A trip through Vietnam promises culture and adventure, but a stop in Da Lat will bring surprises like you never imagined. If you should be lucky enough to venture to Da Lat, make sure you make a reservation in Hang Nga’s Tree House, one of the most unique hotels in the area, if not the world.
The Building of The Crazy House
Hang Nga’s Tree House is owned by the daughter of the ex-president of Vietnam. Because of her status at the time it was built, the government allowed the owner to build her hotel with very few restrictions. In short, she had free reign in what is a traditionally communist country with strict rules and regulations. The local government essentially turned its back while Hang Nga built her hotel, which turned into more of a novelty tree house than an actual hotel.
Perhaps that will explain why there are few visitors to the hotel. To be truthful, it seems as though The Crazy House receives more visitors than actual overnight guests. The unique tree house design is a hot attraction for those who know about the building, and many people visit merely to take pictures. Hang Nga’s Tree House might have more visitors if the owner would agree to fairly compensate local tour guides with commissions, but here again she refuses to play by the rules.
An Overnight Stay in The Crazy House
Upon arrival at The Crazy House you’ll be faced with a hotel modeled after a tree, with rooms within tree trunks and some slightly disturbing room themes. The owner will first attempt to trick tourists out of a $50 room fare. Of course, in the western world a hotel room for $50 is a bargain, but in Vietnam it’s nothing short of price gouging.
This is where your experiences as a true traveler will come in hand, as haggling for a better price is almost a necessity. We’ve heard stories of some tourists who were able negotiate down to $20 per night for a room as well as a free room four their driver and tour guide. They will, of course, take a lower price – there’s no use having a hotel if you never have any overnight guests.
Despite its apparent lack of guests, the hotel is fun to explore. The owner herself was a student of architecture at a university in Moscow and designed the entire place on her own. Each and every detail is a product of her active imagination.
One room, for example, is aptly named the “Ant room.” On one wall you’ll find a paper-mache tree complete with a gigantic ant – with disturbingly realistic features. Throughout the rest of the room you’ll find furniture and decorations featuring the same creepy crawly theme.
The Honeymoon suite is a two-story room with a set of stairs made of tubes of different lengths. The room is very small and does not feature any of the amenities you’d expect in a “honeymoon suite,” but we suppose the experience is worth the trade in size.
The owner herself, architect Dang Viet Nga, does appear within the hotel frequently. In her mid-sixties, she’s the epitome of fashion and speaks fluent English – enough to encourage her guests to stay an extra night or eat in her hotel restaurant, anyway.
Exploring Da Lat
While in Da Lat, be sure to explore some of the other treasures the city has to offer. The highlands town features restaurants with exotic local foods, including bat, wild boar, curried rabbit, and venison.
Though the honeymoon room at Hang Nga’s Tree House wasn’t much to see, Da Lat is a popular destination for newlyweds in Vietnam. You’ll be surprised at the elegant French architecture and quiet character of the entire area.
Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Ho tribes as well. After years of arguments with the Vietnamese government, tensions have finally died down and the locals regularly welcome visitors to their village. While parts of the village seem to be enriched with Vietnamese culture, others seem resistant, including architectural styles and food. You’ll enjoy looking for the differences as you explore.
No trip to Da Lat is complete without at least a visit to Hang Nga’s Tree House. One look inside and you’ll understand why it is aptly nicknamed The Crazy House. You’ll enjoy your stay in Da Lat, especially at The Crazy House – even if you only grace the owner with your presence for a day!