Wondering what all the best things to do in Dalat are? Check out this little guide!
Đà Lạt has been on my list for ages it feels like! It’s one of the places I distinctly remember hearing about when I arrived to Saigon and put on my list for a future date. I’ve seen so many friends go during my stay, and each time I saw their stories, I knew I had to make my way over eventually.
To us in Saigon, Đà Lạt is the hipster escape for when the tropical climate and bustle of the city get to be too much. Located in the Central Highlands, it’s all mountain views, pine tree smells, agriculture, and that cool, humid-less air. While you’re here there are a ton of cute cafes, cozy homestays, delicious restaurants, and the most random attractions to jump around to.
My first trip came about because my friend, Sierra sent me a pic of the peach blossoms beginning to bloom, and maybe a week and a half later we were on a plane! I mean why not? It’s so close and so easy! Plus, the pollution before Tet was another level in Saigon, and I felt like utter crap, so I was more than happy to leave for a bit.
Đà Lạt reminds me a lot of the month I spent in Truckee, California and mid-spring or mid-fall days in Namwon, Korea. (Though fun fact, one of Đà Lạt’s sister provinces in Jeju Island). Here’s all we got up to in our few days as well as some places I’m hoping to visit on a future trip!
All the Best Things to Do in Dalat
Check out the tea fields at Cau Dat Farm
- Vietnamese Name: Đồi chè Cầu Đất Farm
- Address: QL20, Xuân Trường, Thành phố Đà Lạt
You had me at tea fields. My love for the rolling green landscapes of tea farms is pretty well documented on this blog whether it’s repeat visits to Boseong in Korea or my day trip to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Of course, I was very much on board with visiting Cau Dat Farm and getting my tea field fix in Vietnam!
The farm itself is quite far from the city, at least a good 30-minute ride by car. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can motorbike or get a sunrise tour. We were not and went during the afternoon haha. Tea production here is fairly young. It only began in the early 1900s and Cau Dat itself was officially established in 1927, producing black tea for France.
When we went they were in the middle of construction, so we didn’t get to see the factory or, apparently, a tea cafe where you can take in the views and buy some products. There are some street food-type vendors near the entrance if you’re hungry.
Fear for your life a little at Datanla Waterfall Tourist Area
- Vietnamese Name: Khu Du Lịch Thác Datanla
- Address: QL20 Đèo Prenn, Phường 3, Thành phố Đà Lạt
Okay, maybe a little bit of an exaggeration. But not really, and I’m the first person to sign up for a roller coaster! Basically to get to the waterfall, you have to take this alpine coaster to the bottom and I actually got quite nervous on it. I mean, if any part of that thing falls apart, you’re tumbling down, down, down.
Anyway, the waterfall itself is quite lovely, and if that’s all you’re after, it’s a pretty easy visit. Nothing really arduous involved, just a steady hand and being okay with heights. If you do want more adventure, there are a bunch of cool things you can do in the area like cayoneering, rafting, or hiking.
Pop over to Clay Tunnel for funky photo ops
- Vietnamese Name: Đường Hầm Điêu Khắc
- Address: Phường 4, Tp. Đà Lạt
Okay, I didn’t get to Crazy House on my visit, so my vote for the weirdest place in Đà Lạt for now are the Clay Tunnel. I think everyone with Instagram has seen photos of those famous head statues and they do look quite cool, so we included them in our itinerary.
I don’t know what we were expecting exactly but I don’t think either of us thought we’d be going to a sort of sculpture park full weird, tacky-in-a-fun-way spots. Seriously, those heads are like 1/10th of the whole place! It’s so random it reminded of me of a lot of random places I’ve been in Korea where I get there and wonder, “Who, what, why, how?” in the first minute.
Anyway, the heads will definitely have a line depending on when you go and people will take their time getting their shots, so just keep that in mind if you’re on a time crunch. You can get tickets there pretty easily but if you’re worried about crowds, you can always get them online ahead of time.
Walk along Tran Hung Dao Street for the Peach Blossoms
- Vietnamese Name: Trần Hưng Đạo
- Directions: I would just plug in Tran Hung Dao in grab or Google Maps and go until you see the blossoms
One of the spots to catch peach blossoms in late January, early February is Trần Hưng Đạo Street. I should warn anyone who’s coming from Japan or Korea, this will not be remotely the same as walking somewhere like Hwagae’s cherry blossom road or the many sakura spots in Kyoto. However, it’s still quite charming and has many a pink tree to enjoy.
The road also has nice landscape views and is filled with these super cute storybook like cottages that I think are part of some kind of resort, so it’s worth a stroll even outside of blossom season.
Walk between Tran Hung Dao and Dalat Railway Station
I’d recommend walking from Trần Hưng Đạo to Đà Lạt Railway Station if you were dropped off. The walk isn’t bad and takes you through all these cool alleway. It does look like you can’t get through at one point, but just go down this side staircase and it’ll pop you out to the main road!
