Da Lat, Vietnam
40K pop city in the cool mountains 500Km North of HCMC
by Amanda Nourse and Glenn Weinreb
Traveling Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia :
Da Lat is a popular vacation spot for native Vietnamese who are looking for some R&R in a cool spot. This city was spared during the Vietnam war-- the North Vietnamese agreed to not attack, in turn for a hands-off policy on their popular vacation spot in the north. Da Lat is popular due to its crisp mountain air, beautiful surrounding forests, and California like weather. The weather here is a big issue -- traveling from 95F/35C in HCMC to Da Lat's 75F/24C is a nice treat. It seems that for the residents of HCMC though, the weather is a bit of a shock. All over town the markets sell huge parkas, gloves, and hats. And people all over town are wearing them! The center of town is a bit congested, so you might want to stay 1Km away if you are looking for peace and solitude.
Where We Stayed
- A Dong Hotel - This $15/day communist run hotel features large rooms and a terrific view of the Da Lat city if placed at the back of the building. A disadvantage of this hotel, as of February 2002, is the desk people did not speak English, and were therefore not too helpful. Another disadvantage is the front rooms are very noisy and will make you crazy, so make sure you stay in the back. This hotel is a 5min walk from the center of town, along a noisy and crowded road which is not to relaxing to traverse. For details, see http://www.vnhotels.net/dalat.htm. 63b Nguyen Van Troi St, Da Lat, Tel: 822 700
Where we Ate
The Artists Cafe is a popular cafi with good food 1 block from the center of town on Duong Nguyen Chi Thanh Rd. Their ham sandwich and apple pancakes are terrific. Their apple cake and banana cake are toooo good. So is the coffee!!
What We Did
The Valley of Love features a nicely landscaped forest and lake in which one can walk and ponder:
The market in the center of town provides a glimpse of how the local live:
Several homes were quite swanky:
Here's an electrical appliance repair shop:
The local cemetary:
A lake near the center of town is a popular boating spot:
Amanda: Dalat was incredibly noisy, especially in the town square. Narrow roads with motorbikes racing down them, the whir of their engines absolutely piercing and the sound of their horns, if you can believe it, even worse! Most of my time in Dalat was spent six inches off the ground, as I was constantly jumping at the sound of those horns! We had to switch hotel rooms, since the first one we got faced this loud road scene. Since the hotel staff did not speak English, communicating our wish to switch rooms entailed some serious sign language. We put our hands together and lay our faces on them to show sleeping. Then we said VROOM VROOM!! and our faces sprang to live in an over-exaggerated startled expression. WOW!!!! Then VROOM VROOM! and the facial expression twists in mock pain and our hands clamp down tight over our ears. HELP!! They got the picture, and after having a terrific laugh at our antics, changed out room to a quieter one in the back.
Despite their lack of English, the Staff was very kind to us. On the eve of Tet, the Lunar New Year, which is a HUGE holiday in Vietnam, like Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving and your birthday all rolled into one, there was a knock on the door at 11:45 pm. It was the young man from the front desk, bearing a plate full of candy and fruit. He looked very happy, excited and really full of joy as he gave it to me saying Chuc Mung Na Moi!! (Happy New Year!!) and then mustering his best English added with such delight as I have never even seen on a child's face on Christmas Eve, "It's at Midnight!!!" Luckily I had a piece of cake that I had been given by the girl at the bakery I liked so much - she gave me the cake because I had brought her flowers for Tet - so I was able to give this fellow a piece of cake and wish him Happy New Year as well.
One thing I will never forget about Dalat was their famous COFFEE! In Vietnam they have amazing, delicious coffee. I can even drink it black. If you add sugar you would easily think you are eating a chocolate bar - it is so rich and smooth and delicious!! Dalat is in the Central Highlands, and according to the LP they have the BEST coffee in Vietnam. They grow coffee and tea all over that region in the mountains (like Folgers, it is Mountain Grown!! mmmmm!!!) and they sell it in the markets and cafes. You take a cup of it and you will know just exactly how the Vietnamese were able to defeat the US Military. Holy Cow!!
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