Dalat’s beautiful countryside and renown as the region that supplies fresh produce to most of Vietnam, is a complete contrast to Nha Trang’s seaside resort town.
The Sinh Tourist bus left the Saigon office at 07:30hrs.
The journey takes around 8.5 hours, with a 10-minute and a 40-minute stop during the trip before you reach the Singh office in Dalat.
Apart from Dalat’s rich cultural atmosphere, there are many activities to keep you here for many-a-day.
Most hotels and travel agents can organise day tours around Dalat.
Xuan Huong Lake
Take a walk around this lake (about a 5-kilometre perimeter), which is about a 20-minute walk (downhill) from the city centre.
There’s a restaurant on the little island in the middle of the lake, which serves local coffees, food, and great for relaxing. Especially good as an escape haven when it starts to pour with rain, as it did frequently.
It’s currently winter and the wet season in Dalat…not sure how we timed this after 8 months of rain in the rest of SE Asia! On that note, it seems that Vietnam is split into south, north, and central when it comes to the weather and all have different seasons at different times, so keep this in mind when travelling through this wonderful country.
Booked the “Secret Tour” with Mr Rot from the Villa Pink House, which although pricey at USD$35, was a very cultural experience and our group had an excellent time.
Mr Rot’s extremely interesting tour is about a 120-kilometre round-trip for the day and lasts from 7:30-18:00hrs. The day goes something like this:
- Cricket farm – Fascinating and even got to try (forced) stir-fried crickets in chilli and garlic – I’m not a big fan of these crunchy critters but you have to try everything once, right?
- Silk Farm – Apparently, not as frequented by tourists as others (not sure about this) but quite interesting to watch the silk production process; there isn’t a shop here so no hard selling either.
- Market – Drove out of Dalat to a village and taken around the central market. Mr Rot explained many items on sale, which looks quite foreign to a westerner. Also various local sweet and savoury snacks, and our group tried each snack – delicious.
- Elephant Falls – A very touristy location although the falls are lovely and worth visiting. Take some good shoes as the rocks are very slippery if you walk down to the falls and also under the falls; be prepared for a trek up and down steps.
- Lookout and Coffee Plantation – Both of these sites were lovely and Mr Rot provided an explanation everywhere we went.
- Village – Interacted with the K’Ho Cil locals, which was like stepping back in time 80 years. I won’t spoil the surprise as you need to experience this for yourself (photos are not permitted at this village).
We had a delicious late lunch at Mr Rot’s sister’s house; even played fun games whilst we waited for lunch – very lovely!
Dinner with Mr Rot
After the tour, a few of us met up at a local Vietnamese restaurant and let Mr Rot order everything.
For USD$5 a head, you won’t starve. You will try all forms of meat here!
We were served chicken, frog (I thought it was rat as I’ve never seen a frog with curly claws), snake, cat in vine leaves, and seafood. All meals were delicious although I couldn’t bring myself to eat rat.
Also went to The Escape Bar (expensive drinks) after dinner to hear Mr Rot sing Vietnamese songs and other (paid) artists sing at the venue.
This nightclub was where I heard a lady, probably in her 60’s dressed in a sort of 1920’s Charleston dress, belt out Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ – and what a fantastic interpretation of this song.
The singer’s years of obvious smoking and perhaps a hard life resulted in a gravelly voice that did this song much justice. Who would have thought I’d be sitting in a nightclub in Dalat, listening to a live version of Amy Whinehouse?
Travelling throws many different experiences at you and all memorable in some form or another. Another fantastic day and evening for the Library of Memories!
Villa Pink House (7 Hai Thuong Street) – Good wi-fi and friendly staff. Good-sized very clean room (serviced daily) with a very hot shower! Air-con not provided, as it’s too chilly. The location is about a 10-minute walk to restaurants and 20-minute walk to the lake.
Light breakfast included in the room price: Baguette (with cheese, banana, or jam) or instant noodles; and tea/coffee.
Understandably, meals are wonderfully fresh in Dalat due to the fresh vegetables grown here – a vegetarian’s heaven.
