Easy Rider Tour in Dalat – Your Way To Get to Know Real Vietnam
If you have been to Vietnam before you’ve probably heard about easy riders. If not let me explain it to you. Easy riders is the name for motorbike drivers who offer visitors countryside tours. Especially in Dalat there are hundreds of them, popping up everywhere and trying to talk you into their special offer. It is a cool way to explore country’s best spots, get closer to local people and learn a bit about their culture and industry. They take you to places you probably wouldn’t discover on your own. What can you see on the trip? How to pick the best rider? You’ll learn everything in the post.
How to pick a perfect easy rider?
As I mentioned in the beginning, there are hundreds of easy riders in Dalat. Many have been offering trips for more than ten years, but there are also many swindlers who just see easy money in tourists. They take advantage of having a motorbike, but they actually have no knowledge about places they show you.
The best way to find a good one is to do a little research online or ask people around. Backpackers staying at your hotel might have already done a tour and they can recommend a sound driver. You can also check out TripAdvisor, there are plenty of reviews. We got a recommendation from staff at our hostel. They care about people’s reviews so we knew they wouldn’t trick us. It was a good choice. Those were our easy riders:
One day with easy rider will cost you around $25, depending where you want to go. They also have trips to other cities in their offer. They can take you (even with your backpack) to Hoi An or Mui Ne and show your surroundings.
Exploring Dalat and its surroundings
The first stop was a flower greenhouses. The Vietnamese attach a great importance to flowers in their cultural tradition. Lotus is Vietnam’s National flower and Dalat holds a flower festival around New Year once in two years.
Then we headed to a coffee plantation which situates very high on the list of my favorite spots in Southeast Asia. Our guide told us about the whole process of making coffee from growing trees to brewing fresh beverage.
We were also shown how they make the most expensive coffee in the world, kopi luwak. You might have heard about this Indonesian kind that involves cute animals, weasels. The process starts with the animals eating coffee berries that are digested and then defecated. The farmers then collect feces, wash and remove the endocarp. The final roasting should eliminate any remaining bacteria. Yummy! It was the first time I had a chance to try kopi luwak as in Asia price is relatively cheap comparing to $40 (or even more) for a simple espresso in European coffee shop. It has a bit different taste, however I don’t understand spending that much on a drink made of shit.
After we were introduced to coffee production process we could enjoy a cup of espresso in a local cafe with amazing view over plantations. Vietnamese coffee is exceptional. It makes sense now why it is the second largest coffee producer and third exporter in the world, giving way only to Brazil and Columbia. It has distinctive taste, different from what main coffee exporters inure us to. Main difference stems from the fact that Vietnam traditionally produces Robusta, stronger and bitter kind of beans. On top of that, Vietnamese use different combination of brewing and roasting. It is almost always drip coffee, which makes it very thick and much stronger. Coffee bean is usually intentionally over-roasted, making it quite bitter. Also it is served with condensed instead of fresh milk.
Filled with energy from caffeine we were taken to the silk weaving factory to see the entire process of making the fabric. It is a family run business that employs the old method of removing silk from the cocoons. The process starts with drenching cocoons in hot water that are then unraveled with a machine. Finally, the thread is wound onto a reel and then professional weaver transform it into delicate patterns of silk fabric.
Later on we stopped at the stunning Elephant Falls located at the bottom of a mountain pass. The entrance is free of charge, but some tourist hunters might try to sting you for 10,000-20,000 Dong fee. The way to the waterfall is a path down the hill. It is quite slippery, partially rocky, partially muddy, so be careful especially when you are wearing flip-flops. Once you reach the bottom of the valley you will see impressing 30-meter-high stream of water. You can also climb down between the rocks to the foot of the waterfall. However, the spraying water makes impossible to get close without getting wet.
From the Elephant Falls we rode to a buddhist temple, Linh Sơn Pagoda. It is a huge compound with sanctum, gardens, statues, fountains and awesome and enormous Happy Buddha in the back garden.
There is a hidden room in Buddha’s tummy with a window through a belly button, but this time it was closes. It might not be available for tourists.
After Happy Buddha we went to see animal farm where they breed crocodiles, guinea pigs, deers and crickets. Insects is a popular snack in Southeast Asia. There are plenty of farm across the peninsula where they breed and sell various insects. Crickets is a special delicacy and it is the only insect that I liked (I also tried scorpion and larvas).
Yes, I tried one. It’s decent with sweet chilli sauce.
The last stop was a minority village outside of Dalat. It was a bit of an eyes-opening experience as there you realize in what condition people live in the third world countries. We played a bit with kids there. They loved my camera, but it was quite hard to explain in plain English how to use it.
The whole day spent with easy riders was worth its price. Of course, you can visit most of these places on your own, but the guides help you get closer to locals and get to know them better.
What’s your favorite part? Drop a comment below!