Visiting Vietnam: The Top 3 Camping Spots in the Central Highlands

Updated on March 29, 2018
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I'm from Vietnam and have a passion for traveling and writing. I especially love sharing photos of and tips about my beautiful country.

A stunning  place for a morning break!
A stunning place for a morning break!

Tay Nguyen, or Vietnam's Central Highlands, encompasses three subregions (with distinct variations in topography and climate) that are further divided into five provinces. The regions and provinces are as follows: North (Kon Tum and Gia Lai), Middle (Đắk Lắk and Đắk Nông), and South (Lâm Đồng). Spanning nine contiguous plateaus with an average altitude of 500-600 meters, the Central Highlands is home to many primitive forests that are protected in three national parks—Cat Tien, Yok Don, and Kon Ka Kinh. The third-largest source of bauxite in the world is also located here.

Thanks to its primeval nature and mountainous topography, this region is wondrously rich in flora and fauna. It is home to the most prominent yet most endangered species in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, namely, the Indochinese tiger, the huge gaur, the Wild Asian Water Buffalo, the banteng, and the Asian elephant.

While the trails at Da Lat, Bien Ho, T'Nung Lake, and Ta Nang-Phan Dung are all well-known to tourists—and for good reason—there are other lesser-known spots in the Central Highlands that are just as delightful. If you're looking for a place to picnic or camp in the Central Highlands that isn't as touristy, check out these three other locations.

Top Three Places to Camp in the Central Highlands

  1. Ta Dung Nature Reserve
  2. Da Teh Lake
  3. Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda

Continue scrolling for details!

Could it be any more beautiful?
Could it be any more beautiful?
The sky grows broader as we ascend higher.
The sky grows broader as we ascend higher.

1. Ta Dung Nature Reserve

Ta Dung is a giant lake within the 22,103-hectare Ta Dung Nature Reserve. It is located in Dac Nong Province, over 250km away from Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City). Situated in the highest mountain ranges in Dac Nong, and along the geographical-biological interface between the Southern Central Highlands and the Southeastern Region of Vietnam, Ta Dung is home to diverse flora and fauna as well as fascinating myths told by the Ma ethnic community. This is an ideal place for a short camping getaway from a crowded city like Sai Gon.

The Amazing Ta Dung Lake
The Amazing Ta Dung Lake

2. Da Teh Lake

Located in My Duc commune, Da Teh Lake is the largest irrigation lake in Lam Dong. Its watershed area is a nature reserve with primitive tropical rainforests untouched by humans. This place is home to very diverse fauna and flora, especially at the dozens of gorgeous waterfalls around the lake.

As you follow provincial road 721 through the green rice fields in Da Teh district, a striking view of the lake emerges in the plateau basin lined by high hills, primeval forests, and the majestic Con Ó mountain range (literally Hawk Mountains). According to the Ma people, da teh means hot water—an apt name, as you'll find the water gently warm all year round.

Covering about 100 hectares and stretching over 10 kilometers, the lake boasts amazing landscapes well-suited to camping or adventuring into the untouched forest area. I recommend camping at the hydropower dam and catching a fishing boat to go sightseeing on the lake.

Da Te Lake—a nice place for sightseeing!
Da Te Lake—a nice place for sightseeing!
The sky reflects its patchy clouds on the lake's surface.
The sky reflects its patchy clouds on the lake's surface.
What a great campsite!
What a great campsite!

3. Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda

Hidden amidst the Phap An mountains, 21 km south of Bao Loc, stands a mesmerizing Buddha Pagoda named Linh Quy Phap An. To be honest, most young people first came to know this beautiful temple thanks to a music video called "Lạc trôi" (literally 'Lost') by Son Tung MTP. Since then, hordes of people have flocked to see the great scenes shown in the video. In spite of the lousy crowds, it is a great delight to camp overnight here and watch the sunrise at dawn.

Attention, please! This is a Buddhist Meditation Pagoda that requires solemn tranquility, so noise is limited. Be respectful, and do not litter. Just stroll along quietly and enjoy yourself.

This is a perfect place to meditate or just enjoy some alone time.
This is a perfect place to meditate or just enjoy some alone time.
Such a nice view point!
Such a nice view point!

To reach the pagoda, you have to trek across steep hillsides and wriggle through a leafy coffee plantation. On the way up the mountain, you can stop here and there to rest and take some photos since the mountain height offers vast views covered with lush green trees. Don't forget to pose for a photo in the green tea fields near the temple!

For camping, you can stay in a tea field where there are two shops and a rest stop for tourists. However, while I prefer to watch the sunrise from here because of the view of the clouds floating around the valley, I think the best campsite is the front yard of Quan Chieu Duong or the Meditation Hall. This yard is guarded by some temple gates that look stunning as the sunshine first pierces through the thick cloud banks.

