A prospering modern town, Buon Ma Thuot (pronounced ‘boon me tote’; also spelled as Ban Me Thuot) has outgrown its rustic origins-the Ede name translates as “Thuot’s father’s village – but alas, without acquiring any new charms. Inundated by traffic from three highways and powdered by orange-brown dust, its only saving grace is coffee. The region grows some of the best coffee in Vietnam, plenty of which is sold and drunk in town.
Most travelers stop in Buon Ma Thuot enrooted to the attractions around it: Yok Don National Park, a couple of striking waterfalls and heaps of minority villages. The province is home to 44 ethnic groups, including some who have migrated here from the north. Among indigenous Montagnards, the dominant groups are the Ede, Jarai, M’nong and Lao. However the government’s policy all of the Montagnards now speak Vietnamese fluently.
Before WWII, this was a centre for big-game hunting, attracting Emperor Bao Dai, but the animals have all but disappeared. Towards the end of the American War, Buon Me Thuot was a strategic but poorly defended South Vietnamese base. It fell to North in a one-day surpise attack in March 1975, pushing the South into a retreat from which it never recovered.
The rainy season around Buon Ma Thout lasts from May to October, though downpours are usually short. Because of its lower elevation, Buon Ma Thuot is warmer and more humid the Dalat; it is also very windy.