We’ve counted 11 Dalat attractions that you can’t afford to miss. But if you’re lucky enough to spend more time in town, then it’s sure to become a highlight of your trip to the south of Vietnam.
Dalat is a place that few backpackers choose to visit, despite its obvious attractions. Conveniently located between Mui Ne and Hoi An, this fresh ‘Little Paris’, is the most French creation in all of Vietnam and it shows. Here you’ll find vineyards, rolling highland hills, and grand French balconies adorning pretty and prestigious old homes.
The climate in Dalat was recognised by the French as a welcome escape from the brutal, muggy heat in Southern Vietnam. These days, it’s a popular honeymoon destination for locals.
Look beyond the love-heart lake and you’ll discover a city filled with European vibes, surprisingly hip coffee, and clean, crisp highland air. These are our favourite 11 Dalat attractions.
- Getting There
- Dalat Attractions
- Walk or Cycle Around the Lake
- Explore the Da Lat Coffee Scene
- Hike Lang Biang
- K’Ho Coffee
- Visit Crazy House
- Try the Local Food at the Night Market
- Take in Elephant Falls
- Get Lost in Maze Bar
- Cable Car to Truc Lam Monastery
- Da Lat Train Station
- Try Some Avocado Shakes (Kem Bo)
- Getting There
- Where to Stay
- Da Lat Summary
- Da Lat Budget Breakdown
Dalat is serviced by Lien Khuong Airport (DLI), 30 kilometres south of Dalat city proper. A shuttle bus to the city centre should cost you no more than 40,000d.
The. highland town is also reachable by bus from many destinations across Vietnam. The easiest (and most cost-effective) way is to get a night-bus – they are pretty common throughout the country and we found them surprisingly comfortable.
Another (cooler) way to arrive in Dalat is through an Easy Riders motorbike tour. You can find all the information you need here.
There are no train services to/from Dalat. Your closest train station is in Da Nang.
Walk or Cycle Around the Lake
Xuan Huong Lake dominates the heart of Dalat city and makes for one of the city’s most obvious attractions. Look out for the swan pedalos and you’ll know you’re in the right place.
Ambling around the man-made lake is one of the most popular things to do in town. If you’d like to take it in quicker, you also have the option of renting a bike for the loop.
It’s a scenic 7km journey which takes in some worthwhile attractions. You can stop off at the Flower Gardens (entrance: 40,000d) and nearby war-era-themed Co Bong Café. You’ll find some cool temples and yoga studios on the walk to the café. The futuristic (and frankly, out-of-place) Lam Vien Square isn’t far away, and here you’re around the corner from Crazy House (50,000d).
Explore the Dalat Coffee Scene
There are an astonishing amount of cafes in Dalat serving fresh, top-quality coffee from Vietnam. Many of the beans are sourced from nearby farms in the highlands, and you’ll find a great variety of brews to sample.
Co Bong Café
This already-mentioned Co Bong Cafe is well worth a stop on your stroll around the lake. This war-era-themed café certainly has a unique design, and is well known for being ‘Instagram friendly.’ There was an amateur photoshoot happening the whole time we were there. Stick to the coconut coffee – we weren’t too impressed with the drip-coffee.
We really liked the reliable coffee in creative La Viet. They serve and sell bags of their craft-roasted, locally sourced Arabica beans. You can also buy any coffee accessory you can think of and even go on one of their coffee-bean farm tours. The knowledgeable staff are happy to talk you through their stock and their many filtering processes. Bagels and sandwiches are also available.
This is the place to head for your brunch fix. Biang Bistro serve up tasty and surprisingly affordable breakfasts, in a real swanky set. We felt a little out of place at first, but the beautiful gardens are perfect for any sunny day. Average coffee, but awesome brunch favourites.
Bicycle Up Café
This was our favourite cafe in Dalat, and ended up being one of our favourite attractions in town. Hidden on the corner of a dusty, dark alleyway, Bicycle Up Café is crammed full of vintage memorabilia and art. You’ll find the menu scribbled inside ancient novels and more bicycles on the walls than clocks. While away some time tinkering with the trinkets and sip back the delicious La Viet house roast.
The Dreamer, 13-Café Bar and An Café, were all highly recommended but somehow we never found time to visit.
WEE TIP: Weasel coffee – yes, it’s a thing. You’ll see plenty of stalls selling the expensive and uhm, ‘niche’ beans downtown. You can also visit a weasel farm on your way to Elephant Falls. We didn’t, but friends told us that it gave them some worthwhile insight in to the bizarre process.
Hike Lang Biang
One of the more popular day-trip attractions from Dalat, you can reach the peak of Lang Biang without too much effort. Your first option is to join the locals in one of the many jeeps flying around the corners en-route to Dinh Radar. (50,000d per person plus 30,000d entrance fee) Otherwise, your only option to reach Dinh LangBiang is by hiking the forested trail to the peak (30,000d entry/5,000d parking). We were about 5 hours up and down (including our surprise lunch), gaining 2,360ft over 7.54 miles there and back.
