Dalat’s beautiful countryside is renown as the region that supplies fresh produce to most of Vietnam – what a complete contrast to Nha Trang’s seaside resort town.
The Sinh Tourist bus leaves the Saigon office at 07:30hrs for the 8.5 hours.
Only a 10-minute and 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 the 5-kilometre perimeter of this picturesque lake, which is about a 20-minute walk (downhill) from the city centre.
There’s a restaurant on the little island in the centre of the lake, which serves local coffees, food, and great for relaxing. Especially good as an escape haven form the deluge of rain – it rains frequently.
Currently winter and the wet season in Dalat, so not sure how we timed this after 8 months of rain in the rest of SE Asia. On this note, it seems that Vietnam is split into south, north, and central when it comes to the weather. All regions have different seasons at different times – good to 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 per person, is a very cultural experience with our group having an excellent time.
Mr Rot’s extremely interesting tour is about a 120-kilometre round-trip for the day, lasting from 7:30-18:00hrs, which goes something like this:
Fascinating and even you even get 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?
Apparently, not as frequented by tourists as others (not sure about this) but quite interesting to watch the silk production process – without a shop at the farm there’s no hard selling either.
Driving out of Dalat to a market in a village, Mr Rot takes us around the market explaining many items, which look quite strange to a westerner – also various local sweet and savoury snacks that we try – delicious.
A very touristy location although the falls are lovely and worth visiting.
Take 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 are picturesque and Mr Rot explains everything to our group.
Interacting with the K’Ho Cil locals is 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.
A delicious and traditional late lunch at Mr Rot’s sister’s house, which includes playing fun games whilst waiting for lunch – very lovely.
Dinner with Mr Rot
After the tour, a few of us meet up at a local Vietnamese restaurant and Mr Rot orders everything.
For USD$5 a head, you won’t starve and try all forms of meat at this authentic restaurant.
Dishes include chicken, frog (think it’s rat as I’ve never seen a frog with curly claws), snake, cat in vine leaves, and seafood. All meals are delicious although I can’t bring myself to eat rat.
Venturing to the The Escape Bar (expensive drinks) after dinner, we listen to Mr Rot singing Vietnamese songs and other artists sing at the venue.
A singer probably in her 60’s dressed in a 1920’s Charleston dress, belts out ‘Back to Black’ by Amy Winehouse’s – what a fantastic interpretation of this song!
The singer’s years of obvious smoking and perhaps a hard life results in her gravelly voice that does this song justice. Who would have thought I’d be sitting in a nightclub in Dalat, listening to a live version of Amy Winehouse?
Travelling throws many different experiences at you and all memorable in some way or another. Another fantastic day and evening for the Library of Memories!
All types of accommodation for all pockets are offered in Dalat.
Villa Pink House
On 7 Hai Thuong Street, Villa Pink provides good wi-fi and a ample-size very clean room (serviced daily) with a very hot shower. No air-con as it’s too chilly.
The location is about a 10-minute walk to restaurants and 20-minute walk to the lake.
Light breakfast is included in the room’s price: Baguette (with cheese, banana, or jam) or instant noodles; and tea/coffee – friendly staff.
Meals are wonderfully fresh in Dalat due to the fresh vegetables grown here – a vegetarian’s haven.
Try the strawberry products (dried, preserves, sweets) at the markets amongst other inexpensive morsels on sale.
Dalat’s wine is famous also but after trying a couple of types, I think the more you pay for a bottle the better the wine.
On 15-17-19 Duong 3/2 this restaurant serves good pastries and filled baguettes but also the upstair’s restaurant serves delicious food at great prices.
Very popular with locals, tourists, and foreigners.
This family-run restaurant on 10 Hai Thuong, is packed with locals every night. The authentic food is deliciously fresh and well-priced.
On 06 Nguyen Chi Thanh, Ward 1, try Woody for the best coffee in Dalat at a reasonable price in this small funky cafe with great staff and atmosphere.
Le Cafe de la Poste
Along 12 Tran Phu and 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. 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 has a ‘friend’ driving to Nha Trang tomorrow. The owner advises that the price (150,000VND) is the same as the local bus but much faster.
We’re also advised the transport is similar to a minibus and only 4 of us are booked for the trip. 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 is a lovely guy and a very safe driver by Vietnamese driving standards.
Although, we end up with 6 passengers, driver, plus 6 huge backpacks rammed in a small 4×4.
After picking up the last passengers, everyone is feeling slightly ripped off and annoyed but we decide to roll with the uncomfortable flow and drive to Nha Trang.
An hour before arriving, we stop for a coffee and after the 5-hour cramped journey the driver drops us off at our accommodation, which is a bonus.
Only staying in Nha Trang for 2 nights as the weather is a little miserable – feels more like being in Russia.
Shopping in expensive malls, laying on the beach, or going to the nearby islands are activities that nha Trang offer.
I guess the rain and cold weather during both days doesn’t help – everything is gloomy and grey. Empty beach chairs along the empty beach tell their own story.
ThiNha seaside resort town is a very popular spot with Russian tourists and to my amazement, even street signs are in Russian.
Lucky we’re in 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, there’s not much reason to stay here – would love to hear other experiences in this city, if you’ve visited?
Perhaps the constant rain adds 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 guys are on holidays!
Tristar Boutique Hotel (23, 3D Ly Tu Trong Str) offers 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 Vietnam.
After only eating dinner out once here, the quality isn’t that great and the restaurant isn’t worth writing about – pick up good food and coffee in the malls instead.
Leaving Nha Trang
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.
At the train station be prepared to extend your chicken wings whilst everyone tries to push and shove you out of the way to get to the ticket counter first. It’s like a football scrum – hold your ground.
The train (376,000VND, soft seat, Air-con) from Nha trang to Da Nang leaves at 13:26hrs and should take arpund 10 hours…hope so!