Da Lat Eats

Eating in Vietnam, Vietnamese local food, vietnamese streetfood, Dalat streetfood

Delicious Da Lat Eats and where to find them

We’ve gone on and one about the produce here in Da Lat and it’s time to put our money where our taste buds are. We’d like to introduce you to our Da Lat eats!

Our stay so far has been epic and one of the things that makes it epic is the food! We were lucky enough to have a decent amount of time in this spectacular city to enjoy an array of different eats. We felt it only fair to share them with you.

Da Lat Roadside eats

We’ve got corn, we repeat, we got corn

We’re normally a tad hesitant to take on roadside food without someone that knows what they are doing. But every now and then though, we luck out! Our first roadside experience in Da Lat turned out to one of those times and it was deliciouuuuus!

We walked past this little old lady frying something up on the side of a busy main road. We couldn’t tell what it was but it smelt amazing! It was sweet, but not sickly, fried but not greasy and had us super curious.

At first, we walked right on by but then decided to suck it up and scurried back to find out what it was.

We’re not sure what they’re called but we’ve named them Vietnamese corn fritters. Delectable little deep fried balls of whole corn kernels, coriander, chili and some other elements we weren’t sure of  all in a delicate batter.  They were soooo goood!

We added two more pieces to the corn fritters but these were slightly wide and flat and covered in the same batter as the fritters. What we had now were slices of sweet potato (kumara), covered in batter and deep fried. Ugh my mouth waters just thinking of it.

Combined, the whole lot only cost us VND 35,000 (~USD 1.00 / ~AUD 2.00).

They were so good, that they disappeared before we could take a picture. Sorry guys! We’ll see if can remedy that on a next visit. Wink-wink.

If it looks like a toastie, it must be a toastie

A few days later we were on our way back to our hotel after a long day on our feet. We stopped in at our new favorite, Lien Hoa Bakery, only to find almost everything sold out.

We pretty hungry by then and still new Da Lat, in an area we hadn’t been in before. There were small restaurants everywhere but we couldn’t tell what they were and didn’t want to risk it.

That’s when we saw the toasted sandwiches! Leon was happy to be guinea pig and ordered one. I was still dubious at this stage as the bread was a weird soft yellow color with brown stuff oozing from the middle.

I should’ve known then I was going to miss out! Leon offered me the last bite and after concluding it seemed safe to eat, I tried it.

Pineapple Lump Toastie!! (Sorry but that will only mean something to the Kiwis and Aussies right now.) But you guys read it right!

A light, sweet batter made with real pineapple and a gooey warm chocolate center, toasted to perfection. It was heaven!! Not to mention only VND 5,000 (~USD 0.20 / ~AUD 0.30)

We contemplated going back for more, but we had a dinner date with our friend Hà and had to get back.

Eat like a local - the best of Ha and Duong's Da Lat Eats

If you’ve read our Delightful Da Lat blog, then the name Ha will sound familiar. Our new friend was kind enough to introduce us to some of his and his brother Duong’s favorite Da Lat eats.

Nem Nuong at Ba Hung (Phan Dinh Phung Street)

Ha decided to introduce us to a Da Lat specialty called nem nuong. Delicious morsels made of seasoned pork, molded on lemongrass stalks and grilled to smokey perfection over an open flame.

Served with rice paper, fresh greens, pickled and veggies and finished off with peanut sauce and deep fried rice paper.

The fun part was making the rice paper rolls with all the ingredients in it. If you want to see how this went down, head on over to our vlog on the experience.

The ingredients don’t look like much, but don’t be fooled, it’s filling and food coma inducingly good! Plus it only cost VND 100,000 (~USD 4.00 / ~AUD 6.00) to feed three of us. Score!

Vietnamese pizza at Banh Trang Nuong Co Hoa (Thong Thien Hoc)

Erm, deep fried what now?

Ok, we’ll be honest and say there was no mention (that we can recall) of lung being on the menu. We were there for a Da Lat pizza! How they were different to other Vietnamese pizzas we weren’t sure, but about to find out.

