Dalat is a city located on Lang Biang highlands – part of the Central Highlands region of Vietnam. Because of its history, special architecture, unique climate features and wide range of beautiful spots, Dalat is known as one of the most popular tourist destinations of Vietnam.
Dalat is an alternative Vietnam: the weather is spring-like instead of tropical hot, the town is dotted with elegant French-colonial villas rather than stark socialist architecture, and the surrounding farms cultivate strawberries, coffee and flowers in place of rice.
The French came first, fleeing the heat of Saigon for average daily temperatures that hover between 15°C and 24°C. They left behind their holiday homes and a European resort vibe, which the Vietnamese have added to with their own unique, sometimes kitsch touches. Whether it’s the Eiffel Tower–shaped radio tower, the horse-drawn carriages or the colourful heart-shaped cut-outs at the Valley of Love, this is a town that takes romance seriously. Dalat is Vietnam's honeymoon capital and extremely popular with domestic tourists.
For foreign visitors, the moderate climate has made Dalat the adventure-sports capital of southern Vietnam, with canyoning, mountain biking, white-water rafting and treks into the surrounding hills all available.
Dalat looks like a cross between Vietnam and the French Alps. Many of its hotels and houses were built in a French style during the French colonization. There are many places for tourists interested in architecture to visit, such as Dalat Railway Station, designed by French architects Moncet and Reveron, or Hang Nga guest house, a.k.a ‘Crazy house’ which is also an interesting place to stay.
Apart from architectural places of interest, Dalat also has lots of beautiful sites such as Xuan Huong Lake – center of town, Lake of Sorrow (Lake of Sighs) – 5km Northeast of town on Ho Xuan Huong Road, Valley of Love – Phu Dong Thien Vuong Street, Lang Biang Mountain – has a 1900m peak, ideal for a 3-hour hike, Prenn Falls – 10km outside the town, Pongour Falls – one of the largest and widest waterfalls in Vietnam, 30km south of town on highway 20, etc.
Da Lat is a young city compared to other cities in the south of Vietnam such as Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Nha Trang as it was founded only in the late 1890s. Once serving as the capital of the Federation of Indochina, Dalat’s permanent image nevertheless is as a holiday resort in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, the reason for which it was originally established.
Da Lat features many interesting landmarks. Its lakes and waterfalls have long stood out as some of its top attractions while Emperor Bao Dai’s Summer Palace and the Buddhist pagodas are equally popular. Visitors can spot a good number of well-preserved French villas and chalets in the French Quarter located not far from the city centre.
It’s relatively simple to get to Xuan Huong Lake and from there you can continue to visit many other sites in town by foot as they are quite close by. The minority villages located nearby Dalat are a must for those wanting to see the ‘real’ Vietnam as the villagers are pretty much keeping their traditional ways of life extant.
Bao Dai’s Summer Palace
Bao Dai was famous for being the last emperor of Vietnam and ascended to the throne was he was just 12 years old.
He was also known for owning a summer palace in Da Lat which was built in 1933. Bao Dai used the palace as his summer retreat when temperatures got too hot in other parts of Vietnam and now you can visit in person and see how he would have holidayed in the days of old.
The home is still much as it would have been in the past and is filled with Bao Dai’s furniture as well as his personal possessions.
Walk to Datanla Waterfalls
Datanla Waterfalls is one of the most famous set of falls in Da Lat and you can easily reach this gushing cataract from the center of town.
As well as trekking to the falls, you can even enjoy a series of adrenalin filled rides here such as a small roller coaster which will take you from the summit of the falls down to the limpid pools below.
If that sounds a little bit much, then you can simply walk along the trails next to the waterfall and enjoy the cool mist and limpid pools at the base.
Admire the Lake of Sighs
The Lake of Sighs is steeped in local legend in Da Lat as it is actually the place where several star-crossed lovers met but were unable to be together.
The legend is indeed a little sad, but the lake itself is beautiful and is actually paradoxically very popular with local couples.
Nowadays you can rent a paddle boat and go out on the water which allows you to take in all the sights in Da Lat from a different vantage point.
As if that wasn’t romantic enough, you can also take a dreamy horse and carriage ride around the edges of the lake.
Enjoy Linh Phuoc Pagoda
Linh Phuoc Pagoda is one of the most famous temples in the country, in part thanks to its bell tower which stands at a height of 37 meters.
This makes it the tallest bell tower of its kind in all of Vietnam and there is also a colorful central hall here which has a series of murals that tell the story of the life of Buddha.
