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V Cafe, Da Lat VIETNAM: Vietnam Info

TRAVEL TIPS FOR PEOPLE COMING TO DALAT (and Vietnam in general)

Suggested Restaurants in Dalat: 

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V Café -1 Bui Thi Xuan - great western and asian food. Best pizzas in Dalat, great Mexican, steaks, soups, French wine, etc. Overall great value. Live music most nights. $$

Ichi Japanese Restaurant - 1 Hoang Dieu (at intersection with Hai Ba Trung) $$ Nice Japanese place, great food prepared by a Japanese chef. Tel: 063 3555098 

Suggested Late Night Fun in Dalat:

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The Escape Bar (Located in the Blue Moon Hotel, 50 meters from V Cafe) Open Daily 4pm til late Happy Hour 4pm til 7pm. Nightly live music.

Suggested Hotels in Dalat:

Dalat Train Villa

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Exterior View of the Villa

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View from the Rooms at the Dalat Train Villa:

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Located near the Dalat Train Station, the Dalat Train Villa is a perfect place for short or long stays in Dalat.

The villa is a beautifully restored 2-story masterpiece of French colonial-era architecture (1935).

Next to the villa is 1910 French train car, which is being renovated into a bar/cafe. (Will be ready approx June 2013).

Within 10 minutes of most major attractions in Dalat. Very quiet neighborhood. Newly refurbished. Beautiful mountain views from all rooms.

Total 4 Units, each unit with 2 rooms, bathroom, mini-kitchen, large screen TV.

Units are available either as hotel rooms, or short or long term stay serviced apartments. Perfect for family vacations, pensioners, expats working in Dalat.

Features: Free WIFI in all rooms. Airport pickup by private car. Motorbike rental. Tour information. Laundry.

Address: 1 Quang Trung St, Ward 9, Villa #3 (From Ho Xuan Huong Lake, take first left after Dalat Train Station)

Tel:  (063) 381 6365 or Tel: +84 (0) 903342442   email: dalattrainvilla@gmail.com  web: 

http://www.dalattrainvilla.com/

Guests at the Dalat Train Villa will enjoy a 10% discount at the V Café (1/1 Bui Thi Xuan) and at the Escape Bar.

3 Star: Blue Moon Hotel & Spa 

bluemoonhotel

Addres: 04 Phan Boi Chau Street

Dalat, Vietnam 

Tel: +84 63 3578 888
Fax: +84 63 3597 777
Email: 
info.dalat@bluemoonhotel.com.vnTel: (063) 357 8888 (very reasonable rates, great location).

http://www.bluemoonhotel.com.vn/bluemoon2/

1 Star: Dalat Green City Hotel  $

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Located in the center of Dalat, the Dalat Green City Hotel is the perfect budget hotel in Dalat.

Within 5 minutes of most major attractions in Dalat. Very quiet. Newly refurbished. Beautiful view from the rooftop. 12 rooms total.

Features: Free WIFI in all rooms. Coffee shop downstairs. Airport pickup. Bicycle rental. Tour information. Laundry. Business center.  

Guests at the Dalat Green City Hotel will enjoy a 10% discount at the V Café (1/1 Bui Thi Xuan).

174 Phan Dinh Phung Street

Da Lat, VIETNAM

+84 (063) 3827 999

(Delete 0 if calling internationall)

dalatgreencityhotel@gmail.com

http://www.dalatgreencityhotel.com

TRAVEL TO AND FROM DALAT AND VIETNAM

IMPORTANT: People from most countries (except ASEAN passports, Japan and Russia) need a visa to get into Vietnam. Usually takes a week or so in your home country, through a travel agent. (There is a visa on arrival, but it must be arranged before coming to Vietnam and you must have a proper document before getting on the airplane to Vietnam.)

Travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat by taxi or bus is also fun, convenient, and beautiful. (About 7 hours, stunning scenery. Note.... as of October 2012 the road was in pretty bad shape... took 9 hours)

Taxi: about USD100 (if you take a taxi, be sure to stop and check out a waterfall or two on the way... there are a couple that are literally right next to the highway... Full info in Lonely Planet guide....)

Bus: The Phuong Trang bus leaves almost every hour, address 274-276 De Tham (corner with Pham Ngu Lao St), Pham Ngu Lao Ward, Q. 1.  Tel: (08) 37309309.

Two types of buses:

Seated Bus: This is a normal bus with seating and space for your luggage.
The Seated Bus heads to Dalat every hour starting at 5:15am with the last
bus at 1am. Cost: 190,000 VND.

Reclined Seated Bus: We recommend Reclined Seating as its a much nicer
5-hour ride. The Reclined Seating heads to Dalat every 2 hours all day
long. Cost: 210,000 VND

Note: They will also drop you off via van anywhere you want in Dalat City. Beware of the motorcycle drivers at the arrival bus station in Dalat.... the Phuong Trang van is free, while these guys try to charge quite a bit.