Note: To camp here, you must ask the Monks who live inside the meditation pagoda for permission. Remember to be respectful and avoid making any noise at all.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Here is where you can camp among the green tea fields.Here, you can sit alone and let go of all your troubles.The Meditation HallThe whole place exudes tranquility.The vastness of nature lures anyone who loves to wander.And it raises a great deal of nostalgia.
Here is where you can camp among the green tea fields.
Here is where you can camp among the green tea fields.
Here, you can sit alone and let go of all your troubles.
Here, you can sit alone and let go of all your troubles.
The Meditation Hall
The Meditation Hall
The whole place exudes tranquility.
The whole place exudes tranquility.
The vastness of nature lures anyone who loves to wander.
The vastness of nature lures anyone who loves to wander.
And it raises a great deal of nostalgia.
And it raises a great deal of nostalgia.

Bonus: Camping Outside the Central Highlands

The places above are within easy reach for a two-day getaway from Ho Chi Minh City. Though not in the Central Highlands and farther from Ho Chi Minh, Ham Thuan and Da Mi are two other hikable spots worth visiting when you have the time.

A Panoramic View of the Ham Thuan Hydropower Dam
A Panoramic View of the Ham Thuan Hydropower Dam

Ham Thuan and Da Mi

Ham Thuan and Da Mi are two hydropower reservoirs on the La Nga River, which flows through Thuan Bac District in Binh Thuan Province, more than 60km northwest of Phan Thiet City. With its deserted wildernesses and the rich and diverse culture of the Cham, Ra Glai, Hoa and Co Ho ethnic minorities, these places are impressive destinations for visitors to Binh Thuan.

These large bodies of water curbed by lush green mountains contain many outstanding places for hiking, camping, and sightseeing.

Covering 2,500 hectares, Ham Thuan reservoir is the larger of the two, with eight small islands scattered around it.

Ham Thuan Reservoir

Click thumbnail to view full-size
I want to wake up with this every morning.It looks like the sea inside the mountains.A street circumvents the lake.The road is wide open to anyone who loves to wander.The morning looks gentle.The day is bright and cool.
I want to wake up with this every morning.
I want to wake up with this every morning.
It looks like the sea inside the mountains.
It looks like the sea inside the mountains.
A street circumvents the lake.
A street circumvents the lake.
The road is wide open to anyone who loves to wander.
The road is wide open to anyone who loves to wander.
The morning looks gentle.
The morning looks gentle.
The day is bright and cool.
The day is bright and cool.

Though Da Mi Lake is smaller in size, with an area of 700 hectares, it is just as amazing as Ham Thuan Lake, and both are fantastic for camping and picnicking.

Like Da Teh, the name Da Mi has a meaning in the local language. According to ethnic minorities in the Highlands, such as the K'ho, Raglay, and Chau Ro, Đạ means a place where there is water (e.g. a river). Mi is a proper name.

Da Mi Reservoir

Click thumbnail to view full-size
I'm feeling lonely in this amazing landscape.Or maybe I'm just feeling hungry...How could I be lonely with my friends here with me?Ready?Come on, let's jump!
I'm feeling lonely in this amazing landscape.
I'm feeling lonely in this amazing landscape.
Or maybe I'm just feeling hungry...
Or maybe I'm just feeling hungry...
How could I be lonely with my friends here with me?
How could I be lonely with my friends here with me?
Ready?
Ready?
Come on, let's jump!
Come on, let's jump!

Camping at Da Mi Reservoir

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My friends and I camped for a night at Da Mi Hydropower Dam.Dawn at the dam.The horizon is blushing.Such an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity!Stay strong, buddy!Here we go!
My friends and I camped for a night at Da Mi Hydropower Dam.
My friends and I camped for a night at Da Mi Hydropower Dam.
Dawn at the dam.
Dawn at the dam.
The horizon is blushing.
The horizon is blushing.
Such an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity!
Such an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity!
Stay strong, buddy!
Stay strong, buddy!
Here we go!
Here we go!

Author's notes

All the pictures posted in this article belong to the author.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Nguyen Hong Phuc

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      • Thomaswanderlust profile image
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        Nguyen Hong Phuc 3 weeks ago from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

        @Dr. John: tks a lot

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        Dr. John 3 weeks ago

        Your photos are gorgeous. Nice content.

      • Thomaswanderlust profile image
        Author

        Nguyen Hong Phuc 6 weeks ago from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

        @Gastronomist: Thanks a lot. I hope you will make it to Vietnam soon ^^

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        GASTRONOMIST 6 weeks ago

        Nice photos and informative content. Ive been to Vietnam several times and visited some places in the north. Never have I been to these places or Central Highlands. Alrite, now they stay in my bucket list for further travels to Asia.

      • Thomaswanderlust profile image
        Author

        Nguyen Hong Phuc 6 weeks ago from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

        @Poppy:

        Many thanks ^^

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        Poppy Birner 6 weeks ago

        Great content, bro. Keep writing more. I'd love to visit those on the list when I go to Vietnam next year. Thanks for sharing.

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