Dalat wasn’t originally on our itinerary. Luckily, we heard so much about it whilst working in Mui Ne, we decided to divert there instead of going straight to Saigon. Dalat is a 4-5 hour bus journey north of Mui Ne and is worth every pothole and near-miss off the mountain.
When we first stepped off the bus, we braced ourselves for the hoards of eager taxi drivers. One man asked us where we were staying, we put our game faces on and politely answered “No, thank you we are walking”. Much to our surprise, he replied with “I know, I just want to tell you where to go”. I think I went into shock.. I have got quite used to knowing that when you arrive in a city, big or small, you will be hassled by the energetic taxi drivers. Not Dalat. Dalat was just there to welcome us in with open arms.
Dalats streets consist of winding hills, curving alleys twisting paths. Whoever organised the layout of the streets did not do it with ‘directionally-challenged’ travellers in mind. Finding the city centre from your hostel is as much of a puzzle as finding the bar in the maze bar. Fortunately it is also quite small and compact so you can’t get too lost. Personally I think that getting lost is the best way to immerse yourself into the new city. Plus, it’s an extra bonus in Dalat because it means you might find a hidden cat cafe or 3D painting museum.
We spent a beautiful morning at the flower garden. Famous for it’s diversity of flowers; its an ideal place for Instagram hoes, couples, flower enthusiasts or people who just genuinely appreciate the beauty and different colours of this earth.
Make sure you take a motorbike tour of the area. We did the one with our hostel- Mr Peace Backpackers. It blew me away! We raced over the mountains stopping at lakes and waterfalls. We paid a visit to a minority village where we got to watch how the local women used traditional handicraft methods to make scarfs and other garments. Luckily for me, I was sitting on the back so instead of concentrating on the road, I had the privilege of watching the sun go down over the rice paddies and palm trees.
Unlike many of the other places you will visit in Vietnam, Dalat benefits from a cooler, humidity-free climate. In the marketplaces where you’ll usually find sandals and shorts; you can find hats, coats and jumpers. Where you will usually find stockpiles of mangoes you will come upon mountains of strawberries. Make sure you still wear your sunscreen though to avoid getting as red as we did. If you want to make your journey through Vietnam as varied and full as possible, be sure to spend time in Dalat.