Hà took us to Bánh tráng nướng Cô Hoa on Thông Thiên Học and introduced us to his favorite pizza. It was just before we ordered the pizza that Hà mentioned the place was famous for their pig’s lung.

We had a previous incident with chicken liver that scarred us for life. The idea of eating pig’s lung didn’t sit well, but we decided to be brave and give it a go.

We got the pizzas first and it was the usual rice paper base with toppings. What made this one so tasty was the selection of toppings. Everything from sausage, peanuts and herbs to green mango adorned the base and it was delicious!! We tried both the flat and rolled up pizza and they were both yummy but not exactly filling.

Hà assured us the main meal would follow. And with that the deep fried pig’s lung arrived.

The little pieces of black something presented on a bed of shredded rice paper with fresh herbs, seemed harmless enough. It looked like pieces of fried mushroom really, except we knew what it actually was.

Hesitantly we both tried it and were pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure what Leon was expecting but I thought it was going to be bitter, hard and/or chewy. It was anything but.

The outside was crispy and the inside still soft and chewy. It was very well prepared and we enjoyed every piece of it. Will I have it again, probably not, but I’m sure Leon won’t be shy about it.V

Skillet food at ChaCha Xot (Duong Bui Thi Xuan)

It was time for the main course. Hà took us to a spot just around the corner from our hotel called Chacha Xot. It’s one of his favorites and we can see why!

Their menu offers a large selection of rice or noodles with meat and/or seafood and veggies, or just veggie options. There is something for everyone!

The fun part is, you chose what you want and they deliver the ingredients on a hot plate ready for you to finish how you like. Almost like your own personal hot plate. But you don’t have to cook everything from scratch as it arrives partially cooked. All you have to do is toss the ingredients like a pro, finish it off with the sauce and get ready for a delicious food coma!

We went back a second time to try two other dishes. Again, we walked out with stuffed bellies and big grins.

At VND 145,000 (~USD 6.00 / ~AUD 9.00) for both of us, it’s what we would consider a good mid-range option. 

The service was great, the staff spoke some English but it wasn’t hard to interact with them. The restaurant itself had great ambiance with a fresh vibe, which made the whole experience great.

We look forward to another visit the next time we’re in Da Lat.

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Chao Dem (Phan Dinh Phung Street)

Now this was a real treat! On our last night, Hà decided to introduce us to another one of his favorites but this time it wasn’t in a restaurant.

We got to experience an authentic street side specialty called chao dau xanh (green bean soup).

Settled into the customary small plastic table and chairs set up, Hà went straight to work on ordering our dishes. We had no idea what we were in for!

Before long an efficient young man plonked three large bowls in front of us. Each bowl filled with steaming light green goop and it looked mouthwatering.

Another five dishes arrived with some interesting looking condiments. Hà explained that the soup itself, made of rice and green beans, doesn’t have much flavor but that is where the condiments come into it.

These included two selections of cooked veggies, two selections of pickled veggies, anchovies, deep fried tofu, boiled eggs and chili sauce.

The shell on the egg looked very soft and the yolk wasn’t a normal yellow. They intrigued me because they didn’t look like normal boiled eggs and I was right!

Turns out the eggs are left in heavily salted water for five days and then boiled.  They were the saltiest eggs we’ve ever tasted but when combined with the green bean soup, tasted delicious.

We sampled all the vegetable on offer with the soup and on a cold, wet night, it was the perfect comfort food option.

If you ever see a sign that says chao dau xanh, don’t hesitate to give it a go!

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We just want to say a massive thank you to Ha for taking the time to show us so many of his favorite foods. We had an absolute blast trying out so many different and new dishes! And Duong, sorry we couldn’t spend more time with you, but we thoroughly enjoyed your recommendations too, especially La Viet Coffee!!

More Da Lat Eats for mentioning

Lien Hoa Bakery

Another one of our tricks for eating on the cheap is to look for bakeries. Here in Vietnam there is no shortage of them. Another great French influence that the Vietnamese have mastered.

In Da Lat though, there is one bakery that stands out by a country mile and we know why. Their banh mi rocks!! Welcome to Lien Hoa Bakery, a Da Lat eats institute!

