Dalat is one of my favourite places in Vietnam. Its higher altitude, lakes and abundance of vegetation and plantations make it a favourite for honeymooning locals, which has spawned a slew of ridiculously kitsch attractions, like swan boats you can pedal around the lake and costumes (hilltribe, cowboy, emporer etc.) for hire at some of the waterfalls outside town. We stopped by Bao Dai’s Summer Palace, an art deco ‘nautical style’ home of Vietnam’s last emporer and who should be lurking in the gardens but a ladyboy in a monkey suit ready to take you around the grounds in a horse-drawn cart!!
Dalat’s central market is one of the best food markets I’ve seen – it’s so colourful, with the streets surrounding it bursting with colourful displays of strawberries, avocadoes, coconuts, bananas, blackberries and more. Dalat’s climate means berries and other fruits not typically found in tropical countries can flourish.
Inside the market, the stalls sell dried and candied versions of all the local fruits, plus tea and coffee. Unusually, the items have marked prices (and they’re cheap – 4,000 to 25,000 dong per bag of dried fruit) so you don’t really need to bother bargaining, plus the stallholders ply you with cups of oolong tea and samples of their fruity wares. And they’re not even that pushy, which compelled me to buy more – a clever sales tactic?!