T’ Nung Lake (Bien Ho)
Pleiku (Gia Lai) has a famous destination, a calm lake in the mountains, named T’Nung lake. In fact, it is a natural freshwater lake formed in a crater that has been shut down for hundreds of millions of years and is located about seven kilometers away to the northwest of Pleiku city.
T’Nung lake has another name, Sea Lake (Bien Ho), because the lake area is very wide. It is 228 square hectares big in the dry season and up to 400 square hectares in the rainy season. When the wind passes, the lake ripples and forms waves as strong as the sea. Bien Ho is exampled like the eyes of Gia Lai people, in general, and Pleiku people, in particular. Cycling across the forest is a way to explore the mysterious beauty of that “Pleiku eyes”.
T’Nung lake provides a huge amount of different kinds of fish for the Central Highlands. Surrounded by the mountains, the area around the lake is also home to rare animals such as geese, kingfisher, Ko Tuc bird, Ko Vong bird, and more. You can rent a motorboat to ride around the lake to watch local people catch fish, and witness the beautiful landscape at sunset.
Chu Dang Ya Volcano
Located 30 kilometers to the northeast of Pleiku, Chu Dang Ya volcano makes its home in Ploi large village, Chu Dang Ya commune, Chu Pah district. Chu Dang Ya in the Jarai language means tough ginger. This volcano has been inactive for millions of years, hidden away in the middle of an immense forest surrounded by century-old trees. These trees have hollow trunks due to a worm infestation but they’re still alive, so you can sit or hide in the trunk.
The lava has left red basalt soil which is good for planting crops such as corn, sweet potato, pumpkin, and longan. The natural scenery around the volcanic area is diverse. It even changes from season to season, as does the rest of Vietnam, turning from a ripe green to golden yellow. During the rainy season, the mountain is covered by the vast green fields of sweet potato and taro. From the end of October to the beginning of December, yellow wild sunflowers are in bloom against a background of green trees.
In the dry season, you will not find many green trees, so the landscape around the volcano is not as beautiful as in the rainy season. However, you can hike up to the top of the volcano to see the beautiful view below. Make sure to go in the early morning or evening because the weather is cooler and you can see the sunrise or sunset.
Nine Floor Waterfall (Thac Chin Tang)
Located in La Sao, 30 kilometers away from Pleiku, Nine Floor Waterfall is not really high. However, it stretches along rugged cliffs and is divided into nine separate floors. Each floor is from five to ten meters high and the last two floors are about 15 meters high. There are many cascades that are easy for visitors to climb. If viewed from above, the waterfall looks like a dragon bending before flying into the sky. The surrounding forest ecology is still quite primitive, contributing to the wild beauty of the waterfall. This is a good place for going on a picnic, bathing, and relaxing.
Dong Xanh Cultural Village (Green Field)
Dong Xanh cultural village is the small Central Highlands with most celebrated cultural features displayed here. Green Field Park presents the traditional culture of the Highlands and it is considered the “green lung of Gia Lai. Situated 10km from Pleiku, stretching across An Phu paddy field, the Park covers an area of about 8 hectars, in An Phu commune, Pleiku city.
Covering a total area of 8ha, Dong Xanh brings all the provinces of Central Highlands into one places. Here and there are Rong Houses, tomb houses, and wooden sculptures displayed. Many flowers and plants of the area are planted around the miniature mountains, lotus lakes, fountain, pavilion, and gardens harmoniously. You can find here the iconic T’rung instruments which is famous across the country has long been considered as the symbol of Central Highlands. Tourists can relax in the cool green atmosphere and enjoy friendly natural environment. Also, visitors can join other interesting recreational activities such as fishing, boating and enjoy the delicious dishes and Highland specials.
Ham Rong Mountain (Dragon’s Jaw)
Ham Rong or Dragon’s Jaw Mount is only 11 kilometers south of Pleiku, making it a perfect day trip from the capital of Gia Lai. Lying on the national highway 14B, the mountain has an easy accessibility for trekkers and climbers. As an extinct volcano, Ham Rong Mount is blessed with a typical appearance of a volcanic crater covered in green trees. During war, the mountain was taken to be a military base of US troops (Camp Enari, the former headquarters of the US 4th Infantry Division). Today, it’s a provincial telecommunications transmitting center. You can only hike halfway up this mountain, the army will not let you go any further. You should still be able to enjoy panoramic views of the city, coffee, rubber, tea, and pepper gardens spreading over the hills.