When heading back to Ho Chi Minh City, you can ask your hotel to arrange for you, or call this Phuong Trang number in Dalat directly: (063) 3585858.

There are also two other buses Mai Linh and Sinh Cafe... 

Flying to Dalat....  From Dalat Airport to Dalat City: Taxis with Thang Loi Taxi Company for VND200,000 (but ticket in the airport) or if traveling light an airport bus is fine (about VND30,000)

RECOMMENDED TRIPS WITHIN VIETNAM

My favorite to see the best of Vietnamn: 1 WEEK: HCMC > Danang (fly) > Dalat (fly) > HCMC (fly)

Really includes some of the unique attractions of Vietnam. Several flights /week available now between Dalat and Danang. Within 2 hours of Danang you have access to quite a number of amazing places: Hue, My Son (ancient Cham temples), Hoi An, Bana, Bach Ma, Lan Co, etc... All great stuff. A good full 4 - 7 days of adventure. 

OTHER POSSIBILITIES:

1 WEEK: HCMC > Dalat by air or taxi > Muine > HCMC by train

(If coming by road to Dalat from HCMC, be sure to see at least one of the waterfalls along the way. The most beautiful is the Dambri Falls, taller than the Niagara Falls! It's about 20km off the the main highway, near Bao Loc. Other beautiful though less dramatic waterfalls are located literally within 100 meters of the highway, but you'll have to look carefully on a map as they are not well marked. Lonely Planet has a pretty good listing of the waterfall locations.)

1 WEEK: HCMC > Dalat by air or taxi > Nha Trang >HCMC by air

(The road between Dalat and Nhatrang is particularly stunning, cutting through virgin rain forest. Dozens of small waterfalls. The beach in Nhatrang is often voted one of the most beautiful in the world.)

OTHER INFORMATION FOR VISITORS COMING TO DALAT

(Recommended reading: Lonely Planet Vietnam - for full information on Ho Chi Minh City, Dalat and surrounding area)

WEATHER:

Weather in Dalat can get cold/damp in the winter. Long rainy season, though rain usually last only an hour or so. Bring a light jacket/sweater and an umbrella. On a nice day, Dalat is heaven.

Weather in Ho Chi Minh City and Southern parts of Vietnam: hot but usually pleasant, sporadic showers, really never a need for even a jacket.

Weather in Hanoi and Northern parts of Vietnam: very hot summers, cold and damp winters, very pleasant spring and autumns.

SIGHTSEEING & ACTIVITIES IN DALAT:

Phat Tire Ventures -73 Truong Cong Dinh -Email – www.phattireventures.com -quality adventure tours

(see LINKS page)

Lang Bian Mountain: great view from the top, nice pine forest views going up

Dalat Palace Golf Club -Phu Dong Thien Vuong -nicest golf course in Vietnam - golf packages available for guests, ask at Novotel or Palace

Cable Car -a cable car ride over the farming area to a pagoda and gardens -take a walk down over the hill to the lake where there is shopping -can also rent a boat to go to the other side of lake where minorities live -you can ride an elephant through the woods, eat food, and see animals

Waterfalls - Tiger Den Falls or Elephant Falls are the ones worth seeing that are relatively nearby. Elephant Waterfalls a bit dangerous.  (Dambri Falls, near Bao Loc in Lam Dong, is a "must see" for people who are traveling by rented car to or from Saigon.) There are other cool waterfalls not listed in the Lonely Planet that I can show you if you're really keen. 

Xuan Huong Lake -city center -tandem (2-seater) bicycles for rent -paddleboat rentals and carriage rides

Dalat Train Station - for train enthusiasts, a must see. (ask Curtis for the whole train story - lots of hiking possibilities!) Daily ride to neighboring town of Trai Mat takes about 1.5 hours round trip. 

Easy Riders - Generally good reviews. Excellent safety record. 

MONEY AND CURRENCY: US Dollars are widely accepted. Current exchange rate (Aug2013) is about 21,000 Vietnam Dong to 1 USD. 

USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS AND GENERAL INFO IN DALAT:

Police: 113

Doctor General Practitioner - Dr. Nguyen Hai Cuong. 5b Hai Thuong. Tel 063 3701111 or 0932675053 (Near the Lam Dong Hospital... many small clinics on this street... Dr. Nguyen has limited English, so best to go with an interpreter.)

Lam Dong General Hospital: (getting info....)

Other Hospital: (getting info)

Vietnam Airlines Dalat Office: 063-3833499

ATM: Several ATMs located at the main post office of Dalat. As of August2013, largest withdrawal is VND3Million (from Agribank). Citibank ATM works best with ACB Bank ATM machines.

SWIMMING POOL / SPA / MASSAGE / SAUNA Best swimming pool in Dalat is at Blue Moon Hotel. 

