Maze Bar (100 Rooftop Bar) in Da Lat, Vietnam 2018

From the moment we set foot in Da Lat, all that we heard other tourists talking about was the Maze Bar also know as 100 Roofs Bar/100 Rooftop Bar – supposedly, the coolest bar in all of Vietnam!

From the moment we set foot in Da Lat, all that we heard other tourists talking about was the Maze Bar also know as 100 Roofs Bar/100 Rooftop Bar – supposedly, the coolest bar in all of Vietnam! We decided to investigate, but as an old married couple we went as soon as it opened.

To be fair, it was a long day full of walking around the lake, paddle boating and hunting for an avocado smoothie at the market. We had also heard from one girl that when she was at the bar at night, it was extremely crowded. So we were excited to have a little bit of breathing room, but we did not expect to be the only people there!

The Maze Bar is designed by the same architect as the Crazy House. It is colorful, crazy and there are secret passages/short cuts everywhere. You can climb through a hole in the wall and end up on a different floor! Some of the spaces felt claustrophobic enough while the place was empty. I can’t even imagine it full of crowded drunk people. Luckily, or maybe unfortunately… safety regulations are much lower in Vietnam!

Compared to regular Vietnam prices, this place is a bit pricey. You have to get a drink to go inside and it is really hard to find a trash can once you’re in the maze. Even though we were the first people to visit for the day, we found lots of discarded cups from the night before. I can’t even imagine what cleaning the place must be like so I wasn’t too bothered by it.

I definitely recommend that all Da Lat tourists visit the Maze Bar at some point on their trip. I’d recommend coming super early and seeing it empty to explore properly but also visiting when it’s a little more exciting. If you’re not a paranoid or claustrophobic person, then maybe stay until it’s packed to the brim! Just don’t drink too much because it might take you a while to find a bathroom. Even the bathrooms are beautiful by the way, so find one even if you don’t need to go!

If you’re here and have the need to come up for some fresh air, go to the very top – unfortunately I can’t give you directions. There is a nice balcony overlooking the street and an entire outdoor area perfect for a breather before you descend back into the madness.

While you’re visiting this crazy place, make sure to find the underwater-themed room. The beautiful sea creatures and vibrant colors were my favorite part of the entire bar. Don’t miss out on it! The reason I’m so insistent that you visit when it’s empty, is so that you can actually see everything the Maze Bar has to offer – there might be people blocking off your passages in and out of some of the coolest spots.

Photo from a great blog post about Vietnam, Two Wandering Soles6 Adventurous Things To Do in Da Lat, Vietnam

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Paddle Boats on Xuan Huong Lake: Da Lat, Vietnam

One of travel traditions is going on paddle boats in as many countries as possible. As soon as we saw the Swan Boats on Xuan Huong Lake in Da Lat, we knew we had to go! For just $2 per boat for an hour, you can paddle around the lake and enjoy some beautiful views.

One of travel traditions is going on paddle boats in as many countries as possible. As soon as we saw the Swan Boats on Xuan Huong Lake in Da Lat, we knew we had to go! For just $2 per boat for an hour, you can paddle around the lake and enjoy some beautiful views.

The lake is quite large and has a surprisingly strong current so we had to keep paddling! If you’re here in July, like we were, don’t forget to put on sunscreen because the sun is strong. In case you enjoy drinking wine or beer while paddle boating as much as we do, Vietnam doesn’t seem to have any laws against it. You can get some pretty great photos from the boat so don’t forget to bring your camera.

DOHA Cafe Review: Da Lat, Vietnam

The cafe has lots of seating across three floors, although the top one wasn’t being air-conditioned when I was there. However, the view of the Xuan Huong lake and Lam Vien square was worth it. They have a great selection of drinks including coffees, teas and juices. Although the prices are relatively steep for Vietnam, it’s still affordable on a Western budget. We didn’t get a chance to try any of their food although we were definitely tempted by their cakes and pastries.

DOHA Cafe is a great place to grab a coffee in Da Lat, Vietnam. It’s a modern cafe shaped like a flower bud and it’s as cool on the inside as it is on the outside. Speaking of cool – it’s also the perfect place to cool off during Vietnam’s steamy summers.

The cafe has lots of seating across three floors, although the top one wasn’t being air-conditioned when I was there but the view of the Xuan Huong lake and Lam Vien square was worth it. They gave a great selection of drinks including coffees, teas and juices. Although the prices are relatively steep for Vietnam, it’s still affordable on a Western budget. We didn’t get a chance to try any of their food although we were definitely tempted by their cakes and pastries.

 

Avocado Smoothies in Da Lat, Vietnam

I first heard about avocado smoothies on a half-day Countryside Tour of Da Lat. Vietnam is famous for their avocados and July just happens to be prime season! We were told that you can get them anywhere in the market, but it took us over an hour of searching, walking in circles and asking confused vendors where to find them.

Although I’m sure it can be veganized on request, I had this smoothie before I made the decision to go vegan. It was a delicious mix of fresh avocados, condensed milk, a scoop of durian ice cream topped with fluffy whipped cream that I could have gone without because it was already so rich that I couldn’t finish!

The hidden spot where we found this delicacy was hidden behind some vendors right next to the large monument in the middle of a roundabout. For better directions and visuals, watch the video below:

Crazy House, Da Lat, Vietnam 2017

The name of this place, the Crazy House, is no exaggeration. We got lost soon after entering since there are dozens of rooms on various floors with several ways to travel between them. You will find bizarre animal statues and beautiful views of the city – this might be one of the highest points in the city.