Ham Rong mountain is a volcano that erupted millions of years ago and is also considered the roof of Pleiku due to its height of 1,028 meters. On an altitude of over 1000m above the sea, the air on the mountaintop is so refreshing with white clouds laden. The path leading up to the mountaintop is filled with da quy flower blooms from October to November, making it a beautiful sight to behold and a spot for photography. It is a precious geological heritage of the province, but the scenery is still very wild and not exploited. From a distance, the mountain has many different shapes. Sometimes it looks like a trapezoid but other times it forms a half circle. If viewed from above, the mountain looks like a huge funnel!
K50 Waterfall in Kon Chu Rang Nature Reserve
If you even more challenging experience in Gia Lai, why not trek to K50 Waterfall in Kon Chu Rang Nature Reserve. The path leading to this fall is not an easy feat but the reward is so satisfying. K50 is located on the border of Gia Lai and Binh Dinh, separated from the world by a thick forest and steep slopes. You’ll have to ride motorbike for one hour than trek on foot for 3 hours more inside the national park. The whole trip to K50 waterfall might take 2 days and one night for experienced trekkers.
The beauty of K50 waterfall is kept intact from tourism, thanks to its remote location. The fall is singled out from its surroundings, making it even outstanding when you see it. The delicate water streams dropping from the top of a large cave and falling into a mirror lake at the bottom which is surrounded by big boulders and green trees. K50 is about 54m high (higher than Dray Nur) and 20m-100m wide depending on the water volume. Come here, travelers can’t help to feel overwhelmed by the clean water and the primitive forest here.
Minh Thanh Pagoda
Located at 14A Nguyen Viet Xuan street, Hoi Phu ward, Pleiku city, Gia Lai province, Minh Thanh pagoda is two kilometers to the southwest of Pleiku. This pagoda is heavily influenced by Chinese and Japanese architecture. From a distance, you can see the nine-story relic tower and statues of Amida Buddha weighing 40 tons and 7.5 meters tall. The presbytery is 16 meters high, and made of Hinoki (Po Mu) wood. This makes for a truly stunning building. The main wood doors have six elegant Bodhisattva carvings. There is even a peaceful garden. Decorated with miniature landscapes, lakes, green trees, this area adds harmony and freshness to the pagoda’s solemn atmosphere.
Phu Cuong Waterfall
Also called as the white silk strip of Central Highlands, Phu Cuong waterfall is located in the Phu Cuong quarry area, in Dun Commune, Chu Se (Chư Sê) district, Gia Lai province, about 3k away from Chu Se district and 45 km from Pleiku city to the southeast. Coming to mountains and forests of Central Highlands also means coming to the enormousness –the flow of 45m in height on the La Peet stream. Visiting here, tourists will be able to admire the waterfall while listening to the birds twittering.
Moreover, the banks of the waterfall are the settling place of Ba Na and Gia Rai ethnic groups. Talking with them and going to catch small fish or pick the medicinal herbs in the forest will bring to you lots of experiences.
Kon Ka Kinh National Park
Kong Kinh National Park attracts tourists with many beautiful waterfalls and majestic mountains landscapes. The “110 Waterfall”, Dak Bok waterfall, To Bung stream, the top of Kong Ka King mountain, suspension bridges, and abundant flora and fauna will keep you busy for a whole day!
The forests have many kinds of ancient trees that are, you guessed it, hundreds of years old, rare plants, and rare five-leaf pine trees. Kon Ka Kinh is also the main habitat of an extremely rare species in Vietnam, the gray-shanked douc langur. It is one of the 25 most endangered primate species in the world. At Kon Ka Kinh, you can visit villages of the Bahnar ethnic minority and have the opportunity to witness their festivals such as a wedding ceremony, buffalo stabbing festival, gong festival, and more.
Yaly Hydropower Plant and Legendary Rope Bridge
When it comes to places to visit in Gia Lai, Yaly hydropower plant cannot be skipped, which is an important point in the chain of the hydroelectric dams on Se San River. This hydropower plant is the second largest one in the country after Hoa Binh (Hoà Bình) hydropower plant on Da (Đà) River. Looking the flowing water and exploring the supplying place for the entire Central Highlands is a significant thing for your trip.
Have you ever set your foot on a rope bridge yet? Not the concrete bridge or wooden bridge, but the ropes crossing from cliff to cliff. If you visit Pleiku, you will have a chance to explore this legend rope bridge.