The Wanderlust Tarrant Guide to Dalat!


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Asia
December 13th 2018
Published: September 5th 2018
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I have to start by saying I LOVED DALAT, to the point I would consider it top 5 in South East Asia! Wow!



We absolutely loved it here and did not want to leave! I have always wanted to get Dalat on the itinerary so finally on my 3rd trip to Vietnam I made it!



It was a tough one to research as it is obviously not as popular as some destinations and I found the accommodation side especially difficult. We ended up staying at Dreams 3 and were so happy we made that decision. It is beautiful and our room was awesome. We spent a total of 4 nights in Dalat and could have easily doubled that. Dalat is full of quirky coffee shops, great street food, cheap and cheerful cafes and beautiful scenery!



We could have spent days wandering around the coffee shops alone!



There are these amazing big yellow flowers on dark green bushes EVERYWHERE which were absolutely stunning. I could actually live there!



We did try to cancel our stay in Mui Ne by a couple of days to stay longer but as it was prepaid we couldn’t.On our first day we went for a walk to get our bearings and had lunch at One More Café which was awesome! Great food and service at a good price. Afterwards we walked down to Xuan Huong Lake. I’ve since discovered the best way to get to know a town is to just walk day 1 and get your bearings. We decided to be really kitsch and hired a swan paddle boat on the lake.



Dalat is the number 1 destination for domestic tourists on their honeymoon… there are swan paddle boats, horse and carriage rides, and the Valley of Love! We spent a very hilarious hour where our swan kept breaking down and we were going nowhere really fast. We ended up almost stranded and luckily floated back to where we had to be just in time!



We wandered back towards out hotel, weaving in and out of the local, central market amongst the colourful flowers and fresh produce. Instead of rice, Dalat is renowned for its coffee, wine, flower farms, strawberries and artichokes. We stumbled onto another cool little coffee shop on our way back to the hotel called Colourful Box Coffee. What a gorgeous little coffee shop Here we ate creme brulee, cakes and drank amazing coffee at a ridiculously low price! We were quickly seeing Dalat was different and we liked it.



That afternoon we caught a taxi to the Cable Car and did a one way trip to the Truc Lam Temple. While neither of us are a fan of heights, I had my camera to distract me, but poor old Todd sat there sweating up a storm with a look if terror on his face. After wandering the grounds of the temple and dodging Chinese tourists, we caught a taxi back to our hotel (approx. 60k-80k dong one way)



That night we ate at Café 13. It was a nice cafe, very cool atmosphere, but the food was average at best. Drinks were good as was the service but the food just left a lot to be desired. It was raining at dinner so we went for a quick walk, grabbed some hot soy milks and pastries around the corner at Quan Hoa Sua at 64 Tang Bat Ho before deciding to have an early night and headed back to the hotel drinks in hand. This place serves the hot Soy milk along with a peanut coco milk and a green bean brew. We decided to try the peanut and green bean, thinking the soy would be no good. The peanut was not bad but we were not a fan of the green bean. I am sure it is an acquired taste.



The following day we caught a taxi out to Dantanla Falls which cost us approx. 80-90k dong (cant remember the exact amount now). The falls were beautiful but the crowds a menace. We chose not to do the toboggan to the bottom as I have heard some horror stories of them crashing into each other and my husband has a bad back so we didn’t want to take the chance. They were very close to each other on the way down



.For lunch we went to the famous Tiem Mi Tau Cao restaurant directly across from our hotel. It serves one main dish (wonton noodle soup) which was one of our best dishes in all of Vietnam at 40k dong each. It was an egg noodle soup with pork dumplings, ground pork, pork slices and pork fat in a sweet clear broth! Soooooo good! they also do a dry version I am told.



After lunch we decided to walk to Crazy House. It was very underwhelming and we were not fans. There were A LOT of tourists there and made it impossible to get photos or just take your time… it probably didn’t help that it was also raining. Their rooms they used for accommodation were very unusual and a few were stunning, but I can’t imagine it’s a relaxing stay with hordes of tourists everywhere.



Later that afternoon we had another coffee at One More Café with a small antipasto platter (yum) and then we went to a gym that we had found earlier just up the road for a quick workout. On the way back to the hotel there was a massive downpour so we spent a lot of time under shop awnings waiting for a break in the downpour chatting with very friendly locals Thankfully the rain cleared up within an hour, so we walked to the Night Market that evening for dinner.