Stroll around Dalat Railway Station
- Vietnamese Name: Ga Đà Lạt
- Address: Quang Trung, Phường 9, Đà Lạt
Đà Lạt Railway Station is definitely one of the coolest spots for architecture! The station was originally designed and then constructed from 1932 – 1938 and incorporated both an Art Deco with Vietnamese style, specifically the communal houses seen often in the Central Highlands.
Depending on the day, you may be able to take the train about 7km to Trai Mat village, but I’m not sure how exactly it works because none of the times we learned of actually saw any train leaving for anywhere…
Take a million photos at Kombi Land
- Address: Mimosa, Phường 3, Thành phố Đà Lạt
If there was ever a place built for Instagrammers lol. It costs about 90K VND to enter Kombi Land and from there it’s just a massive, eclectic space that seems to go back for miles (ok that’s an exaggeration). You have the most random photo ops from a tent space that feels more Moroccan, a gas station set up that feels straight out of someone’s idea of California, and some sort of massive transformer statue at the entrance. There’s a pink convertible somewhere in there and a cactus spot…who knows?
There are some spots to eat inside if you want to hang around, but I can imagine this place being annoying during busier times so I don’t know that I’d go unless you know it’s low, low season and you really want to take photos. Otherwise, you’ll be competing with every Vietnamese fashion influencer in Đà Lạt and rich moms who let their kids throw pebbles at the ducks in the lake and don’t do anything even when you embarrass them by yelling across the lake and scaring said kid.
Visit the pink church
- Vietnamese Name: Nhà Thờ Domaine De Marie
- Address: 1 Ngô Quyền, Phường 6, Thành phố Đà Lạt
Kind of laughing because this is the third pink church I’ve visited in Vietnam, first the big pink one in Saigon and then the little one in Vinh Long! Domaine de Marie is actually a convent built in the 1940s in both a French and Vietnamese style. It’s still active today with nuns and also acts as a school.
It also has some nice landscape views since it sits on top of a hill!
Places I Still Want to Visit
So many spots I have yet to visit!
Cute Restaurants & Cafes in Dalat
Biang Garden Restaurant
Biang Garden Restaurant is a farm-to-table restaurant and just a nice place to grab lunch! They add pomegranate seeds to their hummus and it’s sooo good!
Brew & Breakfast
This one is for you vegetarians! Brew & Breakfast serves up some breakfast classics as well as other dishes but all of it’s vegetarian. The all-day breakfast burrito is amazing, and I highly recommend getting the “fancier” hot chocolate!
Cheo Veo Coffee
Okay, this has to be the gem of all cafes in Đà Lạt. The views are perfect for sunset and their coffee menu is amazing. Just ignore the fact that you probably shouldn’t be drinking coffee at 6:00 PM lol. The entrance is kind of down a side road and even then it’s quite hidden away, so just keep an eye out on your way. Also arrive early (like 4 PM) to grab a spot! It fills up very fast for sunset, especially on the weekends!
Chill Chill Eatery
For a little more upscale dining, check out Chill Chill Eatery for dinner (only open 4:00 PM – 10:00PM). Definitely get a spot by their fireplace!
Good spot for Italian food in Đà Lạt and nice if you’re staying at the homestay. I really enjoyed the gnocchi.
Seen House is a cute spot on Tuyen Lam Lake. The food is pretty basic but the coffee is good, and it’s a nice place to come if you want to hang out and enjoy the lake or even do some laptop work.
Where I Still Want to Eat
Guys, the amount of spots I still want to try while here…. Ahh! Each of my friends who have gone to Đà Lạt have eaten at different places, so when I was making a list, here are some of the ones I wrote down but didn’t get a chance to go to:
- Da Lat Market
- The Station House – Korean train station-style cafe!
- 102A Ba Than Hai
- An Cafe
- Le Chalet
- Barn House BBQ
- Boho Corner Cafe
- Ming Oi
Another thing to note is that many dinner places book up quite quickly, so always call to reserve a spot in advance. If you can call at least 24 hours in advance outside of holiday season, you should be okay.
Where to Stay in Dalat
When it comes to where to stay in Đà Lạt, cute homestays are the name of the game! As is the case with most of Đà Lạt, everything is pretty spread out, so your best bet is to narrow down where you plan on going and restaurants or cafes you want to visit then pick out a spot.
