When we decided to travel to Dalat, Vietnam as part of our journey through the country, we did it based on a single reason: the promise of cool, mountain weather. We didn’t care about the things to do in Dalat – not the city sights or Dalat waterfalls or tours or food – we just wanted to escape the heat. We worried about what to do in Dalat once we got there…and we were surprised by what we found!
The weather in Dalat was exactly what we had hoped for: cool and fresh (well, at least fresher than Hanoi and cooler than Hoi An!). It was raining during our ride from the Dalat Airport to our hotel – and as we ascended the mountain, we could feel the temperature dropping. By the time we arrived at our hotel (more on where we stayed at the end of the post!), the Dalat, Vietnam weather had cooled to the point we were actually chilly.
Maybe we were just lucky or the reprieve from heavy humidity was tricking us, but the mountain air felt phenomenal. I have never been happier slipping on a jacket– even if the Dalat temperature was hoovering in the high-70s – and we were finally looking forward to sightseeing in Dalat, Vietnam. Top Tip: Check the Dalat weather forecast for your trip here.
Sightseeing in Dalat, Vietnam
The good news is that there are plenty of Dalat, Vietnam attractions to see, even if some of the sights are a bit out of town. Our all-day tour of the Vietnam Central Highlands left us with just two full days to explore the city. We created our own route to tour Da Lat city sights and used our own two feet to see them. We have included a Dalat, Vietnam map at the end of the post to help other travelers find their way to the top Dalat things to see.
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Things To Do in Dalat, Vietnam
Dalat was not exactly the quaint, isolated mountain town we thought it would be. It’s a bustling city filled with honking scooters and tourists. Yet, there are pockets of tranquility and nature just on the outskirts of town. Attractions in Dalat are spread out over the city, but most are within an easy stroll from the center. For us, the best feature was exactly what we went there to find: The cooler temperatures. That said, we highly recommend that travelers seek out the following Dalat attractions.
Top Tip: We had 3 days in Dalat – and the following activities were enough to completely fill our Dalat itinerary.
#1 Cable Car Dalat
While the cable car in Dalat provides a quick and economical way to get from the city to the Truc Lam Monastery and Religious Complex, we were most interested in the ride itself. Seriously, even if we were not going to the monastery, we would have gone out of our way to take the 20-minute ride on the Dalat cable car.
The mile-plus-long ride transports visitors high above the pine trees, offering riders stunning views of the city and surrounding mountains. The Dalat cable car station is on Robin Hill, which is an easy walk or short taxi ride from the city center.
Top Tip: Buying a round trip ticket is cheaper than 2 one-way tickets.
Da Lat Cable Car Information
The cable car is open in the morning and afternoon until 5:00pm, but closes mid-day (usually between 11:30am and 1:00pm).
- Dalat Cable Car Station Location on Robin Hill: MAP http://bit.ly/2US8XvN
- Dalat Cable Car Price: 80,000 VND round trip
#2 Truc Lam Pagoda Dalat (Thien vien Truc Lam)
Like in any Vietnam city, visiting temples is one of the top things to do in Da Lat – and the best temple in the city (or rather, just outside the city) is Truc Lam Pagoda.
The Dalat Zen monastery, Thien Vien Truc Lam, is located just across the street from the Dalat Telpher Cable Car Station. Featuring numerous temples, manicured gardens and an outdoor meditation area, the entire complex sits atop a hill. Despite the many sightseers that were visiting, the expansive grounds were quiet and the mountain setting added a touch of serenity that some of the other pagodas we’ve visited have lacked.
As we were walking through the gardens admiring the flowers, the skies exploded in a torrential downpour sending visitors out the main gates and us running for cover. For 15 minutes we observed the monks running from one building to the next and watched the puddles around our feet transform into tiny streams. Unlike most rainstorms that can put a damper on outdoor activities, this one was refreshing and surreal. Once the rain subsided, we had the place to ourselves for a short while before new, dry tourists showed up.
Top Tip: Some visitors extend their visit to include two other nearby attractions: Tuyen Lam Lake (accessible on foot) and Datangla Falls (via a taxi cab).
