A flick through Ta Dung, the mini Halong Bay in Central Highlands

In the midst of immense blue-green water, with more than 40 hills created from red basalt soil undulating in different shapes and sizes, Ta Dung Lake, a part of the UNESCO-recognized Dak Nong geopark, is likened to a mini Halong Bay in the Central Highlands.

I. About Ta Dung

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Ta Dung Lake was originally a valley on the side of Ta Dung mountain with Da Dang River flowing through it. The Dong Nai 3 hydropower projects have turned this mountain valley into a vast lake, which perhaps the project planners did not expect about the beauty that it brings to Dak Nong landscapes.

The lake area extends from the territory of Dak Plao and Dak Som communes – Dak Nong to Bao Loc – Lam Dong, located at an altitude of more than 1,000m above sea level resulting in cool weather all year round, not too cold like Dalat.

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The nature here seems to grow and roam freely where it pleases. Without any rule or human influence, lakes, oases, and mountain peaks develop in the most pristine and wild way.

Ta Dung Lake is most beautiful in the water storage season, from July to the end of the year, that’s when the greenish water rises and the rains make the vegetation lush. However, the best time to come here is from October to December, when there is no rain, but bright sun during the day and a little cold breeze at night and early in the morning.


II. How to get to Ta Dung?

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For those departing from Ho Chi Minh City, traveling by bus is both convenient and economical, with about 180,000 – 300,000 VND/ticket within 6 hours of traveling. You can go to Mien Dong Bus Station, then take the bus to Highway 14 to Gia Nghia Town. From here, continue to get a taxi on Highway 28 to the center of Dak Som commune; pass through Quang Khe district to reach Ta Dung.

Another route for motorcyclists is to ride from Ho Chi Minh City along Highway 20 to Di Linh plateau, then follow Highway 28 about 45km to reach the lake.

If you are in the North, you should travel by plane to Buon Ma Thuot City, which is only 3 hours to reach Gia Nghia Town by private cars or taxis.

III. Where to stay in Ta Dung?

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As tourism development has not been properly invested, the forms of accommodation here are mainly the resident’s spontaneous homestays. However, the facilities are still quite adequate to meet the basic needs of visitors.

From the beginning of the path to Ta Dung Lake about 1.5km, you will meet the first homestay, which is nice and well-furnished. The entrance ticket price is 50,000 VND for a short visit.

Going further 200m, you will meet Uncle Dong’s homestay – the most popular one in the area. The entrance fee is 100,000 VND/person, which includes 1 meal, 1 drink, and a free swimming pool. Private and dormitory rooms here cost from 700,000 VND/night or more. Besides, this homestay also features a camping tent rental service with prices from 300,000 VND/tent for two people.


IV. What to do in Ta Dung?

1. A boat trip on the lake

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An interesting thing to do in Ta Dung that no one wants to miss is traveling by boat around the lake to enjoy the landscape created by countless large and small islands. Trees on these oases are mainly kilns, mixed bamboo, and wood forests.

Renting a boat may cost around 100,000 VND/person; After going around, the boat will stop on a fixed camping site for tourists to take a short break and play water games. In case you want to spend the night here, the boatman will pick you up the next day.

2. Camping

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There is a camping area situated atop a hill offering extraordinary views of the lake and oases. After arranging with your homestay service center for your camping plan, local guides will set up everything for your overnight adventure.

Spending a night on the wild hill, cooking over a fire under the chill of the Central Highlands will be a wonderful experience. In the early morning, you will also watch the rays of dawn shining behind the mountains gradually spread evenly on the small oases on the lake.


3. Explore indigenous local life

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Ta Dung is home to the Ma and H’Mong ethnic people. The Ma are long-time residents in Dak Som Commune, Dak Glong district, who are always conscious of protecting the majestic Ta Dung mountain due to their absolute worship and belief in the forest. For them, the forest is like a protective deity, enveloping the villagers to overcome all disadvantages of nature as well as stabilize their daily lives.

The H’Mong community here still retains the traditional customs and culture when migrating from the north. They cook with firewood and store the unused food by drying them in the attic; the smoke and the heat will keep the food longer. On weekends, you can also participate in the lively fair of the H’Mong people in nearby Dak Nang village. The market is full of items, from traditional brocade, food to agricultural tools.

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