Da Lat, the city of love. Or: The city of flowers. Or: the city of honeymoons. Or: the city of mountains… This city has certainly a lot of names. For me, it was the city of the least amount of tourists. The one city I was looking for during my holiday.
Everyone has a different goal when going on holiday. Some need the adventure and the adrenaline. Some people need full time entertainment and like to hand in their brain at the airport so they do not need to think.
My aim was to experience the different. To just relax and not be stressed for once. My normal life is very hectic and busy. I normally do a million things at once and have a super planned-through week. Therefore, I didn’t plan a single thing this holiday. I didn’t do a lot of research and I generally just wanted to get there and handle the situations as their come. However, I did have certain expectations which probably were shaped by all these documentaries I watched about Vietnam over the years. I expected a lot of jungle, a lot of simple houses, friendly people, rain and not a lot of tourists. So far, all we saw were villages erected for the sole purpose to entertain tourists. Nothing, were the Vietnamese were just themselves and lived their life without the purpose of entertaining tourists.
Da Lat was different for us.
We took a bus from Nha Trang (which looked like a Lloret de Mar tourist dream come true by the way) to Da Lat, which is located about 3 driving hours from Nha Trang into the mountains. We arrived after darkness and along the way we drove through clouds, thunderstorms and thick rain. I understand Forrest Gump now, when he mentioned that he experienced the rain from all sides in Vietnam – from above, the sides and even from below.
We arrived at the cutest little B&B in town and went down to the center after we checked in. After all, it was independence day and we wanted to head out and celebrate with the locals.
Due to its location, Da Lat is usually much colder than the other cities around Vietnam. I even wore CLOSED SHOES, something I didn’t wore two weeks anymore due to the heat. What a feeling! Da Lat is therefore also a retreat for Vietnamese to get a break from the heat and the City life.
The town was therefore flooded with tourists, but barely any foreign ones, which was a joy to see. This was honestly the first city I saw so far which sole purpose was NOT only to entertain tourists. It was a working city, feeding the rest of the country with the stuff they grew there: mainly veggies, coffee, flowers.
The following day, two extremely friendly guides picked us up and we explored the area for the next eight hours on our motor bikes. I, being an absolute city girl, had no experience whatsoever with driving a motorbike or even sitting on one. I was already terrified of the scooter chaos in Hanoi, sitting on one was definetly the last thing, I imagined myself on.
My guide was the most patient soul though and after a few panicky shrieks from the back of his motorbike, I settled in pretty quickly and was even sitting on the back HANDS FREE. I actually very quickly realized, what a joy it is, to sit on a motorbike, even just as a passenger.
The scenery was breathtaking. Flower and coffee fields were scattered everywhere and we stopped at quite a few viewpoints to take pictures of the surrounding mountains.
We spent the most wonderful day in the mountains, drinking local coffee, rice wine, eating super cheap noodle soup in a local restaurant and buying some local silk (yes I know I am a scarf addict, but I really needed one!), visiting a few temples and even a local village. Every stop, our guide explained us with great depth about the history of the places and I think within these 8 hours I learned more about the country than I did in my complete holiday.
Honestly, if you have the chance, do yourself a favor and spend a few days in this city of mountains. We finally found a piece of Vietnam, relatively untouched by mass tourism and I felt like my personal mission of the holiday was completed with visiting this city.