Ban Don is a famous landmark of Vietnam, It is also known by many people in the world as a place with a tradition of hunting and taming wild elephants. Ban Don previously served as the provincial capital of Dak Lak province. The latter period, in order to facilitate the social and economic development of Dak Lak province, and in order to occupy a position of security and defense strategy, the French had to move the administrative offices to Buon Ma Thuot area.
Currently, Ban Don is just a tourist destination located in Krongna commune, Buon Don District of Dak Lak province; it is about 40 km from Buon Ma Thuot city towards the highway 1, the northwest of province.
Ban Don currently is one of the famous tourist destinations, attracting numerous tourists both domestic and foreign.
The name of Ban Don
Ban Don was calling from Laos, but Ede people and M’nong people call it is Buon Don.
Ban Don in Laotian (the majority ethnic group has lived here when stub) means “island village” means a village was built on an island of Serepok river. This was one of the important trading points of three countries of Indochina yore on the river route. Laotians at that time, while they went upstream for business, come to this land has captivated and stayed with local Ede people build up here a village which was rich and full of culture. Residents of Ban Don today still fluent in Lao and Thai, residents crossed between indigenous Ede people and Southern Laos people.
Characteristics of Ban Don
Ban Don was set beside the Serepok River with many small islands floating between currents flowing billowing day and night. A riverside is community life of the peaceful village; the other side is Yok Don thick forest full of mystery, excitement, and as also echoed the fascinating sound of the ancient elephant hunting. Under the expert eye, Ban Don has many favorable conditions to exploit both types of tourism: ecotourism and cultural tourism. There is a big Yok Don national park (over 100 thousand hectares) is the museum rich in natural flora and fauna.
Many travelers said that, you go to Dak Lak but do not visit Buon Don is considered not go to Dak Lak; so we can say Buon Don Tourist areas have a very important position in the list of landmarks in Dak Lak province.
Currently, Ban Don Tourist brand is exploited by 3 companies. From the center of Buon Don District, you go about 15 km, turn left about 500m you will see firstly Co. Ecotourism Ban Don, this is the company is exploiting the Ban Don Island Village and Bay Nhanh waterfall. Here, tourists can enjoy the wonderful scenery of Island Village, a swinging bridge, watching Bay Nhanh waterfall, enjoying the gourmet cuisine of rich Highlands and especially you can see the long house for hundreds meters of the indigenous peoples.
Leaving Ban Don Island village, you go further about 5 km more to reach Buon Don Tourist Centre with the management of Biet Dien Hotel and Tourism Company. Here, tourists can do elephant riding to visit the village and native life; if anyone wants to have “adventure feeling”, they can do elephant riding cross Serepok River to reach Yok Don National Park. Besides the thrill of sitting swaying on the back of elephant, tourists also enjoy a strong feeling is the swaying and reclining of Ban Don swinging bridge. With a long swinging bridge spans 100 meters crossing old ficus trees over the river to Ea No island with the Fairy riverside ground, the system of restaurants and motels …. On the swinging bridge, having some flat areas which is clean and cool for visitors to rest and eat above the water.
In addition to above services, you can visit the house (showroom) of ethnic minorities living here with a lot of materials activities, the elephant hunting equipment; hearing a presentation on the history of Ban Don, the traditions and the famous art of hunting and taming wild elephants. Besides, you can visit the old stilt house was built according to Laos architecture existed over 120 years ago and it is still inhabited; you can also visit the grave of the king of elephant hunters “Khun Ju Nop”, going by one piece timber boat on Ea Rong Lake, joining gong show with indigenous people and enjoying the culinary specialties of Highlands as: can wine, rice is cooked in bamboo tree, grilled chicken and river fish sour soup…
Leaving Ban Don swinging bridge, you go further about 3 km to the north, you will go to Buon Don Culture and Ecotourism Tourist Site with the management and exploitation of Dak Lak Rubber Company. This tourist area has a total area of 1,600 ha. In this region, there is the complex of tourist sites including: tourist-cultural villages, silviculture tourist site, areas grazing wildlife, recreation area of Dak Minn Lake, homestay area of ecology, forest and landscapes picnic area, productive area and agriculture tourism…
Area of grazing wildlife is divided into two areas: the zoo and area of grazing wildlife in semi-wild forest style to help tourist can hunt and relax. But the focal point of the Buon Don Tourist site is the tourist-cultural village. The objective of this project is building a tourist village meets the tangible and intangible cultural values which are typical of the ethnic minorities in Buon Don and Highlands, giving to visitors a closely relationship with local residents. This is also a perfect sedentary village which pay attention to the living space to characterize the cultural identity of Highlands ethnic as: banyan trees, stove, burial site … Houses will be built by tourism enterprises in the architecture with specificity of each ethnic group.
Let come to Ban Don Tourist site to fully enjoy what nature and our ancestor has given to us. Make sure when you leave Ban Don, you’ll still be attached forever to the land, people and nature here.
My visit to Ban Don was a high light in my tour of duty in Vietnam in early 1964. I was flying a helicopter and landed close not to frighten the elephant trainers. I was welcomed and offered a short ride on an elephant. I wish I now had pictures but sadly don’t. I’m 90 years old and still can remember the great experience your kind people showed me. Thank you!