Dalat, Vietnam

Mountains and lakes of Dalat, Vietnam  

Lovingly referred to as the ‘Alps of Vietnam,’ Dalat is a cute mountainous town which enjoys a cooler climate than the surrounding area.

At 1,500 metres above sea level, it’s an area where agriculture thrives in the chilly air making it even possible to produce wine here. (Dalat Wine – which isn’t half bad and ridiculously cheap!) The area first became popular amongst the colonial French who built luxurious villas in the mountains to escape the hustle and bustle and heat of the city. The scenery is beautiful and quite unlike anywhere else in Vietnam, making it a truly unique destination.

For lovers of the outdoors, there are tonnes of activities to get involved in the area surrounding Dalat. From Mountain biking to trekking, rock-climbing and canyoning, Dalat is a mecca for the adventurous.

Where to stay in Dalat? Top 7 Hostels

1. Tigon Dalat Hostel: With modern dorm beds and a traditional family welcome, this cosy hostel could be the winner of the best hostel in Dalat award! Don’t miss the family dinners taking place every other evening and the free delicious breakfasts! This hostel is a home away from home.

2. Enjoy Da Lat Hostel: Dalat does not have that much in terms of a backpacker hub, so this social hostel is an oddity. Beds are pod style meaning that privacy is yours when desired, but a welcome splash of company can always be found. (Don’t let the leopard print bed covers put you off!)

3. Redhouse Backpacker Hostel: A clean and friendly place that’s an excellent option for the budget traveller. A bed in a mixed dorm costs as little as $4 USD per night! Have your breakfast overlooking the pine trees and hills of Dalat and exchange stories of your travels in Vietnam with fellow backpackers. The drip coffee at breakfast will kick-start your day!

4. iColour Dalat Hostel: A brand new hostel with amazing views looking out over the hills and valleys of Dalat, this hostel is a great place to chill out and meet other travellers. Although the hostel is a little bit out of town, when you see the views you’ll realise it’s worth the walk!

5. Europe Town Hostel: Be prepared for fun-family karaoke nights if you stay here! Europe Town Hostel and Bar is run by a friendly couple, Kim and Thien and they make you feel like part of the family from day one. The hostel is clean, modern and all activities or motorbike hire can be arranged from here.

6. Cozy Nook Hostel: It is rare to hear a bad word said about Cozy Nook and many members of our community actually say that this is their favourite hostel in Vietnam! This place has a homely vibe and family dinners are served in the evenings. Backpackers love the social nature of this hostel and say it is a great place to make friends!

7. Mooka’s Home: Just 10 minutes walking distance from the city centre is Mooka’s Home. This family-run hostel offers both private rooms and dorms. The bunk beds come complete with privacy curtains and they even provide slippers and free toiletries for guests! Breakfast is included in the room rate and is raved about by backpackers.

The streets of Dalat, Vietnam.
The streets of Dalat, Vietnam.

And 3 Flashpacker Options…

1. A Little House: This cosy, clean and friendly homestay is perfect for couples or those wanting some peace and quiet in Dalat. You’ll enjoy a lovely breakfast in the guesthouse’s colourful garden with the resident dogs and cats.

2. Villa Pink House: For those wanting to soak in the views, this budget-friendly hotel is a fab option. Overlooking the lake, valleys, and pine tree-dotted mountains, come here if relaxation is what you’re after. (And yes, it’s a big pink house.)

3. Crazy House Dalat: Looking to splurge on a unique experience? Not only is Dalat Crazy House open for tours, it can also be enjoyed for the night. Stay in your own private beehive or curl up in a tucked away bed next to an egg-shaped fireplace.

Find more accommodation in Dalat, Vietnam here.

Things to do in Dalat, Vietnam

Canyoning: 

Climb up a mountain and then abseil your way back down via a waterfall! Traverse over natural rock slides, rappel down waterfalls, jump off cliffs, and float down down rushing rivers. Welcome back to the thrills of youth, playing all day immersed in a natural playground! The cost for a day’s canyoning in Dalat is about $72 USD per person for the day. Highly recommended are the adventure company Viet Challenge, who have been recommended by several of our community. Book your canyoning adventure with Viet Challenge here.

