Day 46. Dalat. The mountainous city in Southern Vietnam, known for canyoning trips, waterfalls, and the French-style architecture. I was more than looking forward to cool down here after sweating my ass of in Saigon.
I arrived in Dalat at around 5am in the morning. I was aware that it’s gonna be a bit colder than in Saigon, but I didn’t think it would be that bad. It was freezing. Honestly, after staying in one of the hottest cities of Vietnam it felt like a deep cold winter (even though it was “only” about 13°).
I was too lazy to get my only sweater or pants out of my backpack. They were somewhere in the very bottom of it and I felt it just wasn’t worth searching for them at the bus station, so I just asked someone to bring me quickly to my hostel. Every second on the back of his bike felt like a pain in the ass though, and I couldn’t wait to arrive.
Tired like hell (because I took a night bus) and cold I reached my destination. A friendly guy opened the door for me, welcomed me with a blanket and pointed me to the couch where I could sleep some more until my room was ready.
A few hours later, the owner woke me up and told me that I could check in my room way earlier than expected. Pretty cool, I’ll rest some more and then I’m ready to explore.
First thing I did in Dalat was driving to the Elephant Falls, it’s a pretty huge waterfall a few hours outside of town and definitely worth a visit. It rained a lot the day before I was there though, so I had to be quite careful about where I was stepping because it was very slippery.
The landscape you’ll get to see is well worth the long ride, however. The waterfall is impressive and there’s even a stunning cave behind the falls.
On the way to the waterfall you pass by a coffee plantation, where you can sit back and enjoy a weasel coffee or tea with a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape.
My ride back to the city was not so cool however as it started to pour down and didn’t stop for hours, I guess that’s something you gotta get used to in South-East-Asia.
Cave by the Elephant Falls.
Weasel Coffee Farm.
Crazy House & The Maze
On one of the days I stayed in Dalat I was visiting the Crazy House. It’s kind of an Alice in Wonderland construct, with a mind-blowing architectural design. Even though I’d say it’s more fun for children it’s still cool to explore the various houses and rooms there.
Something less common for visitors of the city and far cooler, however, is The Maze. It’s a nightclub, designed by the same architect as the Crazy House. The only entrance fee you have to pay for is that you have to get a drink, so it’s actually even cheaper than the touristy Crazy House.
I don’t have any pictures of the place so you’ll have to go and see for yourself, but let me tell you one thing: it’s extremely funny to get drunk and play hide and seek in this club. Highly recommended!
Dalat as seen from the Crazy House.
Ok, before you read on I have to admit that we didn’t really climb the mountain because the weather was so bad that we were afraid of running into a very bad storm. So we were just driving to the actual start of the hike. But it’s still a nice ride with awesome views outside the bus window and also just getting a shot of the huge letters that are set up there, after soaking in some sun in the field, is pretty cool.
I’m pretty sure though that the whole climb is very well worth it too, we just didn’t make it. But it’s definitely a place to keep your eye on if you plan to visit Dalat.
Langbiang Mountain, Dalat.
Relaxing at Langbiang Mountain.
Trúc Lâm Temple
Yeeeeees, I know, I get it. “Uuuuuh a temple, wow, what’s so special about it?”. Well actually nothing at all, but this Zen Buddhist Temple is definitely one of the nicer ones in Vietnam and it’s located on a plot of land encompassing 24 hectares, surrounded by a forest, right by a very big and relaxing lake.
So even if you’re not interested in Buddhism or anything like that, it’s quite relaxing to sit down and enjoy the peacefulness. It’s a welcoming change after the bustling city life.
Before I arrived in Dalat, everyone was suggesting me to stay at Cozy Nook hostel. I didn’t really get it but I thought I might just give it a try. Remember that I was very warm welcomed when I arrived? That wasn’t the whole story. Their breakfast was awesome, to say the least, and you didn’t even have to order it. You just sat down and as soon as they saw you, they brought it to your table. And it was changing every single day. Fresh juice, coffee, some fruits and the actual breakfast (varied from some egg dish to pancakes to yogurt with cereals).
One thing I will not forget so fast: the day after I arrived I wanted to ask the owner something. She was busy, so an employee approached me with the words “what do you need Fabian?” (you need to know that I only told my name to the owner). That’s like seriously thoughtful service.
Ok, so the thing is, I didn’t manage to do too much in Dalat because there was a huge storm that hit Southern Vietnam just when I arrived. Read about it here. I was at least lucky enough to stay in a mountainous region far away from the coast, but I had friends who were in places where the typhoon hit really really bad and they were barely able to escape to the airport.
But anyways, that meant that it was raining all day long. For 4 days straight. There were guys in the hostel that didn’t do anything during that time and were just stuck. They even had to change their return flight back to London because of the issue.
However, anything bad has a good side to it. Because we were all in the same boat it meant that everyone in the hostel stayed together at night to have family dinner and play cards. The fact, that the guesthouse was decorated like a cozy living room made it feel even better.
One day, the owner announced that there was a concert in the guesthouse at night. I first thought “Oh my, some weird Asian kitschy pop techno” but I couldn’t do anything else anyway because of the storm. I’m so glad that I got to experience it, it was honestly one of the best nights I had in Vietnam so far. They shut the lights and turned on loads of candles and then the two musicians, who happened to be cousins of one of the owner’s employees, started playing awesome classical music up until the point I got goosebumps.
The hostel definitely deserved its name and if I had to give one single recommendation about Dalat then it would be the one I was given: “Cozy Nook Hostel”.