In all we spent just under a month in Vietnam. It was enough time to traverse the long, thin nation from south to north, hitting all the major tourist destinations while leaving enough time to dawdle in some areas. While I was not able to keep up with regular updates on each place (thereby sparing you all the details), here’s a summary of the main areas we visited in Vietnam that I did not post elsewhere.
A welcome relief from the scorching heat of Saigon, alpine Dalat in the Central Highlands was our first destination from Saigon as we slowly headed north. After a wild ride that Paul so eloquently (and entertainingly) documented, the tranquility and cool temps of this city were exactly what we needed.
Founded as a French hill-fort town in the 1920s, Dalat soon became the most desired getaway from the steamy Mekong delta for the colonists. The many French villas that sprung up in subsequent decades have been converted to either Party offices or hotels. The city preserves its holiday appearance with a lake, parks and green spaces, and a lively evening market with grilled foods, clothing, and handicrafts for tourists.
We chanced upon the Peace Hotel, a backpacker haven conveniently located in the city center and right next door to the Easy Riders, known for their expert cycling tours through the region. We had a comfortable twin room quietly facing the back patio with a nice hot-water bathroom and mosquito nets for only $10, an incredible deal after several days of Saigon city prices. I was still heavily congested from the cold I had been battling so an agreeable room in a mild climate was just what I needed.