Today we are moving away from Halong Bay tours to go off-topic, bringing you to the central highland of Vietnam instead! 😀
If you need to take a small break or run away from the crowded city of Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City, but you don’t want to go to a touristic place, pack your stuff and travel to Ayun Pa. Located in Gia Lai province, Ayun Pa is surrounded by mountains which create an extremely refreshing atmosphere for the town. This is an awesome place for nature lovers – you can go trekking in forest or swimming in crystal clear water of natural spring.
How to get to Ayun Pa?
All you need to do is to book a night bus ticket at the East bus station (bến xe miền Đông) that is located in Binh Thanh district in Saigon. There are only a few buses going to Ayun Pa: Viettanphat, Co Hai or Phuc Hoanh are 3 such bus companies but they offer excellent service and comfortable seat.
What to do in Ayun Pa?
Relaxing in Rocks spring
The Rocks Spring is the favorite site of local people. Only 30 minutes on a motorbike from the center of town and you will pass by the Gia Rai ethnic village that’s relatively unspoiled by development, keeping the spectacular tradition of living style, costume, culture, and architecture. It’s free of charge if you barbecue there with your own food. You only need to pay 10.000d for the parking fee. Some people will flock all the way from out of the town just to hike and wind up at this waterfall.
The waterfall itself was named by the people. Stop and hang around for a few hours at the waterfall – you’ll have an exciting weekend trip recovering from some serious pressure of modern life. Meditation is ideal here too. You’ll get a chance to stay close and connect with nature. Recharge your energy by sunbathing on the rocks, staying under the warm and tender sunshine.
Trekking to Chu Mo Mountain
Get a closer look the rural life of the local people. A community of Gia Rai cowboy living near the Chu Mo mountain makes it absolutely perfect for an adventurous trekking into the forest. The mountain is almost untouched by human. Do not expect to see big wild animals here because Chu Mo is not a primitive forest but its wildness and well-preserved surroundings make it a big attraction for adventurers.
You will also love Chu Mo’s flora and fauna ecosystem with the variety of plants and exotic species of birds. It’s such an incredible place for spirituality seekers. The mountain becomes more mysterious with the addition of Gia Rai folktales and the melody of Gia Rai songs played out in full gypsy spirit.
Cycling along rice field
Ayun Pa is the largest region which produces the best rice in Gia Lai. That’s why you can find such a massive area using for rice plantation. Biking through those rice field is a dream vacation. Can you already feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face?
There are also many plum gardens where you’ll find the ethnic Tay women being extremely friendly. The price is reasonable too, with just 10.000d for 1kg of plum.
What to eat?
Mixed dry noodle – Phở khô
Originally coming from Gia Lai, Pho Kho has now become popular even in big city like Saigon. This tasty dish is always served along with a small bowl of soup. You can have it with chicken or beef depending on your taste. Like the typical Vietnamese cuisine, the dish offers various of fresh green herbs with basil, coriander, parsley and lettuce that’s so rich in flavor and good for health.
Crab noodle soup- Bún cua
Are you picturing a big bowl of noodle soup topped with crab meat? You are definitely wrong. Bún cua doesn’t have a friendly taste as the first bite because of a bizarre cooking skill. It’s a mixture of the grind crab, water and a pinch of salt that is left over under the sun for few hours until it gets its unique smell. Then, the liquid is boiled with spices and fermented fish paste, young bamboo roots and ready to serve with rice noodle, vegetable and a sprinkle of deep fried pork skin.
Water fern rice cake- Bánh bèo
Among the many different varieties of Banh Beo in Vietnam, here’s a good reason for having it in Ayun Pa. You can have it as a hot cake along with aromatic ingredients that include chopped fresh shrimp, grind peanut, minced chives and deep fried onion oil garnished with tasty fish sauce in chili, garlic and pineapple. Seasoning the cake by yourself is amazing experience while enjoying this dish.
Go on, pack your bag now and run away from the crowd right now for a fabulous trip to Ayun Pa! 😀