To be completely honest, we weren’t blown away by either the hike or the view from the top. It’s easy-going until the turn-off at ‘D’ on the picture above, then seriously steep for a half-hour.
The only saving grace for us was the lovely group of Vietnamese students we met at the summit. They kindly invited us to join their incredibly tasty picnic of prawns, okra and guava. Otherwise, this wasn’t worth the slog.
ABSOLUTELY make sure that one of the things you do in Dalat is visit K’Ho Coffee. The best time to do this is on your return journey from Lang Biang. This fantastic coffee farm is around 2km from Lang Biang entrance and the staff really know their stuff.
The K’Ho ethnic minority were the first group of people to cultivate coffee in Vietnam. It’s a really interesting place to visit and witness the process first hand. You can see their beans being soaked in black honey and even witness some of the washing process. Be sure to buy a bag, chat to the lovely team of staff and sign the guestbook. The complimentary cascara tea was also a delicious ‘first’ for us!
Don’t let your wandering stop here. Other popular day-trips include visits to Pongour Falls, Lien Khuong Waterfall, Bidouup Nui Ba National Park, and Tiger Cave. The canyoning in the area is also meant to be incredible but sadly we didn’t have time to visit any of them. They’re on our list for the next time we’re in town!
Visit Crazy House
Quirky, surreal and just downright strange, you’ll probably also be intrigued by architect Đặng Việt Nga’s Crazy House. This is one of everybody’s top Dalat attractions (entry: 50,000d) and is even a highlight for many people travelling southern Vietnam.
Love it or hate it, Crazy Fun can be a fun place to get lost among the eccentric architecture for an hour or so. But, reflecting on the entry price, you and the (inevitably Russian) coach-tour guests will probably feel like it’s more of a tourist trip than anything.
You can actually stay the night here (the official name is Hằng Nga Guesthouse) and after a peak at some of the rooms, we think this would be a much better way to experience this bizarre building.
WEE TIP: We thought the entry for Crazy House was pretty steep, and only managed to spend something like 45 minutes here. If you’re planning on visiting the much-more-lively Maze Bar, then you probably don’t need to pay the entry here. They’re really similar places and were designed by the same people.
Try Local Food at the Night Market
As with most South-East Asian cities, no trip is complete without a visit to the local market. Dalat is no different. The Dalat Night Market combines some of the best bites with one of the best things to do. Expect to find endless stalls packed with knock-off clothing, local souvenirs and, most importantly, delicious street food.
Be sure to sample everything from the bizarre, boiling hot soy milk to the extremely addictive banh trang nuong (Vietnamese pizza). The market attracts many locals and tourists alike, and there’s a good chance of seeing street performers in the market’s open spaces.
When? 17:00pm – 22:00pm daily
Where? Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Dalat
Take in Elephant Falls
The Elephant Falls is an enjoyable one-hour drive from Dalat. The drive itself shouldn’t be underestimated and gives way to some really pretty views of the surrounding countryside.
Once you’ve paid for parking (5,000d) and then your entry ticket (20,000d) follow the cramped walkways down to the slippery surface below. You can walk behind the falls for a splash, or further down the rocks for some photo opportunities.
It’s not the most impressive waterfall you’ll come across in Vietnam, but absolutely one of the prettiest attractions while in Dalat.
WEE TIP: Many visitors find that taking a day-tour with Dalat Easy Riders is a great way to explore some of the best surrounding Dalat highlights. Wandering around the city we guarantee you’ll be approached by these knowledgeable and trustworthy guides who can give you a unique insight into the city’s history.
While you’re at Elephant Falls, don’t miss the amusing Happy Buddha (free) next door. Linh An Pagoda is a beautiful complex and has plenty of interesting statues and structures to take in.
WEE TIP: We rented a scooter and really enjoyed having it for a few days in Dalat. Dalat Sky Hostel sorted us out for 150,000d per day.
Get Lost in Maze Bar
Fancy a game of drunken hide and seek…? Maze Bar (also referred to as 100 Roofs Café) is a trippy drinking hole in the centre of Dalat. It too was designed by Đặng Việt Nga – the architect responsible for Crazy House. Six floors of weird and wonderful winding alleyways make for an interesting night. The entrance fee is included in the price of your first rum and coke (45,000d). One of the top things to do in Dalat!
Cable Car to Truc Lam Monastery
One of the more chilled Dalat attractions involves taking the cable car to Truc Lam Zen Monastery. Enjoy the 360 views of the city and the surrounding highlands while you soar over the beautiful pine tree forests.
Your second option is to take a one-way cable car ride (60,000d) and take a taxi back to town. There are plenty of sunset viewpoints and some nice walking around the gorgeous Tuyen Lam Lake. If you’re taking a taxi back, you don’t need to worry about catching the last cable car. We’d highly recommend this option.
If cable cars aren’t your thing, bringing your rental scooter up here would also be a great idea. You’ll save time exploring the nearby Tuyen Lam Lake and you can also visit the nearby Datanla Waterfall a little further up the road.