GENERAL INFORMATION ON OTHER CITIES IN VIETNAM

HANOI

Suggested Hotels in Hanoi: ( Many other hotels are listed in Lonely Planet.) Metropole Hanoi (old-style luxury) +84 (0) 4 38266919 res@sofitelhanoi.vnn.vn Sofitel Plaza (Modern luxury) +84 (0) 4 38238888 resmgr@sofitelplazahn.com Easiest access to Dalat is by air from either Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), or from Hanoi. Flights sometimes get full so book your air ticket in advance through your travel agent.

Suggested itineraries from Hanoi: Sapa (great mountain landscapes and old French hilltop architecture, lots of minority culture). Ha Long Bay (strongly suggest an overnight on a decent boat... it's a long drive from Hanoi, and going there and back in one day really is too strenuous. Beware of thieves, usually children, that can get on the boat without your seeing them, usually when you stop for lunch or "cultural exchange"  Petty theft of small items/cash/wallets is common on these boats, though usually avoidable if you lock your bags properly.)

Night life in Hanoi: Sofitel Metropole occasionally has jazz. 17 Saloon decent but standard Philippines music. Check the Word Magazine for listings and events. Rock and Roll Tavern (R&R Tavern) - good fun, live blues/rock music on weekends.

HO CHI MINH CITY ("HCMC" OR "SAIGON"):

Suggested Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City: (both hotels about 30-45 minutes from airport, insist that driver use meter, about VND80-100,000, or about 5 or 6 USD). Many other hotels are listed in Lonely Planet. Sofitel Plaza Saigon (Modern luxury) +84 (0) 8 38291555 sofitelsgn@sofitelsaigon.com.vn Medal Hotel (Budget) 8A Thai Van Lung, District1 +84 (0) 8 38238765 medal_hotel@hotmail.com

Hotels near the airport: Park Royal Hotel

http://www.parkroyalhotels.com/en/hotels/vietnam/saigon/parkroyal/location/index.html

ARRIVAL IN HCMC

Change at least $100 at the airport arrival so you have money to get to hotel etc. Store it safely, lots of crowds outside, easy to lose stuff.

Take regular taxi that pulls up to the curb outside Arrivals. INSIST ON THE METER. (Point to it, and say "METER". Act like you know that you are aware that they are all complete scammers there. They often insist on 200,000VND or more... Total scam. Do not lose your temper, and do not curse in any language  - that can get ugly. )

There will be traffic! Enjoy the ride, keep doors locked and windows somewhat rolled up, especially if you're on your phone. Lots of motorbike "gangsters" who will snatch stuff and take off on their bikes.

HCMC LUNCH RECOMMENDATIONS (look on the net or in local magazines for addresses etc...… “The Word” or “AsiaLife” or any other guidebook,… lots of info at www.wordhcmc.com )

Temple Club – Vietnamese. $$$

Refinery – mixed menu, cool location (old opium den). $$

Pacharan - Spanish, very central location $$

HCMC WINE / DRINK RECOMMENDATIONS

Alibi $$

Cork and Bottle -  Amazing wine selection, good chill music, nice platters, open til late, friendly management. $$

Xu - $$

Pacharan – Spanish $$

Refinery - International $$

HCMC DINNER RECOMMENDATIONS

Temple Club - nice Vietnamese cuisine $$$

Xu- classy Vietnamese/fushion $$

Pacharan - Spanish tapas bar/restaurant $$

O’ Briens – Irish/international $$

HCMC MUSIC / LATE NIGHT RECOMMENDATIONS

Acoustic – acoustic / rock music – local crowd

Apocolypse Now – disco, local scene

HCMC LATE LATE NIGHT….

Long Phi - 207 Bui Vien . The ultimate Saigon late night hang out bar/restaurant... very chilled... great place to meet the long-term Saigon crowd...

Late night Noodles (Nguyen Trai street….) or Cho Benh Thanh

HCMC DAYTIME PLACES TO CHECK OUT

Ben Thanh Market – watchout for scammers/ pickpockets but of some interest

Reunification Palace 

War Remnants Museum - must see

Walk around Cathedral / Post Office area

Walk to the River (nice view of the river scene from rooftops of Sheraton, Renaissance, Majestic)

City Theatre

District 5 – Chinatown, not particularly interesting

HCMC - PLACES THAT ARE NOT WORTH THE EFFORT

District 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 – with all the traffic, they become a waste of time from a tourist point of view unless you have specific interests

HCMC - MY PERSONAL LIST OF “SO SO” PLACES

Cu Chi Tunnels – far, lots of traffic, of medium interest, much cooler war-related stuff in other parts of the country (unless you want to shoot the AK47 rifle they have there… about USD1/bullet…)

