On our third visit to Vietnam we decided we wanted to visit another destination, inland from the coast to show us another part of the country. We chose Da Lat, known as the Paris of Vietnam and famous as a honeymoon destination and as the flower city of Vietnam. It is also popular as a destination for young back-packers to try climbing, rafting, trecking & canyoning. The city was popular with French residents who escaped the heat of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) for the hills and cooler weather of Da Lat.
We flew from Ho Chi Minh and took a Mai Linh taxi the 30km to Da Lat city we agreed the price and paid in advance choosing a larger car for comfort and the price was around £6. The scenery on the drive to the city is spectacular and you are immediately greeted on arrival by the sight of the huge lake and the flowers everywhere.
Da Lat is the centre of the wine producing area, coffee growing and also vegetables and flowers. It is worth taking a trip out of the city to see some of the stunning countryside close to the city. Taxis are cheap, stick to reputable companies like Mai Linh and they are great for crossing over the city.
Check out the usual booking sites such as www.booking.com or www.hotels.com it is a larger city than we had expected and hotels are spread out around the city, try and choose somewhere close to the night market and the main market square up the hill, that will ensure a good selection of restaurants and bars and close to the lake area.
Goc Ha Thanh, 51 Đường Trương Công Định, was recommended in guide books and on line and did not disappoint, we went twice during our stay and the food was excellent, lovely service and incredible value.
V Café, 1/1 Đường Bùi Thị Xuân, we sought this out after a day exploring the city and had a light lunch and a beer but were so impressed with the service and décor that we came back for dinner. The menu is a mix of Vietnamese and European dishes, all very well done and lovely service and great value. There is often live music at night.
Le Chalet, 6 Đường Huỳnh Thúc Kháng, this is opposite the Crazy House one of Da Lat’s most popular attractions. We visited for lunch and loved the food, the atmosphere and the service, we were so impressed that we returned for dinner and sat on the terrace as there was live music inside and it was very busy.
There are a number of bars around the city, some very loud and packed with a mix of young locals and young visitors. We found some really good places to have a drink both before and after dinner.
Bars & Cafes
Woody Classic Bar, 49A Đường Trương Công Định, was our favourite bar with a great happy hour from 4pm to 7pm on beers. They had a good music playing, friendly service and good prices for beers, cocktails and spirits.
Moi Craft Beer, Đường Trương Công Định, is next door to Woody’s and just before Goc Ha Thanh, they also have a Happy Hour on Craft Beers and have wine and cocktails but more pricey.
The Maze Bar, (110 Roofs), 57 Phan Bội Châu, is close to the main market and is probably the most unique bar I have ever visited. It is a bar which is inside the maze structure on many levels which you can explore, it is like being inside the Lord of the Rings, a must for a visit.
Escape Bar, 18 Phan Bội Châu, is in the basement of the Muong Thanh Hotel, close to V Café, is open from 4pm to midnight with Happy Hour from 4pm to 7pm but the highlight is the live music from about 9pm, the resident band playing blues, rock, and everything else are top notch. Excellent comfortable venue, great service and reasonably priced.
There is a real mix of places which you would expect in a city which attracts a mix of visitors, some of the bars are just too loud and young but others like Woody are excellent. Beer is popular with Saigon Red and Saigon Green the most common but craft beers are becoming more and more popular everywhere in Vietnam.
Da Lat is the home to Vietnam’s wine producers and there are many wine shops around the city, if you get a better one it is like an average table wine. Depending on price we either drank local wine or imported wines mainly from Australia, Chile and France. Wine is not always available in bars and often if they do sell wine it is only local red. Imported wine is not ridiculously expensive considering the duty.
Coffee produced mainly locally is a major drink as you would expect from the second largest coffee producing country and there are always cafes to relax in with an iced coffee, very popular, or a regular coffee.
The lake area is beautiful to wander around, or even take out a pedalo boat and explore more of the lake. There is a huge flower garden near the far end of the lake which has a small entry fee and is worth a visit.
Crazy House, is a “Gaudi-ish” building that attracts loads of visitors to the city to explore the ever increasing structure, the attendants are dressed in what looks like Harry Potter uniforms and the queues testify to the popularity.
The night market is worth a visit with some great food stalls and also the usual range of souvenirs to buy.
There is a vintage train which runs several times a day but only if there are more than 16 passengers, the station building is fascinating, there is a small entrance fee, a café and a chocolate shop. Try and take the train, buy VIP carriage tickets about £4 return, the journey is through the flower & vegetable producing farms to the small town of Trai Mat, the highlight there is the amazing Linh Phuoc Pagoda, amazing just doesn’t do the buildings justice they are something else and a must on a visit to Da Lat.