After an exhilarating day of canyoning, we were excited to see what else Dalat had to offer. Our hostel offered a “Natural Countryside” tour which we were on the fence about, but we decided that we probably wouldn’t be able to get to all of the places it takes you to on our own, so we went for it.
At about 8am the van picked us up and we drove through the hills to the Van Thanh Flower Village, which spans over 500 acres and supplies flowers all over Vietnam. Many different kinds of flowers are grown here, but about 2/3 of them are roses.
Next, we took a walk through the Lat minority village. The leader of the village was very friendly and let us look inside and take pictures of his home. We walked along the street and watched children playing rope games. All of the people would wave and smile as we walked by.
Next, we learned how rice wine is made and we got to try some. They make 3 different versions with different levels of alcohol: 60%, 50%, and 20% (“for Westerners.”) We got to try the 50% and the 20% but they wouldn’t even let us try the 60%!
They also had some pet monkeys, one of which was threat yawning back and forth with Jojo…
We got back in the van after the wine tasting and headed to a silk worm factory which was simultaneously fascinating and disgusting. We got to walk through the factory and watch the entire process from rearing the silkworms to the collection of the silk.
Our next stop was Elephant Falls. We made our way down the slippery rocks with the aid of some rickety handrails, and got some really nice shots once we got to the bottom.
Next we visited the Linh Anh Thu Pagoda. We removed our shoes before stepping inside and marveled at the interior.
And we got to see the enormous Happy Buddha!
We hopped back on the bus and headed for the Highlands Coffee Plantation. Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee, after Brazil. We walked around the plantation and compared the Robusta, Arabica, and Moka plants.
Then we went inside where they keep the weasels to make weasel coffee! The process is as follows: The weasel eats the coffee berries, the beans spend about a day and a half in its digestive tract, then they are defecated in clumps which the farmers collect, wash, and sell for brewing.
Naturally, we had to try some weasel coffee. It was really, really strong but with a pleasant taste.
After the coffee plantation, we headed to the Dalat Railway Station. Built in 1938, it is the oldest one in Vietnam. Since its abandonment during the war, the railway is now only used for a 7km stretch to a nearby village, as a tourist attraction.
Our last stop of the tour was the architectural wonder of the Hang Nga Guesthouse, better known as “Crazy House,” designed and built by Vietnamese architect, Dang Viet Nga.
With inspiration drawn from Antoni Gaudi, and elements reminiscent of Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, this is a fully operating guesthouse equipped with various animals, mushrooms, and stairways to nowhere.
Each room has an animal theme connected to a nationality including a Kangaroo Room for Australia and an Eagle Room for USA. Guests can book rooms starting at about $30 a night, and tourists can explore the guesthouse (including unoccupied rooms) for a fee of 40,000vnd. The architect and her family live in the guesthouse as well.
When we finally made it back to our hostel after a long day of touring the countryside of Dalat, we made our way down to the Night Market for another evening of leisurely exploration. We also enjoyed a dinner of Vietnamese barbecue which we got to prepare ourselves over a small grill.
We felt a little shuffled around on the tour, but because we got to see so many things in a single day, we felt that it was well worth it. Capped off by a delicious dinner at the Night Market, day two in Dalat did not disappoint!
Pastries: 87,000vnd ($4.07 USD)
Water: 10,000vnd ($0.47 USD)
Natural Countryside Tour: 560,000vnd ($26.21 USD)
Lunch: 140,000vnd ($6.55 USD)
Weasel Coffee: 60,000vnd ($2.81 USD)
Water: 10,000vnd ($0.47 USD)
Dinner: 200,000vnd ($9.36 USD)
1-Beer: 14,000vnd ($0.66 USD)
Accommodation: 210,000vnd ($9.83 USD)
Total Spent: 1,291,000vnd ($60.43 USD)