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Buon Ma Thuot

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Buon Ma Thuot or Buôn Ma Thuột (or sometimes Buôn Ma Thuật, Buôn Ma Thuật or Ban Mê Thuột), is the capital city of Daklak Province, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.


Despite its quiet appearance, Buon Ma Thuot is very quickly developing. However, most of this development is from internal investment rather than the tourism industry. There are very few tourist sites, but the people are friendly, the coffee is great, and a stop here is well worth it to get off the beaten track and see Vietnamese city life that does not revolve around tourism. It is also an excellent base of operations to visit Yok Don National Park, Ban Don Village, and Lak Lake.

Get in[edit]

By road[edit]

Buon Ma Thuot is 194km from Nha Trang, 197km from Pleiku (note: the road from Buon Ma Thuot to Pleiku has just finished being improved and is now very good), 223km from Qui Nhon, 350km from Ho Chi Minh City, 196km from Dalat and 1427km from Hanoi.

By air[edit]

There are connections with Danang and Hanoi (via Danang) three times a week, daily flights to Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam airline and Vietjet has recently opened a direct flight from Hanoi to Buon Ma Thuot. Buon Ma Thuot Airport is 10km from the city.

By bus[edit]

There is a bus service to Buon Ma Thuot from Danang and Ho Chi Minh City (departs from Mien Dong Bus Station in Ho Chi Minh City). Buon Ma Thuot Bus Station is 3km east of the center. Several buses travel daily to Pleiku and Danang (buses will stop in Pleiku), Qui Nhon (11 hours), Nha Trang (6 hours), and Ho Chi Minh City (18 hours).

Mai Linh Express now operate their hunter green Mercedes Sprinters out of Buon Ma Thuot, which cut down travel times considerably, even with short breaks at mealtimes. For example, the journey to Nha Trang is 90,000vnd four times daily and takes approximately 3.5 hours.

From Kon Tum, 3 daily buses (6h, 7h, 13h) and 1 evening bus (17h, terminus Ho Chi Minh City). Daily buses = 100,000 vnd + 50,000 vnd for 1 big bag. Takes approximately 4 hours. Evening bus = 200,000 vnd (+50,000 / bag?)

  • Rạng Đông, Miền Đông Coach Station. 150,000 VNĐ.  edit

Get around[edit]

Your usual selection of taxis operate here, including Mai Linh. The city is also eminently bikeable due to its compact size and flat terrain. But there are no possibilities to rent a (push) bicycle!

See[edit][add listing]

  • Lak Lake, the mother lake of the Central Highlands. Around 1h to go there through bus 12 (bus stop is close to the church, on Nguyen Tat Thanh Street).
  • Ethnographic museum : nice place to learn about BMT and around (history, population, biodiversity). 30 000 VND/pax as of Jan 2018 (50% discount for aged or disabled people)
  • A minority community on the northern end of BMT. It's reachable on foot, but ask how to get there first. It's a nice part of town with longhouses surrounded by flowery yards, although now being part of town it can't really be called a village any more. Maybe 'longhouse suburbia' is more appropriate.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Visit Ban Don village, ride elephants. From center of Buon Ma Thuot, you can catch a bus every 30 minutes to go to Buon Don (Ban Don). Note that you should wait for the bus at Coop Mart in order to have a seat. Otherwise, the bus is normally full.
  • Buon Ma Thuot Easyrider, 54 Le Hong Phong, 0914223537 (), [1]. 6. You can go around Buon Ma Thuot by motobike. 55$.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

Coffee! You can find coffee everywhere, but there is a coffee museum into a place (shop, cafe) run by coffee company "Trung Nguyen". Nice quiet place in town, but high prices to drink a coffee there (start at 45,000 VND for an espresso). Products in main shop are affordable.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Despite what the guidebooks say, Buon Ma Thuot has a very solid selection of good eats. Fast development and not much tourist infrastructure mean that the guidebooks are behind the times and sorely misleading. A wander just northwest of the main roundabout after around 6PM will turn up a truly great selection of street stalls and small restaurants, offering up very tasty standards such as hủ tiếu, phở, bún, cơm, and nem. Check Ly Thuong Kiet nearby for a selection of roll-your-own spring roll joints.

A very tasty cơm hến, the Hue speciality, is available at a simple-looking place across the street from the Co-op Mart that also advertises Bún bò Huế. Walk past the shabby looking front room into a spectacular little back home, complete with garden, birds, and an internal waterfall.

