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.
The colourful and quirky buildings of Dalat Town.
For lovers of the outdoors, there are tonnes of activities to get involved in in the area surrounding Dalat. From Mountain biking to trekking, rock-climbing and canyoning, Dalat is a mecca for the adventurous.
Things to do in Dalat, Vietnam…
Climb up a mountain and then work your way back down! 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!
- 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 country side. 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.
- Rock Climbing:
A mere 10 km outside of Dalat there are a variety of courses to choose from. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran you’ll find something to try! Read more about rock climbing in Southeast Asia here.
- Stroll around the lake:
In the heart of Dalat lies a big old beautiful lake, complete with a walking path circling its entirety. Perfect for an afternoon stroll, early morning run, or a sunset photo shoot.
The glorious lake, perfect for an afternoon stroll.
- 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?
- 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?
Undeniably crazy with an unbeatable view.
- 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 brew. 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!
Windmills: My personal favourite coffee shop in Dalat.
Places to stay in Dalat:
Da Lat Green City Hotel: For one of the cheaper options in town this place is surprisingly modern and comfortable. Located in the heart of the city, extra amenities include a coffee shop downstairs, free WIFI, and all the necessary backpacker services.
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!)
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.)
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 bee hive or curl up in a tucked away bed next to an egg shaped fireplace.
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).
|Nha Trang - Lam Dong $5 – $7 4h|
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.)
|Binh Thuan - Lam Dong $6 – $7 4h|
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.
|Ho Chi Minh - Lam Dong $43 – $297 50m|
|Ho Chi Minh - Lam Dong $3 – $11 4h|
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.
Don’t Forget: Make sure you have good backpacker travel insurance before you head to Vietnam.
Written by: Tyler Protano-Goodwin. Photography by: Kate Schlunz.