Distance: 190 km
Time: Around six hours
Route rating: 8/10
After spending two days feasting on delicious seafood and exploring the vast undulating sand dunes a change of pace and scenery was required so we headed inland to Dalat in the South-West highlands.
As we left Mui Ne the road took us north and onto the dreaded Highway 1 but we need not have worried as we weren’t on this hellish highway for long. We quickly took a left onto a quiet road google has labelled as 717 (I don’t remember seeing a sign for it) and then headed up a
road dirt track for around 10 km. We had to channel our inner Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman to stop our bikes from toppling over as we bumped along this poor excuse for a road…
Once we left this road we hopped on to the QL28 which zig zagged through the hills. This was our first experience of hill biking and it was incredible. Three days ago we were in a huge urban metropolis, two days ago beach, one day desert sand dunes, and now we were riding through tree clad mountains which felt almost European in their climates and foliage. Reflecting on this as we rode up the hills I was staggered at the beauty and variety of the scenery in this small area we had explored.
The other highlight of this journey was the DT725 into Dalat. You’ll see on the map that a large detour is required at the end and that is because bikes can’t go on the CT14 (if the police catch you on it you’ll have to slip them a bribe). This detour would be worth taking even if you could go direct due to the awesome views of the valley and the fresh tarmac that winds around the mountains.
Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Whilst TLC offered sage advice on the matter of scrubs, when in Dalat it’s best to ignore this other advice and go on a hunt exploring the best waterfalls the region has to offer. I found this blog which has detailed reviews on all the waterfalls and a handy map you can download to help locate them. Explore and enjoy!
Dalat used to be a resort in the days of French colonial rule and you can definitely see it’s remaining influence in the architecture of some buildings. Due to its altitude it also has the most consistent, cool pleasant climate which means it is a centre for agriculture. Both roads in and out of Dalat are hugged by dilapidated looking conservatories growing everything from flowers to strawberries.
We stayed at Lucky D’s hostel which was the cheapest place we’d stayed at the whole trip. It was basic accommodation with mattresses on a floor in a big room but it’s a social place which makes it worthwhile. We almost had our first disaster of the trip as Katherine tried and failed to ride Barney up the steep narrow path to Lucky’s place, she ran out of power halfway up the path and fell off the bike. Luckily she didn’t fall off the side of the path and the bike was undamaged but we were left a bit shook by our first close call of the trip. When we got there Lucky instantly made us feel at home and even took us out for dinner that evening. The only problem for us was that a couple of people got lucky in the corner of the room at Lucky’s whilst we were trying to sleep…
Some of the top things worth seeing in Dalat are: the waterfalls (make a day of it and bike around exploring the more remote ones), drinking weasel sh*t coffee at one of the the coffee farms, the silk farm, the crazy house and the maze bar. Also Dalat is the wine capital of Vietnam so it would be rude not to have a glass of its average offering, after all one wouldn’t visit the Champagne region and not have a flute of Champagne!!
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