Da Lat is unique in that it offers a different kind of banh mi to any other we’ve encountered so far. What makes the Da Lat version special is that it’s served with pork meatballs cooked to delicate perfection in a light and tasty broth. Add in freshly made pate, herbs and pickled veggies and you have a stunner!

Doesn’t sound like much but the simple things in cooking are usually the best. I devoured seven of these things during our stay by myself and at
VND 15,000 (~USD 0.65 / ~AUD 1.00) a piece, it was both filling and bang for our buck.

One thing to watch out for with Lien Hoa is that you never walk out of there with just banh mi lol. It’s a bakery and it’s a big one to boot too. We can vouch for their banh bao, sweet treats, cakes and coffee lol.

Eating in Vietnam, Vietnamese local food, vietnamese streetfood, Dalat streetfood, cheap eats vietnam, vietnam bakery, bakery food

Opening of a brand new Jolibees

If you’ve seen our vlogs, you will know we were big Jollibee fans! When we planned our visit to Da Lat we did look for it, but it seemed Jollibee hadn’t reached Da Lat yet.Only, on day two of walking around, we spotted some Jollibee signs with an upcoming date and we got super excited. That excitement was quickly squashed when we couldn’t find any info on the posters though.Three days before we due to leave, we found out that Jollibee WAS opening a new store in Da Lat. The best part was it was happening the very next day.

We had to do a fair bit of digging on the location as nobody, not even Ha knew where the store was. He gave us a general direction to head in and with that we set of the next morning.

Ha was right! We found a brand new Jollibee and it was having a great big opening party and we were there to celebrate with them.

Cheap Da Lat Eats

We were travelling on a budget and while we weren’t skint, we liked the challenge of making our dong stretch as far as it could. Along with bakeries, we looked for big versions of Super C, Lottemart or Vinmart supermarkets. Why you ask?

Simple, most, but especially the bigger supermarkets, will have a dedicated counter for ready made meals. Here we found chicken and rice with soup for VND 17,000 (~USD 0.75 / ~AUD 1.00) or beef and veggie noodle stir fry for VND 25,000 (~USD 1.00 / ~AUD 2.00).  These are the options we tried, but there were many more to choose from.

Their bakery section is another good spot for cheap eats.

So, if you are traveling on a super tight budget, look for these guys as their  ready made meals offer value for money.

Da Lat eats we missed out on

Unfortunately, we missed out on the night food market due to bad weather. Everything we read and heard about told us it was worth going to so it’s still on the list of things to do.

If you have been and have a dish or treat you think we should try let us know in the comments.

Leon and Tash Vlog

Da Lat is a sparkly gem in the Vietnamese central highlands and one of our favorite destinations. In our Da Lat playlist we'll show you where all the good spots are and some itinerary must have's!

If this is your first visit to our site, then welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

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Delightful Da Lat

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Da Lat, a city of beaty and spoils

The second stop on our motorcycle adventure around Vietnam was Da Lat and we knew little about it.

We knew it was coffee country, has spectacular scenery and some historical value. It’s also a much-loved domestic holiday destination, but other than that, we didn’t know much more about it.

None the less, we couldn’t wait to encounter this new destination and our first real piece of Vietnam. One that isn’t bursting at the seams with foreign tourist.

One thing I will say is that riding those last ten kilometers into Da Lat, was one of the most enjoyable roads to ride.

Cool air breathed new life into our tired bodies as we wound through the wide easy-going roads. Carving through dense jungle covered peaks, peppered with produce of all sorts.

It was a spectacular welcome, that’s for sure!

Leon and Tash Vlog

When your planned five hours of first day riding a motorbike in Vietnam turns into a 16 hour battle against traffic, exhaustion and almost getting killed.

Arriving in Da Lat

Our smiles were soon replaced with furious concentration as we hit the city dead on peak hour traffic. It was almost like we were back in Ho Chi Minh!  It came as a bit of a shock and we weren’t expecting a city this size, not the chaos of heavy congestion.

