This post was last updated on February 20th, 2020 at 06:57 pm
Da Lat was previously a refuge for French settlers who wanted to escape the heat of the lowlands. This also explains its totally different architectural style compared to the rest of Vietnam. Nowadays this is a popular holiday destination for Vietnamese and foreign tourists.
If you think away the scooters for a moment, you imagine yourself in the French Alps. The palm trees of the lowlands are exchanged here for endless hills full of pine trees.
In addition to great natural beauty and fresh air, you can also enjoy delicious food here. They even make wine in this region. You can also go hiking, visit waterfalls and see how the Vietnamese minorities live in the area.
If you have the time to explore the area around Da Lat, head out with an Easy Rider. These motorcyclists know everything about the area and can offer you a tailor-made tour that you will never forget. For US$25 you can drive around the city, and for around US $70 p.p. they will drive all the way to the capital of Vietnam; Hanoi.
For the Vietnamese, Da Lat is the most popular place for a honeymoon.
Best Time to Visit Da Lat
The city can be visited throughout the year, but the best time to visit Da Lat is between November and April. This is the dry season. The days are sunny but the nights are cold. From April the temperature starts rising and fog will fill the hills. The rainy season is from July to September. During the rainy season the waterfalls will be spectacular. Da Lat is also called the City of Eternal Spring because of the constant climate.
The central highlands offer an experience that takes you along Vietnamese tribes, beautiful vistas, nature parks, waterfalls and valleys. All of this can be viewed without you feeling that it is overflowing with tourists.
Da Lat is located at an altitude of 1500 meters, which gives it a wonderful climate. Here you can escape from the heat in the rest of Vietnam.
Best Things to Do in Da Lat
Da Lat has no shortage of sights, but it is mainly the mountainous area that is interesting. The sights in the city itself may be a bit kitsch in our western eyes, but they are immensely popular with Vietnamese tourists. Here, we lists the highlights for you.
Hang Nga Crazy House
The name Crazy House is quite applicable because it is a special building. The special thing is that Hang Nga Crazy House is a private home. It is a house with rooms connected by bridges and a jumble of corridors in the most special colors and shapes.
TIP – The entrance fee is 40,000 Dong ($1.70). The Hang Nga Crazy House guarantees a special experience!
Bao Dai’s Summer Palace
It is the summer residence of the last emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai. He lived here with his family between 1938 and 1945. It is a building with a special architectural style and a museum with a lot of kitsch and little info. The last emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai, built a network of retreats in scenic spots throughout the country.
It was said that the Summer Palace in Da Lat was his favorite because of his interest in hunting. The palace is not the most impressive sight, but can easily be combined with a day of walking around. You can find the palace at 1 Trieu Viet Vuong.
TIP – The entrance fee is 15,000 Dong (US$0.65).
The railway station of Da Lat was built as a replica of the Deauville station in France. Here you see some beautiful old locomotives and there is the possibility to drive a piece with a locomotive to the village of Trai Mat. The train takes you past a beautiful region, taking 30 minutes to reach the town. You will find the station at 1 Quang Trung.
Entry is free so it’s a nice day trip.
TIP – A train ride will cost you around 130,000 Dong (US$5.60).
Du Sinh Church
Although it is a church, it is more like a Chinese temple. It was built in 1955 by Catholic refugees from the north. The church is on a hill and is also free of charge. It is a nice sight if you have half a day left in your schedule.
Linh Phuoc Pagoda
This is one of the most beautiful temples we have visited so far. Everything is built with colorful mosaic. You can climb to the top and have a great view of the city.
There is also a “hell” that you can walk through, in which it becomes clear what hell means to them. There is also a giant lady buddha. Well worth a visit when you are in Da Lat!
The beautiful Linh Phuoc Pagoda, on the outside of the city
TIP – It is a bit out of town but can be easily reached with a taxi ride, that will cost around 100,000 VND ($4.30)
Da Lat Night Market
The Da Lat Night Market represents the heart of the city, a shopping area right in the center. Local products such as fresh artichokes, dried fruit, vegetables and much more are available here all day. In the evening the roads around the market are closed off and the market becomes an evening market.