Formally known as the Hang Nga Villa, the Crazy House was built in 1990 in a unique and intentionally bizarre style. Designed by Dang Viet Nga, this eccentric architect wanted the house to help people reconnect with nature. Other than attracting visitors during the day, the Crazy House is also a functioning hotel!

During my visit in July 2017 there are still areas of it that are being built and refined. This actually only adds to the craziness so I had zero complaints. Another thing that makes it so exciting to visit, is that a place like this wouldn’t even be legal in some countries because of safety issues. My clumsy husband may have hit his head at least twice in some low areas and I kept worrying about slipping on the high “bridges” with low rails. But that’s all part of the awesomeness – the designer is clearly a genius.

In addition to all the great views of the city, this place is also great for relaxing and enjoying a cup of coffee or fresh juice. The cafe at the bottom has great prices and some unique drinks like coffee enhanced with fresh banana, which was surprisingly delicious. Just be careful sitting by the pond for too long, I was eaten alive by mosquitoes that I always seem to attract.

Da Lat Backpackers Hostel Review

We had very high expectations for this hostel because of all the raving reviews and we were not disappointed! My husband and I booked this hostel last minute after having problems with a different hostel. The staff were helpful and welcoming even before we arrived!

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Although we had originally planned on only spending two full days in Da Lat, after arriving and seeing all the cheap and exciting activities that we discovered through the hostels trip book, we decided to stay an extra night. We arrived right before dinner so we ate delicious free dinner (typical Vietnamese food, all home made) and the host even offered us homemade alcohol and took shots with us in a traditional Vietnamese way before we started the meal.

Our first night there we booked two trips, a countryside tour (250,000 Dong each) and canyoning ($45 each) while the staff recommended what company to go with and advised us on what day is better for which depending on the weather forecast. Needless to say, both trips were amazing since the hostel goes out of their way to choose good tour companies. They also didn’t push more expensive tours on us. They explained that the countryside tour, which we expected to pay almost 700,000 Dong each is possible to do with a group for cheaper and recommended a cheaper canyoning trip with a company that takes more photos.

The free breakfast was as good as dinner with several choices of baguettes with different kinds of omelette. You also get a coffee, tea or juice with your breakfast. Having two free meals a day really saved us a lot of money, especially since this hostel wasn’t more expensive than any of the others we looked at – and we stayed in a private room.

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The hostel is in a great location only a 15 minute walk to the huge lake. We took a taxi from the bus stop which only cost 70,000 Dong but we walked everywhere else because the Da Lat is small and the backstreets are fascinating. The hostel is also only about a kilometer from the famous Crazy House which is a must see.

In addition to great staff, delicious free food, great tour offers and comfortable soft beds (most hostels in Vietnam have rock-hard beds), the hostel is extremely clean and welcoming. I would definitely recommend anyone visiting Da Lat to book here! I honestly couldn’t recommend it more.

Oh, and they have very cheap and quick laundry service and return everything ironed and folded! Here’s a video of the canyoning tour that they suggested:

 

Da Lat Countryside Tour: Weasel Poop Coffee Plantation

The last stop on our $10 Countryside Tour of Da Lat was the weasel poop coffee plantation. The first thing you should know about it, is that the animal that eats and poops out the coffee bean is not actually a weasel. It’s a luwak. The second thing you need to know is that it’s not unique to Vietnam no matter what the guide will tell you.

How the concept of weasel poop coffee was discovered, I don’t know and I’d like to keep it that way. Basically, the animal eats coffee beans and chooses only the best ones to eat. This ensures that all the coffee that comes out of the process, pun intended, is of the highest quality. While it’s inside the weasel, it gets fermented which adds to the flavor.

Once it’s pooped out, the beans are collected and dried in the sun. Then they are thoroughly washed and finally, they are carefully peeled. So the actual coffee been was never in contact with the poop, only it’s shell was. That makes it a lot less gross, right?

Well, the grossest part of the entire process isn’t the poop but the treatment of the animals. They are kept in tiny cages and only fed coffee beans. At this particular plantation you can see a bunch of these luwaks in their cages and they don’t look particularly clean or happy. Although I tried the coffee at the time, I wouldn’t do it again because of the exploitation of these animals. But I’m not here to preach animal rights!

As I previously mentioned, Vietnamese people will claim that weasel coffee originated in Vietnam. It’s just like pierogi in Europe. Russians, Ukrainians, Poles and probably several other nationalities claim that the dumplings originated from their country. As a Ukrainian I will tell you that duh, they are Ukrainian. But I’m clearly biased…

Several other countries in South East Asia, including Indonesia will claim that luwak coffee is theirs. In Bali I visited a coffee plantation that claimed the coffee as their own and I’m willing to bet that Indonesia isn’t the only place that tries to take credit for it. Then there’s Thailand that does the same thing with elephants and every single of these countries will also boast that their coffee is the best and most expensive in the world.

Back to the Da Lat coffee plantation. The multi-floored building was beautiful, smelled amazing and had the most spectacular view of the mountains and coffee fields. We drank some coffee, did some souvenir shopping on the top floor and pet all the cute dogs. Apparently the owner loves to rescue dogs and there were at least 20 living at the coffee plantation. I wonder if dog poop coffee will ever become a trend…

The entire Da Lat Countryside tour about 6 hours and included a rose garden, minority village, Buddhist pagoda, elephant waterfall, lunch, silk farm, cricket farm and the weasel poop coffee plantation. It was an informative and fun tour and our guide was enthusiastic and insightful. I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone visiting Da Lat, but remember to haggle if they try to charge you more than $10 per person.

At the end of the tour they made sure to ask if we wanted to get dropped off at our hotels or somewhere else and most of the group ended up at the famous Crazy House. We decided to check it out too and had a great time. I’ll tell you all about it next time, so stay tuned!