One of the first things we noticed was how clean and beautiful the city was. Precisely manicured gardens in all shades and sizes. Even a topiary VW Bug sitting in the city central round about proud as a peacock.

The other was the noticeable difference in temperature. It was the first time since February we can remember being cold. Actual, ‘I need a jacket and jeans’ cold and we loved it!

But first things first. We had to find our hotel and hit some much-needed hay. For us, and the bikes. They did a tremendous job of delivering a couple of newbies to their destination and without so much as a sputter. Respect earned!

We were incredibly well looked after at Maxim Hotel and thoroughly enjoyed our stay.  Have a read of our full review here.

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Not sure where to start looking for bus tickets, time tables and the like?

Da Lat is the transportation hub of the Vietnamese highlands. Everything from buses, trains and private transport scoots in and out of this busy city, making it easy to get to and from!

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Showing the beasts some love

After an epic 400 kilometer or so trip up from Ho Chi Minh, it was time to show the Waves some love.

The plan was to get them washed, followed by a much-needed service. Ha gave us some ideas on where to find bike wash places and we had Honda dealership lined up for servicing.

Rua Xe (bike wash)

The rửa xe we chose was a short push from Maxim and the Honda dealership a short five-minute ride from there.

When we arrived at the bike wash there was a bit of a language barrier to get over. But after a few laughs we managed to convey what we wanted and set off to find a coffee.

Within an hour we had two shiny bikes back and made another new friend. The hospitality was simple but great and we didn’t expect that for a man sharing yard space with a beauty salon.

(On a side note: Before we left Da Lat, I went and had a pedicure done at that very same beauty salon. I couldn’t help but giggle as I watched Mr. Bike Washer expertly drying a customer’s hair while entertaining the waiting customers.

It’s moments like that I look for. That pure why of life, uncut, uncensored and you just melt into the medley with those in the moment.

My half hour pedicure turned into almost two hours of chatting, and laughing. I almost forgot I was in a foreign country all together. All from a ‘two chair out the front of the family home set up’. And it was the best thing ever!

Another memory that will stay with me forever.)

Washing the bikes cost us VND 50,000 (~USD 2.00 / ~AUD 3.00) per bike.

 

Genuine Honda service that didn’t break the bank

Servicing didn’t quite go to plan, but despite that, we still had a great experience with the team at Thang Loi 1 Head Honda.

We wanted a full service but due to the language barrier we only got an oil change and brake check on both bikes and my tail light fixed. Still for the VND 180,000 (~USD 8.00 / ~AUD 11.00) it cost us, we weren’t complaining.

Da Lat Attractions

It was hard not falling in travel-love with Da Lat. It has a lot on offer, both in the city and the surrounding areas.

We arrived at the beginning of the wet season and thought we’d be okay with it being the start but we wrong.

Wet season is wet season and when it kicks in, its long downpours and lots of cold, cloudy spells in between. But mostly rain.

We wanted to go to a few things like Elephant Waterfall and visit to a well-known coffee plantation. (The latter offers weasel coffee and you can meet the famous critter in person.)

Plus, a number of other things. Sadly, we missed out on much of the outdoor attractions due to the wet weather.

I caught a nasty cold three days into our visit and was finding it hard to shake it. Ending up in a doctor’s room was not happening either.  We had travel insurance but I’d prefer to not have to use it.

While it was a nuisance, it wasn’t the end of the fun. Oh no, there was still plenty of that in the city itself.

Below are some of the things we did get to experience.

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DA LAT CENTRAL MARKET

If you love fresh fruit and veg then Da Lat is your haven! The best place to find all the best fresh goodies, was the Da Lat market. Or better known as Cho Da Lat by the locals. The varieties on offer looked mouth-watering.

Situated in the heart of the city and you can find anything and everything needed for everyday life here. The stalls and shops weren’t limited to food either.

Clothes, shoes, hardware, homeware, wet market, dry market you name it. The best part was they were all within a ten to fifteen-minute walk of each other.

The markets came in handy for our preparations of the next leg of our ride.

