My two nights stay at Lak Resort at the end of May 2011 was just one huge disappointment. They did not rip me off, but tried to several times. I did witness them succeed in ripping off other guests while I was there in my presence. Read on....... (....at end of hotel review I will provide some tips and hints for visiting Lak Lake).....
Lake Lak Resort is part of the government run/owned DakLak Tourist company. In Buon Ma Thuot they have a "sister" hotel the Thanh Cong Hotel on Ly Thuong Kiet Street. Their scam attempts on me started there. While at that hotel, they lied through their teeth about Lake Lak transport abilities (read my review on the Thanh Cong Hotel). Lak Resort did the same saying to me over the phone the only way to Lak Lake was by private car and denied a bus service existed. After telling them I would not be paying the 800,000 dong fee to take me out there and would take the bus (which they said did not exist), they suddenly remembered there was a bus service (22,000 dong) from Buon Ma Thuot to Lake Lak)
I arrived at the last bus stop as the staff at Lak Lake Resort said I should do, saying it was just a ten minute walk from the bus stop to the Lak Resort. However, this was in fact many stops past where I should have gotten off. I had to take a motorbike taxi which somewhat surprised me and made me immediately think scam. Some 20 people getting off the bus and only one motorbike taxi at the stop who just happened to speak reasonable English. He assured me he knew where the Resort was and commenced taking me there saying it was some 5 kilometres back. He specified a price of 40,000 dong which was fine with me giving me a chance to look around better than on the crowed bus. After traveling some distance, he pulls into a cafe telling me he needs to ask for directions. In my limited knowledge of the language, I picked up enough to understand he was telling the cafe people he had a rich American and was going to get at least 100,000 dong from me by taking me the long way. (I play dumb to these guys pretending I do not understand any Vietnamese until the service is over). He then tells me he now has directions and away we went. I have enough sense of direction by keeping an eye on the sun to know we were traveling now a u-turn heading back the same direction but along a different road. We arrive at the resort and he demands 100,000 dong because it was a longer distance than expected. I remind him of his earlier conversation... In his embarrassment when I pay him the earlier agreed 40K, he says I should have taken the hire car from Buon Ma Thuot and I should tell others to do the same. He then goes off and chats with the security guy at the gate of the resort. Smell like a scam??
No Check in problems.... but shortly after realised the $27 USD a night was way overpriced. The lawns are non-existent... just all high weeds really. The walking paths are steep to the cabins and are made up of un-level granite rocks. A true hazard in the day time, even worse at night with poor or no lighting. Walked past the pool to see a LOT of sediment in the bottom. The room was fantastic. It was large and clean with a small balcony out front, air conditioning worked well and had a TV and small fridge. Bathroom was large and modern. That is where the praise for the resort ends. I can not say another positive word without telling lies.In total, I consider it an attempt at building a 5 star resort on a 1 star hotel budget. Almost everything apart from the cabins is unfinished or made rough or cheaply. Although within my cabin, there were exposed live wires to the water heater directly above the shower head. Not that this would ever be a concern since the water pressure was almost non-existent. Just a dribble from the shower head. At night, the badly fitted doors allowed a gazillion insects into my room including these horrible stinging flying ants or wasps or whatever they were. No insect screens on doors or windows. I might add that was about 150-200 metres walk from the reception to my cabin.
--THE POOL - Very cloudy water because it was full of bacteria and no chlorination (I am a pool owner so I know). Add to that the frogs eggs attached to the walls of the pool and over 20 frogs swimming about in the pool (see photos). Around the pool the tiling was done on an unprepared surfaces resulting in many loose or broken tiles, some of which presenting sharp edges. Bar at poolside was in desperate need of paint and both it and the surrounding floors were covered in dirt, leaves and dead insects. I am sure it had not been swept in at least a week. Next morning I saw dead frogs floating and a guy sweeping it. Next day it was obvious he did not do much of a job or the filter system was not up to speed since the bottom of the pool was covered in grime again and more frogs swimming around.
--- THE RESTAURANT - Where I come from, a restaurant is where you choose something from the menu. At Lak Lake Resort, they handed me the menu which had about 20 choices, but then tell me they only have noodles because the staff went home. I asked for alternatives and all they said was "in the town". At Breakfast next morning, very small selection (bread and eggs, but you can have the eggs cooked anyway you like) and abysmally slow service. I order coffee and they bring tea. The bread and eggs took at least 20 minutes, however next morning service was prompt, but again in spite of pointing at the listing on the menu, and myself speaking it in both English and Vietnamese, they still bring tea instead of coffee. (I am not talking about the complimentary Vietnam Tea, but Lipton Tea they would bring). Dinner was nothing special, but very slow service on both nights. Management in their white shirts sit around a table within the restaurant speaking loudly, smoking and drinking disrupting what would otherwise be a pleasant place to dine looking out over the lake.
