Around Da Lat and not within walking distance are a series of waterfalls that are simply gorgeous but you need a way there. You can rent a ride on a motorbike or rent a bike yourself. Since its rainy season here the best way I think and perhaps the most expensive is to get a tour. I chose Da Lat daily tours headquartered here in Da Lat. But since I am a solo traveler and most of these are built for groups or families I had to pay as though I was two. This came up to about $70 yesterday to see about 7 different sites and have the wonderful, funny, and intellect Ha with me as a tour guide.
We visited the Pongour and Elephant falls as well as a beautiful and modern Pagoda and then drove through herds of buffalo and calves and visited minority villages that are completely different and flower farms where I met the owner.
We also spent a leisurely hour or more over Arabica freshly made coffee talking about life, traveling, Vietnam, families and the differences between the US and Vietnamese families. She is a fun and wonderful guide and new friend that communicates in English so well, teases affectionately, and kept me so incredibly involved in the tour.
Yesterday was only the first day I have a tour with Da Lat Daily Tours. Thursday we will visit Pagodas and other sites which Ha has assured me will be fun, educational, and enlightening. I believe her!
Here’s the Da Lat photo album which combines the tours and my wanderings on a daily basis. Enjoy the photo’s of the waterfalls! Of the two we visited yesterday, Pongour waterfall is much better and more beautiful. Its more nuanced and has elements that cascade all around where the Elephant waterfall is more focused with so-called elephant rocks at the bottom that you have to really look at. You can hike to the bottom but I deferred since the way is very slippery and I did not feel like slipping or falling and Ha assured me while the view below is good the danger is real and people have fallen and hurt themselves.
I would say if you visit Da Lat other than waterfalls be sure you include visiting a coffee plantation. I will get the name of the one we went to but I should be able to find it online too since its the largest. Coffee growers actually grow two beans here which have radically different elevation requirements that are both met here in Da Lat. The Arabica bean requires higher elevations at or about 1500m while Robusta beans thrive lower. I saw both side by side and tasted the beans raw. The beans are sweet to taste! We disagreed which one was sweeter. Ha believes that the Arabica is sweeter.
A second amazing thing was seeing the vast differences of other things grown in this food basket of Vietnam. Not just the fruits and produce but also pepper plants. We stopped and I tasted pepper seeds which are highly spiced.
We also stopped at the Ninh An Tu Pagoda next to Elephant Waterfalls and burned incense and toured. The Pagoda is active and the grounds are open to respectful visits with cameras. I love visiting Pagodas and Temples. Do you know the difference between them?
Somehow we fit lunch at a cafe and diner in-between and had cheap and delicious dishes. I had a nice chicken with rice and salad for all of 40k VND. Very reasonable given the rather touristy locales we were in.
The final stops were a minority village and a flower farm where I met the flower farm owner and Ha translated our discussions about growing flowers, families, traveling.
An amazing day and I met a wonderful person who teased, laughed, and told me so much about her life and how families in Vietnam are so different than our US counterparts.