Da Lat, Vietnam
Da Lat, Vietnam
We booked a bus with New Smile Travel, the same company we had hired our scooters from in Mui Ne. As the road is very windy and narrow to Da Lat, they only use small buses not sleeper buses. The rude driver managed to squeeze all the foreign tourists together at the back of the bus and all the locals had the bigger seats at the front. I did actually feel sorry for some Norwegian men who were at least 6 foot tall squashed up in the corner back seats.
On the drive, we went through some outstanding scenery. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. It reminded me of Laos but more green and dramatic. In parts, we went on roads which had basically slipped away due to landslides. There were other parts were the cliffs above went up at least 500m. The drive was not the smoothest ride but Jackie and Luke were, as usual, out for the count!
In the afternoon, we eventually arrived in the scenic mountain town of Da Lat. We were dropped near the central hostel and had a bit of a walk to our accommodation Whoops Hostel, also known as Backpackers Paradise Hostel.
We could not recommend this hostel more. The staff were really friendly and breakfast and dinner were included. We were in the newer building and had to walk 2 minutes down the road for breakfast and dinner but we had the more modern rooms so it didn’t matter. The food wasn’t just good because it was free, it was actually delicious! They also plied you with rice wine every evening after dinner made you feel right at home. We also met some great people on this trip who we travelled to Hoi An with (Lauren, Jordan, Ellie and Sasha :D).
On our first afternoon, we visited the Crazy House! This is a house and functioning hotel which has been created from an artists imagination; Dr Dang Viet Nga. It costs 40,000dong pp. to enter and is bigger than you think; definitely worth a visit. If you have young children I wouldn’t advise it as doesn’t seem to have much health and safety and the handrails, if any, are very low. Maybe just stick to the ground floor.
There is also a must see bar in the town which is inspired by the Crazy House. It is called 100 Roofs Bar, and you need to try and navigate right to the top (outside) where you get great views over the town.
We had heard that canyoning was great in Da Lat, so we booked this with our hostel. We booked it with the Highland Sport Travel Company and went for the full day option. At $65USD pp. it was one of the most expensive things we had done but it was totally worth it. There is also a half day option but we really wanted to do all the activities-they also provided lunch so we though at least we get a meal out of it!
There is a bit of controversy around canyoning, as in 2015 3 English tourists ‘fell’ down a waterfall and died. The blame has been put on them but you never know with these things. When we booked we googled the company the hostel used and luckily it as the company highest rated on TripAdvisor so we felt happy.
The whole day felt safe and they were very professional, apart from one of the guys red-eyed obviously from a heavy night or had just been smoking something! Fingers crossed he wasn’t in charge of the safety line.
There were only four of us on the full day option and that was fine with us. We practised on a climbing wall at the top of the waterfall until we all felt confident enough to go to the real thing. We got some great pictures from the day as they have a dedicated guide who takes photos so you don’t have to worry.
We hired scooters through the hostel for 70,000dong per day. The didn’t seem in the best condition but we had notice the bikes in Vietnam seemed a bit more beaten about than Thailand bikes. We filled our tanks up at a legitimate petrol station for 40,000dong and set off for Elephant Falls.
The scenery around Da Lat is beautiful and we were enjoying our ride until our scooter began to wobble and we almost fell off. Ben managed to pull over on the side of the road and we discovered our back tyre was flat!
Jackie started to wave at passing vehicles and we noticed an empty van drive past with two Vietnamese men who waved back. We saw them disappear around then a few minutes later we see it with it’s hazard lights on reversing back up the road! They couldn’t speak English but we managed to communicate by pointing to our hostel on the map of Da Lat. They showed us a 100, 000 note and showed two fingers and we happily agreed to pay them 200,000 dong to transport our scooter back. Ben, Luke and the two men lifted the bike up and Ben and I clambered in next to the scooter.
Once back at the hostel the scooter wheel was quickly pumped back up and we were off again!
