Da Lat also spelled as Dalat, is a mountain city in southern Vietnam, the capital city of Lam Dong Province. We first arrived in Dalat from the beaches of Mui Ne, and it was a bit of a shock to the system – so much colder. No wonder, that during the colonial period, it was known as the French retreat for prominent French and Vietnamese officials and families. Today, things are no different, Dalat is a popular destination for its cool climate, unique local dishes, and pine trees. It’s a great escape from the heat of the lowlands of Vietnam and it’s a great place to come to explore. Welcome to the best things to do in Dalat.
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While the Delta is known as the rice bowl of Vietnam it’s here in Dalat that a lot of vegetables and fruits in Vietnam come from. You’ll find coffee farms, tea plantations, and flower farms. You’ll also find wine from Dalat. Dalat is one of the few locations in Vietnam popular for adventure spots and it doesn’t have skyscrapers. This is a great place to spend a few days –or longer – unwinding, enjoying nature, and breathing fresh air.
The Best 12 Things to Do in Dalat
When it comes to activities in Dalat, you can expect lots related to outdoor such as hiking, boat paddling, waterfalls adventure, and visiting farms. But there are also cultural activities here. Wine is grown here and it’s a great place to just relax for a few days.
It’s best to spend around 3-4 days in Dalat, but if you have a week to spare, you can easily do nothing and just sip fresh coffee in the morning and eat at the local market at night.
You simply can’t come to Dalat without going to the Crazy House.
The Crazy House is a hotel designed as a maze. It was built in 1990 by architect Dang Viet Nga who owns the place. You can walk around and climb the paths as it takes you through crazy routes and incredible views. It’s an interesting place to explore as you puzzle over the design and the oddity of it.
Some routes through Dalat’s Crazy House will take you through high ledges and bridges, so be mindful if you don’t like heights. It’s also possible to stay at the Crazy House, there’s a hotel here, so if a door is locked, it’s generally because someone has rented it!
The rooms here are as crazy as the rest of the house. One of the benefits of staying at the Crazy House is that you get the run of the place after the day visitors have left.
- Address of the Crazy House: 03 Đ. Huỳnh Thúc Kháng, Phường 4, Thành phố Đà Lạt
- Opening Hours of Crazy House: 8:30 AM to 7 PM, daily
- Entry Fees for the Crazy House: 50K VND entrance fee, 5K VND motorbike parking fee
2. Explore Dalat’s Train Station
Dalat Train, also called Ga Dalat in Vietnamese, is a train station finished in 1938 after six years of construction. The railway here was an 84-kilometer (52-mile) long railway that sits at 1500 meters (4921 feet) elevation. However, it was because of bombing during the Vietnam War, the train stopped operating in Dalat. With the amount of time we’ve been spending in Vietnam on trains it was a big reason to come to Dalat.
The train station is still there, and you can see old carriages, but it now serves as a museum, and it has a faint air of desolation about it, its interesting enough. There’s a restaurant and shops you can take a look at here as well.
- Address of Dalat Train Station: Quang Trung, Phường 9, Thành phố Đà Lạt
- Opening Hours of Dalat Train Station: 6 AM to 5 PM, every day
- Entry Fees for Dalat Train Station: 5K VND per person
3. See Bao Dai’s Summer Palace in Dalat
Bao Dai, born Nguyen Vinh Thuy, was the 13th and last Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. After his rule, it was the end of the dynasty in Vietnam. He was in power from 1926 to 1945. Visiting his summer place is a great way to get a glimpse of how a Royal Vietnamese Family lived. It’s similar in a lot of ways to the Royal Palace Museum in Luang Prabang.
You can explore the garden grounds, visit rooms, and learn more about Bao Dai. You won’t need more than 30 minutes to an hour to see all the highlights
- Address of Bao Dai’s Summer Palace: 1 Đường Triệu Việt Vương, Phường 4, Thành phố Đà Lạt
- Opening Hours of Bao Dai’s Summer Palace: 7 AM to 5:30 PM
- Entry Fees for Bao Dai’s Summer Palace: 40K VND per person
Dalat is loved both by locals and visitors because of its incredible landscape. The greenery, coffee, and flower farms, tea plantations, and forests offer something you can only find in Dalat. And there’s quite a distance between some of the places to see up here, so unless you have a motorbike, then the best way to get around them is to book a tour to save you time and money and avoid the hassle of planning and figuring out how to get from one place to another.
The best bit about THIS TOUR is that you actually go around on a motorbike, which is the perfect method of Vietnam transport for this area. You can drive the motorbike by yourself, or the tour company can also provide you with a driver. Book a motorbike tour of Dalat and its surroundings here.