The chicken village is a tribe village just outside of Da Lat. It is a popular stop for tours in the area. The village owes its name to a large statue of a chicken. The village actually looks a bit sad. The inhabitants have little income and the houses are pretty old. If you have more time left, visit other villages with the help of an Easy Rider.
Xuan Huong Lake
This lake in the center of Da Lat is flanked by a boulevard which gives it an excellent opportunity to take a nice walk. On the north bank you can visit a flower garden. If you want to get on the water, you can rent pedal boats in the shape of a swan.
Da Lat Flower Gardens
The Flower Gardens have an extensive collection of native and exotic flowers, and for this reason, Da Lat is called “the city of flowers” in Vietnam.
Valley of love
The Valley of Love is a picturesque valley with hills, forests and a lake at the center, and serves as a romantic getaway for locals and tourists.
Cau That Tea hill
About 25 kilometers from the city center of Da Lat, the tea plantations of Cau Dat are a favorite destination for many young Vietnamese. Admire the tranquil and majestic landscape of the tea hills and nurseries.
Tuyen Lam lake
Tuyen Lam Lake is situated in a beautiful landscape, surrounded by extensive pine forests and old French colonial villas. The lake is popular for kayaking, camping, hiking, mountain biking and fishing.
Trick Lam Pagoda & Cable Car
The Truc Lam Pagoda is located at the end of the cable car that floats over the pine forests. It is an active monastery with beautiful gardens and overlooks Tuyen Lam Lake.
Bidoup Nui Ba National Park
Beautiful landscapes, especially the waterfalls. Is considered as one of 221 regions that concentrates special species of birds in the world.
Among the spectacular sights in and around Da Lat, the Elephant Falls is one of the most famous destinations, named after a giant rock that looks like an elephant’s head. This waterfall is a nice stop for a photo moment.
Langbian Mountain consists of three peaks – the most visited is an old American radar base and landing site; and the other two Lang Bian (2,167 meters) and an unnamed peak (2,124 meters). There are hiking and climbing tours from Da Lat to climb the mountain.
The Best Waterfalls in Da Lat
Good news for waterfall enthusiasts. There are a number of impressive waterfalls to visit in the Da Lat area. Especially during the rainy season (July to September), these waterfalls are definitely worth a visit.
You can easily reach the Datanla waterfall just 5 kilometers south of Da Lat. The entrance is at the top, after which you can slowly descend down.
The Dambri waterfall is perhaps the most impressive waterfall in south and central Vietnam. To visit this waterfall you will have to travel pretty far from Da Lat. The waterfall is located around 120 kilometers from the city. The water falls down for 70 meters here and is particularly impressive in the rainy season.
40 kilometers from Da Lat you will find the Pongour waterfall. This waterfall is the largest in the area and certainly very impressive in the rainy season. Given the distance, we do not recommend visiting this waterfall in the dry season as the waterfall is a lot less beautiful when it’s dry.
The Elephant Falls is a popular waterfall on a day trip around Da Lat. Almost all Easy Riders stop here. It is nice to follow the path down and then climb the rocks at the foot of the waterfall for a nice photo.
During the war, the city was spared during the bombing, leaving the special architecture intact. Don’t expect to be in a quiet town. Despite the fact that Da Lat manages to retain its charm, it is particularly busy, especially in the high season.
Tourism is the largest source of income here and that is usually noticeable. Da Lat did not always attract so many tourists. In the past, people mainly lived here on agriculture and growing vegetables.
TIP – Da Lat is known for its waterfalls. Well-known waterfalls are the Ankroët Falls, the Gougah Falls, and the Pongour Falls.
Da Lat was even known for hunting. Many rich people came here to hunt for deer, peacocks, bears, panthers, tigers, and elephants. Unfortunately, they were very good hunters because all the wild animals that lived here are now extinct in this area.
