Situated by the banks of the Dak Bla River, Kon Tum is still a sleepy small town and least visited in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. It's home to Montagnards including the Bannar, the Sedang, the Jarai and the Rongao. Though the hill tribes in the Central Highlands are nowhere near as colorful as those in the Northern Vietnam, Kon Tum is worth visiting if you are trying to avoid the popular destinations. One interesting aspect of the village life is the communal Rong house, a thatched roof building on stilt. Accommodations and dining options are still spartan, but the sights are really worth the journey.
What to expect
There are interesting sights and traditional hill tribe villages in and around Kontum that you can explore on foot in one or two days. The Seminary, the Ethnic Hilltribe Museum, the Wooden Church and Kontum Prison on the bank of Dakbla River are worth paying a visit.
Out of the town, it is the battlefield during the American War. Remained historical sites including Charlie Hill and Dak To, now denuded peaks, and a short ride up the now-paved Ho Chi Minh Trail takes you among some great mountain scenery and ethnic villages.
Kontum travel also offers a selection of possibilities including multi-day trips involving sleeping rough and visiting very remote villages. Accommodations and dining options are spartan, but are worth the journey, especially if you can enjoy gong performance and drinking rice wine from ceramic jars.
The best time to visit the Vietnam Central Highlands is between November and January, when the landscape is lush, the rain is minimal and the weather is temperate. The rainy season begins from May until October. July and August are the wettest months.
In Kon Tum, you are allowed to visit the main sites around the city and nearby villages. However, if you wish to visit the more authentic villages, make sure to get a local guide and permits. Please do not offer money directly to minority people - instead donate to a local charity or offer a small gift, such as pens. And remember to ask for permission before taking photographs in minority areas.