Some days, there’s just not time for real indulgence, and you have to improvise. This was one of them. Dalat is a cool change from the steamy heat of the city and coast, and there’s no better way to discover its delights than on the back of a motorbike.
We hire local drivers to see something of the outskirts of this mountain town, and it’s a terrific way to explore. I’ve spent a lot of time as a motorcycle pillion passenger over the years, so I’m not really nervous, but the roads in Vietnam leave something to be desired in places. My driver, Hoi, is careful and experienced and soon I’m relaxing into the twists and turns of the road.
Our outing, as part of a trip with tour company Footsteps in Asia, takes us to some interesting places…a silk worm factory, a flower farm, through tea and coffee plantations, to the cascading Elephant Falls, and for a walk through a hill tribe village populated by the Kho people. We stop at a cricket farm, and crunch our way through a plate of them (dipped in chilli sauce). Tasty. Then a quick look at the Art Deco style Dalat Railway Station and the former Summer Palace of Vietnam’s last emperor, Bao Dai, and a visit to the extraordinary Crazy House.
Independent travellers can also hire motorbikes and drivers for a similar tour for around US$15 or 300,000 dong for the day. Make sure to check your travel insurance coverage (just in case)!
By the end of the day, I’m ready for some pampering. Back at the elegant and old-fashioned Hotel du Parc – which has a wonderful, if somewhat temperamental old wire-cage lift – I briefly contemplate a visit to the in-house spa. But my room offers an easier and cheaper solution. Like most hotels in Vietnam, it has a long, deep bath-tub. In go the bubbles, and I soon follow. Ah….bliss.
A Glass Half Full travelled to Vietnam as a guest of Footsteps in Asia and AirAsia.