#3 Xuan Huong Lake
The long kidney bean-shaped Xuan Huong Lake is a peaceful refuge from the busy city. Located just east of the center, the large lake has a 4.5-mile circumference trail that is ideal for a leisurely stroll. Our favorite time to walk along the path was in the evenings when we could watch the sunset reflecting on the water.
Top Tip: Tourists can rent swan paddle boats to navigate the water – one of the fun Dalat activities for kids and couples alike – but we were content walking along the shoreline.
#4 Dalat Flower Garden
The Dalat Flower Garden, which sits at the end of the Xuan Huong Lake opposite the city, offers a mostly natural and somewhat quirky respite from Dalat sightseeing. Much larger and more spread out than we anticipated, the Dalat Flower Park was slightly neglected during our visit (perhaps it was just the season), but still offered plenty to see.
Highlights for us were the colorful flower beds and Bonsai trees. However, we were bewildered by the odd shrubs sculpted into animal shapes. The gardens feature several fountains and a small lake where we found a few locals fishing.
Top Tip: There is a nominal fee to visit the Dalat Gardens (40,000 VND) – and they are best visited on a sunny, dry day (which is was neither when we arrived at the park).
#5 Hang Nga Crazy House Dalat, Vietnam
There are no two ways about it: the Hang Nga Crazy House is called Crazy House for a reason. This wild (yet unfinished) house/hotel is like Alice in Wonderland meets Salvador Dali in Candy Land. The attraction is considered by many to be the top thing to do in Dalat – and fans of peculiar sights will most definitely agree!
The imaginative architecture features fairytale nature and steep, winding stairways. Some of the buildings are designed to look like tree trunks with rooms hidden inside. Each hotel room has a name – such as Kangaroo, Tiger and Ant and Gourd – and are decorated to convey the name’s theme.
Visitors are allowed to freely roam the grounds and get lost in the maze of interconnecting stairs and passageways. We spent a couple of hours peeking into rooms and climbing narrow stairs to see where they led. Crazy House is definitely a strange attraction and a must-see in Dalat!
Top Tip: Although Crazy House feels like a massive theme park, it really is a hotel, too. Guests can book a stay in any of the themed rooms – which has to be one of the most unusual places to stay in Dalat! Read reviews and book your stay at Crazy House.
Crazy House Information
- Crazy House Dalat Price: 50,000 VND
- Crazy House Dalat Opening Hours: 8:30am to 7:00pm
#6 Old Dalat Train Station
The French Cremaillere Train Station is one of the top places to visit in Dalat for a look at colonial-era architecture. The art-deco Dalat Railway Station was built in the 1930s by French colonists, who implemented design elements representative of the local culture alongside the fashionable design of the time. The tracks were an engineering feat (designed by Swedish engineers) and run 50 miles between Dalat and Thap Cham. However, the railway was mostly destroyed during the Vietnam War.
Although the historic architecture of the station is a Dalat tourist attraction in itself, our trip to the station had more to do with actually riding a train. A short section of the track – just over 4 miles long – reopened in 1991 as a tourist route for visitors. Steam trains carry passengers from the Old Dalat Station to the nearby town of Trai Mat, where there is a local produce market and the famous Linh Phuoc Pagoda. Making the trip in an old train carriage is one of the top Dalat, Vietnam things to do – especially for kids and train enthusiasts.
Top Tip: Unfortunately, when we arrived, we were told that the mid-day train wouldn’t be running as there weren’t enough people, so we would have to wait until the afternoon, which didn’t fit into our plans. If riding the train is Dalat must-do for you, make it your first stop so that you can rearrange your later plans if necessary.
#7 Dalat Market
Markets are fascinating places to learn about the local culture and customs. The daytime Dalat markets carry an array of produce, meat and beautiful flowers. Much more visually appealing than other markets we had visited in Vietnam, the Dalat market is full of vibrant colors and carefully crafted displays.
Most impressive are the flower displays; vendors create striking floral arrangements, which we think are one of the top things to see in Dalat. There is nowhere else in Vietnam that have flower displays like these!
