If you would like to travel from Phnom Penh to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh, I recommend reliable bus companies like Mekong Express Bus, Sapaco, Capitol Tours, Mailinh, Phnom Penh Soriya Transport but do consider Virak Buntham Express Travel for its night bus services, though the staff can throw their attitude around you at times (contact details of bus companies can be found here). It normally takes nearly 6 hours to get to Ho Chi Minh from Phnom Penh.
Once in Vietnam, do consider going directly to the office of these bus companies such as Phuong Trang or Mailinh because they are known as reliable and fast. When I got off the bus from Phnom Penh very early in the morning, I had to buy a bus ticket from HCM to Dalat.
We hurriedly and (rather confusedly) went to one of the travel agency offices along Pham Ngu Lao street which offered us a Phuong Trang bus ticket in a slightly higher price. It turned out that we could get a cheaper price directly from the office of Phuong Trang bus company. These bus companies have offices within your reach if you are on Pham Ngu Lao area. I know it was a lesson learnt. T__T
Travelling in Dalat
As soon as I hopped off the Phuong Trang bus, I felt like I was in Europe.
Really? Is this Europe? I thought.
I was bracing for warmth, and if I had googled more information related to Dalat on www.wikitravel.org, I wouldn’t have suffered cold in shorts and a T-shirt and wouldn’t be complaining right now. And, I really think that google.com or wikitravel.org are real life-savers when people want to travel to a certain area in the world. Usually, you’ll also find information you need.
Soon after that, I also realized that we were quite far from the crowded area. We kept walking straight to the lakeside after several attempts to speak to a Vietnamese doctor who spoke no single English word but so kind to use body language to explain where it was.
Here is something to remember. People love staying close to waters. I just don’t know why, but European, Asian, American or African cities that I have been share this trait. The night was falling, my legs aching due to the heavy backpack.
Are we there yet? Can we take a moto-taxi or a taxi? I’d kept saying this while walking toward the riverside. I was in no mood for walking such a long distance and regretted bringing a big fat backpack.
Soon we’ll be there, my boyfriend repeated, offering me his sweater, but I refused grumpily. After an hour of walking, I noticed some blurry lights appear. We found Xuan Huong lake where we could easily find any kind of hotels or restaurants and even mini markets, just about 100 metres or a stone’s throw away from the lake. I thought it was a well-done job as we accepted a challenge by not accepting any ride offer from taxi drivers or xe-rom known as motor-taxi drivers in Vietnamese.
Small blurry lights appeared. Up appeared more and more restaurants, hotels, guest houses and even mini markets. I thought it was a well-done job -we gave ourselves a nice physical exercise to remember by not accepting any offer of ride from tax-drivers or xe-rom known as motor-taxi drivers.
The first bill I got came as: 1.5 dollar for Pho, about $0.50 for coffee.
Places in Dalat you are highly recommended to visit when in Dalat: the Crazy House to see fairy-tale inspired architecture, three Palaces (which I missed visiting), Dalat’s old train station, the Valley of Love, Xuan Huong lake, Lady Buddha pagoda, coffee plantations, a hill-top pagoda and after all, get one of the Easy Riders to take you around Dalat or the Central Highlands on a one-week trip. Besides tour services, the Easy Riders can even tell you where you can get a cheaper hotel room or restaurant.After Dalat, we took a 4 to 5 hour bus to Nha Trang where you can see so many things listed in here. Dalat as well as Nha Trang have earned a place in my heart, and if I have to come back to Vietnam, they would definitely be a big part of my reason to return.
Easy Riders: http://vietnam-motorcycle-easyriders.com/
Info about Dalat: http://wikitravel.org/en/Dalat
Journeying in Nha Trang is to be written up next.