We were in heaven. There was great food everywhere and we didn’t know where to start. When my husband first saw the “Dalat Pizza” he was like “gross I aint trying that” but after one mouthful he was hooked! Dalat Pizza is a rice paper topped with lots of goodies, cooked on a small wire grill until crispy and then wrapped up. Really delicious. We also tried the hot soy milk drink this time, and it became our drink of choice over the next couple of days! We had some BBQ quail and tried a few of the local desserts! There is a dessert called Keo Chi! Wow! Now they are supposed to be 10K so watch out… one guy charged me double that the first night and it was not until the following night I realised when I bought some more from a different vendor! They get this stretchy sugar candy and play with it rubbing it in a sugar powder until it becomes long and stringy like fairy floss. It is then put in between two small round rice papers, tops with coconut shreds, peanuts, condensed milk (and chocolate or strawberry topping if you like) and it is DIVINE! You have to try it. We did not see it anywhere else in our travels sadly!



On our way home we stopped at Quan Hoa Sua again for more hot soy as a nightcap. ]You can sit with the locals on little stools outside on the street or get a takeaway. They also have pastries (there were some amazing ones with custard in the middle) that you can buy to dip in the milk. Milk and pastries 5k each!



The following day (our last day) we hired a car with driver (decided against bikes due to the weather and were glad when it rained hard later in the tour) through the hotel and set off. I had a list of must see places and did not want to do all the other stops that were listed on the many ‘day tour options’ all over town.



We started by going to Pongour Falls which was out of town but so lovely.



Afterwards we headed to Elephant Falls. Great little waterfall but so so dangerous if you climb to the bottom. Do not have slippery shoes and be prepared to get your shoes wet/muddy. A few people were jumping from one rock on the edge to another large one in the middle of the river to get photos (as the view is kind of blocked where we were standing). We saw one guy fall between the crack and almost get swept away. He is so lucky people acted quickly to pull him out. Then on the way back up there is one spot you have to either navigate a muddy patch on the edge of a small cliff or cross a small stream. My husband was standing waiting to cross the mud when a guy behind him decided to pull his girlfriend up towards him. He lost his balance teetering on the edge flapping his arms. His girlfriend grabbed him last minute and my husband grabbed her. I have no idea how he did not topple over the cliff. It was a very close call so be careful there!



We had lunch in one of the small restaurants at the top of the falls before going next door to the Linh An Tu temple that has a massive smiling Buddha in the grounds.



Definitely worth a stop!



After this, we went to a cricket farm and ate crickets and drank cricket wine (this was not on my list but we thought why not when the driver suggested it) and we also stopped to see rice wine making but it was basically just viewing the large pot with a quick explanation from our driver and a shot of rice wine which was disgusting. This same place had weasels for weasel coffee and it was awful. Did not want to see them locked up like that so quickly left.



We then headed to K’Ho coffee farm. It is on the opposite side of town to these other attractions (only a 10 min drive from town) which a few tour guides had complained about doing the same day (hence why the hotel ended up doing our tour instead of the few tour companies we had asked from recommendations on here).



K’Ho Coffee is a socially responsible co-op composted of K’Ho families near Lang Biang Mountain. Its express purpose is to benefit the community and the the lady that runs it is amazing and very passionate about helping her community and making damn good coffee. They ask that you email them or phone to arrange an apt time (which we did) and we loved our little visit, getting a lesson in making the perfect coffee and purchasing some beautiful Aribica beans to take home. You can find them at www.khocoffee.com for further info!



We did not visit other coffee farms but stumbled across this one while drinking their coffee at One More Café who use their coffee beans, and decided we wanted to show some support to this ethical social enterprise!



That afternoon I convinced my husband to get a massage after all the walking (and he agreed). We had massages at a little place next door to Bicycle Up Coffee. While we were waiting we popped in to Bicycle Up for a coffee and loved it – yet another quirky little coffee shop worth hunting down!



After our massage we headed into the night market for another awesome dinner which included the Dalat Pizzas, grilled meats on the BBQ and hot soy milk! On the way home we decided to stop at Quan Hoa Sua again for another soy milky drink (one last one for the road). We both agreed the soy milk at the Night Markets was nicer.



The following morning we boarded the Sinh Café Tourist bus to head to Mui Ne…… with heavy hearts! We will definitely be back! If you are planning a trip to Vietnam, do yourself a favour and get Dalat on your list.



I used the following article as a guide for food, as well as the Lonely planet guide: http://vietnamcoracle.com/dalat-where-to-eat-drink/



Dreams 3 is a great hotel, or if you would like to splurge check out Villa Vista Highlands Home and if you are on a budget check out the funky Kens Backpackers.



Do your research and make your own itinerary and don’t feel pressured by the Easyriders to follow their set routine.. in fact go by car… those roads are pretty dangerous on bikes with the amount of buses up there these days. It worked out cheaper for us to do via car and we got to choose where we wanted to go. We actually saw a pretty nasty accident on the road to the waterfalls on our way to Mui Ne so be careful!


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