Try the strawberry products (dried, preserves, sweets) at the markets amongst other inexpensive morsels on sale.
Dalat’s wine is famous also but having tried a couple of types, I think the more you pay for a bottle, the better the wine.
- Lien Hoa (15-17-19 Duong 3/2) – Good quality food; everything from the pastries, filled baguettes, and also the upstairs’ restaurant is delicious and food is served at a great price. Very popular with locals, tourists, and foreigners.
- Vinh Loi (10 Hai Thuong) – This family-run restaurant is packed with locals every night. The authentic food is delicious, fresh, and well-priced.
- Woody Bar-Cafe (06 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Ward 1) – For the best coffee in Dalat at a reasonable price, you can’t go by this small funky cafe with great staff and atmosphere.
- Le Cafe de la Poste (12 Tran Phu) – Situated in the Dalat Palace Hotel, this chic French-style cafe surrounds is a legacy built in 1928. And still feels like you’re in this era when you enjoy a coffee and delicious dessert here. The coffee is more expensive and not as good as Woody.
Dalat to Nha Trang
Instead of the bus, the Pink Villa House’s owner had a ‘friend’ driving to Nha Trang the next day. The owner advised that the price (150,000VND) would be the same as but much faster than the local bus.
We were also advised the transport would be like a minibus and only 4 of us booked for the trip. However, as with everything in SE Asia, all is not what it seems, or ever what you pay for but typically, does not benefit you!
Admittedly, the private driver from Dalat to Nha Trang was a lovely guy and a very safe driver by Vietnamese driving standards.
Although, we ended up with 6 passengers, the driver, plus 6 huge backpacks rammed in a small 4×4.
After picking up the last passengers, everyone felt slightly ripped off and annoyed but we decided to roll with the uncomfortable flow and drive to Nha Trang.
After the 5-hour journey, at least the driver dropped us off at our hotels/hostels, which was a bonus; he did also stop for a coffee an hour before arriving.
Only stayed in Nha Trang for 2 nights as the weather was a little miserable and it didn’t feel like Vietnam at all but more like being in Russia.
Apart from shopping in expensive malls, laying on the beach, or going to the nearby islands, there’s not much else on offer.
I guess the rain and cold weather during both days didn’t really help – everything was gloomy and grey. Empty beach chairs along the empty beach proves it must be ordinary weather.
ThiNha seaside resort town is a very popular spot with Russian tourists and to my amazement, even street signs are in Russian!
Lucky it’s the low season. Waterfront streets are filled with many expensive boutique shops in flashy malls, with prices way above my budget.
Apart from the sea, I didn’t see too much reason to stay here but could be wrong; would love to hear from other experiences in this city, if you have any?
Perhaps the constant rain added to the grey sombre mood of the city. Don’t get me wrong, the locals are lovely and hospitable, it’s the foreign tourists that walk around as if someone should give them razor blades to end it all…so miserable; and these people are on holidays!
Tristar Boutique Hotel (23, 3D Ly Tu Trong Str) – A small but comfortable room with a private bathroom, which includes a great breakfast: choose from a menu of 8 meals. Good fast service at breakfast if you’re in a hurry to catch a bus out. Friendly reception staff.
Restaurants in Nha Trang are geared up for foreign tourists, so the prices are high for this country.
After only eating dinner out once here, I notice that the quality isn’t that great and the restaurant isn’t worth writing about. You can pick up good food and coffee in the malls.
Nha Trang to Da Nang
As with any bus, train, minibus, entry fee, or other ticket in Vietnam, “Foreigner” is printed on the ticket, which typically means, you’ve paid double (or more) than the local price – no surprise there then…
When you’re at the train station, be prepared to extend your chicken wings out whilst everyone tries to shove and push you out of the way to get to the ticket counter first. It’s like a football scrum, but hold your ground.
The train (376,000VND, soft seat, Air-con) from Nha trang to Da Nang leaves at 13:26hrs and should take about 10 hours…hope so!