100 Roof Cafe, a Da Lat must see

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The 100 Roofs cafe is definitely something else!

We must have walked past this odd-looking place half a dozen times before curiosity got the better of us.

We weren’t sure if 100 Roof Cafe was an actual bar or a coffee café or another type of café we hadn’t come across before. With things like a “Cookies and cream rum milkshake” on the menu it had to be a bar, but it just didn’t look like one.

From the outside it almost looks like the entrance to one of those vintage carnival horror rides. With jagged edges and creepy mismatched decor, luring you in with morbid curiosity.

It turned out to be anything but!

When you order a drink and find yourself in a labyrinth

I ordered a Da Lat specialty called artichoke tea, curious to find out what it was about.

Leon took his chances with the cookies and cream rum milkshake (shudder). He swears it was drinkable, and I tried enough to know not to order one (I’m not much of a rum drinker).

Drinks ordered, we took our designated seats and waited. It wasn’t long before we got the green light to head down the stairs.

We had no idea what to expect but the lady behind the counter was very eager for us to get down there.

Our first glimpse into this oddity was down a tight staircase, leading into a dark abyss. The whole things shouted ‘creepy dark forest vibe’, and it did not inspire any enthusiasm for me.

Leon however, was chomping at the bit to get down there and no doubt scare the living lights out of me. LOL

We took a few sips, assessed that the drinks were in fact tasty and set off for the dark abyss with mixed feelings.

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Down the rabbit hole we go

The first landing had the same dark forest feel as the staircase. The room had some extra creepy additions of faces and creatures coming out of the walls. The lights had a lot to do with the ambiance, but again, we weren’t sure what the aim was.

Curiously, there were some chairs and tables down there too but not a whole lot of room to move. I wasn’t expecting the seating options, which made the place even more strange.

At this point it felt like I had stepped into a scene at Spookers (It’s a haunted attraction back home).  I couldn’t help but feel like something nasty was about to either jump or crawl out of the hole I was heading towards.

Still apprehensive, I squirmed through said hole. Relieved that nothing was there to scare the life out of me.

I was laughing though, because I’m 5’4” trying to imagine 6’2” Leon contorting himself through the space. It was hilarious.

What greeted us on the other side is somewhat hard to describe and make a vlog about but we’ll try.

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When the hole becomes a maze

We found ourselves in an elaborate labyrinth of nooks, crannies, doorways, staircases and dead ends. Some were dimly lit, others pitch black! We also found headaches, shin aches and finger aches thanks to all the dark explorations. LOL!

At one point Leon and I lost each other in the labyrinth. While I could hear the traffic outside, I couldn’t for the life of me pick up on where Leon was.

I managed to find my way back to the front desk without knowing how. It didn’t take long for a new lady with a spectacular smile to ask if I’d seen the garden terrace.

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Back? In there?

There’s a garden terrace, in there?? I wasn’t sure what to make of that question. But before I knew it, I was back in the dark abyss looking for the garden terrace. I was not looking forward to this as I had no idea how long it would take to find my way back out again.

I did manage to find a couple of the spots overlooking the street and city. I guessed it was from the second and third floors and they had fantastic views over the city.

But, I had a garden terrace and husband to find, there was no time to admire the view.

Found Leon! Now where’s the front door again?

Five minutes later I collided with a large body in the dark. Before I could scream and run the other way, my husband assured me it was him.

The first question out of his mouth was, “have you seen the garden terrace?”.

I relayed my experience to a highly amused Leon who showed me the way to the garden terrace, laughing all way.

Once we reached the top, I could see what the fuss was about. If I thought the view from the second and third floors were great, it certainly had nothing on what I was looking at now.

Leon and Tash Blog

Things to do in Da Lat

It was worth finding!

An almost 360-degree view from the top one of the highest points of the city, and what a view! Complete with a scene of its own and some interesting characters.

We could see almost every peak and valley of Da Lat and it was postcard perfect. Low lying clouds kissing the tops of the highest peaks while a soft rain covered everything else in a sparkling glow. It almost felt like another world.

The lady with the spectacular smiled joined us while we were admiring view. Turns out she is the original owner’s daughter and had some interesting history tit bits to share with us.

