Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia’s most popular countries with travellers. Like many backpackers before us, we were travelling from the North to the South but we were on a tight itinerary. Despite being short on time, we were determined to squeeze Dalat (also written as Da Lat) into our Vietnam itinerary.
Dalat is best known for its adventure sports and luckily for us, there was plenty to choose from. As well as rock climbing and mountain biking, canyoning in Dalat is a bucket list experience and we couldn’t wait to feel the thrill of abseiling and jumping down impressive waterfalls.
If you too are an adrenaline junkie or you just love adventure, then this is the activity for you – no experience required!
Arriving in Dalat
As you arrive in Dalat, the temperature may be a shock to the system. Located in the mountains at 1500 m above sea level, the weather is certainly a lot cooler and fresher than the heat and humidity you’ll find along the rest of your route through Vietnam. Before you jump on a bus to Dalat, make sure you grab a jumper and keep it to hand!
When deciding where to stay in Dalat, we opted for Dalat Sky Hostel. Dalat is known for its ‘family feel’ hostels, where everyone sits together and enjoys a home-cooked meal by the owners. Unfortunately for us, we were visiting during the off-season and our hostel was quiet, so despite us showing interest in a communal dinner, the family had to cancel ours. If you do happen to stumble across a hostel that serves family style dinners make sure you get involved – we heard loads of good things from backpackers we met along the way!
Canyoning in Dalat
Canyoning is the number one thing to do in Dalat and can be done all year-round. After doing our research and chatting with fellow backpackers, we chose to go with the popular and reputable company, Viet Challenge Tours. (South East Asia Backpacker recently partnered with the company and you can now book this canyoning tour via this website.)
The tour started at around 8am when the Viet Challenge team picked us up from our accommodation. We chose not to take any valuables (such as money, cards and mobile phones) with us as we felt they were safer left in the room and we didn’t need them. However, others on our tour chose to leave their belongings in the minibus and had no issues.
Luckily for us, there were just seven people in our group which gave us all a personal and memorable experience. We noticed that a number of other groups were also canyoning with the same company, however, they were slightly bigger in size. With Viet Challenge, the maximum group size for canyoning is just 15 people so even larger groups still get the unparalleled attention of the guides.
You start the day by kitting up and practicing abseiling down a small rock surface. This was great to get us into the swing of things and should kill any first-time nerves for beginners! Viet Challenge quickly made us feel safe and at ease.
We had three guides for the group, which was a very reassuring ratio. All of the staff had their own roles: one guide would first abseil down, one guide would stay at the top and the other guide was the photographer. This meant that there was always someone to help you with clipping in and making sure that you were safe.
Our Canyoning Route
After the formalities were completed, we set off to begin the canyoning route. We started with a quick walk through a park before reaching the starting point. The activity is made up of the following 6 stations:
1. Dry Cliff
This is a nice way to ease into the activity and abseil down a few rock surfaces, before being met with the addition of water. We loved that there were some big flat rock surface areas, so you could really push and jump out when abseiling down.
This station started with an abseil, followed by a chance to soak in the scenery by gliding alongside beautiful waterfalls.
3. Water Sliding
A personal favourite of mine! This one seemed like it would be painful just by looking at it but the rocks are super smooth. It was just like a slide but with an added push from the power of the water. Repeat as many times as you can fit in!
Here we put our new skills to the test by abseiling down the face of a huge and powerful waterfall.
5. Free Jump
Adrenaline junkies this one is for you! This is your chance to jump alongside the running waterfall from a variety of different points and you can’t help but let out a little scream! We even had some people in our group take a run-up on the top level and flip into the water. Test your limits!
6. Washing Machine
Wow, what a finale! The final station really goes against your instincts. It starts with a small abseil down before the rock runs out and you have to lower yourself into the rushing water! Take a deep breath, then the power of the water pushes you through the rocks and out you will pop, hence the name ‘washing machine’.
If at any point we felt unsure or wanted to skip a station then there was always another alternative route to climb down. This was a great relief and meant that everybody in the group got stuck in and never felt overwhelmed!
After finishing the activity, it’s a short walk to the restaurant. As we were walking through the jungle along the dirt tracks with not much else in sight, we were excited to see what kind of restaurant would catch our eye. After around a 10-15 minute walk (which felt like longer in soggy clothes and the lunchtime heat), out pops a minivan with a groundsheet and there was the restaurant.
A spread of fresh fruit, biscuits and all the ingredients to make the perfect Banh Mi (baguettes, cheese, meats, tofu, salad and sauces). We laughed as it wasn’t quite as we expected but of course turned out to be so much better than we could have imagined! It was the most delicious and memorable meal we had eaten, with more than enough food to go around!
We returned from the tour at around 1pm which left us plenty of time to explore the rest of Dalat in the afternoon.
All in all, we had an amazing experience canyoning and throughout the tour, we felt super safe and looked after with Viet Challenge. To top off the perfect adrenaline-filled morning, the guides also took some fabulous photographs for us to keep as memories. If you decide to give canyoning in Dalat a try (and you definitely should), here is some advice!
What Should I Wear Canyoning in Dalat?
We would recommend wearing some form of activewear. Make sure it’s fairly thin and lightweight as you will want something which dries out quickly. You will get drenched so you don’t want anything that will get too heavy and become uncomfortable! The following items of clothing would be well suited to the activity:
- Trainers or sturdy strap on sandals
- Sports shorts or thin shorts
- Vest top or t-shirt (quick-dry preferred)
- Swimwear underneath your clothes
What Should I Bring To Go Canyoning?
- High factor sun cream: I would advise applying this before the leaving for the activity but you can also leave this in the minivan if you’d like.
- Towel to leave in the minivan.
- Hairbands to tie your hair back if you have long hair! (Ladies, we found plaits worked well for this activity)
- Any essential medication.
- GoPro or waterproof camera (if you have one). Viet Challenge provides photos inclusive of the tour price but it is always nice to have a few action shots of your own!