Exploring Son La, Vietnam – Letting Our Muscles Recover

We get to know Son La while resting for the mountains to come

This post is part of the story of our 19 months of cycle touring 16,000 km through 22 countries. If you want to know more about Son La, Vietnam, read on.

(Don’t miss: Our post covering everything you need to know before cycle touring Vietnam)

10,531 km so far.

We decided that we would take a day off in Son La. Not because there’s anything here we particularly wanted to see, but because our bodies are tired from the past few days of mountainous rides, and our minds are tired from thinking about all the mountains still to come.

rice fields and small house in son la

Morning view from our hotel, Son La.

We managed to find banh mi and coffee for breakfast via a vague reference in a blog post on Crazy Guy On A Bike, a website where cyclists blog about their trips. We should have just gone to the lady on the corner in the market who makes them for 50¢ each, as they charged us twice that at the cafe.

(Don’t miss: Our post about everything you need to know before visiting Vietnam)

The cafe was also one of the rare places in Vietnam without WiFi and we had wanted to get some work done.

pile of wooden cutting boards

We’d love one of these cutting boards in the market of Son La.

Son La seems to have a great lack of cafes, unusual for Vietnam, and so we found ourselves back at Matcha Chocolate, where we had enjoyed overpriced blended coffee drinks (almost $2 each) last night.

They have quick internet though, so we lazily sipped on pricey drinks while tackling our work.

What to do in Son La, Vietnam

Everyone in town seems to take an extended siesta, as the streets were practically empty when we walked back to our hotel from Matcha. It made finding lunch quite difficult. As well as a lack of cafes in town, there seems to be an unusually small number of restaurants.

A river runs through Son La.

A river runs through Son La.

We decided to join the Son La locals and take it easy this afternoon. It was too hot to wander the dusty streets, and we had nowhere we particularly wanted to go – the biggest tourist activity is a hike up to a tall peak to gaze out over the area we had just cycled through. Definitely not something to be done in 30C heat on a rest day.

Where to Eat in Son La, Vietnam

We did manage to find an amazing little restaurant called Bun Dao Mam Tom (address: 246 Tô Hiệu) for dinner. The waitress/owner understood right away that we were vegetarian, and said she could help us out.

Of course, she told us by speaking to us in Vietnamese, but she spoke clearly enough that Jane was able to pick up the gist of what she was saying. A few minutes later beautiful woven bamboo plates, lined with bamboo leaves and filled with rice noodles, tofu, veggie spring rolls, cucumber and herbs arrived.

Nice change from tomato tofu in Son La.

Nice change from tomato tofu in Son La.

It was so fresh, so tasty, and so nice to have something different from tomato tofu, the staple of a vegetarian diet in Vietnam.  

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