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How did the 100 Roofs Cafe start?

The 100 Roof Cafe was the brainchild of well-known Da Lat architect, Lu Truc Phuong. It was his dream to create something distinct. Something everyone will want to see when they visit Da Lat.

In 1989 construction started on a narrow four storey building on Phan Bội Châu street, called 100 Roof Cafe. Today it has a bit of a legendary status in Da Lat and Lu Truc Phuong’s daughter now proudly continues the legacy.

Each level is different to the last with new additions constantly switches things up. It’s almost like you’re playing the never-ending version of hide and seek.

The rooftop garden terrace is currently under construction.  We’re uber curious to see what they do with the space. Whatever it is, it’s going to be unique, that’s for sure!

At night the cafe turns into a lively bar.  Its patrons roam the labyrinth in search of their perfect seat (which there are plenty of).

We can only imagine what the place looks like at night, but we would definitely go back to experience it all again.

Even though, my first impression wasn’t that great, it did turn into a fun experience and a barrel of laughs.

100 Roofs Cafe is a must visit in Da Lat

When you find yourself in Da Lat, we can highly recommend the 100 Roof Cafe for a fun and unique experience, day or night.

If we could give you one tip it would be to use your phone as a torch. It will come in handy for those pitch-black spots.  The ones where you’re not sure if it’s a staircase leading up or down or a nook and cranny you can’t fit into. LOL

Whatever you do, don’t forget to have fun, that was the intent with this unique venue.

Leon and Tash Vlog

All our Da Lat adventures in one place!

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Da Nang Fresco Village – a painted paradise

Da Nang Vietnam Things to do in Da Nang danang murals paintings

Looking for an artwork experience with a difference?

Then find out why the Da Nang Fresco Village is a must see on your Da Nang itinerary!

What makes the Da Nang Fresco Village so interesting and why should you go see it?

 That’s easy…

It’s a refreshingly different insight into,

  • Da Nang local culture
  • folklore, and
  • meeting talented local artists.

 

The Fresco Impact

In a city where growth is rampant, you have to give kudos to thinking minds. The face and spirit of Da Nang is rapidly changing with a big impact on local values and culture.

As little as six years ago it was a quiet seaside fishing town boasting simple living. Now there are hotels and resorts sprouting with lightning efficiency. Today there are more foreigners and out of towners than locals and that has a big impact.

 

Getting to know the community behind the project

The one thing I love most about travel is getting to know the inhabitants of the city I’m in. Beside being in a new destination, you also get to experience a genuine sense of culture, spirit and community. For a brief time you get to live life as someone else. You feel what they feel. You see the way they see and hear what they hear. Those experiences can leave lasting impressions.

Da Nang Vietnam Things to do in Da Nang danang murals paintings

Da Nang is paying attention to these modern methods of introducing tourists to local culture. The city is finding clever ways to introduce the ever-increasing hordes of foreigners to her way of life. No easy feat for any city, let alone one experiencing this level of rapid change. The Da Nang Fresco village is one of these initiatives and it’s well worth the visit!

 

Introducing the Da Nang Fresco Village

By now you might be wondering what a fresco village is.  A fresco, in short, it’s a painting done in watercolor on wet plaster on a wall or ceiling. The ‘village’ part relates to the neighborhood that scarified the outer walls of their homes to the cause.

So, when I first read about the Da Nang Fresco Village I knew this was going to be something extraordinary. We hadn’t been to a fresco village before and I can see why it’s so popular.

It gives you the sense of an open-air gallery of sorts, almost like a refined form of street art. It has that intimate feel about it. The one where you feel like you’re the only person there. You’re not only seeing the art on the wall, but you’re also absorbing it in the environment around you.

This project was the brainchild of a forward-thinking local community. Some of these families have been here for many generations. While others are supporters who came here, proud and passionate about their new home.

They not only want to preserve their history and culture but they also want to showcase it.

How did they do it? They teamed up with some very talented local artists to create something special. They created Da Nang’s first fresco or mural village.

Where is the Da Nang Fresco Village?

