Sunday, April 20, 2014

Oh My Đà Lạt, a voyage in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam

When I planned this holiday, I don't have any idea that there are more interesting place to visit in Vietnam other than Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. I always do my research a week before my trip specially for the places which are not commonly visited hence accessible by foot or wheel.
I have a friend who once told me that there is a place in Vietnam which is worth to visit. A place far beyond Ho Chi Minh's humid tropical climate, hazardous air pollution and busting traffic jam. This place is Da Lat, located in Lâm Đồng Province in the southern central highlands of Vietnam. 
Da Lat is dubbed as the "city of thousands of pine trees" and "the city of eternal spring" with elevation of 1,500MASL thus climate contrast the humidity of the central and southern Vietnam. Since it was colonized by French in 1900, infrastructures are built in European style. 
Phuong Trang Sleepers Bus
After my Cai Dao - Cu Chi tour, I checked out for a night but left my bagpack in the hostel for safe keeping. I bought a ticket from Phuong Trang Bus  for a night ride. The terminal is also located just beside my hostel, along de Tham St. Travel time from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Lat is about 8 hours thus sleepers bus is more convenient than the conventional. I was able to save one night accommodation as I spent overnight inside the bus and had a good sleep. The sleepers bus left HCM at 23:10H and arrived in Da Lat at 07:15H the following day.

When I arrived in Da Lat, the sun was up hence a cool breeze ran across my body. The temperature was about 8-10 deg. centigrade that morning.

Ben Xe Lien Tinh Da Lat Bus Terminal
From the bus terminal, I decided to just walk going to the city proper, about 3km away from the bus terminal, pine trees are everywhere. On my way to Da Lat Trip office, the tour company I've contacted prior to my trip, I was able to visit the man-made lake of Da Lat, which is fairly located in the center of the city. 
A view of Xuan Huong Lake
City town proper
I arrived in Da Lat Trip office at 08:30AM where I waited for the tour van for my country-side day trip tour. I had my Pho' for breakfast and croissant. I opted for group tour rather than the Da Lat habal-habal as it was more cheaper. We first started the tour to Da Lat Flower Farm, about 30 minutes away from the city...
The flower farm
Then we headed to Meh Lin Coffee Farm. Da Lat is the number one producer of coffee in the world according to Karen, our tour guide.

Weasel or Alamid in Philippines

Traditional coffee maker, dripping
I strongly agree that Da Lat has the best coffee in the world. I've tried the cape moka that morning.


A pose in a coffee plant

Then to Cricket Farm. You can taste fried cricket for free. I was dared to try it, it was crunchy but juicy.
Live cricket
Free taste cricket 
Few meter away from the cricket farm is the silk factory.

The Silk Factory

And then the Elephant Falls. You have to trek down for about 15 minutes for great view of the majestic falls

The Elephant Falls

Temple near the Elephant Falls with a Happy Buddha
Past half noon when we headed back to the city for our Lunch.

Then continued our tour to Da Lat Train Station, the first train station in Vietnam which is still operational.
Da Lat Train Old Railway Station

And then to XQ Historical Village.

Our last destination is the Crazy House wherein the whole architecture of the house is like a museum of abstract. 

Our tour ended about 05:00PM and went back to Da Lat office where I was dropped-off. I continued my Da Lat exploration by walking around the city while waiting for my night trip back to Ho Chi Minh.

St Nicholas of Bari, Da Lat Cathedral