Highland Tour: Lak Lake

Lak Lake is one of the largest natural lakes of the Central Highlands. Thanks to a few minority villages around the shore, the beautiful surrounding of hills and rice fields, a location superb for watching a perfect sunset, and outdoor activities it is a popular place for foreign and Vietnamese tourists arriving from both Dalat and Nha Trang. It is the usual stop for Easy Riders to and from Dalat, providing al the facilities tourists require.
Unfortunately due to the popularity of tourism Lak Lake agencies offer an activity I could never condone – Elephant riding. So while I think Lak Lake is a beautiful location, the offering of elephant riding around the minority village of Buon Jun makes it a less attractive base for a longer stay. So just be aware that you will most likely witness the terrible treatment of these beautiful animals.

Arrival / Departure

Most tourists arrive at Lak Lake as part of a packaged tour or by motorbike (either with our without an Easy Rider). So if you fall in either category, you will usually end up straight at Lien Son town.

There should also be buses coming from Dalat and Buon Ma Thout stopping near the lake. For exact departure times and travel times contact your accommodation in either towns or the local bus station.

If you are coming without your own mode of transportation you will easily find a Xe Om or a taxi in town. Covering some of th highlights in this surrounding area getting a Xe Om driver for a day or renting a bike might be the best option.

 

Accommodation

There are no shortage of accommodation around the Lake. At the south-western shore is a little minority village, Buon Jun, with a number of traditional Long Houses and some food places. Here tourists can enjoy the “comfort” of a homestay without leaving this tourist area. If you have not stayed in a traditional house anywhere in Vietnam, this could be a nice option. THough I was told due to the amount of houses here it can be a bit louder. I did not stay here, but in a similar house further north in the highlands.

In the town of Lien Son you can find also a number of homestays, guesthouses and hotels. I stayed at NAME near the main square of the town. here is the review of the place.

So you can choose between comfort, budget and traditional houses. There is something for everyone’s interest and budget.

Food & Drinks

If you stay Buon Jun there are two places to have food, though I am not aware of the quality and price.

Around Lien Son there are the usual food places offering typical Vietnamese dishes. As I had a great dinner served at NAME I cannot provide any specific recommendation in this town. If in doubt ask your accommodation.

 

What to do

There are some interesting things to do in this area.

There are some nice spots to enjoy the natural beauty, some are around the shore where you can watch the locals using the lake as their income source or visit one of the many rice fields around the lake to get one of these iconic green rice shoots. If you arrive before sunset I would highly recommend to head west of Buon Jun minority village to the rice fields. With the hills towards the east and the amount of rice fields, it is a great spot to enjoy an absolute stunning sun sets. The one here is one of my favourite sun sets I have seen in SEA.

For a but more culture there is in Bảo Đại to visit, one of the mansions of the last emperor of Vietnam. It is located on a top of hill east of Lien Son town. It is actually a guesthouse now with a few rooms, but you can still visit it. While the building is not as exciting as it sounds, it offers a great view over the surrounding area.

Finally, if there is a lake, there are some water activities on offer. This is no different at Lak Lake. There are some boat trips and kayaking available. So this can be a nice way to get a different perspective from the lake.

If you have not been to a minority village in Vietnam, than walking around Buon Jun could be of some interest. However, if you have been to one before, you can easily miss it as it is far more touristy than most others I have seen.

Unfortunately, at the southern end of the village elephants rides are on offer, heading through the villages towards the lake and actually getting into the lake. It is not my place to say never ride an elephant. However, I would like to remind people that it takes a lot of effort to break an elephant to let people ride on its back. Often massive force is needed during the “training”. Unfortunately, unlike other camps, this site continues to treat the elephants badly afterwards as well. When I was there I saw mahouts using an iron hook repeatedly to hit the head of the elephant to “steer” it. I was close to tears when I saw it, and would like to ask people not to support this bad treatments. If you want to ride an elephant, make sure you choose a place that do not follow that treatment.

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