We woke a nice reasonable time on our last day in NHA Trang and had our free breakfast on the rooftop before checking out. We bought juice shakes and Banh Mi from the stall outside our hostel for a quick lunch before walking to The Sinh Tourist office to get our bus to Dalat. The 4-hour trip was very scenic as we travelled from the coast to highlands. The bus climbed up into the mountains and gave us amazing views of the greenery and valleys. It seemed to be a popular route for people on motorbikes and scooters as we saw a lot that were honked out the way by the bus driver. On arriving we walked a short distance to our cheap hotel room at Nam Xuan Premium Hotel. The room was nice, clean and modern but a bit disappointing as we were put in a basement room meaning that it was cold at night and there was no natural light. But at $9.75 a night we couldn’t complain too much (although I did)!
We went for a quick wander around the streets to get our bearings and quickly found a lovely (but not cheap) coffee shop called The Married Beans. Dalat is one of the highest producers of coffee in the world and this means it is not hard to find good quality locally grown coffee at a range of prices. In this shop, they had standard coffees but you could also choose how you wanted your coffee brewed (syphon, drip, cold brew and press pot). We just went for standard cappuccinos as it had been a while and they were gorgeous! After this, we wandered down to the night market. This is a huge market where they sell clothes, fruits, electronics and had some food stalls. We had a standard Pho noodle soup at one of the stalls which was underwhelming by cheap.
After this due to a recommendation from some travellers, we had met we ventured to the 100 roofs (maze) bar. It was quite early when we got there meaning there was no one really there but it was still happy hour thankfully as the drinks were expensive. The place was awesome though the inside of it has crazy different levels, decorated as the inside of a tree which hidden levels, stairways and passageways to get to different seating areas. I would not want to get drunk in there you would never find the people you were with or the bar! As it was early it was quite empty but as we were leaving big groups from the hostels were arriving. There is not much nightlife in Dalat so this is one of the few bars everyone goes to. Definitely worth checking out though if even only for one drink.
In the morning we consulted trip advisor and took a half an hour walk to One More Cafe breakfast and we were not disappointed. I had amazing poached eggs on toast (45 000 dong) and Dave had luxurious French toast with bananas and syrup (65 000 dong). We took a nice long walk in the heat after this to the ‘crazy house’ (40 000 dong entrance fee). This is a house with different concrete sculptures, levels and architecture. Although interesting we didn’t feel it was that ‘crazy’ and actually the 100 roofs bar was more interesting and impressive. After this, we attempted to find the French Quarter of Dalat but didn’t find it- instead we walked aimlessly by the lake (which is very pretty) and around the surrounding areas. We did by pastries and sweets from the Big C supermarket though. In the evening we walked to find a local restaurant serving Com Tam that had been reviewed well (Com Tam 118) however when we got there it was shut! We walked the half an hour and went to Naga restaurant for teriyaki chicken and rice that we had seen advertised the night before. Unfortunately, they didn’t have that either so we had one of their soups which was actually very tasty and full of flavour.
There is not a great deal to do in Dalat but there is lots to see in the surrounding countryside- pagodas, waterfalls, plantations of various products. We were planning on renting a scooter to see some of these things as well as explore the countryside as it is supposed to be gorgeous. However the day we planned to go it predicted quite a lot of rain so we decided against it in the end. So we could still see something we walked an hour and a half to a nearby weasel coffee plantation. The walk was interesting in itself as we walked through a lot of different residential areas through little alleyways and it had a different feel to the area we were staying. When we got there we were given a free tour explaining how the weasel produces the coffee and that it is so expensive because each weasel can only produce a limited amount in their lifetime (4-7kg each weasel). We also tried a small 5g cup each (100 000 dong per cup) The way it was made was very impressive using a Japanese syphon method which heats water- forcing water up the syphon into the coffee grounds and then when it cools the coffee drops back down. This is done several times and apparently is the perfect temperature for this type of coffee. Dave really liked the coffee, I can’t say I could tell any difference from normal coffee- especially not for the price difference! After an exhausting walk in the heat, we stopped in at the Lotteria in Big C to have cheeky fast food burgers before booking the bus for the following day to Mui Ne. In the evening we returned to Naga for dinner where they had the teriyaki chicken and rice-Yum and went to the night market which was busier as it was the weekend.
For us Dalat was a bit disappointing but I think it was a combination of not really liking the accommodation, the place itself not really knowing who it is targeting- it has a lot of cheap hotels targeting Vietnamese honeymoon couples. Also we did not have a chance to get out to see the countryside and things within it which I think is what makes people’s time there. If we were to go back I think we would stay in a hostel or homestay where there is more of a community atmosphere, we would either go out and bike around or do a tour such as Mr. Rot’s secret tour which had been recommended to us but At $40 was not something we could really afford this time.