Pleiku is a town with a large ethnic population. It sits at the junction of roads leading to Kontum, Buon Ma Thuot and Qui Nhon. This town was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam war as it was the home of an American base. If you expect to be here during the monsoon season, you should know that Pleiku boasts the highest rainfall in the Central Highlands.
Jarai and Bahnar Tribes
One thing worth seeing in Pleiku, are the Jarai and Bahnar tribes that live close by. The Jarai built houses on stilts with an additional small hut at the front to store the much needed rice. The Bahnar also built their houses on stilts and have added large balconies to work on while at home. They have a community building called a Rong House where the elders meet for ceremonies and festivals. Inside the Rong House one can find gongs, wine, drums and all the precious ceremonial artifacts. Shaman also use this large building for spiritual rituals such as the 'prayer for rain'. The Rong House can only be entered by men.
The tombs of these tribes are also very interesting. By tradition little thatch wooden huts are set over the tomb in which the possessions of the deceased are placed. Around the tomb there are four wooden pillars. On top are wooden carvings of men or monkeys that stand guard in order to protect the body of the deceased. The burial ceremony is very expensive. If the family of the deceased cannot afford it at the time of the passing away, the funeral party can be postponed up to three years later.
When there is a burial ceremony, the entire village population spends three days at the burial site and a water buffalo is ceremonially sacrificed and subsequently used to feed the village population. The head of the water buffalo is cut off and hung on the tomb, and the four hooves are cut off and placed on the four corners of the grave.
Yaly waterfallThere is a waterfall that you can visit 15 km north of Peiku on the road to Kontum. You will come across a major intersection on the road where you make a left turn and continue to the end of the road.
There are number of former battlegrounds which can be visited from Pleiku including Ham Rong Mount, Plei Me post and the former 1st Cavalry Division base at Hon Chong (in An Khe district).