Experience · Food · Travel · Vietnam

Things to do in Da Lat, Vietnam

If you haven’t been to Da Lat, you should. This was my first time in Da Lat as well and I was only staying for 3 days 2 nights. I didn’t do any research before coming here. What I wanted was just to relax and have a good time (plus taking a lot of photos). No plan whatsoever on this visit. I came with my friend and stayed at the hotel outside the city.

We asked the owner of the hotel on what to do in Da Lat, but we also did some googling when we were free. So this list is just a few of many things you can do in Da Lat that we managed to do in our short visit 😅 Plus, it was raining every day so it limited our activities as well.

1. Crazy House (Hằng Nga Guesthouse)

A unique house. A lot of areas to explore and to take photos with. A must do in da lat. Entry fee 50k vnd. It has rooms for rent as well because it is actually a guest house. Their room is unique. The whole area’s design resembles a giant tree, incorporating sculptured design elements representing natural forms such as animals, mushrooms, spider webs and caves. The architect admitted that he was inspired by Antoni Gaudi in building design.

 

2. Da Lat Market (Cho Da Lat)

A big market in the city. Will be nice to visit if not raining and wet, but even tho we had a nice walk inside the market. Good to buy souvenir or snack, Da Lat speciality. A very busy place even though it was raining. Maybe because it was Saturday. Better visit on the weekday. They have a huge variant of winter clothes, shoes, ao dai fabric, snacks, and many more. The street outside the market building also interesting. There are a lot of fruit sellers. I bought strawberry 1 kg, just couldn’t resist it. It was very cheap and sweet kind. There are a lot of mulberry and artichoke sellers, which are the speciality in Da Lat as well.

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3. Da Lat Cathedral

A small Catholic church in the middle of the city. We couldn’t go inside the building, it was not allowed to enter the church. So we just strolled around outside and took some pictures. There is an area with Lady Mary Statue where I can pray or sit there if only it was not raining.

 

4. Datanla Waterfall

Visiting a waterfall is a must-do in Da Lat. There are a lot of waterfalls and we had no idea which one is the best because every one of them has uniqueness. We chose Datanla Waterfall because it was quite nearby from our hotel (although the taxi driver tricked us! She took us the long way). It was very busy in the morning. There were so many buses! Inside the area, they have a lot of activities including a single-person roller coaster, high rope, cable car, and several waterfalls to look at.

Recommended route based on my experience: After entering the gate, go on the walking route (to the left area) until you reach the first waterfall. Enjoy the scenery, take a lot of photos. Next, buy a return ticket for the cable car (or walk down along the path if you feel like hiking). Take the elevator to the lower level and you will reach another waterfall. Again, enjoy the scenery, take a lot of photos. Next, buy a return ticket of alpine ride. Enjoy the ride, it is so much fun! If it’s not too crowded you can ride it alone. Or you can ride it together with a friend (2 persons per car) on one-way and get back in a separate car. There is a camera installed on top of the track on the way back where they will take ur photo while on the ride! Make sure to give a good pose if you plan to buy the photo after the ride. It was only 60k vnd per photo. A good purchase to remember the moment.

Once finished, go back up again with the cable car to the first waterfall, then to go back to the entrance either by walking or riding another alpine ride. This one is a very short route though.

The restaurant on location is not recommended. We were disappointed by their food. Bring snacks to hold the hunger if you don’t want to eat at this place.

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5. Cable Car

There are 2 points for the cable car in Da Lat, you can start from either side. We took the entrance near Truc Lam Pagoda because it’s close from Datanla Waterfall. I must say this is a must-do activity in Da Lat. From cable car, we can see a vast forest on one side and the whole city at the other side. It can be scary when it rain and windy because the cable car swings a bit and the sound of wind can be scary as well. When this happens, just turn on the music on your phone and listen to it while enjoying the view. 1 cable car fit 4 adults, with a maximum weight 300kg in total.

 

6. Da Lat Flower Garden

A must do in Da Lat if you like flowers or take a selfie. Big area full of many different flowers and trees. Very good to relax and enjoy the weather along with the colourful flowers. Can easily spend 1 hr there.

 

BONUS PLACES !

