Dalat has many nicknames —The Paris of Vietnam, The City of Flowers, The City of Eternal Spring and The City of Lovers. By any name, it’s a cool mountain retreat for Vietnamese and travelers alike who are looking to escape the never ending heat and smog of the larger cities. Most people come to Dalat so they can relax, but there’s still plenty of action for those looking to get their heart racing. Here are the 10 best things to see and do.
1. Visiting Datanla Waterfalls
One of the most famous and beautiful waterfall in the city, Datanla Waterfalls have everything you need in a magnificent creations of Mother Earth.
Just about few kilometers from the main city, you can enjoy some of the best activities in Dalat like at Dantala – Alpine coaster, Cable car ride and canyoning (Aka water abseiling). To go up to the waterfall you have several options, walking up and down the stairs (a lot of stairs!), take the cable car, or the sliders. Each activity has its own peaks but either way you can still see the sights around and on top of the fall.
Other waterfall suggestions: Elephant Waterfalls, Pongour Waterfalls.
2. Hiking up to Langbiang Mountain
Langbiang Mountain, one of the must-see Da Lat attractions in Vietnam, is situated on Lang Biang Plateau, Lac Duong district, Lam Dong province, only approximately 12 km far from Da Lat center.
Langbiang contains the two highest peaks of Lam Vien highland (Cao nguyên Lâm Viên) and one of them is usually regarded as the roof of Da Lat. The mountain is well-known for its wonderful nature and its marvelous view of the whole wide region of Da Lat City, the rivers, the forest, and houses of tribal people.
When visiting Langbiang Mountain, you could enjoy a lot of interesting activities, such as camping, bird-watching, exploring the natural flora and experiencing the great but unique culture of the ethnic minority groups. In addition, this mountain is also an ideal destination for adventurous activities such as conquering high peaks, mountain climbing, trekking and paragliding. Most interestingly, the so-called ‘Thung Lũng Trăm Năm” – “Hundred-year valley”, which situates at the mountain’s foot is thought as an ecological and entertainment tourist site.
3. Trying Canyoning
Da Lat is a great place to learn what it is first hand. You’ll navigate your way down a canyon and waterfalls by abseiling (aka rappelling), scrambling, zip lining, jumping and swimming. No previous experience required, just a little courage.
You start at the side of a road, next to a steep hill which disappears into a ravine far below. You can faintly hear waterfalls, but you can’t see them. Then, before you really have time to prepare for what’s ahead of you, you’re kitted up and side-stepping down the hill, grasping to trees for help. Then you abseil down a cliff and float into a river that even has a natural water slide. For the climax, you rappel down a couple of gushing waterfalls. It’s a demanding excursion, but it’s a whole lot of fun.
Every agency and tour operator in town can sell you a canyoning trip but you should do your research carefully before booking with any agencies conveniently around. Canyoning can be fun but surely will be deadly if fall in the wrong, unguided hand.
Highly praised Pine Track Adventures, the outfitter legally licensed to do canyoning in Da Lat
4. Visiting Truc Lam Pagoda
Truc Lam Pagoda, a complex of buildings featuring traditional Asian architecture, is one of the must see, not only for its meaning but the sights you get to behold.
To get to Truc Lam Pagoda you can take a cable car ride or a cab. With cable car, he best part is that when you get to the other side of the beautiful ravine, the monastery sits on a huge swatch of forested land, a small portion of which have various buildings and temples. You can walk around the flower gardens and temples, see monks walking peacefully in their orange robes, going about their daily routines everywhere you look, take in a view of the lake. When you’re finished, simply get the cable car back to where you started. It’s an easy excursion you can do in a couple of hours.
Other pagodas: Linh Quang pagoda, Linh Son pagoda, Linh Phuoc pagoda, ect.
5. Exploring Hang Nga Guest House – The Crazy House
Crazy House is the brainchild of Vietnamese architect and impressionist Đặng Việt Nga. After studying in Moscow and working in Hanoi, she moved to Dalat and built this strange cement structure based on the natural beauty she saw all around her in the central highlands. This extraordinary building has represented in a lot of international architectural journals and eventually made its manner to the list of ten most creative buildings of the world. In details, it is a wide mass of wood and wire fashioned into the figure of a giant tree house and smoothed over in concrete.
