4 days in Dalat
So, you have heard that Dalat is the adventure capital of Vietnam. You managed to get yourself there from either Saigon, the fancy beaches of Mui Ne, or Nha Trang - now what? You thought you were getting adventure but what you find is a sleepy little city that rains every day at 3 pm, on the dot, for 2 hours.
No need to fear - here is our 4 day itinerary of Dalat, just for you.
Whether you are interested in; relaxing, adventure, tea, coffee, culture, or anything else - Dalat has it. Perfectly nestled in the Southern Highlands, it provides a cool relief from the otherwise scorching temperatures of the rest of Vietnam. I would recommend that you get yourself a scooter, for ease of mobility, it's not necessary as plenty of people still get around on foot, but it does make things easier. If you would rather hear us chat about our adventure, we have a video all about Dalat.
Day One Now this is an important day, more often than not it will be the day you arrive. You may have spent upwards of 5 hours on a bus to get here so you may be feeling cramped and irritable. Shake off the blues with a walk around town or a chat to your hostel to book your adrenaline adventure. You will need to get onto it in advance as whether may prohibit particular days.
If you are in the market for a great crew who take safety seriously and want to do; canyoning, white water rafting, cycling, or a bit of spelunking - hit up the crew at PTV, and read more about our experience rafting the mighty Da Dong river.
Day Two If you were lucky, or organised, to get your adrenaline sport sorted out for day two - well done. Today is the day you will make memories, test your courage and bash your body around enough today so you can barely walk tomorrow. Try not to die, please.
When you have finished a full day of adventuring, you will want to eat something and curl up in bed. Perfect, you can have a nap after a full morning/day of insane adrenaline, all you will miss is the 2 hour downpour happening outside your window.
After your nap head to the markets for a tasty dinner. I loved the hot brewed soy milk and the plethora of offerings from the small food carts. There is even a 'Dalat Pizza' which is not a pizza at all; a rice paper sheet topped with vegetables, spices and some sauce. There is not much in the way of bars/nightclubs in Dalat, and that has never really been our scene, so we grabbed some beers and just hung out with people chatting about the days events.
If you rented a bike take the opportunity to ride out into the hills and visit some tea and coffee plantations. Dalat is famous Vietnam wide for their coffee and tea, and for good reason. The coffee is smooth and the Vietnamese take their coffee production seriously. Sit back and enjoy a nice beverage and an amazing view.
Our favourite coffee plantation is K'ho Coffee a little bit off the beaten track but well worth the drive. This place is doing great things. It is run by a woman, Rolan and her partner, backed by a community of K'ho families, a Vietnamese minority group. The money raised from the sale goes into the community providing education and jobs for the group and promotes their beautiful and unique culture. Call ahead for a tour - they are super friendly.
On your way back to town stop at Elephant falls, a 30 metre high waterfall of epic power. The strength of the water flow will amaze you. Walk behind it if you dare, but prepare to get muddy and very very wet.
In the afternoon head on over to the old Train Station for a bit of nostalgia and have a late lunch/early dinner in the Dalat Train Cafe. It is a bit on the expensive side but the food is great and the ambience is something very different to anything else you will get in Dalat. You dine in an old train car surrounded by memorabilia. Just try to go at the right time unless you want to be stuck in the rain. We did not, and we found ourselves stranded in the heavy sheeting rain for 2 hours. On the bright side - there was internet, and far worse places to find yourself stranded in.
Today is probably the day you will be departing from Dalat. If that is the case and you have a little free time in the morning you could do any number of things. We were lucky enough to have a full day so this is what we got up to.
Start your morning off with a jump on the crowds over at Thien Vien Truc Lam. Here you will find a cable car running over a vast expanse of trees and offering a decent view of Dalat. The real prize is on the other side where there is an operating monastery complete with gold domed temples and lovely gardens to stroll through. There is also a cafe on the other side of the Sky Rail that offers coffee at a moderate price overlooking the forest.
After the serenity of strolling through gardens and sipping on chilled beverages change it up for a visit to the Dalat Crazy House. Inspired by the works of Gaudi and constructed over 20 years, it is still going up and up and up. Take it on at the heat of the day (between 11 - 1) to avoid the majority of crowds.
Now that you have taken in the best of Dalat's sights relax around the lake on one of the many benches munching on some baked goods from Lien Hoa. Our favourites were the steamed buns, but everything is seriously good and cheap!
Whether you are finished with your journey around Vietnam and heading home, just beginning, or this was just one stop of many - Dalat is a worthwhile inclusion on any itinerary. It has so much to offer, and it is a great place to stop and put your feet up for a while.
Want to read more about our journey through Vietnam, check it out here.