Central Highlands towns are good bases from which to stage trips to the ethnic minority villages and jungles of the hinterland. Buon Ma Thuot, the capital of the Central Highlands and Vietnam's coffee capital, is a vibrant bustling town with a population of about 300,000 people. It was once the administrative and economic center of the region and its central location gave it strategic importance during the Vietnam War. Traveling here, and onward to Pleiku and Kon Tum, can be fairly rough going because of long driving distances and limited facilities, but they are great places to escape the tourist trail and meet some of Vietnam's 54 recognized ethnic minorities. An exploration of this area will take you past coffee plantations and should include regular stops at local cafés, where the strong coffee is served in shot glasses.
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