When we finally arrived at Elephant Falls we were excited to see it. Entry cost 20,000dong pp. Lots of people said it was an ‘ok’ waterfall and not that good. The water was really heavy and although it wasn’t huge it was still impressive. On the way back up we managed to find a hidden pass and crack between some rocks and tree roots which took you to the bottom of the falls where the water came in. You could get close to the bottom and the spray drenched you. The force of the water was almost deafening. It was also really slippy and Luke got hurt but managed to avoid breaking his leg! I was a bit worried about getting to close to the bottom as if you slipped in there would be no hope of getting you out.
Jackie got some great photos of the boys here.
We stopped at a coffee plantation on the way back to have a quick rest. They also served ‘weasel’ coffee here which we assumed was similar if not the same to the Luwak coffee in Bali. The plantation had great views over the valley below.
We had noticed a viewpoint on the way to the falls and decided to stop and watch the sunset. We stayed as long as we could as we had to be back in time at the hostel for our free delicious dinner!
After a late night at the hostel listening to music and drinking with Sasha and Ellie, Luke and Jackie where having a quiet day and maybe nursing slight hangovers. Ben and I has heard about another waterfall called Pongour Falls which was supposed to be impressive. What we hadn’t realised is that it was quite an effort to get there on some busy roads.
We saw a few bad scooter crashes on the way there and were passed by loads of speeding lorries and trucks. The weather also wasn’t too good and it started raining lightly when we got to the falls. It cost 10,000dong pp. to enter and 5,000dong for parking. There were little make shift cafes at the bottom and top of the falls which was good for a quick refreshment.
These falls were very wide and the stone looked like it was in steps. It was the widest waterfall we had seen and impressive in its own way. It probably looked even better on a nice day.
We stopped in town for a quick Banh Mi at Lien Hoa Bakery, which is famous in Da Lat. Just as we were about to leave we bumped into Jackie and Luke who also had just eaten lunch there but in the restaurant above. We decided we might meet a the flower garden later for sunset or if not back at the hostel for dinner.
Ben and I had another place we wanted to visit called Linh Phuoc Pagoda, which was free to enter. The Pagoda itself is very decorative and really interesting to look at. Underneath is a different story…It’s so strange my description won’t even convey what it is really like.
Basically, its supposed to represent Hell. You enter between two kind of figures and go down some steps. The place is in darkness and its a kind of warren of passageways which lead you past all kind of horrific sights. The displays are all models but you see demons, skeletons, people being chopped up, people being tortured and so on. I was shocked to see some parents bringing their children in; even for me it was pretty disturbing.
I think the idea is to show people what ‘Hell’ is like if you don’t lead a good life.
Our last stop was the Da Lat Flower Garden which is located on one side of the lake in town. It cost 30,000dong pp. Parking 3,000dong. It was nice but we weren’t overly impressed with it, it probably looks better on a sunny day. However, it is good if you want to sit and chill for a few hours somewhere.
100 Roofs Bar– inspired by the Crazy House this is a MUST see! -free wifi
Le Chalet– French inspired food, delicious crepes and drinks. Opposite the Crazy House- free wifi
Lien Hoa Bakery– most famous bakery in Da Lat-go in the morning for fresh cakes. Banh Mi also available all day.
*We ate our delicious free dinner in the hostel every night! (Backpackers Paradise Hostel)
There is a great Night Market every evening, in the centre, from 5pm onwards with food and snacks.
- Crazy House entry 40,000dong
- Highland Sport Travel, Canyoning full day option at Dantanla Falls $65USD
- Scooter hire 70,000dong per day through the hostel. 40,000dong to fill up at a legitimate petrol station.
- Entry to Elephant Falls 20,000dong pp.
- Entry to Pongour Falls 10,000dong pp. Parking 5,000dong.
- Linh Phuoc Pagoda– FREE donations accepted.
- Da Lat Flower Garden 30,000dong pp. Parking 3,000dong.
- Bus to Hoi An booked through Viet Nhat