In the past, tribes from the Lam Dong province used to live here. There are currently around 5,000 people living in “hill tribes”. You can recognize them by their traditional clothing and they often go to markets.
Da Lat Nightlife
Compared to the rest of Vietnam, Da Lat does not have a vibrant nightlife. It is a peaceful city for tourists who love to relax. That does not mean that there aren’t any good bars for the late hours of the day. Here are some of the best bars in Da Lat:
- Maze Bar: This is literally a bar in a maze. A must-visit, if only for one drink.
- Rain Nightclub: Attracts partygoers who want to enjoy an evening of dancing.
- The Escape Bar: The best place for live music, ranging from country and blues to rock ‘n’ roll and reggae.
- Beepub Hostel & Bar: Known for its lively atmosphere. Part of a hostel, you can play pool, dance to various types of music and talk to fellow travelers.
- V Club: Lively night club near the market, with mostly young people and travelers.
- Da Lat Night Market: The streets of the city center are open daily between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. and are full of colorful stalls selling local snacks, second-hand clothing and souvenirs.
Food & Drinks in Da Lat
Da Lat has a great selection of restaurants. For cheap food you can go to the central night market where a variety of simple but delicious dishes can be purchased at the many street stalls. For good restaurants you can go to the streets around Hoa Binh square. Some popular restaurants among travelers are:
- One more cafe (International Food): 77 Hai Ba Trung
- Artist alley restaurant (International / Vietnamese Cuisine): 86 Truong Cong Dinh
- V Cafe (International Cuisine & Live Music): 1/1 Bui Thi Xuan
- Tu Anh’s Peace Restaurant (Vietnamese Food): 57 Truong Cong Dinh
Coffee Culture: Coffee Shops
Da Lat is a great place to enjoy a cup of hot coffee in the typical cool weather of this mountainous city. The city is known for creative looking coffee shops in often unique locations. Some of the most famous coffee shops are An Cafe and the Me Linh Coffee Garden.
Da Lat Hotel & Hostel Guide
Da Lat is a popular tourist city in Vietnam, so you don’t have to worry about accommodations. In general, there is always availability, even on public holidays and with flexible prices, depending on the quality.
Camping in Da Lat is the most memorable overnight experience. A warm campfire, cold weather mix and a romantic atmosphere of green plants and colorful flowers ensure that you will never forget that night.
Da Lat is known for a wide range of beautiful and reasonably priced homestays. It is a good option if you want to stay outside the center. It gives a more unique feeling when you are more part of the local culture than staying in a hotel.
Best Budget Hostels & Homestays in Da Lat
- Kim Quang – US$11
- Friendly Fun Hostel – US$12
- Villa An Nhien-Homestay – US$14
- Sany Hostel – US$15
- Cozy Nook Hostel – US$15
Best Mid-Range Hotels in Da Lat
- Mộc Trà Hotel – US$55
- Hà Khoa Hotel – US$55
- Minh Chiến – US$55
- Capital O 585 Saigon Book Hotel – US$60
- Zen Cafe Lakeside – US$70
Best High End Hotels & Resorts in Da Lat
- New Life Hotel – US$110
- The Art – N’Queen Villa – US$110
- Hôtel Colline – US$100
- Banyan House – US$100
- Dream Flower Hotel – US$350
How to Get to Da Lat
The easiest way to get to there is by bus. Buses come from different cities and all arrive at the beautiful long-distance bus station. You can travel to Da Lat from the following destinations.
- Ho Chi Minh City – US$12 per person, 9 hours
- Nha Trang – US$8 per person, 5 hours
- Da Nang – US$15 per person, 12 hours
- Hue – US$20 per person, 15 hours
From Da Lat Airport to the City
From the airport you have to take a taxi to go to the city. The airport is approximately 45 minutes from Da Lat. The Vietnam Airlines shuttle bus between Lien Khuong Airport and Da Lat (40,000 VND, US $1.70, 40 minutes) is timed by flights. It leaves two hours before each flight in front of the Ngoc Phat Hotel.