I think some nicer areas to stay are by one of the lakes, Tuyen Lam or Xuan Hoang. Xuan Hoang Lake is more of the city center, but both are close to different places you’ll want to visit. We stayed at two different spots:
Emai is close to Xuan Hoang Lake and the city center. It’s in walking distance of the pink church and around a 15-minute walk to Đà Lạt Market. It’s a very cute little spot with its own aforementioned Italian restaurant and a few friendly kitties! One might even come up and cuddle in bed in the morning if you let him. Rooms are nice and pretty basic in terms of amenities but I think where Emai really shines is its outdoor area. Such a gorgeous area to eat breakfast before a day of sightseeing. Check more details here
Doi Mot Nguoi Homestay
Doi Mot Nguoi is lovely with some super cute and happy dogs roaming about as well as a few kittens when we visited! I’d only stay here if you have your own motorbikes though. On the map it kinda looks like it’s across the street from Datanla Waterfall, but it’s actually good 8-10 minutes by car on a really narrow, bumpy road and even then you have to walk downhill (so uphill when you’re leaving) to get to the actual homestay.
Also if you’re staying, double check the room you want is what’s represented on their Instagram or website. We booked a room specifically for its bathtub and when we got there, there was literally no tub. It didn’t even look like there had been a tub and it was just not working, so I don’t know where that photo came from or why they said it existed. Check more details here.
Other Places to Stay
If you’re looking for luxury, your best bet is the Ana Villas. Other cute places I’ve seen are the Aratana and Le Soleil Boutique Hotel. My friend, Alyshia, stayed at Romeo & Juliet on Tuyen Lam Lake said it had some nice views even if the rooms themselves are pretty basic. For those staying longer, this minimalist-styled studio in the city center looks lovely.
Dalat Travel Tips
Getting to and from Dalat
You can very easily get a sleeper bus from Saigon to Đà Lạt. From what my friends have said, it’s pretty comfortable and takes around seven hours, usually overnight. I typically book my bus transport on Baolau unless I know I can go in person easily.
I flew to Đà Lạt because I still have mild PTSD from those Mu Cang Chai bus rides and when I booked my tickets, I think it all cost under 1 million VND (~$40 USD). It’s like maybe 40 minutes, so between getting to the airport, checking in, flying, and leaving, it’s all around 2 hours.
The airport itself is 30-40 minutes away from Đà Lạt depending on where you’re staying. Super easy to just arrange a taxi or even Grab, but if you want to, you can also book ahead.
Getting around Dalat
Đà Lạt is extremely spread out, so you’ll be getting a taxi or driving around quite a bit. As it’s in the mountains, the roads are very windy and people drive a bit crazily (even more than Saigon). Our friend recommended we don’t rent motorbikes unless we’re basically pro-bikers sooooo we called a lot of taxis.
Grab does work here, though sometimes it’s not available, so you’ll just want to get one of those ole fashioned taxis with meters lol. There’s also, of course, the option of booking a private car charter.
When to Go to Dalat
I’ve been told the best time for Đà Lạt is over the winter as the weather is cooler than Saigon and much less likely to rain. Plus it’s flower season, so the whole city is full of blooms! Summer is monsoon season, so it’s cool but can get very, very rainy. If you want to keep an eye out for the peach blossoms, I’d aim to go during the first or second week of February. We went end of January, and I’d say we were a little early.
Đà Lạt is very popular for domestic tourism, so any time there’s a longer holiday it’ll get crazy busy, think Tet, New Years Eve, Christmas, etc. I know of people who went over NYE weekend and it took them ten hours to get back by car to Saigon!
Costs in Dalat
While Đà Lạt, like much of Vietnam, is extremely affordable, especially if you’re used to places like the US, it is a little more expensive than most other places in the country. For example, our room in Emai was three times what I paid for Mekong Pottery Homestay in Vinh Long, and I’d say they’re very comparable in terms of amenities and rooms.
What to Wear in Dalat
When I went, Đà Lạt was downright hot during the sunniest parts of the day and absolutely freezing as the sun fell. Think of it as early fall or mid-spring elsewhere in the world, so bring layers and socks. Most places won’t have heating or insulation, so it feels colder at night than normal. I was very happy to have my jean jacket and could’ve used some pants!
And there you have it! My little guide on the best things to do in Dalat, including where to go, stay, eat, and more! Am I missing anything? Let me know below!
for more on vietnam
I’ve really loved being in Vietnam and getting to know the country more! On my first trip, I bopped around Saigon, did a day trip to the Mekong Delta, experienced all the best things to do in Hoi An, checked out the Marble Mountains in Đà Nẵng, experienced the stunning Halong Bay, and finished off finding all the cool things to do in Hanoi.
Now that I’ve been back, I’ve gotten to know Saigon even more, like exploring all the temples and dim sum of Cho Lon in District 5 and the ramen shops of Little Japan in Hem 15b Le Than Thon. I’ve even explored parts of Vietnam I’d barely heard of before like Mui Ne and Phan Thiet, Sapa where we learned about the Red Dzao tribe, Phong Nha, Mu Cang Chai, Hue where I stayed at the iconic Azerai La Residence Hue, and Vinh Long and Can Tho in the Mekong.
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