After a very busy 8 nights out and about in Ho Chi Minh City, I left on a Saturday evening (two weeks ago – wow time flies!) to spend a few days in the quiet mountainous and cooler city of Da Lat. Located further north and inland, the weather allows for a little reprieve from the heat, and has a lake within the city center. With strong French influences, it serves as a reminder of a town in the countryside of France in many ways, and is filled with cafes on every corner, where you can have your fill of Vietnamese coffee (or crack). Just be careful and try not to drink too much of it; I had two coffees one afternoon and didn’t sleep the entire night (plus, I don’t usually drink caffeine, so that wasn’t really the smartest thing I could’ve done).
It was great to have a little down time to explore, check out some of the local food, and also focus on getting some serious work done while I had the chance to be on my own for awhile. I spent quite a bit of time catching up on sleep as well, and just enjoying many strolls around the area. One afternoon, I also wandered into Mr. Huong (call him at +84 098 468 3613), and decided to go on a motorbike tour with him of a few nearby sites in the city. He took me to a variety of places that I had looked up, and also suggested a couple more. A sweet man, we spent a few hours driving around and I got the chance to see more of the beauty of the area, that wasn’t just in the main center by the Da Lat market. We also had the chance to stop for an afternoon coffee and chat longer about his family and his life in Da Lat.
Here is my Google Map with the locations and more details about where to go! And remember, if you want to follow along on my food and travel adventures in real-time, come and join me over on Instagram!
|Tulip Hotel||Although I stayed at the sister hotel, this place has very high ratings, and it’s located super close by to where I was and I walked by it several times. Likely another great option.|
|Tulip II Hotel||The sister to the Tulip Hotel just around the corner, the location of this very new accommodation is great. Although it can be a bit noisy with the Tip Top Bar across the street playing house music into the night, I stayed on the top (5th) floor, which was quieter, and because of the cool weather there’s no need to open the windows. Note there’s not AC in Da Lat because it’s a cooler region, but it’s absolutely not needed – I was downright cold many times! The staff here spoke English quite well and there was the ability to book any tours and travel at the front desk. The building isn’t so soundproof between rooms, but I always wear earplugs nowadays. 580,000 VND/night (around $27) when I stayed (cheaper than Agoda by $10), and I got the top floor with lake view. Not bad at all.|
Food & Drink
|Lien Hoa Bakery||This two level eatery has a bakery downstairs with a ton of options, as well as a restaurant upstairs. I went to both at some point during my stay, and it’s always busy in the pastry section. My upstairs experience wasn’t as great – I ordered the beef stew and got duck noodle soup, but at least it was still decent! Inexpensive local restaurant option.|
|Goc Ha Thanh||This little local restaurant has been around for over 3 years now, and does a great job of serving clean local fare. The husband and wife owners are very sweet and are really good with service and provide great tips about the area and all you want to know about the food as well. The Nem Nuong, or fresh roll your own spring rolls are great, as well as the clay pot options (I tried the pork and egg). Quaint atmosphere as well, and set menu options for 84,000 VND (about $4USD). Don’t forget to try a glass of the famous-in-Vietnam Dalat wine with your meal. You can’t really go wrong here, and I returned twice in my 3 day stay!|
|Pho Hieu||A very local streetside restaurant, this place was always busy when I walked by for breakfast. Known for their beef pho with donut in the mornings, they also serve the infamous Da Lat yoghurt that you can have for dessert! One of the male staff speaks English very well. You can find a bowl of pho for 32,000-35,000 VND and 7,000 for the yoghurt. I was the only foreigner there on a busy weekend morning, and enjoyed being watched with amusement by the kids coming by with their parents for a family meal.|
|Mi Quang Thanh||I found this hole in the wall through another site when doing some research, called vietnamCoracle.com. They serve Mi Quang, which is a turmeric noodle soup from the area. The soup is served with Pork Belly or pork neck usually, and has rice crackers over top to break into the dish, along with peanuts, and of course plenty of fresh vegetables, such as mint leaves, bean sprouts, banana blossoms, scallions, cilantro, and perilla leaves (tia to). Opens late afternoon around 4 pm each day…but always good to go slightly later so that the meat has more time to grow tender and the broth has had a longer chance to stew.|
|Ms Tan’s Banh Trang Nuong||In an alleyway between 32 & 34 on 3 Thang Street, you’ll find Ms Tan cooking up some Vietnamese pizza, the roasted version of which is called Banh Trang Nuong. For 25,000 VND (which I think is the inflated tourist rate) per piece, you’ll get one serving, which comes with an egg, minced pork, lots of butter, and scallions, inside a deep fried rice paper shell. Served with hot chili sauce, this makes for a great snack! I also had the chance to chat with a couple of locals, completely in Vietnamese (which I cannot speak), and tried to have a conversation for 20 minutes. We figured out a few things in the end, after a lot of difficulty, but that’s what makes it all the more fun!|
|Cà Phê Windmills||There are 3 Windmills locations in Dalat, which I noticed. They serve only drinks, and no food, so go for your afternoon coffee and people watch or read a book. Cute and comfortable atmosphere.|
Sites & More
I found Da Lat to be quite the charming little town, and would head back there again for some down time.
It’s definitely worth stopping by on your way to other places in the region, especially if you’ll be heading North from Saigon to Mui Ne, and then up to Nha Trang by bus. I ended up flying in from Saigon as I chose to skip Mui Ne this time around, and then taking the bus to Nha Trang there (which took 3.5 hours, surprisingly less than the 4 hours I was told to expect).
In the end, I decided 3 nights was enough, and I figured I would head out to Nha Trang. I had actually extended and then changed my mind that evening, as I felt like I was done at that point and wanted to make sure I didn’t get stuck anywhere for too long on my limited time in Vietnam.
If you’ve been to Da Lat before, please feel free to share any other great local finds!