In Vietnam, Dalat is probably most famous among expats for its red wine.
This isn’t because the wine is any good. Quite to the contrary, in fact: Dalat wine tastes terrible. The reason it is famous is that it is in fact very cheap. High import tariffs on alcohol mean a decent bottle of plonk will safely set you back fifteen or twenty quid. The locally bottled Dalat wine is, by comparison, a very cost effective option for someone eager to experience the effects of alcohol without needing or indeed perhaps wanting to taste anything worthwhile.
Dalat itself is a pleasant enough place, with a few loosely worthwhile diversions. One word of warning: book a hotel before you go. The local hotel offer is pretty poor. This is a hill station which was established a hundred years ago as a summer retreat for French colonialists, and most of the hotels look like they’ve not been decorated since then.
Around town there are a few loosely interesting things to do. One such attraction is the Crazy House – a hotel themed on being… Well, crazy, I guess. It was designed and built by the daughter of a former Vietnamese president, and true to form and without wishing to pander to overstatement, it is a rather crazy place.
The hotel is designed to look like it has all been cut into the side of a large tree. Rooms are reached by climbing a range of extremely narrow, winding, open air staircases. The rooms themselves are similarly unique, each including a fireplace featuring a large carved animal, and with beds in all sorts of unlikely shapes.
Would it be a ‘nice’ place to stay? In a word – no. I don’t think it would. The rooms all smelt a bit musty to me. I think you’d stay there and not be able to sleep, such is the sheer weirdness of the place you’re in. By all means go and have a look around the hotel, and they do indeed offer guided tours. But broadly I think you’d be much happier staying in a regular hotel.
Elsewhere in Dalat, there’s not too much more to do than enjoy the open air. There is a place called Love Valley, which is a series of prettily manicured gardens up in the hills featuring some none-too-little gawdy statues of Adam and Eve. In the event, hiring a motorbike and riding around the hills surrounding Dalat is a much better way to pass a few days than staying in the town itself.
We got there by motorbike, but you can just as easily fly into the local airport and then get a bus up to the town. Your choice entirely.