Person abseils down waterfall
Canyoning in Dalat is sure to be an experience you won’t forget!

Mountain biking and trekking: 

The mountains around Dalat provide a striking backdrop for the colourful houses in town. Set off on foot or by bike for fabulous views of the city and the surrounding countryside. (Don’t miss the toboggan to Datanla Waterfall 5 kilometres outside of the city, but go early to avoid the crowds!) People travelling onward can partake in an awesome downhill bike ride from Dalat to Mui Ne which is a fantastic way to see the Vietnamese countryside. (Your backpack will conveniently follow you in a van.)

You can also hike a moped to do explore many of these areas, just ask in your hostel for more details.

Rock Climbing: 

A mere 10 km outside of Dalat there are a variety of rock climbing courses to choose from. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran you’ll find something to try! Hook up with Dalat Green Adventures who will be able to show you the ropes.

Stroll around the lake: 

In the heart of Dalat lies Xuan Huong Lake, complete with a walking path circling its entirety. Perfect for an afternoon stroll, early morning run, or a sunset photo shoot.

Around this area, the city has a strangely European vibe to it, very different from the rest of Vietnam’s Asian culture. This is actually because the area was developed by the French colonists as a holiday resort back in the early 1900s. 

To soak it all up, we recommend taking a pedalo around the lake for an hour. The cost for this is around 30,000VND. It’s a relaxing way to soak up the city whilst having a bit of fun. Be aware that when it comes to pedalling against the wind, you will need to put some effort in!

Xuan Huong Lake, Dalat.
Xuan Huong Lake, Dalat.

 Find a good coffee shop and get lost in a book:

Dalat is one of the best places in Vietnam to find a pastry and a fabulous cup of coffee. There are local shops all over town with rows upon rows of cakes, egg tarts, flaky pastries, and sugar encrusted doughnuts.

If you are looking for a little atmosphere, you can find all sorts of adorable shops with great nooks to cosy up with a book! Need book inspiration? Check out our Top 10 Most Popular Backpacker Reads here!

Visit the Crazy House: 

Designed by Vietnamese artist Đặng Việt Nga this rambling house is an ongoing tribute to the power and importance of creativity. Đặng Việt Nga was met with quite a few people who didn’t believe in the power of her work – luckily she didn’t quit. What stands today is a twisty maze of ladders, slides, and walkways in the sky which together make up what has been deemed the ‘crazy house.’ Reminiscent of Barcelona’s Gaudi buildings perhaps?

A view of the crazy house, Dalat, through a hole.
A view of the crazy house, Dalat, through a hole.

Drink Dalat wine, eat yoghurt and guzzle milk: 

The vineyards and farms around Dalat are plentiful; meaning that tart homemade yoghurt, fresh whole milk, and cheap bottles of ‘swiggable’ wine are readily available. All the things you may be missing from home?

Explore the market:

There are many vendors out in the street selling pretty much anything and everything. Keep an eye out for the stall that, believe it or not, claimed to be able to write your name on a single piece of rice! You’ll have to see it to believe it but for 35,000VND you can have a necklace with your name on a grain of rice! A cute souvenir and also a way to support and engage with the locals.

Market stand for rice engraving
Get your name engraved on a grain of rice at the market!

Best Places to Eat and Drink in Dalat:

La Viet Coffee 

La Viet Coffee is a huge industrial warehouse-style café. The spacious warehouse not only includes the café but also the machinery for grinding and roasting, some coffee plants, huge stacks of bags filled with coffee beans and education rooms for their daily tours. 

Even if you miss one of the official daily tours, a friendly member of staff will be more than willing to show you around. You can choose from the huge blackboard menu filled with cute illustrations, whilst observing the multiple pour-overs dripping away. A latte and some waffles costs around 105,000VND and you can use the space for working, relaxing and catching up with friends!

Waffles with strawberries and coffee
The waffles at La Viet Coffee were mouthwatering!

Street food on the market

The market is a great place to eat but it is not always a straightforward experience. A lot of the street vendors play hide and seek from the police, as if they are seen to be blocking the roads or encouraging pedestrians into the road then the police will confiscate their belongings. 

