En route at 6pm we are! We ended up on the Open Tour buses– which allows travelers who are traveling north to south or vice versa to buy a one time ticket for $12-$60 (depending on the route and stops) and catch the buses going to the major cities, which we found might have been more economical though the 13hr ride from Hanoi to Hué would have been tough – and were able to sleep quite “comfortably” until we reached Nha Trang. By “comfortably”, I mean we were put in the back of the bus so we had more leg room (which is scarce for anybody over 5″10 – J., not me), however, we were right next to the toilets and we picked up many local travelers who slept in the aisles – not that uncommon when traveling in south-east Asia by bus – and had their heads right by our toes. They may not have enjoyed it.
We arrived in Nha Trang at 6am and had 1.5 hours until our bus to Dalat arrived. We checked out the beach that everyone raved about and were able to witness a beautiful sunrise reminiscent of the Hawaiian majestic (and as crowded) Waikiki beach. We observed people doing their morning swim, jog and tai chi. We were glad we decided not to stay in this very touristy town filled with beach resorts, although aware of its charm and appeal. We grabbed an early bird noodle soup and awaited our second bus at the same place where we were dropped off.
Dalat here we come! On a smaller bus this time as we are going up the mountains and the roads are VERY winding but the scenery is filled with gorgeous green mountains and so many waterfalls that your camera can’t keep up. It took us roughly three hours to reach the mountain city
Dalat was not at all what we had imagined, though extremely pleased with the temperature drop, we imagined it to be much smaller, calmer and peaceful but it turned out to be smaller Hanoi in the mountains. The architecture reminded me of France.
We had one day and were exhausted, so we sadly/reluctantly decided to not do the Elephant Waterfalls, which I am sure would have put us in scenic awe – but opted for the Truc Lam Pagoda and the cable car ride after checking out the musts of the city. One way on the cable car to Truc Lam is 50,000VND ($2.50), might be advisable to take the round-trip cable car fare. We leisurely absorbed the green scenery. We stayed at the Green City Hotel for $14 a night. It was very satisfactory and nearby the city center. However, all attractions are 6km+ away, so your options to do the visits on your own are to either rent a moped, take a cab or wait for public transportation – which, according to locals is scarce.
We took a metered cab, which at the end of the day came to 150,000VND or $7.50 (65,000VND from town to the cable car and 85,000VND from the end of the cable car to the Crazy House with a stop at the Royal Palace). One thing that we visited without prior reading was the Crazy House. It was indicated on the city map the hotel provided us – VERY useful – it is an unconventional building/guesthouse designed by the daughter of a previous Vietnamese political leader. Very fun tour worth the 40,000VND entrance fee ($2). We walked back to the hotel from the Crazy House and stopped by the Dalat market on the way back before enjoying a glass of Dalat Wine in 15 degrees Celsius weather. Aaah
We certainly felt that we could have used more time in Dalat to enjoy the mountains and scenery. We usually prefer to spend at least two nights in a city to allow enough time to visit all that interest us as well be able to rest but due to the time restrictions, we were happy to have the ability to enjoy a bit of Dalat. I guess it just means that we will be back!
On to sandy and sunny Mui Né!