I flew into Da Lat from Hanoi and knew right away I was going to love it. A quick tip when you arrive the airport is quite far from the city centre so make sure to arrange a shuttle from where your staying, or take the bus. The taxi service is pricy to get you to the city centre.
Da Lat is in the central highlands and is often referred to as refuge from the humidity and heat in Vietnam. It does still get hot, and there’s no shortage of the sun but by mid afternoon the tempature cools down and it’s a nice break from the sweltering heat of other places in Vietnam. They make wine in Da Lat as well as coffee beans. So who wouldn’t want to go!
I arrived before my check in time at the guesthouse, so I walked about until I found Pho Trang. What a lovely experience. The beef is served rare and the broth is full of flavour. They also have all the spices you can add if you want it more on the spicy side. More then the great pho was the great service. The owners sat with me and talked for along time about things to see and do in Da Lat including the best restaurants, and things to do during day and night. It was so nice to talk to Robert and Heo and I ate there everyday for breakfast or lunch that I stayed in Da Lat. Located at 79 Hai Thuong, just up the street from the nice guest house I stayed in called Nguyen Minh.
One of the places that was suggested to me was the escape bar. They play live music every night at 9 pm so I decided to go check it out. I was glad I did. The band there was incredible. I spent three evenings with them and became great friends with the band and bar owner. When you go to Da Lat this is a must stop! https://m.facebook.com/TheEscapeBarDalat/?rf=438523539505876
The bassist Teemu suggested a hike for me the following day up a mountain. So I was off that next morning taking a short bus ride to Lang Biang mountains. It was already hot and I started my 16 km hike at 1030. It was no walk in the park. The elevation gain is no joke and it was truly at times heart over brain to keep continuing.And of course I choose to go to the highest peak. But what an accomplishment when I did get to the top!
When you go, you need plenty of water and snacks, or pack a lunch and enjoy it once you get to the top. Also allow at least 4-5 hrs for the hike and be aware last bus back to Da Lat is at 17:15.
I hiked up the road, until the provincial park where there’s a gate you can’t miss. After paying the enterance fee I met some kind Japanese tourists who were stopped for lunch. They greeted me and gave me some snacks and I was deeply moved by that kind gesture. (I had eaten my snacks and still had 4 km to reach the top before going all the way back down). As I had considered quitting a few times, which I wasn’t going to allow myself, the act of kindness motivated me to keep on going. I hiked through pine forests, into the rainforest and up steep steps to reach the top. It wasn’t the easiest hike I’ve ever done, but the reward of making it to the top was incredible. I was filled with gratitude that I had done it, and that it was recommended to me. It was a clear day, and birds were swooping over, and overlooking the other mountains and down on the city of Da Lat. It was an accomplishment going at it alone. After going all the way back down the mountain I caught the bus back and stopped for a well deserved bowl of Pho. 😉
The next day after a nice walk around the lake my friend Teemu picked me up in the afternoon and we headed for a coffee. Da Lat grows the coffee beans in Vietnam and they do it well! From there we took his scooter up to Paradise lake. It was the perfect afternoon to take in the gorgeous views and enjoy the peacefulness. I then enjoyed taking in the crazy house. It’s a house that is an architectural masterpeace that can only be described as being built by a brilliant and creative mind. It was interesting to see if you have the time.
That evening I went to the market and bought balut. I think when travelling abroad you have to be brave and adventurous enough to try some of the “delicacies” Teemu said earlier in day he hadn’t tried it yet so I figured best to do with another person then alone. Can’t say he was thrilled but… Don’t tell a Canadian girl your up for the challenge! He was a great sport about it and although I’m glad I tried something new I can speak for both of us that we won’t feel the need to do that again!
My last day in Da Lat I walked to the Cam Ly waterfall and then to the golden Buddha statue. Both were beautiful. The Buddha was breathtaking and there was a lot to see there, many temples and Buddha statues.
That evening was my last in Da Lat so I went back to the escape bar and even got the nerve to sing a few songs with the band! I’ve been trying to say yes to as many opportunities that come up during my travels, so I allowed myself to say yes to this too. I sang 4 songs with the band and enjoyed every minute. It was the perfect send off before heading out on the night bus back to HCMC (Saigon).
Da Lat you were so good to me and I enjoyed every moment. The people in Da Lat were friendly and helpful, and made it such a great experience. I’ll be back one day, you can count on that.