If riding a motorbike is not your cup of tea, you can still visit must-see places in Dalat in a comfortable minivan transport. This tour features Que Garden, Chika Farm, Kombi Land, Coffee Farms, and Lumiere Center.
If you prefer to see the countryside and visit farms, the countryside tour of Dalat might be more suitable for you. You’ll visit various farms featuring vegetables, fruits, coffee, tea, flowers, and even crickets. You’ll also see pagodas and waterfalls. Your tour guide will share information about farming in Vietnam and how Dalat plays a significant role in Vietnam’s economy.
There’s also a tour for people who wants to focus on Dalat culture, landscape, and nature. Walk through giant sculptures made of clay. This model village of clay scriptures features characters such as dragons, Goddesses, trains, planes, and motorbikes. This tour around Dalat includes a visit to the Clay Tunnel, Datanla, Linh Phuoc Village, French Quarter, Truc Lam Zen Monastery, and Tuyem Lake.
5. Go Strawberry Picking in Dalat
You can’t leave Dalat without visiting a strawberry farm and picking your own fabulous fresh strawberries. Dalat reminded us a lot of the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, where we also went strawberry picking. The altitude is great for fruit and veg growing. There are a lot of strawberry farms in Dalat, from small to huge ones. If you don’t want to go pick your own fruit, you don’t have to, you can simply visit the farm and have a look around. Vườn Dâu Đà Lạt is the busiest Dalat strawberry farm, and you can also pick other fruits such as tomatoes and grapes here. You can also go to Ichigo Strawberry Farm Đà Lạt, or 88 Strawberry Gardens. Strawberries will cost you around 200K VND for 1KG.
Lang Biang Mountain is the highest point in Lam Dong Province, at 2,167 meters. This is an ideal day trip from Dalat City since you can get there by taxi or motorbike in just half an hour. The mountain’s peak offers a panoramic view of the city, farms, and forests. At the top, you can walk around and admire the gardens check out the magnificent view, look at the statues, and (of course) take a break at the café here.
There are two ways to get to the peak. You can hike, a round trip will take around 2 hours there and back, or ride the jeep for 100K VND per person. Near the entrance, there’s a garden where you can take photos and walk around. You can go horseback riding as well.
Want to hike to the top? This is a great guided option to get to the top of Lang Biang Mountain on foot.
There’s an entrance fee to get onto the mountain and the trail is steep and can be muddy. I’d recommend hiking poles, for the descent if nothing else. My guide to the best budget packable hiking poles is here.
- Address of Lang Biang Mountain: 305 Langbiang, Thị trấn Lạc Dương, Lạc Dương
- Opening Hours of Lang Biang Mountain: 7:30 AM to 5 PM
- Entry Fees for Lang Biang Mountain: 20K VND per person
7. Check out the Flower Festival in Dalat
Dalat is also known as the Flower City of Vietnam. This is because most flowers sold in Vietnam and imported to other countries are grown in Dalat. Once every two years, there’s an extravagant flower festival where floats parade around the city. The floats are in various shapes and designs, covered in flowers of Dalat. The next Dalat Flower Festival dates are here
This is a must-attend festival if you are in Dalat at the right time. The Flower Festival kicks off at Lam Vien Square. Apart from the parade, a stage will be set up for performances, plus an artisan market featuring local products and farmers.
Dalat has a lot of waterfalls, although the best ones are actually located at the bottom of the hill, around a 45-minute drive from Dalat City Center. For those locations, you need to hire a driver or rent a motorbike and ride on your own. But there are also waterfalls not too far from the city, which will only need a short taxi ride.
You can visit three of Dalat’s waterfalls in a day, with this great guided tour – the waterfalls visited are those that I’ve detailed below.
Elephant Waterfalls, Dalat
The Elephants Waterfalls, also known as Thác Voi, is one of the most popular waterfalls in Dalat. It’s an easy hike from the parking lot to the waterfalls. The terrain is covered in rocks and usually gets wet and becomes slippery, so best to wear good footwear. Although you’re not allowed to swim here, you can see the famous Happy Buddha and visit Linh An Tu Pagoda as well. It is 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of central Dalat and it will take around 50 minutes to get here by motorbike. The entrance fee to Elephant Waterfalls is 40K VND.
Datanla Falls, Dalat
Datanla Falls is the easiest of these waterfalls to get to from Dalat City. It’s only a 20-minute drive and costs about 200K VND one-way by taxi. This is the most popular waterfall in Dalat, which means that it is usually busy at the weekend. But apart from exploring the falls, there are a lot of other things to do here – like a high rope course, an alpine coaster ride, bobsled, and a zip line. You have to pay 50K VND to enter the Datanla Falls area.
