In Hanoi she chatted to Dawn and was showing Dawn the interesting bits of Vietnam in our book, and she told Dawn about Dalat. As we went down Vietnam we reviewed what we wanted to do, originally we were going to train it down to Nha Trang for a few days on the beach, and then take the train the rest of the way to Saigon. We spoke to a few locals and they all raved about Dalat (it seems to be the place to go if you’re Vietnamese), and on our last day in Hue we booked the flights to Dalat and then on to Saigon (the travel agent was close to the hotel, we couldn’t be far from a toilet!)
We got a car from our hotel in Hoi An to the airport for the 6:15 am flight to Dalat (I hate early mornings), and att 9am we got to our hotel at Dalat, and they let us have a room there and then, at no extra cost – result!
To say Dalat is beautiful is an understatement, it’s much cooler there (a mere 27 degrees in the day), but virtually no humidity, you have no idea how good that feels, we even got to wear jackets in the evenin.
After we settled in we went looking for lunch, Dawn had sourced a place that did a full English breakfast, and after a couple of wrong turns we found “one more cafe”
I can’t tell you how good that was, we were on the mend, and it was wonderful to have some comfort food and a decent cappuccino (tea for Dawn).
After lunch we went for a walk part the way around the big lake , then to a shopping center where you had to put your rucksack in a locker in case you accidentally put something and forgot to pay. In the evening it was a simple meal of rice and noodles to make sure we had no relapses.
Next day we went sight seeing. First stop was Nga’s crazy house, this is a small hotel that has been built like something out of a Salvadore Dali paining, all strange curves, with walkways and stairs going off in all directions, some of the stairs are pretty high in the open with a low hand rail and can be pretty scary (no health and safety here!). As I mentioned, it is a hotel and you can stay here, but when it opens as an attraction late in the morning, you will have to deal with hundreds of people wandering around the hotel and trying to peer in to your room. We had a great time though.
From there we walked on to the Boi Dai’s Palace, though palace is too strong a word for it. This was the last home in Vietnam of the Vietnamese king. It is however a beautiful art deco house, very well preserved and an insight to the last days of royalty in Vieptnam.
After that we strolled back into town and caught a cab to the Flower Garden, there is an entrance fee, but basically this is a very pretty park with an amazing amount of flowers in it. There are flowers everywhere in Dalat, and clearly the climate is ideal for growing flowers all year long.
In the evening we went to get a pizza at a highly rated restaurant in the town, unfortunately it was so popular we couldnt get in, so we had a very nice meal in a restaurant called Len’s. On the weekend the very centre of Dalat is shut to traffic, and there is one of the nicest night markets we have ever been to, strictly for the locals, there was food and clothing (warm clothing including lots of knits). It gave us a glimpse of the real Vietnam, and not just the one put on for tourists.
On Sunday we went to the cable car for a journey to the Thien Vien Truc Lam Monastary. The cable car from Robin Hill was amazing, and although we had been warned of crowds, we had a car to ourselves and pretty much 2 in every 3 cars was empty.
The Monastary was beautiful and full of worshipers from the town, it is relatively new (built in the 90’s), but it is a very peaceful and serene place, built in an idylic spot in the mountains overlooking a lake, with nothing but the gentle sound of wind chimes to break the peace (well, other than the tourists). A great place to visit and to quietly enjoy, we spent quite a while there.
Back accross on the cable car and we had a late lunch at a beautiful place called Ana’s, just a shack really with an amazing view over the valleys below. We spent the afternoon chilling at the hotel, and then managed to get that pizza in the evening (it was very good).
Unfortunately, the breakfast room was being renovated at our hotel so we had to cross the road their sister hotel, the very posh Dalat Palace. The view from breakfast was beautiful and a great way to finish our stay in Dalat (other than our flight out was cancelled and we sat in Dalat airport for 8 hours – but that’s another story).