Khiri Travel Vietnam has launched a discovery tour that celebrates the unique hilltribe culture of Kontum and its nearby villages in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

The area is known as "The Space of Gong Culture" where gongs play a central cultural role in the lives of the Bahnar, Sedang, Ede Jarai and other ethnic groups.

UNESCO hails the mountain culture as an "intangible" World Heritage experience, as the cultural legacy is mostly retained in language, gong music, oral history and values. The most apparent physical attractions are the tall and distinctive wooden Rong houses, where many of the tribes live.

The tribes include 17 minority ethnic groups. They are united by the central role of gong culture. The gong indicates family wealth, authority and prestige and ensures protection. Within every gong lives a spirit, which becomes more powerful with age.

Discovery trips include a night in Pleiku town then a journey to see the Rong houses of the Bahnar tribe. Guests will be invited to drink rice liquor through long bamboo straws.

In Kontum guests visit the Catholic seminary beside the black and yellow Bahnar church.

Explorations can include two days of trekking into the scenic mountains and an overnight in a simple forest cottage with highland cooking and after dinner tales.

The morning hike out passes towering trees, vines and ferns. The serenity of the forest is a powerful experience.

The journey includes an inspection of Dak To town, an area of many battles in the American-Vietnam War. Now there are peaceful rubber plantations with charming Rong houses owned by the Che minority. Thickly forested mountains and plantations abound.

Hugues Springer, business manager, Khiri Travel Vietnam, said: "The people genuinely welcome visitors. We take our time to meet them and learn about their daily life, traditions and culture. It's an insight into a mystical world. The Central Highlands of Vietnam are unlike anywhere else in the world. Visiting the gong people of Kontum is both a poignant and highly rewarding travel experience."

For a sample program or a tailored itinerary email

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