Location: 75 Nguyễn Văn Linh, Phước Ninh, Hải Châu, Đà Nẵng

If you didn’t know exactly where on the map it is, you could easily walk past it and not know it. The small entrance sits off Nguyen Van Linh, not far from the Dragon Bridge.

As soon as you enter the small alley you’re transported to authentic Vietnam. Away from all the resort hustle and bustle.

Best time to visit

Unlike most attractions, this one doesn’t have hours.  The best time to visit is during the day to get the most out of your visit.

It’s neighborhood and you can visit it as long as you are being respectful to the residents.

How did the project come to be?

There is approximately 1,200 square meters of painted alleyways to feast your eyes on. The collaboration between artists and home owners provided a breathtaking labyrinth of murals.

Artists spent three months completing these frescoes. Each one telling its own story. Each depicting something about the area be it historic, cultural, scenic or legend. Every stroke drawing you deeper into the scene. 

It can be a constantly battle between wanting to stay longer or rush to the next one.

The community is proud of this project and eager to share it with anyone. They love listening to comments and eagerly inhale any feedback to continue its success.

An unexpected personal tour

In particular was one of the gentlemen we spoke to at the start of village, who told us about how the project came to be.

Nhan himself, a Ho Chi Minh City native, moved and ended up staying in Da Nang to be a part of this project.

His excitement was so contagious we couldn’t help but get excited with him.

After talking to Nhan for a few minutes, he volunteered to take us around and tell us more about the works. That was an absolute treat!

 

Hooray for amazing volunteers!

This is purely a community initiative with neighborhood people volunteering their time, services and products to the cause.

It’s not just about walking around and looking at pretty street art either.

The village also features an arts and crafts area for those wanting to explore their own creative side. You will have the choice of painting a nón lá (traditional Vietnamese leaf hat) or theater mask. Don’t want to get your hands dirty?  That’s fine too, you can simply pick a souvenir to take with you.

The food area showcases Da Nang food and those cooking are happy to chat and answer any questions while they cook your dish.  The dishes are simple, fresh and tasty with decent variety for everyone to enjoy.

What is great about the food area too is that the murals in the courtyard are courtesy of the neighborhood kids. Turns out they are just as talented as their adult mentors.At the moment, the alleys are functioning roads. There is a fair bit of scooter traffic zipping up and down so it pays to be vigilant.

Aiming for bigger and better

Nhan also told us that there will be other cultural additions to the project in time. Their hope is to expand the murals further. They want to make it bigger as well as add more cultural activities for visitors to enjoy.

There have been calls to make the area a pedestrian only zone but we haven’t hear much about that since.

 

These aren’t just pretty pictures

While the fresco’s are beautiful, each one has it’s own tale to tell.  The pink wings for instance. It tells of a mythical creature with a love of earthly things.  On one particular visit she is tricked, causing her to lose her wings, leaving her stranded on earth.

We won’t give it all away, but make sure you ask about them as they include folklore and poetry too.

 

Something special

Special mention should definitely go to the owner of little refreshment station.

Half way through the village we came across a small seating area offering a drink. There was a sign pointing to a colorful tray displaying all the ingredients.  It was very clever and visually appealing.

Da Nang Vietnam Things to do in Da Nang danang murals paintings

We enjoyed a traditional Vietnamese drink called nuoc mia. Traditionally it’s made from sugar juice, blended with ginger and lemongrass. This brew had a few other herbs and spices added to it and that’s the beauty of it, it too can be creative. A refreshing treat at a small cost and well worth supporting!

Support the Da Nang Fresco Village!

We had a fantastic time here and learnt more about Vietnam, her beautiful culture and rich history. We also met some passionate locals who are happy to make a new friend or two, just like us.

If you would like to learn more about this project, please go to their Facebook page. A massive thanks to all those involved in this initiative, you’ve done a great job!

There is a lot to learn from a local. In fact, we’re excited to see what the future holds for this project. If you do too, please support them, it’s worth it!

Da Nang Vietnam Things to do in Da Nang danang murals paintings

Leon and Tash Vlog

Follow us as Nhan takes us through the village and explains how it came to be and what it means to the local community

If this is your first visit to our site, 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…