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Tel: 059, +pop 141,700 + elevation 785km

 Plaiky ( or Playcu) is the major maket town of the western highlands, but as a tourist destination most call it “ a hole”. More than 140.000 souls live here now and thepopulation is rapidly growing. The city is 785 m above sea level, which makes the climate cool. It’s warmer than Dalat, but windier.

In February 1965 the VC shelled a US compound in Pleiku, killing eight Americans. Although the USA already had more than 23,000 military advisers in Vietnam. their role was supposed to be noncombative at the time. The attack on Pleiku was used as ajustification by President Johnson to begin a relentless bombing Campaign against North Vietnam and the rapid built – up of US troops.

When US troops departed in 1973, the South Vietnamese kept Pleiku as their main combat base in the area. when these troops fled the advancing VC, the whole civilian population of Pleiku and nearby Kon Tum fled with them. The stampede to the coastline involved over 100,000 people, but tens of thousands died along the way.

The departing soldiers torched Pleiku, but the city was rebuilt in the 1980s with assistance form the Soviet Union. As a result, the city has a large collection of ugly, Soviet-stylebuildings and lacks much of the colour and antiquity you find else where in Vietnamese towns. Hopefully, the recent inflow of tourist dollars will bring some badly needed improvements to the architectre, as well as the local economy, but for now Pleiku is a monotonous town.

The Jarai minority is a Pleiku area and have an unusaul burial custom; each deceased gets a portrait carved from wood and for years relatives bring them food. The grave is set up as a miniature village with several people buried in one graveyard. After seven years, the grave is abandoned.


Travel agent: located beside the beside the Hung Vuong Hotel, Gia Lai Tourist offers a wide variety of tours including trekking, elephant riding and programmes catering to war veterans.

Travel Permits: You don’t need a permit to stay overnight in Pleiky itself, or to travel the major highways, but you are likely to need one to visit village in Gia Lai province. The permits cost money and you may be forced to hire a guide, car and driver inPlaiky, even if you have your own vihicle. This puts off many travellers, who usually just skip Pleiku entirely and head north to Kon Tum, where the authorities are more hospitable, Gia Lai Tourist can arrange the permit.


Pleiku has two museums, neither of them remarkable and both often closed./

The Ho Chi Minh Museum (tel 824276, phan Dinh Phung str, admission free; open 8am – 11am & 1pm – 4,30pm Mon –Fri) displays documents and photos to demonstrate Uncle Ho’s affinity for hill-tribe people, and their love for Uncle Ho. There are also displays about a Bahnar hero named Nup who led the hill tribes through wars with both the French and the USA. Nup died in 2001.

The Gia Lai Museum ( tel: 824520, 28 Quang Trung, admission 10,000d) features hill-tribe artefacts and photographs that memorialise Pleiku’s role during the American War.

Sea Lake

Bien Ho, or Sea Kake is a ddep mountain lake about 7km north of Pleiku. It is believed to have been formed from a prehistoric volcanic crater. Both the lake itself and the surrounding area boast beautiful scenery, making it a pleasant da excursion from Pleiku.

Yaly Falls

Sandly, this place is no longer worth visiting. Yaly Falls was one the largest waterfall in the central highlands. However, a new hydroelectric scheme has sucked away most of the water and there is only a trickle lefl.

Place to Stay

Thanh Lich Hotel ( Tel: 824675, 86D Nguyen Van Troi; Fan rooms US$20) is most successful at attracting the packpacker set.

Vinh Hoi Hotel ( tel: 824644, fax 871637, 39 Tran Phu str, rooms with fax & cold water US$10) with air-con & Hot water US$ 25-30) is one of pleiku’s niest accommodation offerings.

Place to Eat

 Most of the place recommended here serve meals priced between 20,000d and 30,000d

My Tam Restaurant: is a Chinese family run place that is a bit with locals. It has perhaps the best fried chicken in the central highlands. Also good is its other branch My Tam 2.

Nem Ninh Hoa does tasty and fresh spring rolls, while Com Ga Hai Nam good spot for chicken-and –rice dishes.

Cafe Tennis serves good local coffee in a bamboo stilt house next to a tennis court near the Gia Lai Museum

Getting There & Away

Air: The local office of Vietnam Airlines ( tel: 823058, fax 825893, 55 Quang Trung str) is near the corner of Tran Hung Dao str.There are flights connectiong Pleiku HCMC and Danang

Bus: There are bus services to Pleiku from HCMC and most coastal cities between Nha Trang and Danang

Car & Motobike: Pleiku is linked by road to Buon Ma Thuot ( 197km). Qui Nhon (166km) and Kon Tum ( 49km). There is a particularly barren stretch of land on the road from Buon Ma Thuot, probably the result of Agent Orange use and overlogging. Road distances from Pleiku are 550km to HCMC and 434km to Nha Trang

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