Dalat is located in the central Highlands region in Vietnam and a real gem! Due to is altitude of 1,500 metres above sea level, the temperatures are very pleasant and a nice contrast after coming from a rather tropical climate.
The climate in Dalat also reflects in its agriculture. Dalat supplies huge amounts of products like wine, coffee and tea. I especially loved the strawberries you could purchase at the road stands. Have you ever had avocado ice-cream? Another Dalat signature snack.
The influence of French colonies back in the 1890s can still be seen in the architecture of the buildings. Did you know that Dalat is also called ‘little Paris’? I felt like I was transported into European summer and sometimes couldn’t believe my eyes that this was Vietnam!
This destination has been one of my highlights when I visited Vietnam in March 2023. The city of eternal spring awakened my body and mind. While I felt tired and exhausted by humidity and 35 degrees one week before, my body wanted to move and be active in this climate. Good that there are plenty of amazing things to do. Find some inspiration for your stay in Dalat.
Take the Alpine Coaster to Datanla waterfall
Have you ever thought it is possible to go on an Alpine ride in Southeast Asia? The Alpine Coaster to Datanla waterfall was definitely one of my personal highlights in Dalat. The course leads through the forest, over a small river and then up a hill before going all the way down to Datanla waterfall. It’s a really fun experience! The course is around 1 km long.
Once you arrive at the waterfall you can go for a walk around the area in your own time and buy some snacks and drinks at one of the stands. When you’re ready you take the Alpine Coaster to get back to the station. It’s a very unique way to explore Datanla waterfall.
The Alpine Coaster station is located 5 kilometres south of Dalat and can easily be reached by scooter. On the way you will pass many cafés and see Dalat from a different perspective. In general, renting a scooter and exploring the scenery is a great thing to do in Dalat. One ticket for the Alpine Coaster costs around 190.000 VND (7.50 Euros). The tickets are slightly cheaper if you purchase them on klook beforehand.
If you are not a fan of doing the Alpine Coster you can also get to the waterfall by foot. There are stairs leading down to Datanla waterfall. It takes around 30 minutes and 1 km one way.
Hike Lang Biang Mountain
Only 12 km from Dalat there is Lang Biang Mountain, one of the highest mountains in the Dalat region. With it’s height of 2,169 m above sea level, Lang Biang offers panoramic views!
What makes this hike so special is the changing scenery. You will first walk through pine tree forests, meet wild horses on the way and find yourself in the jungle before reaching the peak awaiting you with breath taking views. There are two hiking trails: the more challenging one leading all the way to Lang Biang peak. The total trail length is 10.6 kilometres and estimated walking time four hours. The shorter trail leads to Radar peak (1,950 m) with an estimated walking time of two hours. The alternative to hiking is taking a jeep tour up to Radar base.
Find a full guide & more information about this hike here. A day trip to Lang Biang mountain is perfect for all those who love nature, being active & seeing something different. It was one of those regions where I questioned a few times if I really was in Vietnam.
Explore Dalat day & night market
Dalat has a few traditional markets which are worth a visit. Dalat ‘Day market’ is located right in the heart of Dalat. The stands at the day market are selling colourful fruit and vegetables, herbs, baked goods and many more delicacies. Due to the different climate in Dalat you can buy fruits like grapes and strawberries. Some stands are selling the freshly made Banh Tieu, Vietnamese donuts which are very delicious. The day market already opens at 6:30 am every day.
At night, one of the roads close to the day market transforms into a small path with stands on each side. The Dalat night market can get super busy and is a real experience. You will find many stalls selling warm clothes, street food and souvenirs. I considered the food at the night market rather as snacks. You can buy grilled corn, sweet potato, Vietnamese pizza and the famous avocado ice-cream. It’s also fun to watch some of the street performers. Dalat night market opens from 5 pm until 10 pm.
Enjoy delicious vegan Banh Mi’s
Being vegan in Vietnam is not too difficult in general. In Dalat there are also lots of amazing vegan restaurants offering mostly Vietnamese dishes and buffet style food. Banh Mi’s were my all time favourite, especially for breakfast. At some places in Dalat you can get the short, crispy baguette filled with tofu or seitan for only 15 VND (0.70 Euros). My two favourite spots to get a vegan Banh Mi in Dalat were:
- Bep Chai Thien Binh: A cute little restaurant offering the best Banh Mi’s in town as well as buffet style and a la carte Vietnamese dishes.
