Second stop: Da Lat
Distance from Ho Chi Minh City: 306.6km/190.5 miles
Time spent on bus (from Mui Ne): 5 hours
Time spent in Da Lat: 2 days, 1 night
We made our way to Da Lat from Mui Ne in a minivan rather than the usual sleeper bus, whipping around curves and climbing steep mountain ranges. As usual, our driver was driving as fast as he could, passing people in front of him, even when he couldn’t see if there were other vehicles coming the opposite way and there’s a 500 foot drop next to us. Despite this, we did manage to see some incredible vistas along the way.
We rode in this deathtrap of a minivan for what seemed like eons, then eventually arrived in the gorgeous and haven-like city of Da Lat.
Da Lat is situated in the mountainous countryside and is 4,900 feet above sea level. While driving through the city in the minivan, we were instantly blown away by its beauty. It was rich with color, from the pastel paint on the buildings to the plethora of flowers on almost every inch of the city.
We arrived in the late afternoon and decided to walk around a bit. We instantly noticed how cool the weather was. It was only around 70 degree Fahrenheit, which was a nice break from the impossibly hot and humid Mui Ne, from which we just came. We explored the nearby night market, which was bustling with hundreds of locals and a few tourists as well. We tried the Vietnamese popular banh xeo, which is a fried pancake stuffed with bean sprouts, green onions, egg, and various other ingredients. We had tried it before, but it was particularly delicious here… maybe because it had twice as much stuff inside!
After the night market, we decided to turn in early, since we had a long day of touring around the city the following day.
We started our tour at around 8 a.m. with, ironically, the same bus driver as the one from Mui Ne the previous day! And, of course, he drove just as carelessly and wildly as the day before. At least there were no mountain ranges to climb this time.
Our first stop was a palace, which we never heard of, really, and I still don’t know it’s name– even after Googling it! It was pretty on the outside of the building with the many flowers and so on, but inside, it was just a house with some old furniture. Not anything particularly interesting to us.
Our second stop was a well-known church. It was a rather useless stop for us, considering we don’t really care for seeing churches; that, and we didn’t even get to go inside it, so we stood outside and stared at it for twenty minutes or so. But, we were able to see a nice view of the city from the back.
Our next stop was one of our favorites: a tram car ride over the city. We sat with a Vietnamese couple who was super friendly and enjoyed taking both secret and obvious selfies with us throughout the ride. They were great companions during our tram car ride, even though we didn’t speak the same language. The ride was also absolutely mesmerizing! To our right, we were able to see the bright and colorful city of Da Lat, sitting cozily among the mountains, and to our left, we could see untouched mountains. It was one of my favorite sights during our entire trip.
After the tram car ride, we went right across the street to a Buddhist monastery, which was undeniably beautiful, but as always, overrun by tourists.
However, whenever we weren’t swimming in loud and constantly camera-shuddering tourists, it was quite peaceful.
After the monastery, we were taken to a famous waterfall down the road. I thoroughly enjoy waterfalls, but this waterfall was pathetic. We had to climb down a mountain, which took almost thirty minutes, among–yep, you guessed it–hundreds of tourists. Then, when we finally reached the waterfall, it wasn’t even large or spectacular in any way! It was small and incredibly anti-climatic. And, as always, crawling with tourists. Needless to say, we immediately climbed back up the mountain to get the hell out of there.
We then made our way to one of our most anticipated stops: the Valley of Love. The Valley of Love is an enormous area dedicated to love and it’s decorated with a vast amount of flowers, statues, fountains, and even mazes! It was placed almost on the side of a hill, which you could easily climb down among large, brightly-colored butterflies and some more eye-popping flowers. There was a pond at the bottom of the hill, where you could float on swan boats with your love and admire the scenery.
Remember the Vietnamese couple from the tram car? We found them again at the Valley of Love and they insisted on taking pictures with us!
The Valley of Love was such a wonderful place to be, especially with the person you love. It was so well-kept and there was a surprise around every corner. I mean, even the bathrooms and benches were aptly decorated!
The second to last stop of our tour was spent at a large shop. The only reason we went was because tours in Vietnam force you to go there with hopes you’ll buy something so that they could get a commission. Annoying, but what could we do?
The last and final stop was the old train station. It was built in 1938 by French architects, like much of the city had been. It was cool, I guess, but nothing too astounding, to be honest. It was once again covered in tourists.
We took a small amount of pictures, then returned back to where the bus picked us up. We then instantly hopped into a cab and headed to the Crazy House, a place we’d been looking forward to since before our trip!
The Crazy House was pretty much what its name implies: a crazy house. It has winding stairs, tiny and oddly shaped rooms, and various other spectacularly odd sights. On the top of one area of the Crazy House, you could see the city of Da Lat, which was, as always, absolutely beautiful.
After waltzing around there for a while, we decided to head to a popular cafe that we heard about to wind down and get some grub. It’s a cafe that’s in an old train car situated on old train tracks! It was very rustic, homey, and played only songs about trains with walls covered in old train pictures and newspaper clippings. The food and coffee were surprisingly delicious! The staff was kind and friendly towards us, which is always a huge plus. And a neighborhood cat came in and jumped on my lap for a cuddle, which was a lovely addition to our experience there!
My furry new friend and I! Can you tell that I was happy for some unexpected kitty cuddles?
By the end of the day, we were absolutely exhausted. We returned to our AirBNB and relaxed, then fell asleep. The following day, we headed to our next (and incredibly far) destination.
Have you ever been to Da Lat? What was your experience like there? What was your favorite place in Vietnam? Do you desire to visit Da Lat?
Thank you for reading! Next stop: Hoi An!