Ta Dung, Vietnam: A Pearl of the Highlands - SkyAboveUs - Outdoors
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Ta Dung, Vietnam: A Pearl of the Highlands

Ta Dung Nature Reserve

Isn't it awesome?

Isn't it awesome?

Known as "Inland Ha Long Bay," Ta Dung is a giant reservoir within Ta Dung Nature Reserve with a total area of 22,103 ha. It is located in Dac Nong Province, over 250km away from Sai Gon (Ho Chi Minh City). This reservoir is a major water source for the Dong Nai River system and its several hydropower plants.

Amazing scenery

Amazing scenery

Situated in the highest mountain ranges in Dac Nong, and along the geographical-biological interface between the Southern Central Highlands and the Southeastern Region of Vietnam, Ta Dung hosts diverse flora and fauna. Its fascinating myths are told by the Ma ethnic community. This is definitely an ideal place for a short getaway from a crowded city like Sai Gon. Well, let's plan up and go!

Pack up and ride!

Pack up and ride!

My friends made a ride in March, 2017

My friends made a ride in March, 2017

Plan an Escape

Ta Dung is in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, whose topography features hills and mountains. You'd be better off traveling by car or on a good motorcycle, but for convenient access to the lake, a motorbike is preferable.

Besides the moped, you need a good tent with a heat resistant pad or mat because it's really cold at night by the lake. Wrap up some essentials such as flash torches or candles, mosquito repellent, blankets, and personal hygiene stuff. And, of course, remember to stock food and drinking water (or whatever you want to drink, like some beer for a small party) as well, because there aren't many open markets around for your shopping.

Two popular routes to Ta Dung Lake

Two popular routes to Ta Dung Lake

There are a few ways to reach Ta Dung, including through Da Te, Lam Dong Province. or Gia Nghia, Dac Nong Province. You can make a one-way tour starting from Di Linh and ending at Da Te. Your job is to get to one of these places from Sai Gon by Highway 14 or Highway 20.
Please don't trust Google Maps 100%. It shows you a route through Nam Cat Tien Forest, named DT601. Hell! That's a dusty, broken path piercing the jungle. Though this road through Nam Cat Tien is somewhat beautiful with leafy shady trees, the later part of the route is severely damaged, and way too rough and time-consuming for traveling.
As an alternative to a damaged road, the road through Army Base D in Vinh Cuu District of Dong Nai Province really pays off.
It takes 6 - 7 hours to get there by motorcycle. Don't worry, since the roads are good enough to travel, but what matters is traffic police here and there to check your speed or law compliance. So drive/ride safe and get there sound.

Things to Pack

Stuff to BringDetailsOther Stuff

Tent

Rent at SG: $8 -10 for 2-3 days

Blankets, pillows

Kitchenwares

A kettle or small pot, paper or plastic bowls and cups, knife, lighter or gas burner

Forks, spoons or chopsticks

Food

Sandwiches, sausages, veggies, eggs, noodles, etc.

Snack

Drinks

Bottled water (1-liter bottles), beer or soft drinks for party (if any)

 

Clothes

Sweaters, pants (it's cold at night), flip-flops (by the lake, you know)

Stuff for photography

Camera

Yes, it's a must!

Tripod or lens

Foodstuff and drinks for a night party

Foodstuff and drinks for a night party

Me and my company after stocking everything for a night

Me and my company after stocking everything for a night

Camping at Ta Dung

Find a place to camp by the lake because it provides the best view and atmosphere.

Find a place to camp by the lake because it provides the best view and atmosphere.

Because Ta Dung is a huge lake with several islets and islands, you can easily find a place to camp. Camp near the lake, which is nice for sightseeing and photo shooting.

The mountains at night are totally dark, so making a small fire by the lake is what you need to do. Collecting things to burn is quite easy, but don't forget to bring a lighter with you.

And with a guitar in hand, let's get the party started!

And with a guitar in hand, let's get the party started!

After erecting a tent, go collect stuff to build a fire at night, there are lots of tree branches or sticks around.

After erecting a tent, go collect stuff to build a fire at night, there are lots of tree branches or sticks around.

If lucky enough, you can buy fresh fish like carp or shrimp caught by fishermen living in some floating houses on the lake.

I don't suggest swimming in the lake if you aren't sure how to keep yourself from drowning, although it may be an interesting thing to try there.

Take time to watch sunrise and sunset there, because at that altitude the sun is really gorgeous at dawn and dusk.

Fishermen gather to exchange their catch at dawn and dusk, even at midnight.

Fishermen gather to exchange their catch at dawn and dusk, even at midnight.

The morning breaks over the horizon.

The morning breaks over the horizon.

By the fire admiring the sunrise

By the fire admiring the sunrise

Young lads watch the sun rising.

Young lads watch the sun rising.

Photographing the Lake

Peace oozes out

Peace oozes out

As you stay by the lake surrounded by lush green mountains, it's such a wonderful backdrop for photography. Especially in the morning, a thin veil of mist hovers above the water and the sun is rising behind mountain ranges. The sky is blushing up as the morning breaks. And when the sun strikes the first light ever, the lake surfaces in brilliant reflection. Catch the moment!

The lake surface is covered by a clinging veil of morning mist.

The lake surface is covered by a clinging veil of morning mist.

Fishermen sail on to get their first catch of a day.

Fishermen sail on to get their first catch of a day.

A sleeping boat beached by the lake waiting for another trip

A sleeping boat beached by the lake waiting for another trip

A humble fishing boat beginning its sail

A humble fishing boat beginning its sail

Sunrise happens every day, but the night sky varies during a year. From October to May, it's the dry season there, so the sky is really astonishing at night. It's like the whole galaxy hanging over your head with thousands of twinkling stars and the moon in varous shapes in and out during a month. The lake itself serves as a wondrous mirror that captures the whole starry night and gives you a chance to get close to paradise.

