This is the beginning of the story of how Vietnam became my favorite country out of the 29 countries I had visited. It also is a guide for tips and trick, things to do, places to see and food to eat in 2 weeks of time.
1. Da Lat
Taking the night/sleeping bus from Saigon to DaLat is not a good idea if you are either tall, and tall is defined as >170cm or you have a light sleep and wake up easily. We had a hell of a ride, with Vietnamese music, lights switched on partly and a lot of curvy roads.
Da Lat is such a different city compared to all other cities in Vietnam. The city is located 1,500 m (4,900 ft) above sea level on the Langbian Plateau. “Mist covering the valleys almost year-round leads to its name “City of Eternal Spring”.”
Da Lat’s architecture but also religion is influenced by the french. During the colonial period the French endowed the city with villas and boulevards.
Where to stay in Da Lat:
Dalat Friendly Fun (Guesthouse) – book @ hostelworld
There are many options to stay in Da Lat as it is a well visited place in Vietnam. However, I could warmly recommend this guesthouse we stayed in. It is run by a extremely friendly vietnamese lady. She and her family (husband and 2 daughters) live on the first floor and the upper floors are for the guests. Every morning the owner herself cooks you delicious breakfast. She helps with organizing trips and you can also hire a motorcycle there.
Things to do in Da Lat:
In you are fit and brave enough do a Canyoning Tour. Canyoning is navigating your way through a canyon. In this case, canyoning is an activity that includes hiking, swimming, water sliding, jumping and abseiling but abseiling is the main thing. You’ll need some special skills for abseiling but it isn’t very hard. For trekking and mountain biking you need strong legs, rock climbing you need strong arms. The costs are around $30.
If you are not an adrenaline junkie rent a motorcycle and explore the beuatiful nature, temples, pagodas and waterfalls yourself. While my travelbuddy did the Canyoning I joined a french guy on the back of the motorcycle he rented.
2. Nha Trang
This is the most touristy place I have ever seen in Vietnam!
Nha Trang is well known for its beaches and scuba diving and has become a popular destination for international tourists ( backpackers, more affluent travelers, and especially Russians). Nha Trang Bay is widely considered as among the world’s most beautiful bays. I found it very striking that boards and menus are mainly in russian (rather than in english), and waiters speak to you in russian instead of english.
Were to stay?
Oh this question can be answered easily! If you are a backpacker there is no better place than Mojzo Dorm (Hostel). The staff is amazing ! The girls working there are extremely friendly, caring and helpful. We had sooo much fun with them. The rooms are clean, airco works perfectly and the breakfast ist great (you can choose between many options).
What to do in Nha Trang?
The question what to do in Nha Trang is somewhat unnecessary as there are sooo many things to do. Even with no plan you would definitely find something fun to do. However, I put together a list of things I enjoyed doing or I heard were fun.
(1) Alright so I know it is not very typical for me to do that but I enjoyed lying on the beach for a whole day after having traveled for 3 weeks already. And Nha Trang has a lot of beach to offer. Pick a spot, get some tan and enjoy yourself.
(2) Definitely check out the mud bath. It might sound weird to sit in a tab filled with mud, but it has become a quintessential Nha Trang experience. The mud is purported to have all sorts of healthy, healing properties. There are four places to test out this theory, and the facilities include jacuzzis, mineral water swimming pools and other novelties.
– Galina Hotel and Spa
– 100 Egg Mud Bath (Tram Trung)
– Thap Ba Hot Spring
– i resort (we went to this one!)
(3) Scuba Diving and Snorkeling are big in Nha Trang. You get to see beautiful corrals and experience the beauty of another world hidden in the sea. Definitely woth seeing. I would recommend Vietnam Active (http://vietnamactive.com/diving/). It is a professional company owned by a German guy. The instructors spean russian, english and vietnamese to make sure that the instructions are clear to everyone. For those who want to do other thigs such as cycling tours, yoga etc. those are being offered by them as well.
(4) I would have loved to recommend the party boat ($20) experience, however, the one we joined from Funky Monkey was basically terrible. This company has many boats, and often they put together all young foreign tourists on one boat, and the older or chinese poeple on another boat. The day we joined the tour they did not do such thing, or at least did not do a good job with navigating people to different boats. We ended up with many old people, many chinese and some very shy vietnamese, who definitely did not feel like partying. The lunch was good, the spot they chose for snorkeling was not the best. I heard many people being really positive about that organisation so I think we were not lucky that day. They offered us a 50% off on the bill as a compensation.
(5) Book a Street Food Tour at the hostel Mojzo! They will take you to many local street food stalls, letting you try many different dishes! Eating between and with locals at one table.
Where to eat in Nha Trang?
You would expect that there are plenty of good seafood re
staurants, or good restaurants in general, but we were a bit disappointed. After a few days of struggling with finding a good place to eat we found one, called Lanterns Vietnamese Restaurant, which was extremely crowded but very delicious. It is a restaurant known by many tourists as it is adversited on Tripadvisor a lot. Even though it was extremely touristy the food was finger licking good and the service extremely friendly. Definitely worth the 15 minutes wait.