To save time, we took another internal flight from Danang airport (near Hoi An) to Dalat. We had read mixed reviews about Dalat, but we had a fantastic couple of days and would recommend a trip. We had booked to stay in Lavender Tim which has great rooms at a cheap price – the only down side being that they don’t serve breakfast. The owners were very helpful, and after arriving late morning, they helped us maximise our time in Dalat by booking us onto an Easy Rider motorbike tour for the remainder of the day. The cost was $30 each including lunch and the tour ended up being one of the highlights of our time in Vietnam. It was a beautifully sunny day and the scenery on the tour was breathtaking.
We stopped off at the Linh Phuoc Pagoda, a flower farm (Dalat has plenty of these), a silk factory (where our guide explained the process from start to finish which was fascinating), the bottom of a hill which we walked up to get panoramic views of the area, the happy Buddha temple, the Elephant waterfalls, a minority village, a weasel coffee farm, (fantastic views but not so wonderful coffee!), a place making rice Vodka, the old train station in Dalat and other European style city buildings and scenic stops along the way.
Our drivers imparted lots of useful information, including: how to escape from a cobra by taking your top off and throwing it in the snakes direction, how to escape from a python by putting your arms straight in the air as it wraps around you, waiting for the tail to come near your mouth then biting hard and it will release you, and drinking snake blood to cure back ache! My driver also recounted stories of his time hiding out in the forest during the Vietnam war, although interestingly did not discuss at all what happened once the Americans pulled out and the northern Vietnam forces took over. There are clearly some things that people are too afraid to openly discuss.
The following day we had booked to go canyoning with a company called Viet Challenge. It was $45 each including lunch and a pick up and drop off service to Datania Falls. I was nervous to say the least! There were probably about 18 people in our group (although we had been told there would be a maximum of 12) and after a brief explanation we set about abseiling down our first sheer rock face! The trip involved 10km of adventure activities set within a beautiful pine forest. Our first abseil was down a dry 18m cliff, then we walked and waded through water to a natural water slide area where the solo slide was fine, but the partnered slide with Phil ended up with me bashing my lower back and spending the rest of the day feeling bruised and battered! Our next stop was abseiling down a cliff with pouring water, then came a leap of faith into a pool below. I just did the 7 metre free fall, but Phil went back up and did the 11 metre jump too! At this point, I did start to become quite cold as it was an overcast day, so I would recommend wearing a rash vest under the wetsuit top they give you. Our final horrendous task was the aptly named “washing machine”. Thankfully I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for – essentially you abseiled down a cliff face for a couple of metres until the rock caved inwards and you could no longer climb down, then you lowered yourself into a powerful waterfall, got tossed and turned and spat out like a drowned rat at the bottom – the closet feeling to drowning I’ve ever had! After a lunch stop, we hiked back up a huge hill to our transport – an exhausting but exhilarating day!
On our last evening we visited a famous bar called 100 Roofs Cafe. This is quite possibly the most crazy bar I have ever been to. From the outside it appears quite normal, and once you step inside you are asked to buy a drink at the front desk before entering further (trust me you’ll need it- you might never find the bar again). I can only describe the interior as Alice in Wonderland meets Hogwarts. It is essentially a giant maze with bizarre interior decoration, tunnels, small stairways, tucked away seating areas and narrow corridors -basically a hide and seekers heaven!
The following day we left Dalat and had booked onto the An Phu bus to take us to the coastal town of Mui Ne. Our accommodation booked us the tickets as we didn’t have time to get to the ticket office, (I think it cost us about 100000D) and we were picked up from right outside our accommodation in a perfectly fine air conditioned bus. Having already read that the drive up and down the huge hills was spectacular but a vomit inducing rollercoaster ride, I took a motion sickness tablet that consequently knocked me out for most of the four hour journey! We had booked to stay at the lovely small hotel Shades Resort which was a short walk from the An Phu bus stop and we had a beautiful room with a balcony and sea view. The next couple of days were spent having some well deserved R&R on the beach and by the pool. Mui Ne has a lot of tourists, but this does mean here are plenty of restaurants, bars and live music and for some beach down time it is a great place to go.