I found this surprisingly convenient Dalat tour. I usually don’t like to join tours, but this one is different.
There are a lot of things to see in Dalat and those things aren’t exactly very close to each other. Therefore the best way to explore the town would be by motorbike, but at that time I wasn’t confident about it. So, I found a way of having a local riding it for me.
This 1 dollar Dalat tour is basically a student that rides you around many points of Dalat on his/her motorbike. They only demand payment of 1 USD to cover the basics and then if you want, you can pay your guide whatever you want. I mean, you can also not pay anything extra, but I think that would not be fair. I found this Dalat tour at Christina’s but I’m not sure they are still doing it.
This tour was perfect for me because I had a local person riding a motorbike for me all the time. The tour was supposed to start at 1 pm and finish at 5 pm.
At 1 pm I had a person waiting for me at the hostel lobby. My guide was this extremely sweet and cute Vietnamese girl. I thought she would be a student trying to practice English but I was wrong. She had one of the best English accents I ever heard from a Vietnamese. I found it odd cause I thought this tour was so cheap because the students would do anything to spend some time with foreigners in order to practice English.
I loved my guide. She was super regardful and took me to many beautiful places in Dalat. This Dalat tour had already a defined itinerary but I was able to make a little change because I have already visited the railway station the previous day. We spent the time talking and I was very admired by this young lady. She was about my age and had the same thoughts as me regarding the world and how we should live in it. It’s not common to find a local with the same ideas. Usually, they just want to be rich, a life goal that I don’t share.
Our first stop was Robin Hill
Robin hill supposedly has the best view of Dalat. It stands taller than the other mountains around and offers a 360º view of Dalat. The views are beautiful and my guide told me a lot about Dalat and this place. She told me how the name Dalat was actually a misunderstanding and why the French liked this area so much. She actually taught me so many things about not only Dalat but Vietnam too. She had so much knowledge to share.
The next stop was Tuyen Lam lake
Tuyen Lam lake is a bit further from Dalat city center so this was a great way to visit it. I and my local guide went there on her motorbike and stopped at one of the coffee places just next to the lake to enjoy the view, a Vietnamese coffee, and a very pleasant conversation. The place is beautiful and so quiet. I could have stayed longer, but we need to move.
The French Quarter
Instead of visiting Dalat railway station, I asked her to visit the French quarter instead. The weather was not pleasant that day and she even had a raincoat for me. How nice!
The french quarter is not more than a place with colonial houses where the influence of the French is clear. Inside the quarter are some wonderful and impressive houses. This place had an entrance fee for tourists, but as I was with a Vietnamese, I suppose, no one charged me anything. The place doesn’t take long to visit and it’s actually nothing that special. But I love architecture so I didn’t mind the time spent there.
Then we visited Da Lat King Palace I or Dinh Bao Dai 1
Here we actually spent a lot of time cause my guide told me pretty much everything about Vietnam’s history. She also told me why there are so many Vietnamese named Nguyen. Nguyen was the last dynasty in Vietnam. Back then, people needed to change their name to the King’s name and that’s why there are so many Nguyens. As the Nguyen dynasty was the last one, many people kept that name. People in rural areas didn’t need to do it because they were not controlled the same way as people living in cities, so a major part of people living in cities had to change their names to Nguyen otherwise they would suffer consequences. My guide also told me a whole lot of interesting things about Vietnam and how the last king didn’t want to be king and fled to France. I truly advise visiting this palace with a guide as the stories you will learn here are pretty impressive. That or my guide was just awesome haha
The palace also has beautiful gardens around that are nice for a walk. I was particularly amazed by the trees that lined up the entrance to the palace. They looked like the bark was falling and I have never seen that kind of tree before. I found it very amazing! We spent too much time here while my guide was enthusiastic telling everything she knows about the history of this king. So we didn’t have much time left to visit the last place: Golden Buddha Pagoda or Van Hanh Pagoda. And you can guess why the name.
Golden Buddha Pagoda
There is a huge Golden Buddha statue overlooking Dalat. The statue is very shiny and impressive. The temple is also pretty but it doesn’t take a lot of time to visit. But we stayed there for a while.
This temple was where I learned that the food that I used to see at the temples is actually to eat. They had a round table at the entrance with cooked dishes and anyone could simply eat it. I had no idea about it before my guide told me we had lucky as that day they had free food.
We didn’t skip this opportunity. The food was very delicious. It had soup, a main dish, and dessert. It was so tasty!!! I was so lucky for that experience of eating with my guide at the temple. That’s something I never knew about cause I don’t usually have guides… It was already way past 5 pm when we finished our tour. I think we enjoyed the day too much and time went by too fast.
I really liked my guide and I truly appreciated everything I learned with her. In this Dalat tour, besides the dollar, you are supposed to pay for the food and tickets of your guide and if you want you can give some extra. Of course, I did it because I felt like she deserved it. I didn’t give her more cause I had no more money with me.
After the Dalat tour, we scheduled to meet after dinner to have a drink and talk a bit more. We went to the Maze bar that is different from any other bar I have visited. The bar is actually a maze 3 stories tall and there are rumors that when drunk you can actually get lost inside. The decoration is pretty cool and the place looks awesome. Of course, the place was mainly full of foreigners, but some Vietnamese were enjoying the creepy set either. It was a pretty cool place to visit.
We said our goodbyes and I had sure that I would never have found a better way to explore Dalat than this one. Loved this 1 USD Dalat tour and totally recommend it!