Top Tip: While the flowers most impressed us, don’t miss shopping at the fruit vendors. We found fresh strawberries and homemade jams that were delicious!
#8 Dalat Night Market
We were dazzled by the Dalat Night Market, perhaps even more so by the setting up of the night market! We watched as entire restaurants were constructed (kitchens, tables, tents and chairs) along the main street beginning in the late afternoon. Pop-up shops were stocked to the brim from the contents of a single, large bin. Every inch of sidewalk space was eaten up by merchandise and food by the time it was dark.
There is a fantastic Dalat nightlife scene at the market. The Dalat food on offer is grilled fresh and spectacular scents waft through the air; anyone searching for where to eat in Dalat should head to the Night Market! Small food stands piled with grilled corn-on-the-cob, sweet potatoes and eggs spill into the street and creep up steep staircases.
Clothing vendors – selling everything from name-brand knock-offs to cliché t-shirts – fill in the spaces in between the local cuisine. Although the night market is the best place for shopping in Dalat, we were more enthralled by the scene than the products.
Top Tip: Don’t rush through the Night Market in Dalat! Sample the fare, peruse the merchandise and watch the people!
Sightseeing in Dalat is easier if you have a plan of what to see! Our map highlights the top Dalat tourist attractions so that other travels can use it to plan a succinct Dalat itinerary. Use this link to Google Maps for our Dalat tourist map online.
More Things To Do Dalat: Tours
Looking for more Dalat things to do? One of these Dalat day tours might be just what you are searching for!
During our Dalat trip, we took a full-day tour to the countryside. The small-group tour included visiting a small-town market and a K’Ho village. Read about our Vietnam Central Highlands Secret Tour, which is led by the comical Mr. Rot. Top Tip: Mr. Rot also runs Mr. Rot’s Secret Hotel, which offers affordable rooms near the city center. Check reviews and book your stay!
Waterfalls in Dalat
The region’s topography and wet weather mean there are numerous waterfalls! The Elephant Waterfall is, by far, the most famous – and we visited the Elephant falls during our Secret Tour. However, visitors interested in solely chasing waterfalls can do so on a Dalat, Vietnam waterfalls tour. Get the details!
Dalat Canyoning and Trekking
Hike, zipline and abseil on an adrenaline-packed adventure tour through the Central Highlands. Find out more!
How To Get To Dalat
Dalat can be reached by plane, car, bus or motorbike. We took a flight to Dalat from Hoi An (Da Nang Airport). Travelers can find the best deals on flights on SkyScanner.
To get around Dalat and region, many visitors use Easy Rider Vietnam (rather than booking tours or walking to sights).
Dalat Hotel Accommodations
When we were deciding where to stay in Dalat, we considered many factors – most importantly, price and location.
Budget: Villa Pink House
We chose to stay at Villa Pink House, which sits is a lush garden just a 10-minute walk from the center of town and offers incredibly affordable accommodations. The staff was absolutely amazing; very accommodating and helpful in translating when we needed to communicate with a hotel in Hoi An. The room was larger than we expected and had a small balcony that we opened to let in the mountain air (there is no A/C, but we didn’t need it!). Read reviews, check availability and book your stay!
Luxury: Dalat Palace
The 5-star Dalat Palace Heritage Hotel offers world-class luxury in a historic colonial-era dwelling. In addition to the tennis courts and spa, there is a French restaurant on-site that serves high tea. Read reviews, check prices and book your stay!
Start your search for the best place to stay in Dalat on Booking.com – like we do!
What You Will Need
Don’t forget a camera! We carry a Canon Rebel, but it can be a bit bulky when city sightseeing. We also have a Canon Elph Powershot, which is slim enough to fit in a pocket, yet still takes amazing pictures.
Travel Insurance is essential! Don’t risk traveling unprotected; check coverage and prices for insurance for your trip on World Nomads!
We Want To Know: What would you add to our list of Things To Do in Dalat, Vietnam? What is your favorite thing to do while sightseeing in Dalat? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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