Pleiku is the capital of Gia Lai province, which is located in the central highland region of Vietnam. It is about 50 kilometers south of Kon Tum and 200 kilometers away from Qut Nhon. Pleiku is located at the intersection of Routes 19 and 14, making it the starting point for any kind of exploration in the Highlands.
Pleiku is a historically relevant town, specifically in relation to the Vietnam War. The town was the end of the military supply logistics avenue which extended to the west along Route 19 and also the main Centre of defense for the highland region.
Pleiku does not receive a lot of tourists. The select individuals who do get to this town quickly discover that while there are not many attractions, one of them is the Bien Ho (Sea Lake). Located about six kilometers north of Pleiku, is a flooded crater of an old volcano. Visitors should head north on Pham Van Dong and turn right at Ton Duc Thang to see the road to the lake, a tree-lined path that descends to the crater. There is a jetty with a gazebo, from which visitors can enjoy the best views.
Another attraction is the Dong Xanh Park, or the Fossil Tree Water Park. Found about 10 kilometers outside Pleiku, this tourist spot has fossil trees on display, however, the trees did not originally grow in this location. Tourists should visit at weekends, when the waterslides, zoo and crocodile pond are open.
Other places are The Gia Lai and Ho Chi Minh museums, Yaly Falls and Phu Cuong Waterfall.
Tourists who enjoy the drinking and party scene at night may be disappointed with what Pleiku has to offer in terms of nightlife. In this place, it is hard to find bars, pubs and nightclubs and the best bet when it comes to nightlife is the Hoang Anh Gia Lai Hotel in Phu Dong. This is probably the best place to stay when in Pleiku, which is not really surprising since it is a four-star hotel. Another hotel in Pleiku which night owls can visit is the Bamboo Green Hotel in Le Lai Street.
Meanwhile, visitors who just want to relax with a drink can go to Tan Tay Nguyen, a thatched longhouse with a garden bar.
Almost all streets in this city are lined with shops that sell wholesale merchandise. Pleiku is also one of only two cities (the other is Buon Ma Thuat) that sells authentic Central Highlands hill tribe handicrafts. Visitors who are fortunate enough to reach this area in Vietnam can get really unique souvenirs.
Unfortunately, the shopping scene is Pleiku is also fueled by poaching with many stores that sell products from endangered species. For instance, leopards and marbled cats are often killed to be stuffed and sold, the teeth and claws of Asian black bears and moon bears are also extracted and made into lucky charms and souvenirs. Two of the most shocking pieces sold in the city are rhino skin and dried forest cow stomach; the former is taken from the Javan Rhino, one of the rarest mammals in the world, while the latter is from the endangered Gayal or Gaur.
There is not much to do in Pleiku and is a rather sleepy town, which is why it is not frequented by many visitors. The best thing to do while in the city is sightseeing, since the area does have picturesque views and the best way to explore Pleiku is to go on a tour. The group of tourists that arrive in Pleiku are usually part of pre-arranged tours with Gia Lai Tourist in the Hung Vuong Hotel.
There are tour options that visitors can choose from such as tours of the Banhar and Jarai ethnic minority villages that last half a day; there are also day-long tribal village hiking excursions, which prove to be the most exciting. There are boat tours that involve a visit to Bat Cave Island, among others. Tours which feature elephant rides and folk shows are highly recommended.