At night, the market transforms into food stalls of every kind with a delicious selection of local and well-known treats on offer. We didn’t get to try the night market due to bad weather but will try it out on our next visit if it’s drier.

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XUAN HUONG LAKE

At the heart of Da Lat is a large man-made lake called Xuan Huong Lake. It’s named after a famous Vietnamese poet of the mid-19th century.

The lake sits in the general area where several of the indigenous people of the central highlands use to live together. Da Lat got her name from one of these ethnic groups, the Lat. In their language, Da Lat means “Stream of the Lat”.

The lake offers a few of its own attractions. You can take a paddle boat out onto the lake or a ride around it in a horse-driven carriage.

If gimmicks aren’t your thing then there is plenty of green grass on offer to chill or have a picnic.  You don’t even have to pack food, there are snack vendors everywhere.

Heck you can even go finishing if you have the gear.

DA LAT LAKEFRONT

One of Da Lat’s most recognizable icons is Doha Café and the unique lake front she sits atop.

From a distance it looks like nothing but a large paved area with two strange looking structures on it. As you get closer, you realize one of the structures resembles a flower bud made of glass.

We’re a couple of natural curious cats and decided to go check it out. We have a vlog and blog about the experience, feel free to have a read and a look.

There’s a what, where?

After Doha, we headed over to the other strange shaped building and never actually made it there lol. Turns out there is a whole underground mall below the two glass buildings. The entrance was cleverly disguised as a glass spiral ceiling coming out of the ground.

There we found three levels of shops, a very large supermarket, an arcade and kid’s playground area and a food court.   We later found an underground cinema too. You’d never know all this was there just by looking at the area from a distance.

We decided to leave the mall to head back to the hotel, only the torrential rain had set in and for the night by the look of it.

No taxi, no worry

Trying to hail a taxi turned out to be a little harder than anticipated.  So, we opted for a movie instead.

The Cinestar cinemas were lower in height than we’re used to but it didn’t take away from the experience. If anything, it felt really cozy.

As luck would have it, it was cheap Monday and we only paid VND 90,000 (~USD 4.00 / ~AUD 6.00) for the two tickets. Then decided to splash out VND 105,000 (~USD 5.00 / ~AUD 7.00) for a two drinks, medium popcorn and M&M’s combo. Score!

It turned out to be a fun night, despite the weather and we had to catch a taxi back to the hotel as it was still raining. For the VND 30,000 (~USD1.00 / ~AUD 2.00) we paid, it didn’t break the bank and kept us dry!

UNIQUE TOURIST SPOTS

These two experiences were so unique that we gave them each their own blog.

The first is the 100 Roofs Cafe with a strange labyrinth of nooks and crannies wedged into a tiny four level building with a pretty spectacular view from the rooftop.  If you can find it!

The second was Crazy House, also known as Hang Nga Guesthouse.

One of the craziest experiences you’ll ever have in Vietnam, for sure!

ALL THE KING’S PALACES

If you follow our vlogs you would have seen our visit to the Imperial Palace in Hue and the reference to Boa Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam.

Boa Dai was an avid hunter and pleasure seeker and Da Lat was his favorite playground. So much so that Da Lat boasts three of the late emperor’s palaces.

Two of the three palaces are open to the public. The third is for dignitaries visiting Da Lat and while the public are welcome to roam the garden, they cannot enter the palace building itself.

We create a blog with all the juicy bits on these two soon, so keep your peepers peeled.

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DA LAT ART DECO RAIL STATION

French influence is evident across Da Lat and none more so than the Da Lat Rail station.

Designed in 1932 by two French architects, Moncet and Reveron. Then built and completed by Swedish engineers in 1938.

The story goes that the French were great at design, but in this instance, the Swedes were better at building it. They could build rail lines at an altitude and landscape like that of the Da Lat plateau.

The design was unusual for a building of this period too. It was both art deco and traditional Vietnamese communal house. Very clever!

At inception, the line connected Da Lat with two daily runs to Nha Trang and Saigon respectively.

Like so many other icons, it got destroyed in latter part of the Vietnam war.

