Part 4: Pleiku – Kon Tum (70km / 48 km without detour)
The last section of this one way tour is travelling north from Pleiku to the wonderful town of Kon Tum, a great place for relaxing, enjoying the scenery and – most important – for trekking.
This route has some nice stops on offer, and I would highly recommend not taking the direct route but adding one or two detours to really enjoy the beauty of the area.
Take the QL14 (the main road) northbound of Pleiku. Shortly after Pleiku you will pass head towards the first highlight of this day – the Sea Lake. At a little round about turn right onto DT671 and you will see a sign for the lake. It is a stunningly beautiful lake , inside an old volcanic crater, and I am sure you can spend some time to explore this peaceful area. Here are some details about this stop.
After the little detour head back to the QL14 and continue your way up north. The road is very pleasant there and it is nice to see some small houses and fields on either side of the road. There are some nice little roads turning right where you can see something new on this journey. Instead of coffee you can spot some tea plantations. Best option is to do this detour after you passed the lake. Well worth the little detour.
Soon you will arrive in a little town of Chu Pah. You will easily realise when you are there – as to the right there is a valley and to your left you can see a big park full of trees that offered some shade in the heat.I actually liked this place as you can stretch your legs here walking around. And if you have started the journey before Pleiku this is a good place to have lunch, as there are plenty of little food places. Otherwise there are some nice cafes, some set inside a nice little garden. Either way – Chu Pah is a good place for a wee break.
From here you have then two options. The first, and in my opinion boring option, is continue the QL14 to Kon Tum. The road is in good condition, and if you have not enough time you should do it.
However, if you have time you should do a detour to a) see some minority villages and b) to experience more of this beautiful area. For this option follow DT673 towards the west. This road will lead towards an artificial lake. On the way you can see rice fields and even some rubber tree plantation, seeing lines of rubber trees next to each other in straight lines can be quite impressive. This area is also the home of some minority villages. If you turn right onto one of the little paths before you reach the lake you can actually find one of the larger minority villages with their traditional Longhouses with their famous roof. They are certainly interesting to see, and I find them actually impressive. But the smaller local houses in these villages can be interesting as well. In some of these areas you might be able to spot one of the traditional cemetery. While they are of interest, please treat them with respect, as the dead play an important role in their culture.
Besides the villages some of the little roads are also a good option for a walk, seeing fruit plantation of some stunning green rice fields. And if you are lucky, you might even see the local way to irrigate their fields – using a pump and hose to get water from little streams…
To continue to Kon Tum you can either head back to Chu Pah and return to QL14, or you head onto one of the smaller roads north-east from the river. I have noted the roads on the map in the Overview section, but the names of the road I don’t know. The roads might still not be paved – so they might still consist of dirt roads. But it is worthwhile following them as it is a great experience. You will see countless rice fields, fruit plantations, hills, rivers, minority villages and locals shouting hello when passing them. Kids might even run after you. It is certainly more fun then following the main road from Pleiku. The downside – you can get easily lost as there are hardly any road signs. So maybe ask or check Google Map.
Depending which road you followed at the end you should join QL14 just south of Kon Tum, and after crossing a bridge you have arrived.
Kon Tum itself is a lovely place, worthwhile any effort riding a bike from Dalat. I would highly recommend not just staying a night here. Do some trekking and explore the area – you will not regret it. Here are more details about Kon Tum.
From here you could continue the journey to Hoi An, but I have not yet done that stretch.