To take the cable car, head to Robin Hill where a round trip ticket will set you back 80,000d.
WEE TIP: As with most pagodas in South-East Asia, be respectful and follow the dress codes. Truc Lam Monastery offers free shawls at the entrance to cover up any shorts and short-skirts.
Da Lat Train Station
Before we arrived, a visit to the French-built train station (5,000d) seemed to be included in every ‘top things to do in Da Lat’ list. It’s probably the most disappointing thing we saw on our whole trip.
It’s a pretty yellow building, but that’s about it. We didn’t feel it was worth an entrance fee and didn’t ‘get’ it at all. We took the hit so that you don’t have to.
Try Avocado Ice Cream (Kem Bo)
It’s last on the list, but this was maybe one of our favourite things to do in Dalat: eat lots of Kem Bo. We know it doesn’t sound entirely appetising but trust us, it’s delicious and absolutely worth a try. On our wander after Maze Bar we found ourselves ordering seconds.
If you’d rather stick to a ‘safer’ flavour, Dalat is also known for its strawberry ice cream. Thanks to its cooler climate, Dalat is actually the only city in Vietnam able to grow the fruit and make the legendary ice cream!
For avocado, head to Na Ri on Nguyễn Văn Trỗi. If strawberry is more your thing, the Night Market will sort you out.
And that’s our favourite 11 Dalat attractions! Get in touch in our Comments section below if you visit any of the cafes, or enjoy some of the sights we’ve recommended. If you’re heading to Mui Ne for some sun next, check out our Mui Ne WIT.
Where to Stay
Dalat Sky Hostel for a private
The private rooms in this hostel (known as Nhà Nghỉ Dalat Sky on Google) are good value and include a decent free breakfast. Family dinner each night is a great way to meet other backpackers and the reception team are incredibly helpful. They were really understanding with our most bizarre request to date! We believe Emma’s bag got covered in petrol on the bus from Hoi An and it stunk everything out.
We did, however, have a few problems with the motorbikes we rented through the hostel. When the key fell out and the engine kept running, we were told it was normal procedure. It was changed the next day.
Privates from 280,000d
WEE TIP: There’s phenomenal pho to be had around the corner from this hostel! Phở Hiếu serve up delicious and dirt-cheap soup.
Cozy Nook Hostel our choice
Although this is a little pricier, this hostel came highly recommended by other travellers…and we wished we’d listened to the rave reviews! With a central location, incredible family dinner and social atmosphere, don’t repeat our mistake and make sure you stay here!
Dorms from 170,000d
- If you’re checking in to Da Lat Sky Hostel, grab some breakfast pho around the corner
- You’re probably exhausted after the night-bus, so grab some delicious coffee from one of the many cafes.
- Cycle or walk around the lake, taking in all the sights and getting a feel for the place
- Check out the Night Market for the first time. Get an early night and be ready for tomorrow’s adventures
- If the weather’s kind today, drive out and hike Lang Biang
- Check out K’Ho café once you’ve bagged that peak
- Hit up La Viet café on the way back for your caffeine fix and a late lunch
- Head to the Night Market and Maze Bar
- Enjoy the bizarre but brilliant kem bo on your walk home
- Another early rise to check out Elephant Falls and nearby Happy Buddha
- If weasel coffee’s your thing, then check that out afterwards
- While you’ve got the rental scooter, check out the Cable Car and Tuyem Lam Lake for sunset
- Datanla Waterfall’s further up the road if you’ve arrived too early for sunset
- Da Lat Sky Hostel
- Cozy Nook Hostel
- Da Lat Night Market
- Phở Hiếu
- Co Bong Cafe
- La Viet Cafe
- Biang Bistro
- Bicycle Up Cafe
- Escape Bar
- Maze Bar
Dalat Budget Breakdown
- Hoi An – Da Lat Bus Terminal
- Dalat Open Tours
- 18:00 – 07:00
- 300,000d pp
Total: 600,000d ($25)
Dalat Sky Hostel
- Double room (private bathroom)
- 280,000d price per night (x3 nights)
Total: 840,000d ($36)
- Crazy House 50,000d
- Lang Biang Scooter Parking 5,000d
- Lang Biang Entry 30,000d
- Elephant Falls Parking 5,000d
- Elephant Falls Entry 20,000d
- Maze Bar rum+coke 45,000d
- Cable Car Scooter Parking 5,000d
- Cable Car Return Ticket 80,000d
Total: 465,000d ($20)
- Taxi Bus Terminal – Da Lat Sky Hostel (x4 pass.) 70,000d
- Scooter hire 150,000d per day (x2 days)
Total: 335,000d ($14)
- Da Lat (hostel transfer) – Mui Ne Bus Terminal
- 130,000d pp
Total: 260,000d ($11)
Total for 3D/3N: 2,500,000d/$106
The above budget is for x2 people. Food and drink is not included.
This budget breakdown isn’t meant to be an exact record of what we spent, but should give you a rough idea of what you’re likely to spend.
*all currencies accurate at the time of writing*
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