HCMC - EASY DAY TRIPS

None worth the effort. Traffic getting out of HCMC and getting back to the city will kill the fun

EASY 1 or 2 NIGHT TRIPS FROM HCMC

Vungtau – relaxing beach town, decent seafood… somewhat of a Vietnam experience. Boats to Vungtau leave from the pier on Ton Duc Thang street in District 1 HCMC. Sunshine, swimming pools, decent night life. Optional place near Vungtau - Long Hai - the Anoasis Beach Resort. Ride from Vungtau to Muine has some stunning scenery.)

anoasis

Anoasis Beach Resort Domain Ky Van, Long Hai, Ba Ria - Vung Tau, Vietnam

Tel: (84-64) 3868227   -   Fax: (84-64) 3868229 www.anoasisresort.com.vn

EASY 2 / 3 NIGHT TRIPS FROM HCMC

Mekong Delta (bus/taxi to My Tho is decent, Can Tho a bit further, also cool), Muine (beach, go by bus, taxi, or train), Nhatrang (fly). Check Lonely Planet for details. 

GENERAL "DO'S AND DON'TS" IN VIETNAM

Tipping - a dollar here or there for good service is always appreciated, even if there's a service charge included in your bill.

Theft - generally, be careful with bags, cameras, etc. Small things (ipods, phones, cameras) tend to disappear easier than big things. 

Scams - as always, careful with pimps, karaokes, "boom boom", drugs, and other things that you would probably not do in your home country. 

Always at least try to smile, even in strange or uncomfortable situations. Never yell or raise your voice. And absolutely never hit, slap, or aggressively point to a local person. Violent crime is on the rise.... be careful not to get into a fight situation... you will be outnumbered and a "fair fight" is not on the localagenda.

EMERGENCY / MEDICAL NUMBERS: HCMC

POLICE: 113

AMBULANCE: 115

French Viet Hospital (24hour) in HCMC: 08 34113500

Family Medical Practice HCMC Diamond Plaza34 Le Duan StreetDistrict 1Ho Chi Minh City, VietnamMain Tel: +84 8 3822 7848 

Columbia Asia HCMC - Tel: 08-38238888 (Address, 8 Alexandre De Rhodes St, Dist 1, HCMC

WONDERFUL PLACES TO VISIT NEAR VIETNAM

CAMBODIA - Truly a magical kingdom. Be sure to check out the temples at Angkor Wat (near Siem Reap City). Also, Phnom Penh is a must see - a charming city on the Mekong River, with temples, palaces, colonial architecture, and an amazing nightlife. Recommended reading: Lonely Planet. (Careful with what you see on Trip Advisor - the ratings are particularlly skewed in Cambodia by people paying for reviews.)

Easy to get a bus from HCMC to Phnom Penh. Recommended hotels in Phnom Penh: Pickled Parrot ($), Sunway ($$$), Intercontinental ($$$$), and many many others to choose from. 

Phnom Penh Nightlife and Dining:

Be sure to stop by Sharky Bar (#126 Street 130) - great live music on weekends (open mic on Sunday), awesome Mexican and Thai food, drinks, 8 ball and 9 ball pool tables, and fun fun fun.

Other great restaurants worth checking out: The Lost Room, Black Bambu

Late night: Plenty of fun places on Street 104, most with pool tables, friendly hostesses. Check out 104, Bunny Bar, many similar bars (yes, these are more for gentlemen). Pickled Parrot is a straightforward nice late night bar with a pool table, friendly staff (no hostesses). Candy Bar - scams and violence.

Getting around Phnom Penh by Tuk Tuk is easy, fast, and cheap. Generally very difficult to find normal taxis in PP. About $2 for anywhere closeby, negotiate anything further. 

Other favorites in Cambodia:

Kep - seaside resort with abandoned French colonial villas

Kampot - sleepy riverside town near Kep with colonial architecture, some nice restaurants, and a bit of nightlife

Bokor - colonial hill station (1000m above sea level) - old casino is really cool, great views

Battambang - a personal favorite - old colonial railroad town - check out the "Bamboo Train", Bambu is a great hotel, or "La Villa"... some cool temples near town

Poipet - border town with Thailand... a real dump... not worth staying a night unless necessary... some casino hotels right next to the border... (Careful with scam going across to Thai Border... you MUST get a Cambodia exit stamp on your passport before entering Thailand... stop by the passport control area, which is easily missed. 

Sihanoukville is not a personal favorite - mediocre beaches, general very sleezy scene. However, some people like it. The old train station is worth a look if you're a train buff. Freight trains now running between PP and SNKVL, no passenger trains. 

Getting to Bangkok from the Cambodia border (Poipet):

There is a train that starts from about 4km or so from the Cambodia border (Poipet), takes about 6 or 7 hours to Bangkok, comfortable but not luxurious, arrives in the main Bangkok station. 2 trains / day. Very inexpensive.