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Buon Ma Thuot Vietnam

Dray Sap Waterfalls

It took us two attempts to reach the Dray Sap Waterfalls. On our first attempt, the eminently questionable excuse for a motorbike which we’d been lent – a geriatric Yamaha Nouveau – promptly confirmed both my fears and expectations and broke down half way there. By the time we’d waited for the rental guy to drive out and bring us a fresh pair of wheels it had gone dark, and understanding that waterfalls are generally less impressive when you can’t see them we cut our losses and headed back to Buon Ma Thuot.

Dray Sap Waterfalls, one assumes this means.
Dray Sap Waterfalls, one assumes this means.
The waterfalls from above.
The waterfalls from above.
More water falling.
More water falling.

Nonetheless, the following day we decided to make a second attempt, and I’m very glad we did. They are really quite spectacular, and utterly worth the drive.

The small tourist complex around the waterfalls is an utterly pleasant place to waste an hour: manicured gardens, a quaint restaurant serving thick coffee and, if your timing is fortunate, not a tourist bus in sight!

Beyond said complex, down a carefully routed set of steps, you finally reach the waterfalls themselves in their dramatic, crashing glory. The photos I’ve posted with this entry will do the waterfalls much more justice than my words ever could. Alas, I’ll just say that I was stunned by the sheer force, the sheer obvious power of these waterfalls as they crashed down on the rocks below.

At the risk of becoming sentimental (a risk I all to often succumb to), I found myself really rather moved by the experience. It was one of those rare moments when you couldn’t believe this thing you were seeing wasn’t manmade, such was its scale and sense of drama. Surely something like this wasn’t here by mere accidental coincidence.

And yet, here it was, pure, unadulterated nature, hard to find in the world of increasingly commoditized tourism. And not a camera-totin’ tourist in sight (apart from me. Obviously).

Entrance to the complex costs a mere 30,000 dong, a shade under a quid. This includes a free cup of coffee at the on-site café, very welcome after you’ve braved the waterfall’s slippery rocks.

A quick word of warning here: don’t listen to Google Maps claiming this is a 20 minute journey. It took us a solid 90 minutes to get there from Buon Ma Thuot. The route isn’t difficult to follow, about 25km along a few simply found roads. But the state of the roads en route isn’t great, especially as you get within 10km of the waterfall. Be prepared for picking your way between potholes, a few bumps and lumps, and if your bike seat is as hard as ours, a quite insistent case of numb bum for a good half hour after.

The full panorama of the waterfalls
The full panorama of the waterfalls

I’m not complaining, of course. If you get on a motorbike to go anywhere in Vietnam, you accept poor roads as part of the whole deal. Don’t go to the North Pole and moan about the snow. Don’t come to Vietnam and moan about the roads.

But do come to Vietnam and see these waterfalls, if you get half a chance.