Da Lat – Postcolonial Vietnamese City on the Hills

In case you suppose that Vietnam is all about Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, you are very wrong! Our favourite province in Vietnam is Dak Lak (having very few tourists, but a lot to see), yet, our next destination – Da Lat – also became a pleasant surprise.

The connection between Dalat

and other cities (for instance, Nha Trang) is well-established. We reached Dalat from Buon Ma Thuot (Dak Lak): the buses depart at 6.00, 7.30, 8.30, 9.30, 10.30, 12.30, 15.30, 22.00. The price of the ticket was 300000 dongs, first the transfer picks the passengers up and brings them to the bus station. As soon as the bus arrives, everyone tries to get in, since the places are not assigned. Everyone receives a bottle of water and the bags to throw up. For some, the bags were really useful: apparently, the Vietnamese stomachs are quite weak, and half of the bus throws up on the serpentine path. They throw the bags into the window, and then Europeans write on the bicycle forums that cycling in Vietnam is not very pleasant.
Da Lat how to get

Vietnamese transport

Lak Lake which gave its name to Dak Lak province.
Lak Lake

About 25 kilometers before Dak Lak half of the bus got out at some settlement and the conductor started to clean the bus, throwing the waste into the window. On the very high speed, we reached the city and walked from the bus station to the hotel. After Buon Ma Thuot, Da Lat seems to be the center of civilization. On our way to the hotel, not far from the bus station, we had some fish soup, and this was the right decision, since the closer we were getting to the city center, the more European the food places were becoming.
Da Lat was a French colony once, as the majority of Vietnam, yet, the French were coming here more often, since the pleasant climate of the hills allowed for hiding away from the heat. As many guide books mention, Da Lat is something in between Vietnam and the French Alps. It has a lot of lakes, pine forests and resorts. And they were getting ready to celebrate Chinese New Year too!
Chinese New Year




Some miracles of Vietnamese logistics:
Vietnamese logistics

Vietnamese miracle

Vietnamese logistics

The seller of aquarium fish:
aquarium fish

Crazy House.

We found the hotel easily and decided that we can make it to the so-called Crazy House while it was still open (entrance fee 40000 dongs, open till 7 pm). The architect of the Crazy House studied in Moscow, then she returned to work in Hanoi and moved to Da Lat to create her own project here which was supposed to be different from the usual constructions. Crazy House is still being built, but even by now this is a huge building and one of the major attractions for the tourists.
Dalat-Crazy House

Dalat-Crazy House

Hang Nga villa

Crazy House

You may stay in one of the multiple rooms of the house as in the hotel:
Stay at Crazy House

The photos of the architect:
architect of hang nga villa

Then we walked around the evening market and had some pho bo:
Dalat-evening market

pho bo


The next day Vitya got really sick, but losing a day of travel because of sickness is not our method. Moreover, we had a motorbike rented. We started with Prenn waterfalls. It took a while to find the entrance and the locals were forcing Vitya to go against one-way traffic, but we finally found the right way. The waterfall did not seem too unusual, it is only that we had never walked behind the waterfall before. Other attractions include a park and a ride by the elephant or even the ostrich.
Prenn waterfalls

The second waterfall, Datanla, has another attraction: roller coaster rides where you may regulate the speed yourself.
Datanla waterfall, roller coaster

Datanla waterfall

Also, you may take a cable road ride over the gorge.
cable road to Datanla waterfall

Our next short stop was the summer palace of the emperor Bao Dai, and if you are not very much into the Vietnamese history we suggest you should skip it. Just in case: the palace has been built in 1933 and currently exhibits the lifestyle of Vietnamese aristocrats: 25 rooms, old furniture and stuff, underground tunnels for the case of coup d’état.
emperor Bao Dai

A more important stop is the cable road Cap Treo, leading to the monastery Thien Vien Truc Lam.
Cap Treo

Cable road to Thien Vien Truc Lam

The monastery is great not only because its Buddhist temples, but also due to the landscape design.

Thien Vien Truc Lam



The last waterfall was in the city centre, and we visited it really fast.

Then we bought Golden star balm – authentic Vietnamese medicine against Vitya’s cold.
Golden star balm

We tried famous Kopi Luwak coffee – the one which is collected, digested and defecated by a civet, providing us with the most expensive coffee in the world. To be honest, it was not too expensive: sometimes Starbacks is much more expensive (the small cup of luwak was about 2 dollars). We did not quite understand why the taste is considered so special too.
Kopi Luwak coffee

To our mind, the usual Vietnamese coffee is better than that and better than any other coffee: we even wrote the whole blog post about it.
The day ended in the local cafe, which was as usually much better than the best restaurants.
The next day we we ready to explore the new horizons: Nha Trang (thanks God, only passing by) and Da Nang!
Nha Trang how to get