Spice Up Your Family Trip to Dalat with these Under-the-Radar Activities!
Sometimes known as the “City of Eternal Spring,” Dalat is one of the most popular destinations for families visiting Vietnam, thanks to its less-than-scorching temperatures, gorgeous mountainous landscape, and wealth of kid-friendly attractions. Families in Dalat can ride roller coasters through the jungle, soar above the trees in cable cars leading to crashing waterfalls, and check into one of the the most child-pleasing guest houses on the planet the Dali-esque Crazy House (a tourist attraction in its own right). The quiet roads are perfect for family cycling trips, and most guest houses in Dalat welcome newcomers with a family meal free of charge, which provides a great way to get to know locals and other guests. Dalat’s popularity can make it feel like a rather tame family resort though, and visitors will find themselves negotiating large crowds at most of Dalat’s family attractions. Scratch the surface, though, and visitors to Dalat with kids can find a whole host of off-the-beaten-path experiences that will add some welcome spice to a visit to this tranquil mountain resort.
Visit the Elephant Waterfall
Dalat is famous for its waterfalls, and the mountain coaster heading to Datanla Falls is one of the busiest tourist attractions in the town. It’s worth doing (the kids will never speak to you again if you don’t let them ride it at least once), but for crowd-free falls, get yourself to the farther-flung Elephant Waterfall. Some 40 kilometers from Dalat, the impressive falls remain largely a local attraction and happily free of vast crowds of tourists. Several tour operators run trips here, but families can also do it the DIY way by taking either a local bus (these run frequently during daylight hours), or cycling. Note that there are some tough trails to scramble over at the end, so bring sensible shoes. Little ones may need to be carried. The waters crash down from a height of some 30 kilometers, and the area around the absurdly scenic lake is perfect for dips and family picnics. A nearby pagoda with giant blue Happy Buddha is a good spot for family photos.
∴ Impress the kids by telling them the legend of Elephant Waterfall. The less-than-cheery ancient story holds that a kind daughter of one of the tribal chiefs, much loved by the local animals, was due to marry a similarly popular chieftain, much to the delight of the area’s elephants. The great creatures came from all around to attend the ceremony, only to find that the couple had died before the ceremony. The stricken elephants were united in grief and died at the foot of the waterfall, where they were fossilized. The local mountain god cried tears that mixed with the stream, and consoled the dead elephants.
Experience the Lost Art of Silver Ring Making in Action
The art of crafting silver rings has long been practised by local Churu people, but today the tradition is dying out. Visitors to Da Lat can take a craft village tour to see artisans at work their homes in little-visited nearby villages. It’s possible to make the trip by bike, but guides can provide interesting information about the custom. The process of making the rings takes around three hours, and it’s possible to buy the rings to take home, which makes a perfect keepsake (and an incentive for any accessory-loving child to make the trip out here). Surrounding villages are known for crafts such as pottery-making and weaving, and there are some stunning, crowd-free monasteries and temples to be visited if time allows.
Visit a Strawberry Farm
The landscape and climate of Da Lat makes it particularly fertile ground for growing everything from coffee to flowers, and families cycling along the quiet roads will see all manner of farms in the outlying areas. Many of these farms are open to visits, and among the most enticing are the strawberry farms, easily spotted from the road. Many can be visited for a fee of $1 USD, and visitors can pick their own fruit (pay for what you pick) and purchase other tempting products such as jams, jellies and strawberry wine (just don’t drink too much if you’ve come here on your bike!). There are several tour companies offering organized tours to farms, but it’s fun just to look out for signs and call in.
Don’t Miss the 100 Roofs Café
If you visit only one cafe-bar in Dalat, you really have to make it to the 100 Roofs Café. Also known as The Maze, this labyrinthine eating and drinking establishment is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. The owners will tell kids Gandalf and his hobbit pals have pitched up here, and while it can’t really claim to have played host to fictional characters, the network of dim corridors, caves and stairwells makes it feel like you are stepping into a fantasy novel. There are great views from the roof, and it’s possible to spend literally hours navigating the corridors and uncovering secret spots, such as an aquarium-themed underground room. Happy hour promotions make this an extra-fun experience for the grown-ups, while kids can enjoy soft drinks and snacks, but it’s the opportunity for limitless exploring that’s the real draw.
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