WHAT NOT TO DO IN DA LAT - SOUTHERN VIETNAM


After the long post about all the things you can do in the city of Da Lat and the surroundings, we wanted to write a short post about the things that you shouldn't do there. Of course this is our personal opinion and we understand that not everyone sees things the same way we do, but as vegans, animal lovers and conscious people, we think that you should avoid the following activities. As you can see in the previous post about Da Lat, there are sooooo many places to visit and things to do, so there is no need to fall in these touristic traps that involve animal suffering and that are very touristy. 

1. Horse ride in the city centre
You will see many chariots by the lake, some of them very pretty- Cinderella style. It can be very tempting, since it's a good way to see the city without having to walk. BUT the horses are obviously exploited, they don't want to be there, standing all day attached to the chariot and riding people around. The same situation happens in some cities in Spain (like Palma de Mallorca, where we were living before we started traveling), and there have been many strikes against it, and horses have died because of the heat during summer. 
We are not in the Medieval Age, we don't need the horses to go from one place to another anymore. Rent a bicycle, walk or rent a motorbike if you are lazy to do the others. 



2. Elephant and ostrich ride in Prenn waterfall 
In the Prenn waterfall resort you can find many touristic activities that have nothing to do with the waterfall (why are people so obsessed in turning natural places into amusement parks?!) like cable car ride, traditional costume rent, professional photographer service, souvenir shops... and the very worst of all: elephant and ostrich ride! We saw the elephants from far and that was enough for us, we find it really sad that they are taken from their natural habitats to amuse tourists give them a ride. They should be free and living their lives in nature with their clan. The same for ostrich, why would someone ride an ostrich?? They are big, they have a funny face and a very long neck, yes, but they don't belong to us, they should be free too.

The sign you find at the entrance of the waterfall area
Ostrich ride in Prenn. Photo on Dalat Trip website


3. Coffee
It wasn't until we went to Da Lat that we knew the truth about how they produce the famous Arabica and Robusta coffee: they collect the berries from the tree and they feed them to the weasels; then the weasels poop the seeds of the berries, which are collected, fermented and roasted to make a very expensive coffee. So people basically drink shit! If you have seen the movie The Bucket List, you know exactly what are we talking about.

On the left, the fermented coffee beans. On the right the feces of the weasel as they are collected

That would be totally fine if people would collect the heces found in the wild, since it's waste and there is no harm to the animals, but the reality is very different: the weasels are caged and suffer from stress, since they are shy and nocturnal creatures, not to mention the unnatural amounts of berries they eat, that can cause health problems. Read more about their conditions on the PETA website.


We got to visit a weasel coffee farm during our stay in Da Lat and it was very sad. They offered us a short tour to explain the process, we thought it was going to be interesting, we had no idea what was all that about! Once we saw the weasels in the cage we understood it. After the visit they offered us to buy coffee (1 kilo of coffee was 20.000.000VND, more than 700 euros!! And one cup was 100.000VND (around 4 euros). A luxury drink! They explained that is that expensive because the weasels don't eat that many berries, only when they are in season, so it's a rare product.

One of the weasels in the cage, poor sleepy baby

Of course not all the coffee produced in Vietnam is 'weasel coffee', they usually specify it, since it's a 'unique' product. So make sure to ask about the production process, and avoid the brands that sell weasel, Kopi Luwak ('the most expensive coffee in the world) or civet coffee, the three made by the same process.

Many shops around Vietnam sell the weasel coffee;
these photos are from Hanoi's Old Quarter

For more information about it, we recommend you this article from National Geographic.

If you don't want to be part of their suffering you can have Olong tea instead, it's also from Da Lat and the taste is really special. Ask for the traditional tea ceremony to enjoy a peaceful and mindful moment. Or try a juice with some of the local fruits, delicious!



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