Fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat as a stopover on your Vietnam vacation. Dalat is an oddity, but a delightful one. While tropical heat and Socialist architecture define much of Vietnam, mild temperatures and colonial architecture are more Dalat’s beat. You’ll think you were in the French Alps instead of Southeast Asia, which makes sense as the French built the city in the early twentieth century as a resort getaway. Today, the city is Vietnam’s honeymoon capital, which leans into its European heritage with its eccentric Eiffel Tower-themed radio tower and “Valley of Love,” complete with swan boats. Dalat might ring as kitschy to some, but a few days here will be a highlight of any trip to Vietnam. Explore the city centre to take in the city’s oddball charms, including the Hang Nga Guesthouse, dubbed the “Crazy House” for its Alice in Wonderland-style architecture. However, you’ll want to escape to the surrounding hillsides to get a fuller sense of the region’s appeal.
The hills around Dalat are dotted with pagodas, waterfalls, picturesque inclines, as well as plantations for fruits not normally grown in Vietnam. For instance, temperatures and elevations allow farmers to grow strawberries instead of rice. Hire one of the veteran motorbike guides, dubbed Easy Riders, to drive you around for an authentic experience of the city and its region. It might be unconventional, but it’ll allow you access to sights not normally offered in Vietnam tour packages, and you’ll get amazing information from a guide with a wealth of experience. The surrounding hills and lakes are also ideal if you want to whitewater raft or race through the hills on the back of a motorcycle.
What to Expect
On your maiden visit to the Big Apple, be sure to allow a minimum of three days so you can take a breath and enjoy all the city has to offer without being in transit every moment of your trip. The following will only scratch the surface of what to expect but will arm you with information to feel confident during your time in New York City.
Selamat datang! Welcome to Malaysia. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you have any free time beforehand, why not get out and explore this intriguing city that was born between the Borneo jungle and the South China Sea.
Modern-day ‘KK’ is a vibrant modern metropolis, having recovered from World War II bombings – the Sabah State Museum is a great place to immerse yourself in its backstory.
Leaving Kota Kinabalu behind, you’ll head for the hills and travel towards the unspoiled wilderness of the World Heritage-listed Mt Kinabalu National Park (approximately 3 hours). You will stop off en route at a local home in a Dusun Village. Sample the local foods with a home cooked lunch to get some insight into what it’s like to live in a rural village.
Later you can stretch your legs and soak up the mountain scenery with a stroll through Mt Kinabalu National Park. There are many walking trails from which you can bird watch. The Mt Kinabalu Botanical Garden is an excellent showcase of the diverse plant life on the mountain, as flora from all over the park has been replanted here. Spend the night in a mountain lodge close by to the park in Kundasang.
You might wake to the call of a Bornean gibbon, or perhaps a hornbill. Enjoy an early morning cruise down the river, searching for more birds and wildlife. Keep an eye out for Long Tail Macaques and Pig Tail Macaques – your expert leader can tell you the difference. Later that morning, take a walk to Bilit Village, home to the local Orang Sungei community.
The Orang Sungei, which translates to ‘River People’, are one of Sabah’s many indigenous communities and are very hospitable with a diverse cultural heritage. Enjoy some free time in the afternoon before another river cruise to see wildlife along the riverbank. This final river cruise will be your last chance to photograph or simply marvel at your surrounds. Spend one more night in your lovely accommodation right in the heart of the jungle.
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