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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mountain Biking Dalat, Vietnam’s Adventure Town

Adventure travelers, take note: Vietnam has some great mountain biking.

Mountain Biking Dalat

You’ll find it Dalat, a mountain town in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, a 6-hour drive from Saigon, or an 8-hour bus ride, the way many travelers get there. Known for it’s cooler, misty mountain air – an absolute gift if you’re coming from the sweltering heat of Saigon – Dalat is a popular getaway for tourists, but even more so for Vietnamese. The French influence on this place is unmistakable: they established it in the late 1800s as a holiday town, and not surprisingly, you’ll find gardens, wide streets, villas, a picturesque, manmade lake, and a communications tower that – comically, to me – closely resembles the Eiffel Tower.

Biking in Dalat Town
 Oh, the French. Among other Vietnamese towns, it sticks out like a sore thumb, but in a good way: planned, organized, charming, and…cooler. Honestly, I cannot overstate how welcome the weather here is. And, why anyone in Vietnam would choose to live anywhere else.

A few years back, my sister and her husband traveled to southeast Asia on their honeymoon, and Dalat was one of their favorite spots. Among other things, they did an all-day mountain bike ride, almost entirely downhill, from Dalat’s perch in the mountains to the coastal town of Mui Ne. LOVED IT. One of the best things they did, my sister told me.

As a cyclist and traveler, I recommend you may sign up for a tour with ACTIVETRAVEL ASIA (ATA) one of the Indochina's leading adventure travel companies. ATA offers a wide selection of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia adventure tours, including hiking and trekking, biking, motorcycling, kayaking, overland touring and family travel packages . These guys are the real deal: cool excursions, reasonable prices, well-trained guides, and tasty lunches (including, I might add, awesome baguettes purchased from the local market each morning). To get a sense for their stature in Dalat, all you have to do is look at the trip booklets in the front offices of all the other operators;  Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right?

For a glimpse at mountain biking in Vietnam, in the highlands surrounding Dalat, scroll down to the photos below. 

Biet, getting it done on the biggest climb of the day

…and past small farming towns, high up in the mountains.
  
Rickety bridge crossing. 

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