On the 7th July, 2020, Dak Nong Geological Park (Dak Nong Geopark) in Dak Nong province, Vietnam was honorably recognized as a global geopark by UNESCO and became the third global geological park in Vietnam, along with Dong Van geopark (Ha Giang province) and Non Nuoc geopark (Cao Bang province).
Dak Nong Geological Park is a complex of natural terrain including volcanic cave systems, tropical forests, mountains, lakes, valleys, and delta, which have both geological and historical meanings. Moreover, there are abundant diverse flora and fauna, many rare minerals formed after tectonic activities from thousands of years ago and traces of prehistoric humans. When paying a visit to this geopark, tourists will have a chance to discover majestic natural landscapes in Highlands, see the interesting things mentioned above and immerse themselves in the mesmerizing sounds of nature and humans there.
I. Overview of Dak Nong Geological Park
The park is located in Dak Nong Province, a province in Highlands which ranks at the 56th in 63 provinces and cities in Vietnam in the population density of which more than half of locals are minority people. The park is located on six districts in Dak Nong province including Krong No, Cu Jut, Dak Mil, Dak Song, Dak G’long, and Gia Nghia town and covers an acreage of 4760 square kilometers, accounting for more than ⅖ of the natural area of Dak Nong province.
Dak Nong, in particular, and provinces in the Highlands, in general, has a severe climate with hot weather and low humidity. There are only two seasons including the rainy season and dry one but even in the rainy season, the average temperature is higher than other areas in Vietnam.
All destinations in Dak Nong Geological Park are open every day. However, due to the vast area of the park, tourists can not pay a visit to all of them during one day. Most tours to explore Dak Nong geological park are divided into three small tours with three different themes including Rhapsody of Fire and Water, Sound of the Earth, Wind of change concerto for tourists to choose.
II. Highlights of Dak Nong Geological Park
The history of this land originated from one hundred forty million years ago when this area was still a part of the large ocean with traces such as sedimentary rock, ammonite fossils, and other fossils. As a result of the tectonic movements of the Earth’s crust, the area was raised and formed volcanoes. It was the eruption of volcanoes that covered more than half of this area by basaltic lava layers.
To our surprise, about 10,000 years ago, volcanoes were still active, which made the most unique and giant volcanic cave system in Southeast Asia. That was where archaeologists found traces of residence of prehistoric humans about 10.000 years ago.
This is also the home to three indigenous ethnic peoples including Ma, M’nong, Ede. In the late 70s of the last century, a lot of northern peoples migrated to the area and turned it into a multicultural land of more than 40 ethnic peoples.
Besides, Dak Nong is also a part of “Space of Gong Culture in the Central Highlands” recognized as “Masterpiece of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005. In particular, it is worth noting the discovery of one of the most ancient musical instruments of humanity made of basaltic stone dating around 2,500 years ago.
After four years of construction and development, when tourists pay a visit to Dak Nong Geological Park now, they will have an opportunity to see majestic natural landscapes such as D’ray Sap waterfall, Bang Rup waterfall, Lieng Nung waterfall, Ta Dung lake, Nam Kar volcano, Bang Mo volcano, Nam Gle volcano, and a system of the volcanic cave. Also, they can immerse themselves in colorful multicultural spaces of more than 40 ethnic peoples, enjoy the sounds of Tay Nguyen Gongs, have interesting experiences in handicraft villages, or try local specialties.
III. What to See in Dak Nong Geological Park?
Due to the huge area that Dak Nong Geological Park covers, it is impossible to visit all destinations in the park during a day. It was the reason that the management committee of the park decided to divide the park discovering tour into three small tours with three different themes including Rhapsody of Fire and Water, Sound of the Earth, Wind of Change Concerto.
1. Rhapsody of Fire and Water
The first tour introduced to tourists is “Rhapsody of Fire and Water” beginning from Gia Nghia Town and ending at Gia Long waterfall. On the journey, tourists will see majestic volcanoes that were active about 10.000 years ago, historical destinations associated with Vietnam’s national liberation and experience in handicraft villages.
Destinations in this tour include:
- Dray Sap and Dray Nur Waterfall and Landscape Conservation Areas
Dray Sap may be the most impressive waterfall in Central Highlands and also among the most beautiful waterfalls in Vietnam. Its name is an Ede ethnic word. “Dray” means “waterfall” and “Sap” means “smoke” in Ede ethnic language. The waterfall gets this name because of its waterfalls from 10m height, creating an amazing veil of the mist like a mirror of smoke.
