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Vietnam - Nha Trang, Dalat & the Southern Highlands
Nha Trang has a huge variety of hotels, almost all within a few blocks of the Pacific beaches. Most of the hotels have gardens with restaurants, and all offer decent Asian and Western food. There are lots of ocean-front bars and some discos open until all hours. People come to Nha Trang for three reasons: To eat seafood, to chill out, and to try the various watersports. The Nha Trang Sailing Club rents jet skis and windsurfers. For scuba diving, plan on coming in January to May. There are more than a dozen dive sites in the area. The town of Nha Trang stretches for several miles along the Pacific, but doesn't go more than a few blocks inland. Walking is easy and pleasant, especially along the ocean-front boardwalk. Bicycling is another excellent way to get around, and most hotels rent bikes for a few dollars a day. You are in a scuba, sailing, snorkeling, beach paradise, and the activities reflect that. There are miles of pristine beaches, or you can learn to scuba-dive on any of 20 different dive sites. You can hire a boat to take you island-hopping. You can explore ancient Cham monuments, or venture farther out to hot springs. Then there is Dalat, one of the most beautiful, laid-back parts of Vietnam. This is the coffee, tea, and mulberry growing area of Vietnam. Farms and cattle abound, amidst villages of thatched and tile-roofed houses, lakes with floating villages, and fishermen who row their boats with their foot so they have both hands free for the nets. Surrounded by rolling hills and forests, the area is quite beautiful, and well-suited to trekking, hiking, biking, or just walking. If you need to retreat from the heat in the south, this is the place to do it. It is also home to two very interesting sights - the oldest golf course in Vietnam, and the strangest hotel in Southeast Asia. Hang Nga's Crazy House is in fact the most bizarre hotel in Southeast Asia. The building looks like it is made from tree trunks, the rooms are filled with huge sculptured animals and they have an Alice-Through-The-Looking-Glass quality. There are several nearby pagodas that are worth a visit, and this is where your guided taxi or Honda Om trip really pays off. You can visit the Linh Phong Pagoda and the Thien Vuong Pagoda (with its wooden pillars and huge Buddha statue). The waterfalls are south of Dalat and are certainly worth a trip. The Prenn Waterfall is by far the more impressive, but the steep hike up to the Datanla Falls is exhilarating and the forest is impressive. All the hotel and restaurant information you need is included in the guide, plus details on how to get around and what to see and do.
Hunter Publishing; January 2012
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