If you want to learn more about the history of Buddhism then this is a great spot to visit and the pagoda is also set in the middle of a series of lush grounds and lakes.
Visit Dalat Flower Gardens
Da Lat has made a name for itself in Vietnam thanks to its pretty scenery and the flowers here are no exception.
If you want to witness these firsthand then head to the Dalat Flower Gardens which stretch for some 7,000 square meters and have more than 300 kinds of flowers on display.
One of the best things about the gardens is that the flowers all bloom at different times of the year so whenever you choose to visit, you are guaranteed to see something of interest.
If you want to see the gardens at the height of their beauty however, then try to visit in the summer months.
Admire the Crazy House
One of the quirkiest attractions in Da Lat is known by its nickname Crazy House although its real name is the Hang Nga Guest House and Art Gallery.
The reason for its name is that the house is built to resemble a tree and was designed in 1990 by Dang Viet Nga who is a famous Vietnamese architect.
There are around a dozen rooms here which are all designed with a different theme in mind and you will find tunnels and ladders here as well as statues of bears, tigers and kangaroos.
If you don’t fancy staying here then it is still worth checking out from the outside, just to see a different side of Vietnamese architecture in Da Lat.
Browse in Dalat Market
Dalat Market is a great place to visit if you want to see a more traditional side of the city.
Here you will find some 1,000 shops which are located across several buildings and it appears as if there is nothing they don’t sell here.
You will find stalls piled high with colorful fresh produce, or there is also a rather gruesome fresh meat section.
As if that wasn’t enough, you can also find pretty flower shops as well as other stalls that sell bottles of the local wine.
This is also a good spot to pick up some local handicrafts like textiles and other souvenirs.
Go out on Xuan Huong Lake
Xuan Huong Lake is a manmade lake that is also one of the main landmarks of Da Lat.
The lake is surrounded by lush gardens that are filled with flowers and indigenous plants and you can go for a walk in the afternoon and take in all the sights.
Along the banks of the lake you will find graceful willow and peach trees and there are also some little cafes where you can have a drink and enjoy the calm atmosphere.
Other popular activities at the lake include horse and cart rides, and you can also take a pedal boat out on the lake itself if you are feeling active.
Visit Dalat Train Station
Da Lat Train Station was built in 1943 and although it is small, it offers you a great glimpse of how people would have traveled in the days of old.
The traditional ticket windows are still here and there is also a delightful steam train on show.
You can take the train, which is a wood burning locomotive, for around 5 kilometers up a mountain pass which ends in the idyllic village of Trai Mar.
One thing to note however is that you need four passengers in order for the train to run so you may have to hang around if no one else shows up.
Trek to Elephant Falls
Like so many other attractions in Da Lat, Elephant Falls actually has another name which is Lieng Rewoa Waterfall, although the reason for this is that Lieng Rewoa actually means Elephant Falls in the local K’ho ethnic language.
This cataract is less visited than other falls in the region as it is more difficult to get to, but this means that you can skip the crowds on a trip here and just enjoy the peace and quiet of the lipid pools and gushing water.
The falls are also close to Linh An Tu Pagoda so you can easily combine a visit to both in an afternoon.
Travel to Lam Ty Ni Pagoda
Lam Ty Ni Pagoda is also known as Mad Monk Temple and is made up of a small monastery set inside a traditional garden.
There is also an art gallery on the grounds here which is run by resident Zen Buddhist monk Vien Thuc.
As such, you can tour the monastery and also check out his paintings at the same time and even pick up a piece of monastic art work to take home with you.
If you opt to take a guided tour of Da Lat then you will almost certainly drop by here as this is one of the premium attractions in town.
Have a drink at 100 Roofs Cafe
The 100 Roofs Cafe is designed in much the same style as the Crazy House which is why it is one of the most unique watering holes in Da Lat.
One a visit here you will find a labyrinth of winding tunnels and rooms and you could be forgiven for thinking that you had wandered into Middle Earth and a scene from the Hobbit.
They also have a picturesque roof garden which looks like something out of a fairytale and this is great place to watch the sunset with a cold drink.
Visit Lat Village
Lat Village, also known by its other moniker Chicken Village, is so named because of the huge chicken statue that stands at the entrance.
There are several legends that relate to the chickens, but the main reason to come here is to get a glimpse of rural life in Vietnam and enjoy this bustling farming community.
You can also buy local handicrafts here like cotton textiles, local wine and traditional silk pieces which make good souvenirs.
Admire Linh Son Pagoda
If you want to visit one of the less well known pagodas in Da Lat then consider a trip to Linh Son Pagoda.