Bicycle Up Cafe

Address : 82 Trương Công Định, Phường 1, Thành phố Đà Lạt

This place is hidden in an alley (but not too far from the main street), and has a small space. The interior is very interesting and not too crowded so you can enjoy your drink and relax. I tried their coffee and they are good! Most importantly, it didn’t make my stomach hurt. I like their homemade yoghurt as well. They have many drinks menu but no food menu. Recommended place to take a rest after a long walk.

 

L’angfarm Specialty Shop

The famous souvenir shop in Da Lat. They are everywhere. Just look for a nearby shop and you will find one. Some of them have a coffee shop as well so you can have a drink and relax. What to buy from this shop? Many things! But mostly food or drink. Their strawberry and mulberry extract are famous. My friend bought it to be mixed with soda water. Or you can use for baking as well. I bought dried fruits. I tried their sweet potato as well but it was too sweet for my taste. Don’t forget to get artichoke tea if you like drinking tea, especially flowery tea. Artichoke tea is one of the specialities from Da Lat. I like the mixed chips as well, especially the one with dried bitter melon. They have a bag of only bitter melon, but I didn’t dare to buy lol.

Dried Bitter Melon
Dried Bitter Melon

 

Chu BBQ Restaurant

Address : 38 Phạm Ngũ Lão, Phường 1, Thành phố Đà Lạt.

We were looking for something different after several days in Da Lat, and we found this place. The numbering system there is quite messy so you just need to walk until you find it. We were so hungry and wanted to try so many dishes, and ended up doing so! We ordered barbeque menu because the special thing about this restaurant is they are using a hot stone to grill the meat. Put all the meat on the hot stone and cook there. Beware of the smoke though! I had to get up to avoid the smoke. So many smokes! Pork Ribs BBQ is my favorite. Fried noodle with veggie is a bit spicy but taste good. Fried tofu.. could’ve used some seasoning on it. Too bland. Another thing that we loved from this restaurant is their chili. It was not too spicy and the taste was so refreshing with sour and salty touch.

 

Last but not least, I wanna share some tips if you plan to go to Da Lat :

  1. bring warm clothes, or bring more layer, especially if you come from tropical country.
  2. rain is normal in da lat, so prepare an umbrella whenever you go out.
  3. staying outside the city is nice too, but you need to find a hotel with good food because there is no nearby restaurant there.
  4. beware of a sneaky taxi driver. If you have mobile data on your phone, better check the route they are taking as well.

That was all that I can share from my trip to Da Lat. Have you been there? If so, which attraction or activity is your favorite? Let me know in the comment 😉

Thank you for reading!

Ciao.

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Ho Chi Minh City · Hobby · Vietnam

Hana Vietnam – A wonderful shop of handmade bags

On a bright and beautiful day yesterday, I decided to go shopping for a bag. I always wanted to check this shop out. It is very famous among the Japanese ladies. Hana is the name. Located in District 2, inside Hem 47 at Quoc Huong street. It is near the clinic where I go to every day actually.

When I arrived at the address, I wasn’t sure if they were opened. The gate was closed, also the door inside. It is just like a normal house with some rattans outside. I saw the opening hour and they should be open until 5 pm (they only close on Sundays), so I rang the bell and someone came out of the house. A very nice Vietnamese lady.

placargo

I stepped in into the house an amazed by their products! They are very beautiful and nicely made. There are many kinds of rattan plait bag in the shop. I looked around and found the one I like. Then I asked for her permission to take photos of the product to put them on my blog. I feel like more people should know more about this shop.

They made all of the products by themselves. She also mentioned that her mom still helps to make the bags! Some of the bags also produced by their relatives in Mekong area.

The price is fixed. I tried to bargain but no luck 😦 There was someone buying for wholesale as well. She gave different prices for wholesale. Hmm, maybe I should try selling it as well!

Rattan Plait Bag with Tassel

I bought one bag for myself and another one for a birthday present. Luckily I had enough cash because they only accept cash payment. Prepare your cash before you visit this place! You might end up with more bags than you’ve had planned because they are so beautiful. It is good to buy as a souvenir from Saigon as well!