- THE VIEW - Each cabin is advertised as having lake views. If I lay down on the balcony and looked under the tree directly in front I could see the lake so I guess I did have a lake view (insert sarcastic rolling of eyes). Sitting in the chair on the deck, all I could see was trees. A walk around the grounds revealed most cabins have tree views with a lake somewhere behind them.
-- THE GROUNDS -- In a word - Atrocious!!. Except for the paths, everywhere else is weeds with some waist high. The Resort burns their rubbish in piles along the lakes edge to give you that charcoal look in the foreground of your photos. They decorate the bases of the trees with assorted plastic bottles and other unwanted refuse. Chest high weeds greet you at the lakes edge where you can access otherwise it is a steep concrete wall to the waters edge.
--- TOURIST SERVICES -- Don't use there booking service, but rather go to the locations yourself and save big bucks. Examples :- Elephant Rides - their price $35 an hour. Price charged on site is $15 an hour and the same elephants and locations on the ride. Dug Out Canoe - their price $10 and hour per person. Locals price $4 an hour for the whole canoe which can carry 4 people. Motorcycle Rental - their price 400,000 dong (just under $20) for the day (or part there of). Locals charge just $5 for 24 hours, but the Resort has your passport so it is very difficult to find a local who will rent out his bike without decent ID. I managed however. Fishing - for 150,000 dong they give you a bamboo pole and a 4 metre line and hook which will let you jag fingerlings near the waters edge if you want to brave the leeches in those weeds (yes there are leeches. I plucked one off my ankle trying to attach itself). What they should have is a small jetty or clear the damned weeds and provide proper fishing rods to hook those one footers I saw jumping about 25 to metres off shore. Gong Show - for 1.5 million dong, you get to watch the M'nong perform in a replica long house to which each are paid a mere $2 a head per performance. Alternatively, go to their village and they will invite you into their homes and not expect payment and are near in tears when you give them a gift.
Overall, their tourist services are appalling.
-- INTERNET -- while advertised as being part of the room charge, you would think this means you have WiFi or cable access, however, their internet service is one virus ridden PC at the reception which is loaded with pirated software and only to be used briefly to check emails.
-- OTHER COMMENTS -- At Breakfast first morning , I counted 18 individual staff, but could only see 7 guests.On check-out, again there was pressure to take one of the cars they could arrange for me and were very reluctant to tell me where the bus stop was. They would only tell me "near the bank". Bus stop was 100 metres from the bank and not an obvious one at that. Absolutely nothing to do in the evenings. There are no bars or clubs anywhere. I found a single pool table in a cafe set off the road a bit about 75 metres back from the Lak resort entrance.
----- SUMMARY ----- They are playing with themselves calling it a resort. I consider it nothing more than budget hotel rooms by the water. This place has a huge potential with a little more money invested and some good management. If they would do both, this place would be great.
------------ TIPS FOR VISITING LAK LAKE - there is a hotel being extended which is very close to Lak Lake Resort. About 100 metres from the Lak Resort Entry, up the hill to the king's villa, is a lovely hotel on the left at the T-intersection. I did not stay there but did eat at their restaurant and looked at the rooms. Very tidy, cozy and extremely friendly. They own it, they run it and it's about $15 a night including breakfast. It also has lovely breezes sweeping up the hill from the lake with great views. Sorry, I forgot to write down the name and can not remember it to type it here now. For cheap elephant and canoe rides direct from suppliers, just walk the lake road from Lak Resort and you can't miss it. At the end of the road is the M'nong village. It's about 3 klms from Lak resort to the elephants and canoes but a beautiful scenic walk. Also, in taking the walk from the Lak resort, on the hill about 150 metres along you will see a building ruin poking out above the trees. Tale a walk to it and you will find one of the last battle fields of the Vietnam war. This is one location where the South Vietnamese tried to defend against the Communists in 1975 without success. You can see a pill-box (bunker) and trenches as well as the bullet and shrapnel damage to the building as well as a few artillery craters. I am assured it was cleared of all unexploded ordinance just 3 months ago. I could see the relatively fresh holes here and there where things had obviously been dug out. There is only 1 ATM in Lake Lak area and it runs out of money by 10 in the morning and not refilled until 4:00 PM. When taking an elephant ride, use insect repellent. When the beast stops to wrench out a trunk full of bamboo, the swaying branches shower you in both dry and green leaves as well as showering of insects which include some nasty bugs that bite really painfully.
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- Also Known As:
- Lak Hotel Lien Son
- Lak Resort Dak Lak, Vietnam