Da Lat: Street food and what to do.
I think it is fair to say that we had some of the most exciting and enjoyable times of our Vietnamese trip in Dalat. Within driving distance of the city there are multiple waterfalls to visit. We used the Vietnam Coracle blog as a reference for travelling throughout, which is really well written and highly recommended; http://www.vietnamcoracle.com
He has a page detailing the top 10 waterfalls around Dalat and we settled on Pongour waterfall and rented a bike to get there.
The falls themselves were pretty beautiful, but we decided to go off the beaten track down the rocks by the riverbank, trying to find a circular walk we had seen on a map at the entrance. We walked for quite a while, constantly trying to cross the river, but with no success and eventually hit a fence. Rather than turning back and retracing our steps, we decided to climb up the steep hill by the river along the fence. There was no path and we were really scrambling up hill following an animal track.
When we reached the top, we hit another fence that we then snuck under. We suddenly found ourselves lost in a coffee plantation and luckily hitched a ride out of there on a tractor with the coffee farmers, which was very bumpy, slow, but hilarious. They stopped to kill a deadly snake with rocks that made us realise we had been really lucky on our scramble!
We eventually reached a small village where Rick helped unload the coffee berries as a thank you for the ride. A local called us a taxi and we drove back to the entrance of the falls to find the gates locked shut with our bike on the other side. Disaster! The cab driver helped us out and jumped the fence, luckily finding someone to open it and we managed to drive home.
Another thing that we loved about Dalat (like most of Vietnam) was the food. However it was especially good here! Our favourite dishes that we tried can be found on the map below:
Numbers 1 – 3 we found all in the market. The first thing we tasted, which was totally new to our exploratory food journey, was a traditional breakfast dish called Banh Beo; Small steamed rice cakes topped with a variety of toppings including pork scratchings! Was so delicious and delivered at high speed by a lady who had been running the stall for 15 years:
We then tried the local market noodle soup with a fragrant, rich and flavoursome broth. For dessert we had a yoghurt and sweet sticky rice fruit drink called Nep Cam.
We spotted another noodle soup right next to the Nep Cam, that we were keen to try, but had no more room even in our greedy little tummies! So we agreed to return the next day to try it. Unfortunately it seems that there is a very small time window to catch these culinary wonders. They are only available between 11 and 12.30 and due to their popularity, they sell out quick! We tried to return the following day at around 1330 to find none of the stalls their.
When it came to eating at night, the best place we found was on the bridge a small walk away from the market that offered a couple of different dishes; ‘Banh Mi Xui Mai’ and ‘Xoi Thit Nuo’ng’. The stand was run by a woman called Miss Ha and offered sticky rice with pork ribs and another dark coloured broth served with a crusty baguette. We really noticed the French influence in Vietnamese cuisine, particularly when it came to their small baguettes.
The other places that we had good food are also marked on the map… a decent Banh Mi place and a Korean style BBQ, which was delicious, but came with a much higher price tag than the street food that we had become so fond of!