We sadly watched one lady have her stand destroyed, which was very upsetting. We recommend the small BBQ stand selling Bahn Trang Nuong, also referred to as the Dalat Pizza. It’s a delicious grilled rice paper pancake, filled with egg, meat, salad (spring onions) and sauce and costs around 84,000VND. If you are a vegetarian, you can request it without the meat and it is still super delicious!

Trai Cay To The Lulu

For dessert, head to ‘Trai Cay To The Lulu’ for the opportunity to try another Vietnamese dish. The café sells amazing fruit bowls, which come with ice cream or condensed milk, covered in crushed nuts. Truly delicious. 

The café has a street food vibe to it despite it being located in a shop. There are plastic tables and chairs to sit at and watch the world pass by. If you’re feeling up to trying something new then the café is famous for its ‘Kem Bo’, which is blended avocado and coconut ice cream!

rai Cay To The Lulu restaurant
Don’t miss Trai Cay To The Lulu!

Maze Bar

Just when you think you’ve sussed it out, you find another route. Finish your day in a bar that is an actual maze! This place is also known as 100 roofs or ‘Tram Mai’ in Vietnamese, and you really can spend hours getting lost here. 

When you arrive at Maze Bar you first buy your drinks which allows you entry into the bar. We recommend the cocktails at 60,000VND each, although the beers are cheaper at 40,000VND and there are also soft drink options too.

The bar is fairly dark so it can be a little creepy but that definitely adds to the excitement… You take tiny passageways and staircases, losing all sense of direction and even confusing what level you are on! 

Top tip – be adventurous! Slide through the tiny holes in the walls to find unexpected surprises, make it to the bottom and you are in an ocean-themed rave cave! Head to the top to find a cool rooftop garden, or chill happily in the woodland middle with tucked away pods. 

Apparently, if you stay there until it closes, there are taxis to a late-night party venue… This truly unique bar is a must-visit and one you will not find anywhere else!

Getting to Dalat:

From the north: If you’re travelling from Nha Trang, a bus will only take four hours. Many travellers prefer to leave in the morning around 7.30 am and arrive into Dalat by lunch. See timetable below (Lam Dong is the name of the province where Dalat is located and these buses will drop you at Dalat Hanh Cafe).

From the south: Travelling from Mui Ne the journey takes about four and a half to five hours, many choose to do this leg of the trip on their own on a motorbike! If you decide to take the bus, here are the times. (Binh Thuan is the name of the province for Mui Ne, and Lam Dong is the name of the province where Dalat is located.)

And finally, direct from Ho Chi Minh City it will take you 7 hours to reach Dalat. Or you can take a cheap flight with one of Vietnam’s budget airlines taking 50 minutes.

Bus Ho Chi Minh - Lam Dong $ 9.07–11.41 4h – 7h 10m
  •   Express 00:00, 00:30, 01:00, 05:00, 06:00, 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00, 18:00, 19:00, 20:00, 21:00, 22:00, 23:00
  •   Local 00:00, 05:00, 06:00, 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00, 17:00, 18:00, 19:00, 20:00, 21:00, 22:00, 23:00
  •   Express 10:00, 23:00

Search and book Local Transport here.

Where to go next?

Mui Ne: Known for its sweeping red and white sand dunes, vast beaches, and tranquil fishing villages, Mui Ne is a 3-4 hour journey from Dalat.

Nha Trang: Ready to party? This city, just 3 hours from Mui Ne, is non-stop holiday fun! And, it’s wonderfully close to a plethora of deserted beaches. Head to undeveloped Bai Dai for your own slice of Nha Trang paradise!

Ho Chi Minh City: The biggest city in Vietnam is a hustling bustling centre of controlled chaos.

Hoi An: Plan to stay longer than expected in this charming UNESCO world heritage town, known for its beaches and tailor-made shopping options.

Tyler, originally from Massachusetts, became familiar with SEA Backpacker Magazine whilst living and teaching in Chiang Mai. She travelled to South America with the owner of the company to help set up their second magazine, South America Backpacker. Currently back in the US, she continues to document her experiences on her blog, The Thai Chronicles. Interested in becoming a writer for us?