The emerald lake is surrounded by lush green mountains

The emerald lake is surrounded by lush green mountains

In daylight, you should ride around the lake to find ideal places for photography. There are some bridges over the lake here and there, where you must stop and pose. Winding around mountain passes, you'll find many fantastic backdrops with mountains on the left and abysses on the right. These places look dangerous, but the views absolutely pay off.

Before getting on the road, you must take a boat tour around the lake. Ask a fisherman for a tour, which may cost roughly $20. The emerald water is tearing under your boat while the breeze is blowing all along the sail. The mountains are silhouetted against the sky over the mirror-like surface.

A turn round the edge

A turn round the edge

The lake emerges over bushy jungles

The lake emerges over bushy jungles

The sky is flawlessly beautiful.

The sky is flawlessly beautiful.

Such a nice view point for photography, huh?

Such a nice view point for photography, huh?

Posing against a heavenly backdrop

Posing against a heavenly backdrop

There's a high sighseeing tower where you can stay and feast your eyes on the lake.

There's a high sighseeing tower where you can stay and feast your eyes on the lake.

More Places to Visit

From Ta Dung, make your way back to Sai Gon by way of Da Te. Come on, this route is really amazing! You must complete more than 20 km of mountain passes, each with an abyss right next to you. The breath-taking scenery below is a reward for the danger.

  • On the way back, Dong Nai 3 Hydropower Plant is on your left. Such a colossal structure looks stunning from afar.
  • When you get to Da Te, it's nice to visit Da Te Lake. This body of water stays peacefully still. You can take a boat tour around or camp right at the pump-house.
Dong Nai 3 Hydropower Plant

Dong Nai 3 Hydropower Plant

A nice place for sightseeing on the way back

A nice place for sightseeing on the way back

The pumping station is located in the house stretching over the lake.

The pumping station is located in the house stretching over the lake.

The sky prints its patchy clouds on the lake surface.

The sky prints its patchy clouds on the lake surface.

Camping here is really great!

Camping here is really great!

A panorama view of the whole lake

A panorama view of the whole lake

Author's Notes

The photos used in the articles are both of the author and his friend. For further information, please feel free to contact me at nhphuc2310@gmail.com.

Thanks, Buddies!

Go far while we are young!

Go far while we are young!

The path is, err, frustratingly broken!

The path is, err, frustratingly broken!

At remote places in Dong Nai Province, you have to pay some money if you want to cross any bridges.

At remote places in Dong Nai Province, you have to pay some money if you want to cross any bridges.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Yuan on November 10, 2018:

That's an amazing destination! Your photos are gorgeous. I wanna go there someday.

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on March 31, 2018:

@Fillip Yarmen: Many thanks for your comment and encouragement.

Fillip Yarmen on March 31, 2018:

Nice pics and interesting info. I love your blog. Keep writing, bro.

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on July 27, 2017:

@Dan: Tks a lot. I'll keep you posted on my lastest articles then.

Dan Human on June 13, 2017:

Great page, bro. Write more about your beautiful country.

Thomas Nguyen on June 05, 2017:

It's very excellent, Phuc, move on!

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on May 14, 2017:

@eddie: Tks for your compliment. I'll try my best ^^

Eddie on May 14, 2017:

I love your writing, so informative and picturesque. Write more, bro.

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 21, 2017:

@Hien: Tks for your sweet words ^^ yes, wait for my comeback, we'll hit the road then!

Hien on April 20, 2017:

I'm proud of you, Phuc. Though I haven't been to Ta Dung, I always want to hit the road oneday. Come back and go with me, my dear.

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 17, 2017:

@Jem: well, I tell the truth, everything here is based on my experience. Which part is untrue, huh?

Jeremy Tran on April 17, 2017:

I used to come there

And i believe that you are shooting the breeze

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 17, 2017:

@hale/hacu: yes, wrap up and go!

Hale0389 on April 17, 2017:

Wow, what a useful link!. Let's pack up and ride.

Hacunmiumiu on April 17, 2017:

Wow, lets pack up and ride.

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 17, 2017:

@eden: tks a lot, buddy ^^

Eden Ly on April 17, 2017:

very interesting and useful article! keep up the good job

Ha Le on April 17, 2017:

Wow, let's plan up and go.

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 17, 2017:

@Vinh: Thank you, buddy ^^ come try your own ^^

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 17, 2017:

@Mai: Oh tks for your kind words :) I'm just a newbie blogger, buddy ^^ anyway, I'll try my best to better coming articles. Follow me, bro.

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 17, 2017:

@James: Tks a lot. I'm practising the language in writing rather than speaking. I love to share with others and learn how to write better ^^

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 17, 2017:

@Hung: Thank you, buddy.

Nguyen Hong Phuc (author) from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 17, 2017:

@Billericky: thanks for your sweet words. Yes, come visit VN someday ^^

Nguyen Vinh on April 17, 2017:

Great article!

Mai on April 17, 2017:

Great article and awesome photos, I admire you alot.

James on April 17, 2017:

Well written. Nice photos. Your post's really interesting to read. Hope I will go there soon. Tks.

HUNG on April 16, 2017:

It's interesting Phuc. Go ahead.

Billericky on April 16, 2017:

Well written. Thanks for sharing. Haven't been to VN before but read lots of your writings about such a beautiful country, which is fun to visit. Yes, I will absolutely come to see how scenic the country is one day. Keep up gorgeous!