Lang Chai Quan - great seafood restaurant on Ba Trieu street. Tasty, good value food, great atmosphere busy with locals drinking and enjoying themselves

Of course, KFC is available in the Co-op Mart building, if you really need it.

Vegetarian food:

  • Vegetarian street restaurant, 98 Le Quy Don Street (If you stay at Thanh Ngoc it is around 15 minutes on foot). 20-30 VND.  editDepending on the daytime, choose between around 20 different dishes, you get a soup, too. In the end you pay.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Coffee, coffee, coffee. Buon Ma Thuot is the capital of coffee in Vietnam, a country that is second only to Brazil in coffee exports. Because of this, cafes are on every street corner, and most are spectacular. Many offer several different varieties of bean and roast. Standouts include Emerald's Cafe in Tan Loi and, just east of town, Trung Nguyen's flagship coffee gardens (a huge pleasure garden complete with man-made mountains and waterfall, lined with coffee trees and boasting both traditional Viet and Ede designed buildings). However, it's very difficult to find a bad cup of coffee.

  • Drink the local brew "ruou can".
  • Homemade coffee to go, 21 nguyen cong tru st. (Near the market), 0995264036. open from 8 am - 9pm. Serving coffee, hot chocolate, Italian soda and ice-blended green teas, yoghurts and flavoured mixes. The atmosphere is very relaxed with a simple and elegant layout accompanied by worldly popular music. Food is also available. drinks are 12.000 to 24.000 VND.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Ngoc Mai Guesthouse, B14 Dien Bien Phu street (In the city center), 0500.3853406 - 0905.070.202 (). Great guesthouse/ small hotel at the heart of the city. 200m from the night market, plenty of restaurants around. Rooms with air-con, TV. Friendly staff speaking English and French. Indoor parking for motorbikes Starting at 180.000 dong (Sept 2015).  edit
  • Thanh Ngoc, 117 Nguyen Van Cu (close to km 3), 0913436427. Great little hotel, for 180 000 dong (Jan 2015), inclusive air-con, TV and incredible friendly and helpful owners. Indoor parking for motorbikes, too. US$ 9.  edit
  • Huong Khue, 32 Ngo Gia Tu (right next to the bus station), 0913498346. Simple but clean and conveniently located next to the bus station along with several other hotels on the same road. Rooms from 120,000 dong. Staff is helpful and friendly but knowledge of English is limited. You can take local buses to the center (10.000 VND), a xe om (25.000 VND), taxi (50.000 VND) or walk for about 20 minutes.  edit
  • Thanh Phat, 41 Ly Thuong Kiet (In the city center). Simple place, 1 double room start to 170 000 VND (December 2015), inclusive air-con, TV and breakfast (8 different choices). Nice staff. Indoor parking for motorbikes and bicycles, too. US$ 8.  edit


Get out[edit]

  • Lak Lake is about an hour's bus ride to the south, on the way to Dalat. It's a beautiful lake with various minority villages all around. A few of them are reachable from Lak town on foot, others require a boat trip, motorbike, or longer hike. To cross the lake, you can choose between a boat or an elephant - it's so shallow that they can walk on the ground!

Between Lak and Buon Ma Thuot, a local bus runs every half hour or so. There are several buses a day to Dalat (4-5 hours; VND 120,000).

Mr Hoang Tuan (0943810787 - Email- [email protected]) based in Buon Ma Thuot provides excellent and authentic tours throughout Dak Lak province including trekking, boating, food and drink experiences, spending time with locals and accessing parts and people of the area you may not usually discover. Tung is an honest and intelligent tour guide, do give him a call!

If you want to stay overnight in Lak, Mr Duc (tel 0905 371633) from Café Duc Mai([email protected]) can arrange homestays in Jun longhouses for US$5, half the price asked by Daklak Tourist. He can also arrange other activities, such as elephant rides and boat trips on the lake, for a much lower price than Daklak Tourist. The café serves an excellent set meal (US$3) for dinner.

To get to the café, call ahead to get picked up or consider taking a moto (VND 10,000) once you arrive in Lak as it's next to the Jun village and a bit hard to find from the main road. On foot, walk along the main road to the 3-way intersection at the market, then follow the alley going past the market all the way to the end. Turn left, where the road makes a right turn curving around some rice paddies. Follow this road until you see Café Duc Mai on the left side, 50m in front of the Jun village entrance.

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