I arrived in Ho Chi Minh by plane and took an overnight bus to Da Lat. It’s a beautiful town surrounded by pine forests, waterfalls and mountains. The climate is temperate so I recommend packing a jacket and long pants.
The hostel I stayed -Mr peace- was very familiar and easy to meet other backpackers. They offer family dinners at night which I can recommend. Besides it’s nice to rent a motorbike and explore the waterfalls nearby. The second day we went to crazy house which is is an offbeat guest house with architecture reminiscent of a tree trunk. You have great views from there and it’s just fun to stroll around the house.
The sunshine coffee in Da Lat is a cozy place to have a warm drink and enjoy a beautiful view at the city.
You can also buy some very good wine in Da Lat, probably the only place in Vietnam we bought wine as it’s hard to find elsewhere.
Even though Hanoi is a busy city it has something charming and calm at the same time. The architecture is amazing and it’s a good base to explore other places like Cat Ba with the Ha Long Bays or Sa Pa for hiking.
We stayed in the Old Quarter View Hanoi Hostel which is very well located in the center and just a few minutes walk from the lake Ho Tay. It’s a nice area to go out at some bars in the evening and discover the beautiful streets. I recommend having a walk around the big lake, it is very peaceful and you get easily in touch with locals. When you sit on the bench there it is very likely to get asked by a local to practice English with them. It’s a nice way to learn more about their culture and life. Hanoi Social Club is a hip cafe with a chill vibe with vegan options which you should check out.
Sa Pa is a beautiful little town in the northern mountains. It’s a 6 hour bus ride from Hanoi, I did an overnight journey but would book a day bus next time. There are many families that offer accommodation in their houses which is the best way to explore the mountains. I wouldn’t stay in the town, Sa Pa as it’s touristic. The best way to find a home stay is Facebook. Mine was called “Sa Giang Thi Sa”. The woman picked me up from the bus station and we walked to her house which is located in the middle of the mountains with a stunning view. There were 4 other guests staying. You get 2 home cooked meals shared all together. During the day the family would take us on hikes. We had lots of fun together and with the family, playing cards in the evenings and just really find time to calm down in the nature. It was one of the best experiences in Vietnam!
Q & A
How was the food?
I would definitely recommend the Pho soups which you can get at any local place.
Pack warmer clothes, especially in the mountains it can get chill
The buses are amazing, it’s more like a bed than a seat what you get which is very comfortable also for long bus journeys.