 

Address : 47/3 quoc huong, thao dien, district 2, hcmc

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/hanavietnamshop/

Experience · Travel · Vietnam

Ninh Binh Trip Diary – Day 1

Woke up early for 10 am flight and realized it was domestic flight from Ho Chi Minh City so I actually didn’t need to go to the airport that early. Arrived at domestic airport at 8am and while waiting for drop-in baggage saw an email from Vietnam Airline saying the flight has been reschedule to 12pm! Okay… So, I waited for my friend and we decided to check-in the baggage first and go somewhere else. My friend wanted to go to shopping mall, but at that time none opened yet.

Since I was hungry, I suggested to go have breakfast. But they’ve eaten already at home so it was just me. At first I wanted to try com tam ba gien. I’ve been wanting to try it but changed it to banh cuon (which I regretted later). The place is very close from airport. We went there by taxi. It only cost us 27k vnd but the airport surcharge is 10k. So total 37k. Only me ordered banh cuon. The place is very local. Their banh cuon was disappointing. I didn’t like it. No minced pork! Only the rice paper with fried onion on top of it. And they charge me 40k for that. I think it was a tourist price…

We went back to airport, which is very near, only 5 mins. The taxi cost 26k vnd but he asked for 10k surcharge as well! Next time if you are stranded in the airport, just stay inside unless you go back to your house/hotel which worth the cost.

We decided to wait inside and just proceed to security check. The queue was very long! Embrace yourself.. enjoy every moment… Once we got through the security, we went to food court to get snack for my friend’s son. I ordered cajun fries in the end. Too tempting. But it was around 10am already. So it was well calculated 😀 I knew we will get lunch on the plane.

By 11.20am we went to the gate and not long after we heard an announcement that our flight will have another delay to 12.30pm due to technical problem. Oh well, already waited for hours, another 30 mins was not a big deal.

Boarding the plane. They served lunch in the air so it was good. Arrived in Hanoi at 2.30pm. My friend have arranged a pick up service by Binh Minh Limousine so we just needed to wait for them. She already told them that we were gonna be late to arrive there and they knew it. She tried to get in touch and it was really hard to get in touch with them. The phone number listed in their website and facebook were not responding. I tried to look for their phone number through other website and called them. It was the same number that my friend tried earlier.

They finally picked up my call on the 3rd tries. It was already late for 1 hr since our arrival time and they asked us to wait another 10 mins. We were told before that an executive van will pick us up directly from airport and take us to our homestay. But when we arrived in Hanoi, they told us they were sending a small car to pick us up from airport and bring us to their center then we will use the limousine van. We didn’t understand why they couldn’t pick us up with the van because we saw many vans on the airport as well. They said vans are not allowed to go into the airport. After so many communication back and forth and still no car, we decided to take taxi to our homestay instead. It was more expensive but we were just too tired of waiting.

They called my friend when we were on the way in taxi. Asked my friend to hand in the phone to driver but she didn’t do it. And they hang up on her! So rude. After that, they called her many times but she didn’t pick it up. Dude, manage your business better if you don’t want to lose customer…

Can you see the goats on the mountain?

It took us 2 hrs to go to our homestay in Ninh Binh, Sierra Homestay. And the taxi cost was 1.6 mil vnd. We paid more than if we used the limo taxi. It would be 300k vnd per person if we used the limo from binh minh company. But anyway we finally arrived in Ninh Binh! Yay.

The people from our homestay are very friendly. We got our rooms and immediately headed out for the chance of taking photo before dusk. I got a few good shots. The man with the water buffalo was very nice. He couldn’t communicate with us but he still tried to get us a scene with his buffalo. He tried to tell us that the buffalo were heading to a certain direction so he asked us to wait there.

Rooftop Sierra Homestay
View from our rooftop
two people and a tree ninh binh people
They can bring anything with a motorbike (and a cart)
Buffalo taking a shower in the river Ninh Binh
Follow my lead, guys!
The buffalo guy ninh binh
Time to go home
people of ninh binh
Nice to meet you, little girl!

We didn’t know where to eat since it was just our first day here and no chance to look around yet. I ordered fried noodle with pork. It was good. But it couldn’t fill me up for long enough. I got hungry again…

Rest for 2nd day~

Night sky line of Ninh Binh Village
Good Night, everyone!
Drinks · Ho Chi Minh City · Vietnam

Cua Hang Cafe81 – Retro Style Coffee Shop

Going to a coffee shop is actually not my thing. Not because I don’t like coffee but more to the ability of my stomach to cope with coffee! Yup, I have a weak stomach… So then why did I go to this coffee shop?! It was actually a coincidence. I was looking for a place with traditional looking and some grit for a photoshoot. I’ve been in Saigon for 3 years but I rarely walking around the city. Now that I’m leaving Saigon soon, I feel like I need to know the city better. This is what they called to take it for granted. I’ve had all my time in this city but I always thought I could do it later (or more like procrastinating I guess?).

