Kontum is 50km (31 miles) north of Pleiku and 245km (152 miles) from Buon Ma Thuot. Coastal Quy Nhon can be reached by road, via Pleiku (about 5 hr.), and the new Ho Chi Minh Trail, Hwy. 14, connects with Danang, far to the north and down along the coast -- a 12-hour ride (some Easy Rider tours overnight along the way). All of these routes can be done by local bus -- a very uncomfortable, slow option. Going by private car, motorbike for the adventurous, or preplanned tour are your best options.
Warning: If braving the local buses out of Kontum, know that the bus-station folks will take you for a real ride of resentment. Ticket prices are posted, but they don't sell tickets to foreigners at booths (Kontum is still considered "off-limits" to independent travelers). This means that foreign visitors have to haggle with the surly busmen for a reasonable fare, and these guys start with ridiculous prices like $20. Avoid the hassle and come with your own wheels. Or smile and pantomime that you won't get on the bus for that price, buy yourself a coffee, and let your amateur thespian take over (you can whittle them down to $7).
The sights in both Pleiku and Kontum are all far out in the hills, so you'll have to arrange some kind of transport or tour. This is popular turf for the Easy Riders from Dalat, and, in fact, you'll be grateful you have a guide here: Most of what you'll want to see in the countryside, whether coffee plantations or rural homes and workplaces, requires some kind of introduction or an ability with the Vietnamese language. You're sure to meet a few cycling tours in these parts, and if you've got the legs for the hills or can afford a support van, cycling these roads is memorable. You can rent rickety little city bicycles in Kontum and hit the few sights around town, or even go out to the Konkoitu Village some 5km (3 miles) out of town, but otherwise you'll need some good, reliable wheels. Motorbikes can be rented at about $7 per day from the hotels listed below, and all hotels can arrange tours to outlying areas, as can the folks at Kontum Tourist.
Visitor Information & Tours
Kontum Tourist is the name of the game in Kontum. Find their office on the bottom floor of the Dakbla Hotel at 02 Phan Dinh Phung (tel. 060/386-1626). It's open daily from 7 to 11am and 2 to 5pm. I couldn't find anyone who speaks much English, but they knew what I was there for and had good maps and menus of tours. Transport is a bit pricey. Expect to pay $20 per day for a motorbike driver/guide, or from $60 for a car. If you haven't come with your own transport, these folks are the best bet, but if you're traveling on the cheap, get your own wheels elsewhere (try the folks at Family Hotel).
Bring cash to Kontum. There's the Investment and Development Bank, 1 Tran Phu St., near the town center (tel. 060/386-2339), but their services are limited. In Pleiku, try the Investment and Development Bank, at 112 Le Loi St. (tel. 059/382-4310), or the Vietcombank Bank, with ATM service at 12 Tran Hung Dao.