This neighborhood pagoda is located on a hill that looks over Da Lat and lets you enjoy the pretty views over the city.
One of the most amazing things about the temple is that it also has its own tea and coffee plantations so you can also check out the monks harvesting the crops when they are in season.
Walk to the Pongour Falls
The Pongour Falls gush down from a height of 20 meters and jut out of the side of scenic mountains on the edge of Da Lat.
The mountains are 100 meters wide in the height of the rainy season which means that they are also the largest falls in Vietnam.
As you trek up to the falls you will be able to hear the sound of the water crashing onto the rocks below when you are still a long way off, and you can cool off in the mist from the cataract at the end of the hike.
Walk through the French Quarter
The French Quarter in Da Lat is the one of the prettiest parts of the city.
Here you can see how the French colonialists would have holidayed in the days of old and the quarter lies along the Tran Hung Dao Road.
Here you can take in the graceful French colonial villas, many of which date from the 1920s and 30s.
As you wander along the road, you can also check out the schools and churches that are also built in the same style.
Trek to the Prenn Falls
Prenn Falls is one of the premium attractions in Da Lat and soars to a height of 10 meters.
The falls are particularly busy at the weekends and around major holidays so you may want to plan accordingly.
It is around a 10 kilometer walk from Da Lat to the falls and you can also take cable car here, or use a path behind the falls, although bear in mind that you will get very wet if you take this option.
The falls are also close to Au Lac Temple so you can also visit both at the same time.
Visit Truc Lam Pagoda
Truc Lam Pagoda is one of the newest temples in Da Lat but this also means that it is one of the prettiest.
The pagoda sits on the Phuong Hoang Mountain which is close to the scenic Tuyen Lam Lake and there is a large cast bronze bell here as well as carved images of the Buddha.
One of the great things about the temple is that you can travel here by cable car and take in the views from the top.
Spend the day at the Valley of Love
The Valley is Love is not a valley at all but actually a theme park that is often visited by Vietnamese couples.
The park is set amidst lush green hills and backs on to lakes and gardens which are the perfect spot to have a picnic.
There is an amusement park here as well that is staffed by locals dressed up as cowboys and you can even take horse or pony rides or take a swan shaped pedal boat out on one of the lakes.
Eat at the Central Market
If you are looking for some cheap and cheerful local bites during the day then head to the Central Market in Da Lat.
Here you will find a huge number of street food stall selling simple noodle dishes as well as fried snacks and barbecued meats.
This is also a good place to come for breakfast when the market is bustling although you won’t have much luck in the evening as everything closes down so make sure to come early.
Walk to the Thien Vuong Pagoda
One of the nicest pagodas in Da Lat is the Thien Vuong Pagoda which is sometimes called the Chinese Pagoda as it was built by the Chinese local community.
The pagoda is also part of a monastery that features three important Buddhist statues that date back to the 16th century and as the pagoda is located in the hills behind Da Lat, you can come here and drink in the crisp air and relaxed setting.
Da Lat Cathedral
If you want to get a look at some of the local architecture in Da Lat then head for the Da Lat Cathedral which looks more like a gingerbread house than anything else.
The cathedral was built n 1931 and completed in 1942 and would have been the place of worship for the French colonialists on the days of old.
The building is topped with a pretty spire and weathervane in the shape of a cockerel although you may have to stick to admiring it from the outside as it is closed except for services at the weekends.
Explore Lam Dong Museum
If you want to learn a little bit about the history of Da Lat then head to the Lam Dong Museum.
Here you will find a splendid natural history gallery which has a range of taxidermy animals like wildcats as well as photographs of the indigenous people from the area.
You will find galleries dedicated to the Ma, Churu and K’Ho people and can enjoy collections of traditional costumes, musical instruments and ceremonial pieces.
They also have signature antiques such as a xylophone made of stone that is said to be 3,000 years old.
Dine at Dalat Train Cafe
If you are an avid trainspotter then you can’t miss this glorious and quirky cafe in Da Lat.
The cafe is set up in a railway carriage which dates from the French colonial period and you can order food and drinks and enjoy the pictures of famous trains from all over the world which adorn the walls.
Handily, the Dalat Train Cafe is located just up the hill from the Dalat Train Station so you can spend a day checking out all things locomotive in the city.
Explore Bidoup Niu Ba National Park
Bidoup Niu Ba National Park is part of a huge area of forest that sits high on a plateau above Da Lat.
The park is filled with graceful bamboo groves as well as waving grass lands and the altitude here ranges from 650 to 2,288 meters.