- Huy Hung goat farm
- M’nong knitting village
- Volcanic cave system
- Nam Kar Volcano & Nam Nung Natural Reserve
2. Sound of the Earth
The second route named “Sound of the Earth” starts from Gia Nghia town to Ta Lung lake. On this tour, tourists will visit following destinations:
- Phap Hoa Pagoda
- Mini coffee museum
- Lieng Nung waterfall
- The sacred tree, Hydropower plants, and
- Ta Dung Lake and Ta Dung Protected Area
Ta Dung Lake is said to be Halong Bay of Vietnam’s Central Highlands because of its majestic pristine beauty. The top of Ta Lung is 1982 meters above sea level. From the top, tourists are able to see the picturesque beauty overview of Ta Dung Lake.
3. Wind of Change Concerto
The last route in Dak Nong Geological Park’s discovering tour is “Wind of Change Concerto” beginning from Cu Jut district and ending in Gia Nghia Town. There are six destinations in this route, containing:
- Bang Rup waterfall
- Ede village
- Nam Gle volcano
- Bang Mo volcano
- Thu Thuy green farm and Mangosteen farm
The highlight of the route is visiting Ede village where tourists have a chance to enjoy the melodies of Tay Nguyen Gongs, a masterpiece of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
IV. How to Get to Dak Nong Geological Park?
How to get to Dak Nong Geological Park may be one of the most popular questions of many tourists. Although Dak Nong is located in Central Highlands, nowadays with the development traffic system, there are some convenient ways for tourists to get there. Read on to choose the best way for you.
- Ho Chi Minh City Buon Ma Thuot Dak Nong
Because there is not any airport in Dak Nong, tourists have to book flights to nearby airports then go by bus or by taxi. The nearest airport is Buon Ma Thuot Airport.
From Ho Chi Minh City, there is a direct flight from Tan Son Nhat Airport to Buon Ma Thuot Airport. It usually takes us about 1 hour for this flight and the cost is around 1.000.000 VND. From Buon Ma Thuot airport to Dak Nong Geological Park, tourists can choose between two options: go by bus or by taxi. The distance is about 150 kilometers. Of course, going by bus will be cheaper than by taxi, but going by taxi is more convenient because tourists do not depend on bus schedules. The cost of going by bus is from 80.000 VND 300.000 VND while the cost of going by taxi is around 1.200.000 VND.
- Ho Chi Minh Dak Nong
The distance between Ho Chi Minh city and Dak Nong is about 250 kilometers. For this distance, there are three ways for tourists to choose from: go by bus, by taxi or by motorbike.
First, if tourists choose to go by bus, it usually takes them about 5 hours to move between two places and it costs 120.000 VND 200.000 VND per person. The price is quite cheap but tourists will depend on the bus schedule. For the details, you can search bus companies on the Internet then come to their website to book directly for the right price and avoid the cheat.
Second, if tourists choose to go by taxi, it also takes about 5 hours like going by bus but the cost is by far more expensive than using a bus. It usually costs about 1.800.000 VND to move between two places.
Third, going by motorbike is the most perfect way for one who has an adventurous fancy. Riding a motorbike to Dak Nong will bring tourists indescribable emotion when moving between the majestic nature of the Central Highlands. However, it is also the most dangerous way especially on rainy days because the road to Dak Nong is rugged and there are some parts of unpaved roads.
- Hanoi Buon Ma Thuot Dak Nong
There is also a direct flight from Noi Bai Airport to Buon Ma Thuot Airport. After that, tourists will catch a bus or a taxi to move to Dak Nong. The average price of a flight ticket is from 1.300.000 VND to 2.200.000 VND depending on the airline and it takes us about 1 hour 50 minutes to move between two destinations.
V. Extra Tips on Visiting Dak Nong Geopark
- Long-sleeved clothes are the best choice for a trip to Dak Nong Geological Park. In Dak Nong, the main weather is usually very sunny and the temperature is always higher than in other provinces in Vietnam. Although the climate will be more pleasant when tourists visit forests in Dak Nong Geopark, wearing long-sleeved clothes will help you avoid insect bites, scratches.
- Always bring sun-scream, sunglasses, and insect repellents, flu drug, stomach drugs.
- For hotels, tourists can refer to some reliable addresses on Dak Nong Geopark’s official website.
- For moving issues, it is advisable to check the price in advance on bus companies’ websites or taxi companies’ websites.
Keyword: Daknong Geological Park – a Trip Back to the Past