Vietnam: Dalat – Mui Ne

Next bus journey took us to a little place called Dalat, we stayed in a hostel called ‘Dalat Green’, the owners were lovely; we had nice breakfasts and a free dinner one night. However, it was very small so quite difficult to meet people and was far away from the town (we would advise to stay near the lake). The main thing we did here was rent a scooter and enjoy a proper tourist day going to; Pongour waterfall, Elephant falls, a silk factory, a temple with a huge laughing Buddha and a coffee plantation (worst coffee we’d had in a while!). It was a beautiful day and quite easy to fit it all in as all fairly near each other…Pongour is just a bit further away and be prepared for about 500m of a bumpy scooter ride down a dirt track.

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So after our busy day we had a good nights sleep and in the morning got the bus to Mui Ne. To be honest the only thing we would recommend here is the sand dune sun rise tour which was pretty stunning even though our driver got us there late and we missed the first part of the sunrise….also our jeep didn’t actually drive on the sand which we thought it was going to so check that out when you book, we paid 70,000 dong so maybe you have to pay a bit more to get a better service. After the sunrise we also got driven to the red sand dunes where you can surf, to the fairy stream which is a stunning little walk, then finally to the fishing village which is quite sad as they don’t know anything about conservation and throw away scraps they don’t want and leave the poor little fish to die on the sand instead of putting them back in the water. We are not sure what/if anything we can do about this so if anyone knows or works in this area please tell us!

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From Mui Ne we took the us to our final destination in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon, we found they were both used interchangeably).

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Crossing the border – Vietnam to Cambodia via bus

We booked our bus ticket through a travel agent (Long Phuong) which is on backpackers road almost nextdoor to a great little cafe called the Luke’s cafe.  They were very professional here with excellent English and gave us a great price for the Cu Chi tunnels (check out our Cu Chi page) and a bus ticket to Cambodia (520,000 VND for two people both trips)

We left Thao Dien Pearl 10:30 am and got a taxi to Long Phuong, this took about 30 minutes as the roads were pretty clear.

We waited for transport to the bus station which drove us 10 meters down the road to the bus station… It was pretty hilarious!

Got on the bus which was half empty,  lots of boxes at the back as usual as they use it as a parcel service too.  Got in our allocated seats and off we went.

Everything was running smoothly until the bus driver wanted money for visas and our passports. We handed over our passports as we thought maybe we all stay on the bus and the the police need to check the passports from the driver…anyway we then realised we’d been had as he then started to ask for money for the visa…more than the price the boarder control actually ask for.We had a bit of an argument with him at this point and asked for our passports back as we realised at boarder control you have to get out of the bus anyway as you have to go through security etc. He then refused to give our passports back and said if we didn’t pay him he’d drive off without us. The queue at boarder control really started to build up now and we were panicking. Luckily a local spotted the situation and came over to help….he obviously wanted money too but much less than the driver. So we paid him and he managed to get our passports off the driver and take us to the front of the queue. So in the end it was us waiting for the driver and the rest of the group! He wasn’t happy about us getting back on the bus but eventually gave in.

Anyway a few lessons learned ;

  1. Do not give anyone your passport!
  2. Always carry american dollars when going in/out of Cambodia (we didn’t have any which meant we were close to not getting a visa, luckily a nice Canadian guy on the bus had some extra and swapped some dong for us!). In Cambodia they only accept american dollars.
  3. Have a budget for money that you just have to pay to avoid stress….the saving of a few dollars probably wasn’t worth the massive argument and hassle.