Pongour Falls, Dalat
The stream of water cascades beautifully over the rocks, but it’s the hike from the parking lot to the waterfalls that makes Pongour Falls unique. It’s an easy hike, but towards the end, there are lots of steps. There are large rocks at the bottom of the falls where you can sit, rest, picnic and check out the waterfalls. It will take you around 90 minutes to get here from Dalat and it’s best to travel by motorbike or hire a car with a driver. The admission fee to Pongour Falls is 20K VND and 5K VND for motorbike parking.
9. Visit Dalat for Adventure Sports
Dalat is one of Vietnam’s adventure sports centers, but most of them require you to travel outside the city. If you don’t have your own transport, doing this as part of a tour is the best option as the tour companies will shuttle you from the city and back. Adventure sports activities in Dalat include canyoning, white water rafting, trekking, and mountain biking.
You can go canyoning at Datanla Waterfalls if you are an adventure-seeker. But you must book a tour since only licensed guides can bring people in. This canyoning tour from Dalat includes all the safety equipment, like a helmet, life vest, and experienced guide. You’ll also get picked up and dropped off at your hotel, and the tour includes a picnic.
White water rafting from Dalat is possible e near Lang Biang River, near Elephant Waterfalls. This activity depends on the season, though. During the dry season, it’s not possible when the rapids are not as extreme. This white water rafting trip also requires you to go with a local company that will provide you with the raft, helmet, life vest, transportation, picnic, and a licensed guide.
Mountain Biking from Dalat
Another exhilarating activity you can do while in Dalat is mountain biking. This is usually through the countryside and forests outside the city center. You should be able to rent a mountain bike from your accommodation, but if not, go to any tour agency, and they can arrange it for you. It’s also better to book a tour for this with a local guide. Many areas in Dalat are private farms and usually unmarked. You don’t want to be biking through vegetation. There are no trails for mountain biking, but a local guide will know where to take you.
Here are two great mountain biking trails to go to
Bidoup Nui Ba National Park – this is a great biking option at Dalat, which starts with a short minibus ride to get you out of the city. Ride through pine forests and the glorious Bidoup Nui Ba National Park. (there’s minibus backup if you need to take a break too – so it’s perfect for families wanting to go out together). See the route and mountain biking details here.
Trekking from Dalat
Like the other hill station we visited in Sapa, Dalat is also a popular location when it comes to trekking. The vast pine forests offer special hiking opportunities for a Southeast Asian region. The weather also makes it much nicer to trek around and explore. You can hike the stunning Lang Biang Mountain for sunrise, but since it’s not open until 7 AM, you must take the back road, known as the forest trail. Another option is to head out on a guided trek, this is a fabulous one to Lang Biang Mountain.
Do you know that Vietnam was in 5th place in leading coffee exports in 2021? In 2020, they were actually the 2nd leading exporter of coffee. The coffee farms in Vietnam are located in the Central Highlands, which include Dalat. Tea is also a big part of Vietnamese culture, most houses have hot tea ready for visitors or as an all-day go-to drink.
While you are in Dalat, you can visit coffee farms and tea plantations, where you can spend the day walking around, learning about the coffee beans and tea plants, and finishing off your visit by enjoying freshly brewed coffee and tea. Green tea is the most sold tea in Vietnam, but artichoke tea is the local’s favorite. You can also buy tea and coffee here to bring home with you. You can go to Cau Dat Tea Village Dan Ng Hoi Xuan Truong Village, and Long Đỉnh Organic Farm without any prior booking. Both are near the city center and can be reached by motorbike or taxi.
11. Go Motorbiking around Dalat
The best way to travel around Dalat is by motorbike, which you can rent from your hotel, or go to Phan Bội Châu Street, where you’ll find places to rent one. Having your own vehicle, you can visit at least 3-4 locations in one day, perfect if you have limited time. The motorbike rent includes a helmet or two and usually costs 80K VND to 120K VND for 24 hours. There are plenty of gas stations in the city and around Dalat to fill the tank.
12. Explore a Lake in Dalat
There are three must-see lakes in Dalat, two are right in the city center and the other is only 7 kilometers ((4.3 miles) from downtown. It’s a very different experience at each of them
Xuan Huong Lake, Dalat
Xuan Huong Lake is near the market in the middle of Dalat City. It’s a popular running, cycling, and walking trail for locals. You can rent a swan paddleboat for around 60K VND for an hour and each boat fits four people. This is also a nice location to watch the sunset and visit the flower gardens, Vườn Hoa, it’s located on the northeast side of the lake. There are two boat rental locations. One is right next to Nhà hàng Thủy Tạ, and the other is at Bến thuyền đạp vịt.
