Da Lat is already considered a big city and around it, there are major nature spots awaiting a visit. We arrived in a night bus from Hoi An that took us more or less 16 hours and couldn't be happier. Located a bit higher and far from the sea coast, Da Lat is a bit "colder" that we were expected but no complains at all. Since we are more or less used to it, we rented a motorbike for the two full days in town. The first stop on our list was the Crazy House, and what can I say: totally amazing and crazy crafted. Besides attracting dozens of tourist per day, this project is also an unconventional guesthouse designed by the Vietnamese architect Dang Viet Nga. You cannot imagine what you're up for by the entrance of the building. It is a fairy tale house, sculpted like a giant tree with different natural forms and elements such as animals (each room of the 10 available is dedicated to an animal), rocks, caves, the ocean, etc. Nga has acknowledged the inspiration of architect Antoni Gaudí in the building's unique design and many parallels can actually be found in the complex organic shapes. Since its opening in 1990, the project gained a lot of recognition not only from architects and designers but also from locals and visitors, who enjoy immensely to walk around.
After the house, we rode the motorbike to the Dantala Waterfall, a scenic spot with a small series of waterfalls, two alpine rollercoasters, a cable car and some not-so-difficult hiking trails. We tried the new Alpine Coaster and for a first-timer it was a wonderful experience. The ride is divided into two parts through the hills and the pine forest until you arrive at the waterfall. There you make a quick break for photos (you can also buy one, because in the route there are two cameras pointing at you), and to get as close as possible to the large cascade.
This Maze Bar was often recommended to us and it is surely worth one time a visit. Like the name implies, it is a labyrinth of rooms and hidden sitting spots inside a four-storey building and you can totally get lost inside. It also offers a roof top to chill out, but to get there is another story.
For the next day we had two other waterfalls on our route - the Pongour Falls and the Elephant Falls - whose location was a bit far out from Da Lat. We drove about 1 hour through some towns and banana fields before arriving at the Lam Dong Province, where the Pongour Falls are located. The entrance fee was amazingly cheap, 10.000 VND per person (0,38 EUR) but I would prefer to pay a bit more a have the site without garbage. In Vietnam most people clean and are quite tidy when it comes to their personal space and homes, but unfortunately the public area do not get the same treatment and situations like the one we found in the waterfall are common. Another reason could the construction works that are taking place for visitors in the future. Due to the dry season, I was able to jump between rocks and visit the whole surface.
Before jumping to the next waterfall, we visited the Linh An Pagoda nearby. A big square area with a temple and tons of statues surrounding it. The powerful waterfall is situated about 30km southwest from the city centre of Da Lat in a heavily farmed valley at the bottom of a mountain pass, and the way down couldn't be complicated. At first, there's an handrail to help you get some balance while climbing and jumping the rocks, but by the end you can only trust your ability to survive while moving around the slippery mildly aggressive ground. Here you cannot forget your good trekking shoes.
Tip: save time to visit the Flower Garden, a large landscaped park featuring a variety of flowers, including orchids and cacti. Being known by many names, like “Little Paris”, “City of Pine Forests”, “Land of Mist”, the most impressive is the "City of Flowers" and with right. Flowers are everywhere in the city, from large fields on the valleys to parks, small corners or on the sidewalks of the streets.
Next Stop: Ke Ga, Vietnam
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