First published May 2014 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle
Bảo Đại falls (also known as Jráiblian falls) is named after Vietnam’s last emperor. It’s said that Bảo Đại (1913-1997) would stop here on his numerous hunting trips to the region, during which he and his royal entourage would hunt wild tigers and elephants, among other magnificent animals that are now almost entirely gone from the forests and mountains of Vietnam. These enormous, thundering falls are far from the beaten path and the area has only recently been developed as a tourist site. So far, development has been subtle and tasteful, perhaps suggesting a new approach by the Vietnamese tourism authorities. The modest entrance leads into peaceful landscaped gardens with a couple of attractive wooden houses. Stone steps and pathways through sheer rock lead down to the waterfall. Dense jungle foliage and screaming cicadas create a thrilling and exotic atmosphere as you scramble over boulders covered in roots, brush aside vines, climbers, creepers and other epiphytes, to reveal the first sight of this huge and powerful waterfall. At around 70 metres high and over 100 metres wide these falls are the biggest and most spectacular in this list. The cascade of muddy water drops straight down over a wall of volcanic rock. At its base one or two local fishermen cast their lines into the rock pools, looking fragile and delicate in the presence of the towering falls.
The odd tour bus visits now and then, especially on weekends, but during the week there’s only a trickle of visitors and you may well have these spectacular falls all to yourself. There’s no entrance fee yet and (gasp!) no sign of any concrete elephants or colossal statues of ethnic minorities adorning the site – let’s hope it stays that way as visitor numbers rise, which they surely will. Bảo Đại falls are about 50km south of Dalat and it takes around an hour and a half to get here. Take a left (due south) off Highway 20 at Ninh Gia) and continue for about 8km until you see a gas station on the right. Here, take a left (due north) which is clearly signposted to Bảo Đại waterfall [MAP]. You can either arrange your own transportation from Dalat or take a public bus to Đức Trọng and hire a motorbike taxi from there to the falls. The nearest accommodation is in Ninh Gia on Highway 20. If you have your own wheels, a visit to this waterfall fits in nicely with the Southeast Motorbike Loop.
Images of Bảo Đại waterfall:
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