Tuyem Lake, Dalat
Tuyem Lake, also known as Paradise Lake, is the best sunset spot in Dalat. It’s a 20-minute ride from Dalat City, not too far from Datanla. You can also rent a swan boat and roam the much larger lake here. Another option is to rent a kayak or standup paddle board. Go to Bến Thuyền Hồ Tuyền Lâm (marina), where you’ll find various boats that you can rent.
If you plan to go for the sunset, though, make sure you have a ride back to the city, as it’s hard to find a taxi here once it’s dark.
Lake of Sighs and Two Grave Hills, Dalat
The Lake of Sighs, or Than Tho in Vietnamese, is known for its heartbreaking folk tale. In the early 18th century, a soldier named Mai Nuong went to the lake to say goodbye to his lover Hoang Tung and promised to come by. News reached Hoang Tung that Mai Nuong had died in the battle. As proof of her loyal love, she threw herself into the lake. When the war ended, Mai Nuong returned to find out that the love of his life had died. This led to him drowning himself in the same lake to be with Hoang Tung. The lake was named Lake of Sighs as a symbol of sigh for depressed love.
Right next to the lake is the Two Grave Hills, also called Đồi Thông Hai Mộ. The two graves are believed to be the burial site of two lovers whose families disapproved of their relationship. A lady selling tea next to it is more than happy to tell you the folk tale about the lake and the graves. This lake is a nice place to go for a picnic and enjoy the gardens. It’s much quieter and more peaceful away from city traffic and big crowds.
Map of Things to do in Dalat
You can see the full map of Dalat’s things to do here.
Dalat Food and Drinks
Dalat is not only known for exhilarating activities and green landscapes but there are also several dishes and drinks that you can only find in Dalat.
Maze Bar aka 100 Roofs Cafe
The Maze Bar, also known as the 100 Roofs Cafe, is similar to the Crazy House in design and goal. But this one is a smaller version, darker, and has an open garden at the top. Once you place your drink order at the door, you will be led down to the basement, where the “maze” will begin. It’s a little dark there, so take one step at a time. You will climb many narrow stairs and end up on different floors. You can come here from late morning until late night to enjoy the view, drink, and party at night, and get lost in the maze. There’s a nice open garden at the top (if you manage to find it), which is open until 9 PM. The main bar is open until midnight.
The Dalat Night Market
The night market, aka Chợ Đêm Đà Lạt, is in the heart of the city. It’s popular with both locals and foreign visitors. Although there’s a night market every night, the weekend night market is much bigger, busier, and generally better (Friday to Sunday). The roads around the market will be closed to motor traffic, making it a more pleasant experience to try out street food.
This is also an incredible location to find a place to sit that serves BBQ hot plate where you can cook your own meat and vegetables over an open fire. You should also check out restaurants around Dalat, like the Chu BBQ Restaurant, Ngoi BBQ, and Dalat BBQ.
- Address of the Attraction: 6b Đường Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Phường 1, Thành phố Đà Lạt
- Opening Hours of the Attraction: 6 PM to Midnight
Banh Mi Xiu Mai
This delicacy originated in Dalat as a unique version of Banh Mi, where the bread is served with a soup of xiu mai (meatballs). Instead of eating this as a regular Banh Mi sandwich, you dip the bread in the soup. You can find this dish at the night market, but you can also go to Banh Mi Xiu Mai Dalat Restaurant at 35 Đ. Hoàng Diệu, Phường 5, or go to 131 Phan Đình Phùng, Phường 2, which is right downtown and costs around 30K VND per order.
A snack made of rice paper, meat, vegetables, cheese, and egg. The rice paper is placed on top of an open fire serving as a “hot plate”. Here, eggs, vegetables, meat toppings (such as shredded chicken, pork, or beef), and cheese are cooked as scrambled. Once everything is all done, it’s ready to be served. The dish will be cut like a pizza if you dine in. But if you want it to go, it will be folded into a roll. Which is best? I couldn’t possibly say. You’ll need to try both.
The best place to get Banh Trang Nuong is at the steps of the night market. They set up there around 6 PM. But if you want to try it during the day, go to Banh Trang Nuong 112 at 112 Nguyễn Văn Trỗi, Phường 2. It costs around 30K VND to 40K VND.
