If I described the drive to Dalat as bumpy it would be an underestimation. The roads were in poor condition with pot holes everywhere or sections of road under construction. It was mostly uphill and even though it wasn’t the smoothest ride it was a beautiful one nonetheless through mountainous landscapes and along side large lakes. Along the way we passed a hydroelectric power plant connected to large dam.
Vietnam is ridiculously green, the fields and trees are covered in a rich green coloured carpet of vegetation creating a fresh and picturesque scenery.
The road entering Dalat was lined by French colonial buildings and overlooked the town. We immediately had a good feel about this place. Just before entering the centre there’s a large lake with swan shaped paddle boats for all the romantic visitors. By a round about we were encountered by a lady on a motorbike from Green hostel who asked us to check out her hostel so we followed. We decided to stay there as we were offered a large dorm room just for ourselves and she cooked us breakfast in the morning. It was a few minutes drive from the centre but having a motorbike meant this was not an issue. The first thing we did was book a canyoning trip for our second day and visit a French bakery called Lien Noa which had a wide selection of delicious cakes and pastries at cheap prices. The town was nothing special but the hilly roads and the central local market gave it some character. We discovered that the central roads close and are pedestrianised during the nights at the weekend, so children played and families relaxed on the side of the roads whilst drivers pushed their motorbikes around. Before dinner that night we had a wonder around the local market, walking from stall to stall finding the exact pointless things. There is no variation between products being sold here, they all sell the same things and I can’t say they were very nice. There was a designated street with various tripadvisor and lonely planet recommended restaurants which were reasonably priced and nicely set up. This is where we ate both nights.
Our second day in Dalat was spent on the canyoning trip which took up our entire day. That evening we returned to the travel agents reception to upload all the photos they had kindly taken of us and then dined at a different restaurant on the touristic street that night.
Before leaving Dalat on our third day we filled our motorbike tank at a petrol station and just as we finished a kind westerner stopped by us and warned us not to fill up at these particular petrol stations (blue stations) as they were known for adding water to their petrol. Petrol was dirt cheap here in Vietnam but we made sure to avoid them after being informed. Just before driving out of the centre we stopped to buy green spray paint to give our motorbike a do-over on our next stop and couldn’t leave without buying more delicious pastries from Lien Noa! The drive out of Dalat was just as beautiful as that driving in. We passed fields and fields of what looked like rows of green houses and beautifully sculptured tomb stones in bright colours within large cemeteries which was a change to what we are used to.
Besides Dalat being a nice change from the Vietnamese coastline and attractive in terms of it being a large town at the top of some mountains, canyoning was the main reason why we headed inland. Although it is solely a touristic activity, it had been recommended by quite a number of fellow travelers who said it was a must and so we didn’t hesitate much about organizing it.
Canyoning – Dalat Passion Tours