In 1991 the rail station reopened to the public after 7 kilometers was rebuilt. The new line takes visitors to nearby Trai Mat and back in an hour round trip, five times a day.

We got there a bit late and missed the last train for the day.  But we were still able to walk around the rail station and see some the carriages and fixtures. One of the original locomotives is still on display and you can enjoy a coffee inside a carriage for a bit of fun.

Only thing we found bothersome was the hawkers clogging the old platform. The fact that they were trying to make a living was fine. It was the fact that they were selling wares that had no connection to the rail station and her history.

But if you can look past that, it’s still a neat hour’s visit to a piece of Da Lat history.

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EATING LIKE A LOCAL IN DA LAT

As we mentioned before, Da Lat is famous for her produce.

Hà, again was kind enough to take us to some of his local favorite eateries. He introduced is to some very different kinds of dishes and we loved them all!

We tried so many new things that we’re writing another blog piece covering all our favorite morsels from Da Lat.

We’ll leave you with a hint of what we experienced for now though.

There were the sweet smelling fried balls from the side of the road, the deep fried pig’s lung (yeah, we had that look on our face too), and a green rice porridge with salty boiled eggs.

Leon and Tash Vlog

Pig's fried what now?? Find out how to eat like a local in Da Lat

THE GOOD STUFF – DA LAT COFFEE

We love the coffee shops in Vietnam it’s not secret. Da Lat was an exception to our usual experiences in that we were IN coffee country.

The fact that there was no Cong Ca Phe or even a Highlands Coffee had us intrigued at first. But, the more we explored the local coffee shops, the more we realized what was on offer was amazing in its own right. Coffee in its most delicious form.

We tried different coffees from different cafes and they were all good.

At one cafe, we attempted to order using the words on the menu only as there were no pictures. We had a good laugh as we ended up with a cà phê đá which is basically a cold coffee mixed with condensed milk and poured over ice.

Not so great on a cold, wet day ha-ha!

 

Stand out coffee moments

There were two stand out coffee moments during our visit to Da Lat.

The first was the Da Lat Nights special coffee. We’re not sure what was in it as it seemed to be a guarded secret lol. It was strong, slightly sweet and had something extra in it, but we’re not sure.  It was a thick, slow coffee and it was very enjoyable. We do recommend giving it a go!

If you’re ever in Da Lat looking for something to do at night, go visit Da Lat Nights Café. It’s worth the trip up there to enjoy a view of the city from a different perspective (wink).

The second was more of an experience (thanks to Hà again) as we went to a café owned by actual coffee grower. At Là Việt you can enjoy an expertly made coffee, and also learn about their beans and the roasting and blending processes they undergo.

We were also lucky enough to walk away with two of their blends. Leon’s favorite is the 100% Arabica Traditional blend which is a bold, dark roast that is suitable for most methods of brewing.

I preferred the 100% Arabica Classico blend which is a slightly lighter roast and again suited to most methods of brewing. Great choices to take on the road with us. We’ll let you know what they are like once we cracked those bad boys!

A huge thank you to Hà and Là Việt for a great evening.

What we thought of our visit to Da Lat

Our overall impression of Da Lat is nothing but happiness. We extended our stay here twice, despite the weather, that’s how much we enjoyed it.

Even then we didn’t get to do it all.  We will definitely try to get back to this amazing slice of heaven tucked away in the Vietnam highlands. If we do, we’ll let you know what we find next time.

From a practical point, the city is easy to navigate, foreigner friendly, relatively cheap with plenty of amenities. It was a winner for us.

On offer is loads of fresh air (a godsend after Ho Chi Minh City), and plenty to keep you busy. You can enjoy amazing food and refreshing beverages at an array of cool, quirky and unique venues.  Da Lat has it all!

Leon and Tash Blog

Things to do in Da Lat

If this is your first visit to our site, then welcome!  Head on over to our Things to do in Vietnam Page where we tell you about more things you should add to your Vietnam itinerary.

Don’t forget to subscribe and join our Tribe!  You’ll find us on Twitter, Facebook , Insta  and YouTube too!

Thanks for reading guys and we’ll see you in the next post…