An adventurous week around Mũi Né, Đà Lạt and Nha Trang


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Asia » Vietnam
December 30th 2014
Published: December 31st 2014
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Xin chào! First stepped foot in Vietnam (Hanoi) more than 8 years ago. Now, am back again for the 6th time, to visit some old friends and discover the endless treasures this beautiful country has got to offer. 3 different places, a whole new experience. It was an adventurous week around Mũi Né, Đà Lạt and Nha Trang.

A main reason for my fond affiliation to this country is the people. I continued keeping in contact with some of my Vietnamese friends after the community work trip here https://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Vietnam/Mekong-River-Delta/Ben-Tre/blog-761679.html. And what better way to start travelling by having a good friend, Yen, pick us up from the airport! She brought us for delicious pho where we caught up on life, since her trip to SG a year back. Also met up with Toan, who had been working in Cyprus ever since then. In Dec 2012, I was in HCMC and we rode on motorbikes back to Bến Tre to visit the school where we did community work in. 2 years later, it feels pretty much the same. Of course, things in life may have changed and we have all started working with new additional responsibilities, but the feeling of meeting towards each other definitely not changed, a bit.

Don't know for sure when we all will meet again, but it's always nice to have a friend abroad. Not because they can bring you around, but rather, give you a reason to visit that country again. 😊

After the brief but fulfilling meet ups with friends in HCM, Steph and I embarked on the journey to the south-central coast and the highlands. These 3 places are vastly unique in their own rights:



Mũi Né - where Hải sản and Sands Dunes rule

We took a sleeper coach here (5hours from HCM) and managed to settle into our guesthouse easily. This place is simple to get around; 1 main road along the coast with shops and restaurants lining both sides. It also helps that Steph knows a little conversational Vietnamese! We rented a motorbike and rode around, exploring the coastline, beaches as well as the Po Shanu Cham Towers. Riding along the coastal road brought along fresh winds by the sea. Very refreshing! Mũi Né has a bustling fishing market too, with many fishing boats out at sea, supplying the seafood displayed outside most restaurants. Hải sản, as the locals call it. We had it for one of our dinners and totally loved it! Fresh, affordable, with a tinge of local flavours.

Of course, the highlights of this place has got to be the red and white sand dunes, which it is famous for. We took a morning jeep ride to the White Sand Dunes, hoping to catch the sunrise. Although we did not exactly catch it, witnessing the pure white dunes fading into colour was incredible. It was both our first time seeing sand dunes and this magical experience did not disappoint. The sand was implausibly fine and walking barefoot on it feels just so pleasant. We played along on the sand, leaving our footprints behind, alongside some ducklings' little ones. The landscape in simply leaves us in awe. We also rented an ATV and riding them on the undulating terrain feels similar to that on a roller-coaster ride! Nearer to town, the Red Sand Dunes were equally impressive too and the colours are actually more vibrant than its white counterpart. However it's marred by the horde of locals (mostly kids) attempting to rent their sand sleds. We relented for some and paid quite a bit for them. It was fun nevertheless, sliding down the dunes on the little sleds! We ended up returning for the sunset here, which was awe-imposing in every aspect. The last of the trio sights was the Fairy Spring which surprisingly exceeded my expectations. We walked barefoot on the muddy waters that flowed through fascinating rock and sand formations. Patched of dunes can be found here too.



Đà Lạt - Eternal spring-like cool, and lots of waterfalls too

Looked forward to Đà Lạt the most and with a tinge of biasness (thanks to waterfalls), perhaps my favourite destination. Took a morning bus ride here with little fuss, and found our way to Hang Nga Crazy House, where we stayed for the first night. Listed as one of the top 10 most bizarre buildings in the world, this place got us exploring like little kids in a playground! Its overall design resembles something like a giant tree with natural elements surrounding it, such as animals, caves and spider webs. Our room, the "bear room", featured a giant bear in it with a small fire place that helped at night. This is definitely comparable to Gaudi's designs in Europe (inspired by him, perhaps) and this uniqueness drew lots of tourists. After settling in, we went to the Valley of Love surrounding a lake in the valley and this place, though man-made, has a really romantic feel to it. I guess the company helps! We took pictures in the park and rode our bike along the lake. A really serene and tranquil feeling. Spend the evening at cho Đà Lạt, their central market where we can shop for simply anything! Tried the street side food as well, such as Bún bò Huế and the delicious fried pancake. Our favourite cafe to chill and watch the world go by has got to be the Windmills Coffee, just a stone throw away from the market.