When I researched for something I could go on and on until it’s just too much, including this one. I found an article / blog about the unique coffee shop in Saigon. I noted down the places and decided to visit them. My plan was to invite my coffee drinker friends, but my impulsive side couldn’t wait any longer so I went to one of them by myself.

Cua Hang Cafe 81 Coffee Shop Saigon

I checked the list and picked one nearest to my place, which is Cua Hang Cafe81 in District 1. It was around 13 minutes by car. I have their address but when I entered on google map, it didn’t show up the correct location. Hence we got lost until the end of the road. Apparently, it listed as 81cafe on google map, and it is very near from the intersection. At first, I just want to take photos from my car without hopping off, but when I arrived there I couldn’t hold the urge to enter the place!

They have a very classic, retro interior. I love it. Inside has 2 rooms filled with tables. The room where I sat was a bit dark, while the next room was brighter. The waiter can’t speak English but he was friendly. I looked at the menu and they are mostly Vietnamese drinks, from coffee, chanh muoi to beer. No snack or food available. No smoothies. Their price is still reasonable for a cafe. Coffee was 30k – 35k vnd. Chanh Muoi 40k vnd (this one is a bit expensive for chanh muoi but maybe they are good (?). I’ll try it next time.

cua hang cafe 81 coffee shop interior
A table opposite of mine

I placed an order of ca phe sua da (Vietnamese Ice Coffee with Milk) and waited. The guy brought water to my table. Nice! A proper coffee shop. I took out my camera and started taking photos. Unfortunately, I don’t have a suitable lens for this. My shortest focal length is the 35mm prime lens, and it was too tight to take a photo there. I need a wide lens. In the end, I used my phone to take some photos. Good enough 😀

When the coffee came, I was hesitating to drink since I just recovered from upset stomach. I questioned myself whether this was a good idea or not… After contemplating for a while, I took a sip to try the coffee. It was delicious. Not too sweet. I took my time on drinking that coffee. One sip at a time while editing photos on my phone.

I showed the photos to my friends, in Indonesia and in Saigon (Japanese and European ladies). Funny though that they have different opinions. My Indonesia friends said something like “That looks scary”, “Looks like my grandma’s house”, “Wow, now I know my house can be a cafe as well if it gets a little messier”, “That looks like my old house”. While my friends in Saigon said “That is cute! Are you there now? Where is it?”, “That looks lovely! I want to go there too”, “Nice, retro looking cafe”.

For me, this cafe is cute and very classic. It is quiet enough (aside from some students who keep talking while doing their homework). I think next time I will go there if I want to work in different atmosphere.

cua hang cafe 81 coffee shop interior

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cua hang cafe 81 coffee shop interior

What do you think? Would you go there as well after looking at the pictures? The place is good for an Instagram post. Let me know in the comment below.

Ciao.

PS : My stomach was okay after drinking the coffee, so I guess I can go back there! Yay.

 

Place : 81Cafe, 216 B Nguyen van Nguyen, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Ho Chi Minh City · Snacks · Vietnam

Chocomin – Dog themed chocolate pieces

I stumbled upon this chocolate shop on basement floor of Saigon Center mall. They are selling chocolate with a cute dog picture on the cover. And it’s actually has the shape of the dog on the chocolate too! Very cute. There are dark chocolate and white chocolate part on each chocolate piece. Depending on which type of dog, you get more white chocolate or more dark chocolate.

They have 2 type of packages, 68 pieces (800k vnd or around USD35) and 36 pieces (380k vnd or about USD17). I’m sure they are selling per piece as well. This can be a cute gift for a dog lover! Or for the incoming Tet (Vietnamese New Year) celebration.

Would you buy this chocolate? Let me know what do you think in the comment.

Ciao!

Dog theme chocolate chocomin

Dog theme chocolate chocomin

Dog theme chocolate chocomin

Dog theme chocolate chocomin