Da Lat, located in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, is a rather interesting place to visit. So if you feel like having a break from the heat, head to the city in the highlands.
Due to it being surrounded by forested hills, the temperature here is quite cool, but still sunny. It rains quite a bit in the summer, but only for a short while. The mornings here are fresh and the evenings cool and crisp, even chilly sometimes.
No wonder Da Lat is called ‘The city of eternal spring.’ It’s also a honeymoon destinations for the locals so you might accidentally gate crash a photo shoot by the lake. This creates a unique mix of attractions aimed at the Asian market which may appear cheesy or outright strange to outsiders. Think horses painted to look like zebras as a photo opportunity!
The town however has a very European feel to it, but western visitors mostly visit Da Lat for outdoor activities, like canyoning or trekking in the hills.
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Things to See and Do in Da Lat
Have a chilled walk around the gorgeous crescent-moon-shaped Xuan Huong lake. The lake is rather large, covering 43 ha, but strolling around is very pleasant. Half way through at the eastern end of the lake, step into the Japanese garden and cross the red bridge into a cafe on a little island. Rest your feet while sipping tea overlooking this peaceful man made lake.
Visit the Truc Lam Pagoda and its beautiful gardens. Although swamped with coach tours, it’s still a beautiful monastic site to visit. Have a stroll along the pine tree promenades and go down to the ‘Valley of Love’. Take a boat or simply enjoy the view from the nearby lake. Avoid the local huts selling refreshments though as they will try to rip you off big time.
To reach the monastery, take the Cable Car (Cáp Treo Đà Lạt) located 3 km south of the city. We recommend getting here by a motorbike or a taxi as the road to the cable car is rather steep.
The cable car costs 70,000 VND for a round trip per adult or 50,000 VND one way. The views of Da Lat and the hills from above are beautiful.
Head to the oldest Railway Station in Vietnam. The Japanese train will take you through the scenic suburbs towards the Linh Phuoc pagoda.
The train leaves the station every 2 hours. Tickets cost 120,000 VND per person, however buying them can be slightly tricky as the ticket office might be closed on your arrival. The best thing to do is sit at the station and wait for it to open. Otherwise you are risking for the tickets to be snatched by a coach tour.
Trek the Lang Biang mountain. The stunning Lang Biang National Park is located 12 km outside the town. You can easily access the park by a bike, motorbike or a local bus #5. Have a look at our blog post Trekking in Dalat to make sure you choose the right hiking path to reach the summit.
Cable Car & Da Lat Railway Station on Google Maps:
Cool Spaces to Hang Out in Da Lat
If you are making your way up to the Cable Car, make sure to pop into the Anna’s Coffee House located on the left hand side across the road from the car park. It’s a nice place to have a rest and a cup of nice coffee. Apart from coffee, try the watermelon juice, it’s lovely.
Lit Juice and Cafe is a great spot to come for hot juice on a crisp evening. The space is open till late in the evening. Here you can buy freshly prepared drinks including hot juice.
Also don’t neglect the local cafes, the owners will (sometimes) serve you great coffee for a small price. We grabbed a great cup for only 10,000 VND at a coffee stop just outside the centre. It always pays to smile!
Accommodation in Da Lat
Consider staying at Hai Long Vuong Hotel with its fantastic panoramic views of Dalat. The hotel is located on a local quiet street, around 20 min leisurely walk from the town centre.
We recommend booking a private room with a balcony or at least a window (366,000 VND). Our bed was very comfortable, complete with crisp clean sheets and fresh towels. We really enjoyed our stay here, the hotel is run by a friendly family who speak good English.
Hai Long Vuong Hotel on Google Maps:
Read more: our full guide to travelling Vietnam
Arriving to Da Lat
It’s easy to reach Da Lat by air. We had a very pleasant 1 hour flight from Da Nang International Airport. In addition, you can also catch a flight to Da Lat from (and to) HCMC or Hanoi.
Da Lat airport is located 30km south of the city and operates frequent shuttle busses to and from the town. Tickets costs 40,000 VND per person. You can purchase the ticket at the airport or simply on board the shuttle bus. The bus stops right outside the airport and is easy to spot.
The bus driver will drop you off at your accommodation only if you are staying at one of the major hotels. Don’t expect the driver to take you all the way to your hostel or budget hotel but have the address handy and they will let you know when you’re close.
Alternatively, catch a local bus at HCMC, Bien Hoa, Nam Cat tien, Phan Rang, Nha Trang or Buon Ma Thuot.
If you are planning a trip to Dalat, consider using the super friendly 12GoAsia website. We booked most of our Vietnam train tickets using this website and found it efficient and reliable. Just book online and there’s no need to print your tickets, just show them to the station staff before you board on your smartphone. No running around looking for a place to print anything. Nice.
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Getting Around the City
It’s easy to get around Da Lat by a bike or a motorbike although roads, just like in the rest of Vietnam, are a little crazy. We found it very easy to simply walk around the town. The pavements here are well maintained and mostly free of clutter.
It seems taxis here are reasonably priced too and will take you to the main attractions for a very affordable fare. A taxi from the city centre to the Cable Car for example will set you back around 35,000-40,000 VND.
If you trust the locals, get a motorbike taxi (Xe Om), they are available everywhere, but remember to check the price before getting on one.
Additionally, you can hire Easyriders. An Easyrider is a local guy who knows the area very well therefore will effortlessly give you a tour around the places you want to see. But beware, not all locals who offer the services are genuine guides.
Check the Easyrider website for more information.
Have you visited Dalat? Planning to go? Let us know in the comments below…
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