When visiting here, you will discover that the Crazy house is really a spectacular construction with 10 themed guest rooms such as the eagle room, the tiger room, the ant room, and the kangaroo room, with handcrafted furniture and decorations matching with the theme. Each room comes with a specific meaning, according to the creator – Viet Nga.
Despite it is theoretically a hotel, Hang Nga Guesthouse is deserved to be one of the must-see Da Lat attractions, which is recently regarded as a “museum” of childhood, dream and abnormality.
Other tourist attractions: Golden Valley, Bao Dai Summer Palace, Lake Of Sighs, Mong Mo Hill, Valley Of Love, Domaine De Marie Church, ect.
6. Visiting Dalat Flower Gardens
Dalat is often referred to as the City of Flowers. Because of the temperate climate and plentiful rains, the region is ideal for growing certain crops and flowers that can’t grow anywhere else in the country.
Da Lat flower garden was built in 1966 and it covers an area of 15 ha. This place has a unique architecture and contains more than 300 types of flowers. In particular, there are some types of flower like rose, daisy, orchids or mimosa bloom all year round. Apart from flowers, there is also a huge garden of cacti with the African origin. A tour to flower garden will impress you by the exclusive shapes and beauty of natural creatures. All of them are carefully cared by the skillful gardeners.
At the Dalat flower gardens, which is right in the center of the city, you can stroll through elaborate displays of the most colorful scenes Dalat has to offer. When the weather’s right and the flowers are in bloom, you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. You can visit the garden at No. 02 Phu Dong Thien Vuong street, Da Lat city
7. Shopping at Da Lat Market
In the evening, you can go for a walk into town around the market. Da Lat has cool weather and a vibrant marketplace with several street foods that a lot of tourists have not seen before. Try a few. It is nice.
The idea of buying jackets in the bustling old market is great for those who want to enjoy a bit excitement in the city of thousands of flowers while still being able to gain something as a present after a trip.
There are a variety of garments sold here, from sweaters to coats, gloves, hats, accessories and scarves for winter. You might not want to purchase any winter garment, yet do not forget to wander around this place to view an interesting daily life of the locals.
One tip: Make sure you bargain before buying anything. When you’re tourists, they’ll take advantage of that.
8. Sipping on Da Lat coffee
Visiting Da Lat, you cannot ignore coffee - a unique culture of highlanders. The coffee has been planted in this area for long and good coffee can be easily found. You can pick any good looking coffee shops to sit down and enjoy a cup of hot coffee in the chilled weather. It's such a great experience to get closer to the local taste.
Better yet, have a cup of coffee around Xuan Huong Lake, the most famous and biggest lake in the city. The soft, chilling breeze mixed with the aroma of the coffee is something you’ll never forget.
9. Drinking Can wine and mingle with the tribal people
One of the most unique cultures of Da Lat is Ruou Can - Can Wine made by K'ho people living here. This wine is fermented in a big pottery vase or jar for 20 days, which is always served in big occasions or gatherings. People drink Can wine by sitting around the wine vase or jar. They have small bamboo drinking pipes sticking into the wine jar and then drink together. Rươu Can is not strong but it is aromatic and warm with a little sweetness.
You can have a chance to drink this unique wine by stopping by and stay with the local ethnical group in Da Lat, you will be luckily invited to join a fire camp and warmly welcome with the specialty and hospitality.
10. Staying a night in an ancient villa
Da Lat still remains several old French villas located on pine hill and they are currently upgraded and repaired to become ideal hotels for tourists. Staying one night in an old villa and making the most of Da Lat’s beauty and quietness when the night falls down is truly an unforgettable experience lasting you a life time. The setting of the old French architectures together with the cool air at night will make you feel as you are not in Viet Nam but another ancient Western city. Some beautiful villas have been transformed into high-end guesthouses or hotels for tourists. Stay just one night in such a lovely villa with modern facilities to feel romantic and peaceful in Da Lat. The price fluctuates around 500,000 VND to 1,000,000 VND, depending on their location and convenience.
Da Lat has many names but the feeling you get from it is always the same; satisfaction, relaxation and wanting more. There are reasons why after so many years, this small mountainous city still has a very fondling place in locals and tourist’s memories. Words cannot express enough how beautiful and precious this place is. You just have to try and see it yourselves to be the judge.
By Tiger team