Spend the 2nd day exploring the countryside, with Lao, our tour guide-cum-friend bringing us around. Some of the more impressive stops included the Prenn Waterfall (slightly touristy), the Tuyen Lam Lake (reminds me of Loch Lomond in Scotland), views from the Me Linh Coffee Farm and the enormous Elephant Waterfall. The highlight of the tour has got to be the Pongour Waterfall. This waterfall is majestic, where water falls over several terraced steps to the calm pool at the bottom. Unlike many other falls which I've seen, this one has several gentle cascades which add up to cast a grand impression on viewers. Thankfully it is low season now, we even got to climb and walk on the falls! We held hands across the pretty slippery grounds and slowly made our way into the falls. A pretty cool experience! Towards the end of the day, we also had a chance to visit a minority Kho village, where Lao explained the history of these indigenous people.

The extraordinary experience in Đà Lạt was illustrated by our chance encounter with a rare commerce fair, which showcased booths selling local products from all parts of Vietnam, as well as a celebration in the central market, where students from multiple schools mass danced to music, bringing the whole atmosphere in town to life. Oh, and 1 fun fact about Đà Lạt: it has no traffic lights!





Nha Trang - beaches and lots of Russians

There is a saying that if one wishes to visit Russia and its people, just go to Nha Trang in Vietnam. It's true! The number of Russians here are overwhelming, with dozens of Russian-owned shops and most shops' signboards written in Russian. Most say that it's their escape from the cold, into the sun sea and sand, and i guess that's about right. This beach capital has an impressive beachfront and towering mountains looming behind the city. Many (mostly Russians) were sun bathing and enjoying the crashing waves by the beach and we joined in almost immediately after settling in too. What life it is, to lie on the beach chair, have some piping hot sweet corn and fresh coconut juice while watching the waves crash onto the shores! A really good setting for anyone to get into that contemplative mood too, to just reflect upon life.

Nha Trang will be special to us because we stayed a night longer than intended here due to a fully booked overnight train back to HCMC! We went through a frantic process of figuring out how to catch our originally intended flight in HCM, to changing our flight dates and ended up burning a hole in our pockets :p Things like these always happen during travels don't they? So we just kinda accepted it, and thought that we were meant to stay here longer; Vietnam doesn't want us to leave as yet! :D As a result, we managed to try 2 good restaurants worth sharing, Lanterns and The Locals 2, both of which sells a mix of western and traditional vietnamese cuisines. The most of the 2nd day, we mainly strolled along the beach, crashed with the crashing waves (hah!) and chilled at local cafes/shops. Therapeutic.



With these, another trip to Vietnam comes to an end. But that won't be the last we will see of this country and its beautiful people. We have made a note to return to explore the central Vietnam next. Till then!


Additional photos below
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31st December 2014
White Sand Dunes!

amazing white sand dunes
this one is amazing fairy sand dunes .The Red Sand Dunes were equally impressive too and the colours are actually more vibrant than its white counterpart. I want to play on this fairy sand dune and riding my desert scooter .....
1st January 2015
White Sand Dunes!

amazing white sand dunes
that would be totally awesome!!
31st December 2014
Nha Trang Beach

had a fun on russian beach
awesome view and fun with my friends on to their beach .........
4th January 2015
With Pongour Waterfalls

Vietnam
Enjoyed your blog. Hopefully the adventure continues.
10th January 2015
With Pongour Waterfalls

Vietnam
Thanks Dave and Binkley :) hope you guys continue the adventure in your lives too!
10th January 2015
With Pongour Waterfalls

Vietnam
Thanks Dave and Binkley :) hope you guys continue the adventure in your lives too!

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