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Kontum

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Revision as of 17:33, 13 September 2006 by 203.144.143.9 (talk) (Da Lat -> Dalat / {{stub}} -> {{outline}})
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Kontum

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Kontum is the capital of Kontum Province in Vietnam's Central Highlands.

Understand

Kontum is a relaxed little town with few sights in their own right. What nevertheless puts it on the map of interesting places in Vietnam are the surrounding minority villages, including settlements of the Sedang, Bahnar, Jarai, Gieh Trieng and Rengao ethnic groups. Most impressing are the Rong, huge communal houses where the villagers gather for special occasions. Strangely enough, French catholics missionary work has been quite successful in this remote part of the country, rendering some of the minorities converts and leaving a few Christian vestiges.

Get in

Kontum is on Highway 14, the inland-parallel to ever-congested Highway 1. In an relief effort to transfer traffic from that route to here, the road has been upgraded recently, so the place is now easily reached. Northbound to Da Nang it runs along the northern part of the famous Ho Chi Minh-Trail, winding through some of the roughest mountainous jungle terrain in the country.

By motorbike

So-called Easy-Riders offer tours to the Central Highlands (Vietnam) starting from Da Nang, Dalat or Nha Trang. If the "real" Ho Chi Minh-Trail is part of your arrangement, you're likely to spend a night here.

By bus

Bus ticket scam
Be warned that Kontum Province is the only province in Vietnam that has banned foreigners from purchasing bus tickets at the ticket office. In consequence you have to buy them directly form the bus-personnel, and bet they'll try to overcharge you badly! To get an idea of an appropriate price, remember the fare you paid from your origin to here. Prices are proportional to distance.

(Information as of February 2005)

Kontum's bus station is on the northern side of town, just off the highway.

Buses reach here from any coastal city between Da Nang and Nha Trang, while the neighbouring towns of Pleiku and Dac To are en route from Dalat/Buon Ma Thuot to Da Nang and thus see some through traffic.

Pleiku Qui Nhon Buon Ma Thuot Nha Trang
Distance (km) 49 198 246 436

See

  • Tan Huong Church is on the western End of Tran Phu.
  • The Wooden or Montagnard Church is east of Tan Huong Church, was built in 1913 and restored in the 1990s. It is remarkable for its blending of local artistic tradition and Christian symbols: Bahnar villages, elephants, a scale model of a rong.
  • A Bahnar Orphanage is just behind the church, visitors and donations are very welcome here.
  • The Catholic seminary', 56 Tran Hung Dao, houses a small minority museum, but colonial-style building itself is well worth a visit.
  • The area is also frequently visited by war veterans revisiting battlefields to the north.

Do

Kontum's major draw is the villages of the indigenous hill-tribes (called montagnards by the French). It is strongly recommended to go with a guide, since he or she will be able to communicate in the minority language and keep you from inadvertently breaking taboos. Kon Tum Tourist, ground floor Dakbla Hotel, 2 Phan Dinh Phung, T: 060-861626, [email protected] can make arrangements. If you are on a tight itinerary, it might be good to fix things beforehand, since they are often crowded with tour groups. Though some of the Bahnar villages actually form a part of Kontum's eastern and western edge, the ones farther away are more interesting. Highlights would be the different kinds of rong, the cemeteries of the Jarai and joining in a rice-wine party with the locals.

Eat

There is the usual selection of hole-in-the-wall restaurants or streetside stalls, mainly on Tran Phu, around the market and on the road running parallel to the river.

On the northern parallel to Tran Phu (Phan Chu Trinh?), just a few house from the corner with Phan Dinh Phung, there is a small vegetarian restaurant (an chay). They serve excellent fake-meat with dishes described as tuna-fish, chicken, crab and the like.

Drink

All over town you'll find beautiful garden cafes to while away.

  • Cafe Eva, 1 Phan Chu Trinh (eastern end) is home to a local artist and a lot of his oeuvre is on display in the graden and the three-storey house resembling a stilthouse. The place is a favourite amongst Vietnamese couples.
  • Dakbla Hotel restaurant has a nice terrace from which you get excellent views of the sun setting over the Dakbla river.

Sleep

Stay healthy

The Central Highlands are a high-risk region for malaria. Be sure to follow recommended precautions.

Stay safe


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