This city did not feel like we were in Vietnam, it actually felt like we were in Europe! Da Lat was originally a resort town for the French, now it is a common place for locals to honeymoon. We stayed at the Da Lat Backpackers hostel for only $12 a night which included dinner and breakfast! The owner was very excited to hear we were Americans. He showed us his camouflage belt and lighter with the great seal of the U.S. We felt very welcome 🙂
We decided to explore the town on the first day. It was a 10 minute walk and on the way was a large and beautiful catholic church. Nearby was an “Eiffel Tower.” Of course it did not compare with the size of the actual Eiffel Tower and this Eiffel Tower was really just a glorified TV and radio antenna; not really a tourist attraction.
The town was set on a lake, and next to it a park. There was a roundabout with a cute train covered in flowers. Actually ,there were a lot of flowers in this town. We found a random “restaurant” with the small kiddie chairs, and a food stand and two ladies who hardly spoke any English. We ordered rice with chicken and veggies, soup and it came with salad all for only $1.50!
Next we went to a famous tourist attraction called the Crazy House. Needless to say the name fit. It reminded me of Dr. Seuss meets Salvador Dali. Each room had a different animal theme, and there was windy stairs that led to each room, and pathways where you could even walk over the house in the middle that the architect actually lives in! You can even stay here for as little as $25!
That night we worked on our blog while watching the sunset from our rooftop at our hostel. It was a beautiful view, and also reminded me of Europe seeing that the tallest building in the city was the church (minus the Eiffel Tower to the right).
This was the first city that felt cold at night because it is more inland and up in the mountains so it was the first time we wore pants and long sleeves in over a month! Before we left a worker at the hostel asked if we wanted to borrow a jacket, to which we laughed because it was only about 60. That night we visited the night market in the city which was swarming with people. We decided to treat it like the state fair and went around trying random foods. There were no English signs so sometimes we weren’t quite sure what we were eating. Our appetizer was what looked like a paper thin pizza, in Vietnam it is called Bánh Tráng Nướng. Essentially it is grilled rice paper that is grilled with egg on top and random veggies, meat, cheese, and chili sauce. It was delish!
Our second stop was for chicken noodle soup – and no not like the chicken noodle soup that you think of. This is of course rice noodles, and than they give you a big plate of some kind of lettuce/cabbage that you add to the soup and of course you have to add a spicy paste to give it a kick! The one thing this night market was missing was a drink cart! We walked the whole thing and never found anyone selling drinks. So we had to go to a little market to get a bottle of water that is actually refrigerated, which can be hard to find here since many people just sell water bottles that have been sitting out all day.
Our third stop was for meat sticks – now it really felt like the state fair! When I asked how much a meat stick was, before looking at the me the woman said 7,000 dong (which is about .30 cents), when she looked up and said I saw I was a westerner she quickly changed to 10,000. Normally I would argue this but it is such a little amount of money I didn’t bother. We weren’t too adventurous. We went with sesame chicken and pork. We both liked the chicken, but the pork tasted too mushy so we decided not to eat it.
The last stop was for dessert. It was in a box on the back of a motorcycle with loud techno music playing. It was 2 wafers, and a taffy like substance in the middle with shredded coconut to make a dessert sandwich and sweet condensed milk. It was quite tasty!
That night I had a hard time sleeping, because we were going on a big adventure the next day and I was a little nervous as we heard someone had died doing this just 10 days ago! We were going Canyoning! Upon arrival we put on wet suits, helmets and harnesses and did some practice rounds of repelling on a small hill. Next we practiced on a vertical wall, it wasn’t as hard as it looks! After a short hike it was time for the real deal. The key for me was not to look down, and than you had no idea how high you were! The first cliff was 18 meters high! The hardest part is getting over the edge, but after that it’s the fun part! We were even able to jump out from the rocks. After repelling off the second cliff we were able to float down the lazy river.
Soon we arrived to the “water slide” which looked a lot more bumpy than it was. The water was moving so fast that you never even hit the rocks it flowed over. I actually found it more scary than the repelling! Next was the cliff jumping. This I couldn’t bring myself to do, but Rob jumped off the very top which was 11 meters!
The last cliff was called the washing machine, because you repel right into the waterfall. It was kind of scary once you had to drop into the water the pressure from the waterfall pushed you down for a good 5-10 seconds, although it felt a lot longer than that. Once I popped back up I was gasping for air! This was one of the most fun tours we have ever been on, and would definitely recommend booking through Dalat Backpackers as if you book with them you get $5 so it ends up being $40 per person. Check out the awesome GoPro video Rob made of the day too! Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Sp4HoU3SLU
That night we had a communal dinner with our hostel. There were people from Germany, France, Sweden, Netherlands and one guy from our tour from New York. It was a vegetarian dinner and Rob tried Tofu for the first time, and actually liked it! I think because it was coated in a yummy spicy sauce. There were spring rolls, soup, rice and green beans that I actually liked! It was a really fun getting to know everyone while stuffing our face with good food.
That night we basically organized a pub crawl by inviting everyone on our tour and at hostel to the 100 Roofs Bar, aka the Maze bar. It reminded us a lot of the crazy house. In the bottom the theme was underwater, and each level was filled with twisty-turny stairs and secret tunnels. Until you get to the top where the majority of the people are. It was fun to run into our tour group again, and see people we have run into at other hostels along our journey.
The next day we went to go see some temples. We’re still unsure if our taxi ride was rigged as it was going up by 3’s rather than in numerical order like other taxi’s with meters, but it’s not too uncommon for westerners to be charged extra in Vietnam. The temples were very impressive. We read that we needed to go to a place called “hell” that was below the temples. It felt like a haunted house. It was hallways through disturbing images of people getting killed in the dark and the sculptures were glowing. We stayed close to the Asian in front of us, because you know safety in numbers 🙂
That afternoon we boarded a long bus to Hoi An. Read more about this city next!