Pleiku in Vietnam is said to be a sleepy town in which nightlife is not much to experience, but the scenery is incredibly spectacular. In Vietnam Central Highlands, the list of the top places to visit always includes Pleiku.
Pleiku is a provincial capital of Gia Lai Province, in the Vietnam Central Highlands. Pleiku town is around 50km from Kon Tum to the south and 200km from Quy Nhon. It is located on the line of National Highway 14 and 19 that connect the North and the South of Vietnam and has an elevation of 300-500m. This is one of the top three biggest cities of the Highlands (together with Buon Ma Thuot and Kontum). As statistics, there are 28 ethnic groups in Pleiku, and the majority is the King group while the most of the rest are Jarai and Bahnar. Being the advantageous town for growing the industrial plants like coffee, pepper, and rubber, Pleiku is also famous for the rural charm, spectacular mountainous nature, cool climate, and historical significance.
History of Pleiku
Pleiku used to be the military base during the Vietnam War. This town functioned as the terminal of military supply logistics passage extending to the westward along the National Highway 19. In the wartime, Pleiku was the center of defense of the Republic of Vietnam for the entire highland region. At that time, Lyndon Johnson approved the “Operation Rolling Thunder” campaign about the extensive bombing while the North Vietnam Army began an attack to occupy this place. Then, Pleiku witnessed the first formal battle exploded, and then this site was left in ruins. Once the war was over, this city was reconstructed with the support from the USSR (Unite of Soviet Socialist Republics). That explained why Pleiku shows the Soviet influence. Anyhow, the city today remains rural and stunning of the mountainous countryside destination.
What to See in Pleiku in Vietnam
Yaly Hydropower Station
This hydropower station was erected on Sesan River, on the border of the two provinces: Gia Lai and Kon Tum Provinces. It is the second largest hydropower station in Vietnam (the largest one is Hoa Binh Hydropower Station on Da River). The first time you see Yaly, you’ll feel grateful to the ancestors who gave effort, time, and even life to build up such the magnificent construction. The visit to this meaningful site leaves the long-lasting impression on you.
Fossil Tree Water Park
This green park “Cong Vien Dong Xanh” is around 10km outside Pleiku, which is renowned for displaying the fossilized trees. Nonetheless, note that these trees do not originally develop in this region. For the best visit to The Fossil Tree Water Park, you should come on weekends to see the best of the attraction with the zoo, crocodile pond, fossilized trees on display, etc.
T’Nung Lake (The Sea Lake or “Biển Hồ” in Vietnamese)
The freshwater source in Pleiku is supplied by T’Nung Lake, which is around 100km from the city center to the west. About the name of T’Nung, in the local ethnic language, it means “the sea on the mountain.” The road towards the lake is tree-lined, spacious, and spectacular. Scientifically, this freshwater lake used to be the gate of the volcano that stopped working million years ago. The Lake appears in the ellipse shape, with the depth of 20-30m, and the area of 230 hectares. With the stunning appearance, T’Nung Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Vietnam Central Highlands. Here, you also find a jetty with the gazebo to enjoy the panoramic view!
What to Do in Pleiku
As Pleiku Vietnam is called the sleepy town, don’t expect to see chunks of nightlife establishments in this region. Rather, what to expect exactly is the amazing sightseeing enjoyment. Pleiku is naturally filled with the spectacular and primitive scenery that everybody finds it exciting to view and photograph. Almost every corner of Pleiku is rustic yet charming and exotic. To visit Gia Lai Province in general, and Pleiku in particular, the foreign tourists might be required to go with a tour guide and the tour must be operated by a Vietnamese local travel agency. In that case, it is assured that sightseeing will NEVER go wrong in Pleiku, and the foreigners can access rightly to their desired destinations with no worry about getting lost.
As you’re visiting a top site in Vietnam Central Highlands, it is a must to experience the elephant ride activity. The while elephants will take you around the ethnic villages or cross the river for a true experience of riding the elephants. This activity is managed by the local experts in training and taming the wild elephants, so take it easy to enjoy!
Hiking and Visiting Ethnic Villages
It is motivated to visit the traditional villages of the local ethnic groups like the Jarai and the Bahnar people whose houses remain original. Also, the ethnic lifestyle is worth experiencing if you’re looking for something new and exotic. During the visit at the ethnic villages, remember to take some shots of the ethnic people whose smile is so charming that you realize it hard to find elsewhere. The architecture of the ethnic houses is special enough to be photographed. The hiking route to the ethnic villages is stunning as you’re stepping into the primeval forests. The journey is, for sure, exciting.
How to Get to Pleiku
The daily Vietnam Airlines flights to Pleiku Airport from Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang enable people to get to Pleiku at ease. From the airport, drive for 5km to reach the town center. You can choose taxi, bus, or “xe om” to arrive at the preferred place or go around the city.
There is the express bus service from Ho Chi Minh City to Pleiku, and the bus trip might take 15 hours. The other alternative means of transport are the rental cars or coaches from Ho Chi Minh City or Da Nang to Pleiku. The lengthy bus journey assures you to get the picturesque views of the long way to Pleiku.
When to Visit Pleiku
As the indispensable part of Vietnam Central Highlands, Pleiku features the typical tropical monsoon climate with the two separate seasons (the wet and the dry time) and the cool atmosphere of the Highlands. Similar to the neighboring Buon Ma Thuot Province, Pleiku has the ideal weather for growing coffee, pepper, and rubber.
- May to October: These are the rainy months in Pleiku that are characterized by the huge amount of rain and the wet condition. The tourists should always check out the weather forecast before they create the schedule to visit Pleiku, especially during August and September! Otherwise, if you know the weather ahead of time and do prepare umbrella or whatever necessary items, take it easy to explore the charming and spectacular Pleiku.
- November to April: These are the dry months in Pleiku when people appreciate the dry, cold, and windy weather in this region of the Highlands. Without a doubt, the dry season (November – April) is the best time to visit Pleiku as it is entirely comfortable to enjoy the outdoor travel, access, and game. When there is lesser chance of rain, everybody can steer clear of worry about the occasional rain that interrupts their trip.