The last time I posted we had just finished up in Hoi An and although we had a few stop overs between then and now, none of them seemed interesting enough to write an entire post on. There was Da Nang (we didn’t like it at all and left way sooner than we were meant to), Hue (lovely, but little to do), Nha Trang (a beach town with a strange, eerie vibe) and then we came to Da Lat.
Da Lat was not an original stop on our North to South Vietnam journey, but it was a welcome addition. It just felt different – the vibe was more European ski village alpine town (especially in relation to the temperature) than SE Asian city. After a recommendation from our lovely friends, we stayed in Brew and Breakfast – a cute guesthouse / hostel with superb staff, fun activities and an all-vegan menu. Our aforementioned friends are vegan and they raved about the food… we are not vegan (trying to be mostly vegetarian) and we raved about the food.
The private room we stayed in (called the Arabica room, in keeping with the coffee theme) cost 210,000 VND (or £8 per night) and it was one of the nicest rooms we have stayed in. Granted, the rooms are close to the kitchen, so it can be a little noisy, but we loved it nonetheless. We can’t thank Nick and Brianna, our hosts, enough.
Things to do (and see!)
1. The Crazy House
Like something from Alice in Wonderland, the Crazy House is one of the strangest architectural sights I’ve seen in a long time. The building is a weird concoction of twisty-turny stairs, wonky walls and downright random designs.
If you are so inclined, so you can stay at one of the rooms in the Crazy House (costs about £35 a night). A normal visit will cost you 50,000 VND (about £1.66) and can be used to get lost in the many walkways. Be aware that much of this place, including the hotel section is under renovation, so you may come across a lot of construction work going on – as we did.
2. Alpine Coaster @ Datanla Falls
Da Lat is graced with a number of beautiful waterfalls, and some not-so beautiful ones (see my ‘Avoid’) section. Datanla and Elephant falls are two beautiful and popular destinations and although reviews seem to establish Elephant Falls as the more beautiful of the two, we went for Datanla. The main reason for this was the Alpine Coaster you could ride to access the falls. Although a little expensive (I can’t remember exactly, but roughly about £10), for us it was worth every penny. I’ve always wanted to Toboggan and this seemed a good alternative, where I could control the speed and see some beautiful sights along the way. I would encourage you to give it a try!
3. The Pink Church (Domaine de Marie)
A little out of the centre of Da Lat, away from the hustle and bustle, is a gorgeous Pink Church. Personally, I didn’t mind the walk out of the centre (about 2 miles) but Freddie didn’t think it was worth it. I guess it depends how much you’re interested in different buildings – I found it quite beautiful.
Eat Up, Drink Up!
1. 100 Rooms (Maze) Bar
From the designer behind Crazy House, later came 100 Mazes Bar. Architecturally the two were very similar, but 100 Rooms bar was more fun to explore. From the outside, you would never suspect that getting lost in this bar was so easy…but it was. You do not have to pay an entrance fee, but it is expected that you buy a drink (which you can take around with you) instead.
2. Brew and Breakfast (obviously)
A coffee-lovers’ dream, Brew and Breakfast offer high-quality delicious coffee (from Pour Overs, Aeropress to cold floats) and a range of non-dairy milks to go alongside them. Prices may be slightly higher than some of Vietnams’ coffee shops, but you get what you pay for. As well as the coffee, the food is tasty (even meat-fanatic Freddie loved the vegan fare) and daily specials are offered too. I ate their Peanut butter and banana toast daily, who knew it could taste so good.
The name says it all, the coffee was delicious.
4. An Cafe
Sister cafe to Rainforest Cafe in Nha Trang (a quirky little vegan friendly haven, equipped with slide in the middle of the restaurant), An Cafe is great for vegans, veggies and meat-eaters alike. They’ve got a wide variety of dishes on the menu, so there is something for everyone.
1. Cam Ly Waterfalls
An outdated version of Lonely Planet that I picked up mentioned Cam Ly Waterfall as a sight to behold. Since then, it has gone severely downhill, with sewage water flowing freely and a horrible smell to match. Just miss it out, it may only cost 15,000 VND (50p) but it isn’t even worth paying that.
Da Lat was a welcome addition to our travels and the change of pace was lovely. Personally, 3 nights were enough for me to see everything on my list, but I’m so glad we added it to our itinerary.