Decision to travel to Vietnam could be one of the best travel ideas you could possibly have since this country is most likely to become one of your favorite destinations and a place where you will always want to return. In this text, we will give a short overview of the best things to do in Dalat – a beautiful Vietnamese town known also as The City of Eternal Spring. Assuming that some of the world famous places such as Ha Long Bay, Saigon, Hanoi are already on your list of places to visit in Vietnam, Dalat is definitely the one to be added.
Dalat got it’s famous nickname – The city of Eternal spring because of its fantastic geographical position located in a valley among the mountains, waterfalls and rivers which gives it a constant spring temperature.
Fresh air, light cool breeze and nice weather give to this town all the charm that it is famous by.
Travelers through Vietnam love this town for that – it gives a nice refreshing break from the hot burning sun and unbearable temperatures and humidity that is typical for most of the Vietnam all year long.
Dalat is situated in the south of the country and is easily reachable from Ho Chi Minh City by bus. In our case, that was the route. Coming from busy and noisy Ho Chi Minh we found Dalat very relaxing, refreshing and energizing place.
Even though the city is not very big there are plenty of places that are more than worth of visiting. Here is our short list of the best things to do and see in Dalat:
1. Crazy House
Known also as a fairy tale house of Dalat this is a giant tree shaped house with lots of fantasy, fairy tale sculptures and objects around. It is designed by Vietnamese architect who obviously found inspiration the work of Antoni Gaudi.
It is not rare that many compare the design of the whole complex with the style of Salvador Dali and Walt Disney as well.
Besides the main house that resembles a banyan tree and serves as a guesthouse with several rooms that are open for booking, there are few other smaller houses and structures around, all connected by a small and narrow corridors and passages and surrounded by little flower gardens.
Since there is no beginning nor end, no directions or order by which you should move around, you are left with only your imagination to roam around discovering new and exciting things with each step.
You can easily spend 2, 3 hours exploring this extravagant place and, if that is not enough you can even book one of the 10 themed rooms inside the main building that are designed to serve as a guest house.
The rooms interior as well as exterior fit perfectly in the fairy tale ambient of the whole complex so you can choose between Honeymoon Room, Termite Room, Bamboo Room, Tiger Room, Kangaroo Room, Ant Room and few others. The rooms are unique and authentic so you will have a feeling of living in a house of some forest animal from the fairy tale.
The price of the room is just a bit more expensive than average budget hotel room in this town but well worth it if you are into this kind of things.
Since the complex is open the whole day for tourists it might not be so comfortable to rest in the room during the day or to sleep quietly during the early morning since the tourists are walking all around and even will try to enter your room out of curiosity.
If you would like to imagine living a fairy tale and be an ant or kangaroo for a night, booking a room in the Crazy House is a great idea. If sleeping in an ant house sounds a bit too much for you, you can just visit the place and see the whole complex just walking around.
Cost (visit)→ 40.000 VND =1.53 EUR
Cost of a room → refer to Booking.com (search Crazy House Dalat)
Location → Crazy House Dalat
Open → 8:30AM – 7PM
2. Zen Buddhist Temple and Paradise Lake
Truc Lam Pagoda is Zen Buddhist monastery located on the top of a hill above Dalat.
It consists of several Buddhist buildings beautifully surrounded by flower gardens and green pine forest. It is an active temple so you can see monks all around doing their daily activities.
The best way to reach temple is by cable car. Starting point for the cable car is called Robin Hill – just few kilometers far from the city center.
Ride by cable car is a unique experience itself – it’s around 15 minutes long scenic ride through the beautiful pine forest from where you can see strawberry fields and have an amazing view of the city down in the valley.
Temple is located just a short walking distance from the cable car drop off point. Since everyone is going in that direction and the temple can be seen from the distance, you cannot miss the way.
On the top of the hill you will find a beautiful temple with several other smaller buildings. You can enjoy nice and relaxed walk around the flower gardens and see some of the beautifully cultivated bonsai trees all around the temple.
Following the flower garden a path will lead you all the way to the Tuyen Lam Lake.
Also known as Paradise Lake, this is actually an artificial lake but it looks just like nature itself set it there to fit perfectly in this mountain landscape. You can rent a paddle boat or kayak to explore further the area from the lake and enjoy beautiful views.
Cost → cable car from Robin Hill to Truc Lam Pagoda (round trip): 80.000VND =3 EUR*entrance to the temple is free Time → 2/3 hours
Location → Truc Lam Pagoda Dalat
Open → 7.30-11.30am & 1.30-5pm
**Last cable car from Truc Lam Pagoda to the city: 4:30PM
3. Dantala Waterfall
There are several waterfalls around Dalat and all of them are beautiful and have their specific charm.
Between Elephant, Pongour and Dantala we have chosen the last one for the convenience of being very close to Dalat city – only few kilometers away it is easily reachable by taxi or motorbike
*Easy Riders is a motorbike taxi service popular in the whole Vietnam. It is cheap and easy way of traveling around so we found it as a convenient and inexpensive way to get to this place.
The waterfall itself is nice, not too big but not too small neither.
The main attraction here is actually the roller-coaster that brings you from the entrance point all the way down to the waterfall and back. The ride is interesting and it adds a bit of fun and excitement and also opportunity to see the waterfall from a very close distance and reach the point that you could not be able to reach walking.
Besides the roller-coaster there is also a cable car/lift that can bring you up and down to and from the waterfall.
There are also trekking paths so you can enjoy a nice walk in the forest. Nearby there is a restaurant and few souvenir and coffee shops where you can buy some food, drinks or souvenirs.
