Visit the Central Highlands to discover spectacular sceneries and eat and drink like a mountain dweller.
The Central Highlands is a tourist hot spot, attracting many locals and foreigners every year.
It has unmatched vistas like the dreamy mountainous streets, rugged terrain, howling winds, foggy towns, and night markets.
It is home to a variety of ethnic groups, lush forests, and an abundance of wildlife.
Da Lat, Buon Ma Thuot, and Pleiku are three famous towns here that are always crowded with vacationing visitors.
What makes travelers love the Central Highlands and these towns is not just the spectacular scenery but also the opportunity to discover ethnic lifestyles and customs and unusual delicacies.
Anyone visiting the Central Highlands should try cơm lam (rice cooked in bamboo stems) and grilled chicken.
It is a fascinating experience to eat the rice and chicken by dipping it in sesame and salt and drink rượu cần (a beer-like drink sipped through a long bamboo pipe from a jar) like the mountain people do.
Cơm lam has its origins in the mountainous lifestyle when tribesmen made long journeys through the forest to work on mountain fields.
They would prepare for a trip by stuffing wet rice into bamboo tubes, putting them in a cloth bag, and taking them along.
It may sound simple but its preparation and cooking are complicated.
First, one needs to choose bamboo stems of a suitable age. They should be fresh and young in order for them to imbue a unique mountain fragrance to the rice.
To make delicious cơm lam, one needs to use the glutinous rice variety grown on the mountains.
Wash the rice, soak it in water for several hours, and take it out and add a little salt. Put the rice in the bamboo stem, add some water, and tightly seal both ends with banana leaves.
There are several ways to cook the rice, including steaming and grilling for 45-60 minutes until the rice is done.
A tube of rice costs VND12,000.
Cơm lam is served with sesame and salt or grilled chicken.
To get delicious grilled chicken, ones need to choose free-range birds raised by ethnic people and not industrial farmed chicken.
Marinate the meat in honey, sesame oil, seasoning, lemongrass, five-spices powder, garlic, ginger, and salt.
Insert it into a bamboo stem and grilled on burning coal. Turn it over until it is done, turns golden, and smells good.
One whole chicken costs VND190,000.
When enjoying rice cooked in bamboo and grilled chicken, one should drink rượu cần. The beverage is nade by fermenting rice and a combination of medicinal herbs and roots.
It is a traditional drink of ethnic peoples that tastes sour-sweet and is often drunk during festivals to wish each other good health and thank the gods for good weather.
Ky Con Street in Pleiku Town is a famous spot for finding top-class cơm lam and other new flavors and tastes.