Many avocados in Vietnam are grown in Dalat and its surrounding area. Kem bơ is an avocado-flavored ice cream served in a cup topped with milk. Avocado ice cream is a delicacy in Vietnam that you’ll likely only find in Dalat. During the day, go to Kem Phụng or Kem bơ Thanh Thảoto try it. At night, head to the steps in the night market. Most Banh Trang Nuong night market sellers also offer avocado ice cream. Avocado ice cream in Dalat will set you back about 20K VND to 30K VND.
Nem Nuong from Dalat
Nem Nuong is a rice paper dish where you fill the rice paper with meat cooked on a stick, fresh vegetables, fried rice paper, and pickled radishes and carrots. Roll the rice paper and dip it in the peanut sauce. This dish originated in Lam Dong Province and is a common food in Dalat. Some restaurants only sell this food specifically. Go to Ba Hung Fried Rolls, Nem Nướng Dũng Lộc, or Nem nướng Hạnh Tâm. It usually costs 50K VND per stick of meat and another 50K VND if you want more meat.
Drink Coffee in Dalat
Since Vietnam grows its own coffee, coffee drinking is part of Vietnamese culture, lifestyle, and heritage. Like a typical Vietnamese city, Dalat has many awesome coffee shops. If you want to go to a safe choice, Highlands Coffee is a chain coffee shop in Vietnam. But if you want to go to a more local version, Maiday Coffee & Brewski, S Coffee Roastery, and Windmills Coffee are the best coffee shops in Dalat.
Nhat Nguyen Cafe has a nice view of Xuan Hoang Lake. For the unique egg coffee, go to Coffee Trứng AXUKA. Thăng Coffee and DaLat Coffee are right downtown.
Drink Dalat Wine
There are wineries all around Dalat practicing European techniques. Dalat Wine or Vang Đàlạt is a local brand you can buy everywhere in the country, even at the grocery or convenience store. There are white and red wines, then you have an option for classic and export versions.
What is the weather like in Dalat?
The weather in Dalat is what makes it popular. The temperature is pretty much the same all year round, between 18°C to 23°C (64°F-74.4°F), a bit warmer when the sun is shining. In winter, it gets even colder as the temperature drops to 8°C (46.4°F) at night. Dalat often gets foggy at night and early morning, so if you’re motorbiking during this time, be mindful driving since it’s also a very hilly city.
Where to Stay in Dalat
If you’re looking for somewhere unique to stay in Dalat, then you can’t go wrong with the Crazy House, which turns into a hotel at night. Room rates are reasonable and it’s definitely a unique place to stay! However, it is popular, as it’s so unique, so you’ll need to reserve rooms here early.
How to Get to Dalat
Most people visiting Dalat come from Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City. From Nha Trang, you can book a bus or luxury minivan. The travel time is around the same, approximately 3 hours, and the ticket cost is between 180K VND to 200K VND.
You can also travel to Dalat by motorbike, but you’ll have to take it back to Nha Trang if you’re renting it. It’s a windy and steep road that is also traveled by big buses and trucks, so be careful when driving, especially since it gets misty and has almost zero visibility once you enter the mountains.
From Ho Chi Minh City, you can take the bus. It’s around 6-7 hours and costs about 350K VND to 400K VND. There’s a direct flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat. It’s less than an hour’s flight and usually costs approximately 500K VND to 900K VND, depending on the airline and your luggage. (get the current timetable and flight prices here.) The airport is 30km from the city center, so you’ll have to take a 40K VND shared bus to Dalat City or a taxi for around 200K VND. You can fly from Hanoi to Dalat, which will take about 2 hours for 1 million VND to 2 million VND. You can check current flight times and prices here.
How to Get Around Dalat
You can rent a motorbike in Dalat and ride around yourself. This is suitable if you plan to see many of the attractions and places I’ve covered above during your visit. The waterfalls are outside the city and cannot be reached by bus. You should be able to rent a motorbike from your accommodation or go to any travel agency, where you’ll find motorbike rentals.
Another option is a reasonably priced taxi but hard to find once you’re outside the city. You can also use the ride-hailing app, Grab, which offers taxi, car, and motorbike taxi services.
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Final Words on the 12 Best Things to Do in Dalat
Dalat is an incredible city with fantastic weather and nice people. The clean air and pine trees will even make you forget you’re in Southeast Asia. It might have been a shock to the system for us arriving from Mui Ne (our guide on how to go from Mui Ne to Da Lat is here) and the heat of the beach, but it was a welcome change. Whether it’s the countryside you’re looking for, the train museum here, or the plethora of outdoor activities available, this is a great place to get away from big city life and chill out.
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