Cost → Entrance fee to the waterfall: 30.000VND = 1,15 EUR; Roller-coaster: 60.000VND = 2,29EUR
Time → 1.5 hours
Location → Datanla Waterfall Dalat
Open → 7AM – 5PM
4. Linh Phuoc Pagoda
This pagoda is one of the most famous and most visited ones in Vietnam not only for its spiritual value, but also for its very specific and special architectural design.
It is located 8km from Dalat and it can be reached easily by taxi ,motorbike or even train. Interesting option is taking an old fashioned train that runs from Dalat railway station to the Trai Mat station (nearby the Pagoda) from where you can easily walk to the entrance of the pagoda.
Some of particularly interesting things around this pagoda are a 49 meters long dragon sculpture made of beer bottles, antique chinaware and fine art furniture display and a 37 meters high tower which is the highest bell tower in Vietnam.
The Pagoda is done in beautiful, colorful mosaic made from pieces of pottery, terracotta, broken beer bottles and glass.
Around the temple there are restaurants, food and drink stalls and souvenir shops. The complex is quite big and if you would like to explore each corner it will take you around 2 hours to see it all.
It is possible to climb up all the towers and have a beautiful view to the other buildings of the complex including a 18 meters high statue of Bodhisattva Guan Yin made of flowers.
Cost → free
Time → 2 hours
Location → Linh Phuoc Pagoda Dalat
Open → 8AM – 4PM
5. Dalat Railway Station
This is a small railway station with vintage rail cars on display. The building itself is interesting for its unusual architectural design done by French architects.
Nowadays the railway operates as a tourist attraction to the nearby village Trai Mat.
There are several old fashioned train wagons and a steam locomotive and they seem to be very popular for taking photos since you can hop on the wagon or even enter some of them.
Cost → 5.000 VND = 0,19 EUR
Time → 30 minutes
Location → Dalat Railway Station Dalat
Open → 7AM – 05;30PM
6. Dalat Night Market
Like elsewhere around Vietnam and also throughout the whole region of South East Asia, Dalat also has its main point of gathering, meeting for a dinner out and shopping.
Dalat Night market is located just in the city center and it has it all – clothes, shoes, food, fruit and vegetables, plants, souvenirs and local products…and who knows what else.
It is a main point in the city where people goes for a dinner, shopping of groceries, clothes, house items…
It is a must visit place in Dalat for any tourist/traveler/visitor who likes good, cheap and authentic food. For anyone, who is as much as us crazy about food, night market is definitely the best place to visit in Dalat and it should not be missed at any cost.
You can find some of the most delicious street foods there starting from the famous Vietnamese pizza to the traditional hot pot soup meals or grilled seafood.
Cost → entrance to the market is free and food is cheap
Time → 2 hours
Location → Dalat Night Market
Open → 5PM – 12AM
7. Maze Bar / 100 Roof Bar
Even though this city is a calm and tranquile and the majority of the places from the list of the best things to do in Dalat is to be visited by day or early evening, this one is to be enjoyed at night. After a day of sightseeing you might want to relax with some drinks in a nice bar.
Well, this one is not just a regular bar – it is a bar designed as a maze or labyrinth of tunnels and underground rooms.
After buying a drink at the entrance of the bar, you enter the underground labyrinth and you are let free to roam around the dark corridors and rooms until you find your way out.
On your way you can see interesting sculptures, paintings on the walls, different objects such as Chinese vases and lamps and many other strange things.
Each room has multiple ways in and out and, as you go through them, you are discovering new ones moving either towards the exit or moving in circles until you figure out your way out.
The maze bar is truly exciting and will keep you entertained for long. The design reminds of the one of the Crazy House (from the beginning of the text) so we were curious if the same mind come up with both ideas. We were told by the bartender that the 2 architects are friends. Good job for these 2 amazingly creative architectures of Da Lat.
The whole web of tunnels and rooms is designed in a way that you can find a place to sit and a table in any moment you wish to sit down and enjoy your drink in the privacy of the room.
The place is obviously interesting mostly for tourists but it is not crowded. If you go earlier in the evening you will have lesser chances to meet other people on your maze expedition which will make the whole experience more fun – in case you are not claustrophobic or scared to roam alone around the underground tunnels.
After you had enough fun in the tunnels you can rest at the rooftop part of the bar overlooking the street and relax with a drink.
Cost → entrance is free (it is mandatory to buy a drink – as in any bar) *Price of drinks is more less the same or slightly higher than in other bars
Time → 2 hours
Location → Maze Bar Dalat
Open → 8:30AM – 12AM
8. Dalat Main Square
Lam Vien Square occupies the most centric spot in the city – it is a big, open square always full of people. It is popular place of skating, kite flying or posing for a perfect photo.
Two unusually designed buildings are the symbols of the square and dominate in its view – one (sunflower shaped building) is a shopping center and another one (green glass object) is a restaurant.
Just opposite the square is a beautiful Xuan Huong lake which makes a perfect background for photos and is a nice spot for walking around.
Cost → free
Time → 30 min – 1.5 hours
Location → Lam Vien Square Dalat
Open → 24 hours
These are just some of the best places we recommend to visit in Dalat. It is a truly unique place and, even though it has all the elements of traditional Vietnamese town, it has a genuine inspirational, creative and innovative side that is to be seen in its quirky architecture and design all around.
All this, in addition to beautiful and rich nature, eternal spring temperature, nice and welcoming people and delicious food, is what makes Da Lat a perfect choice for any traveler who is interested in discovering beauties of the less known places.
Da Lat is one of our favorite places in Vietnam and we highly recommend it to anyone who likes mountains, outdoors, nature and quirky architecture.
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