- Banh Mi Chay Co Hoa: A little stand at the side of the road selling vegan Banh Mi’s. Lovely lady!
Watch the sunrise by Xuan Huong lake
Xuan Hong lake is located in the heart of Dalat. It’s a very peaceful place. On the morning of our arrival we went there by coincidence and happened to see the sun rising behind the trees and slowly warming up our faces. It’s definitely worth to see it!
Or how about a cycle or run around the lake? During the day you could also rent one of the swan-shaped paddle boats and see Dalat city from a different perspective. There are a few cafés around the lake which invite for a pleasant afternoon coffee.
Go on a ride with the cable cars
You love the heights and want to see Dalat through a bird’s eye? Go on a 2.3 km long ride with the cable cars and enjoy the panoramic views. Dalat cable cars connect Dalat City and Truc Lam Zen Monastery. From the cable car you can see Dalat city, parts of Tuyen Lam lake as well as the surrounding mountains and majestic pine forests.
A round trip costs 100.000 VND (4 Euros) per person and lasts 12 minutes. The cheapest way to get to the station is by scooter.
Drink some local coffee
With the amount of cafés in Dalat it’s really hard to decide where to spend the afternoon. There are cafés offering the best views over Dalat city or which have really cozy and unique interior. As Dalat is Vietnam’s coffee capital you can’t get around to visit at least one coffee shop!
Around Dalat there are a few coffee plantations giving an insight into the production of the coffee beans. You will probably also stumble across the word ‘Weasel coffee’, which is very similar to the Luwak coffee in Indonesia. The coffee production involves weasels ingesting ripe coffee berries. I visited one of the farms and am very conflicted with the involvement of animals in the whole production process. However the weasels at this farm seemed to be treated well.
Visit the Valley of Love
The Valley of Love is an attraction in Dalat which I haven’t personally visited but you should definitely know about as it can give your trip some nice variety. The Valley of Love is located around 6 km from Dalat and is supposed to be a very romantic and picturesque spot. You can admire a tranquil lake, pine forests and colourful flower carpets. To me it sounds like a very Asian cheesy kind of attraction. A ticket to the Valley of Love costs around 250.000 VND (10 Euros) per person.
The best accommodation in Dalat
I recommend to stay in Dalat for least three nights. It’s a such a beautiful place with pleasant temperatures and helps to slow down the journey a bit. Trieu Hao Guesthouse is a lovely guesthouse located close to the centre of Dalat. What makes this accommodation so special is the French style window seat overlooking the town. Have a look at the photos!
I spent a lot of time just sitting there, enjoying the morning sun, reading a book, having some strawberries and admiring the views. Book the quadruple room to benefit from the window, it’s the only room that comes with this feature. I know, having two beds is one too many but the view is so worth it!
How to get to Dalat
The best way to get to Dalat is by bus or plane. You can check your options down below.
Dalat Airport, Lien Khuong International Airport, is located around 30 kilometres away from Dalat city centre. Check possible flight connections here. Getting to Dalat from the airport costs around 250.000 – 600.000 VND per car. You could either take a taxi or Grab car.
There are local busses going to Dalat from many different destinations in Vietnam. You can check possible connections down below. We took the night bus from Ho Chi Minh City (cost around 15 Euros) which takes around 7 hours and is the cheapest way to get to Dalat.
Almost all busses are sleeper busses so you can get some sleep over night and save on accommodation. The VIP sleeper bus comes with a curtain for more privacy and the beds are slightly bigger. Bare in mind that the sleeper bus will drop you in Dalat at around 5 am. Depending on the season it can be quite cold (when we arrived the temperature was 15 degrees) and therefore worth to arrange something with your hostel, to check in earlier or get a bed for the early morning. Otherwise there is the 24 hour cafe Gau’s cafe where you can have some tea or coffee until your guesthouse opens.