, tourists can join an elephant race festival.
By Mai Ly in Daklak