You will also find coniferous woodlands and members of the local indigenous community here are on hand to take you along the trails and show you all the flora and fauna.
There is also a visitor center here where you can learn about the history and culture of the K’Ho hill tribes.
The park is around 32 kilometers away from Da Lat so you can visit this as park of day trip from the city.
Despite being a former French colonial hill station high up in the Annamite Mountains, Dalat isn’t a pretty city. Like Saigon, Dalat’s charms are in the details; one of which is the food. Dalat’s altitude and cool climate make it ideal for growing vegetables and this has earned it the epithet ‘vegetable garden of the south’. However, it was only after many visits to this mountain city that I began to discover local eateries and restaurants that are worthy of its reputation for food. Part of the reason it took me so long to find good places to eat here is because, unlike the scorching lowlands where great food is served outside in full view of passers-by, in the chilly mountain climate of Dalat most places – street food included – are indoors, and therefore not always obvious from the street. Dalat is also famous for its coffee, which is grown locally, and there are plenty of enticing cafes where you can try it.
Dalat Can cake (Banh Can) – the delicious Can cake eateries in Dalat
Can cake (Banh Can) can be considered as one of the famous and typical dishes in Dalat City. Coming here, visitors will easily find the Can cake eateries has quite good taste along the roads. However, few people know the places to enjoy a delicious taste of Can cake in Dalat city.
Pho Dalat – Review the best and most famous Pho restaurants in Dalat
Pho is one of the very popular dishes of people in the S-shaped country - Vietnam. Not only that, it is also a favorite dish of many friends around the world and this dish is present in many countries. Pho Dalat is also one of the information that tourists are extremely interested in.
Dalat avocado ice-cream – a must-try delicious dish when coming to Dalat
Dalat avocado ice-cream is interested and searched quite a lot on Google by a lot of tourists who are intending and scheduled to come to the foggy city - Dalat city. A dish that is very famous and also known as if you have not enjoyed it, it is considered that you have not set foot in Dalat
Nem Nuong – Grilled pork rolls, the special food of Dalat cuisine
With many people living in Dalat, Nem Nuong - grilled pork rolls is not a familiar dish. This dish will be recommended to tourists when somebody asks about delicious food in Dalat city. The grilled pork rolls shop is located in the planning area Hoang Van Thu has spacious and clean spaces.
Hot pot of chicken with é leaves in Dalat you should try
Can say Hot pot of chicken with é leaves (Lẩu Gà Lá É) in Dalat is a very special dish of the mountain town. E leaves the same family with basil, if eaten raw, slightly sour taste but when dipped in the pot of hot pot and then picked out to eat immediately when under-done, you will feel the smell tasty, slightly the smell spicy and the taste is similar to the basil.
Artichoke stewed pork soup, the speciality of the flower city
When tourists come to the flower city – Da Lat, not only do they look for fresh, cool climate but they enjoy many specialties of the mountain city as well. Among these specialties, the artichoke stewed pork soup, and the chicken giblets steamed thin rice pancake are two famous specialties of Da Lat, which are recognized by the Vietnam Record Association as 5-year Top 100 cuisine specialties of Vietnam (2011-2016).
Bánh Ướt Gà – steamed thin rice pancake with chicken giblets – a special dish of Dalat
Da Lat – Lam Dong has long been known as a tour paradise, an address not to be ignored by tourists on their trip. In addition to the climate. beautiful landscapes. there are many special dishes of the highlands with particular culture from traditional to modern, of which is the steamed thin rice pancake dish eaten with chick giblets, a popular but famous dish.
Da Lat is famous for its rich colonial atmosphere as well as for having many great natural sites. It might, however, be lacking slightly in its nightlife but if visitors really want to enjoy themselves they can definitely find quite a few interesting establishments at the more up-market venues. Among them are Larry's Bar and Le Rabelais Bar, both are located in the
Da Lat Palace Hotel.
For a choice of drinks here, there are imported beers, whiskies, cocktails and wine. Many new arrivals in Vietnam are surprised to discover locally produced wine. Thanks to the French, who introduced this beverage to the country, there is a young but growing wine industry in and around Da Lat with Vang Da Lat (aka Wine Da Lat) and Da Lat Beco the two main producers. Customers can find interesting local-made drinks on Dalat’s restaurant menus including Bordeaux-style wines, sparkling white wines, peach coolers and wine coolers. Give them a try!
100 Roofs Café
100 Roofs is located in an unusual place for such a popular café and it also has quite an amazing design. Situated amongst small shop-houses and just about 100 metres from the town market, regulars usually go to the rooftop where they can appreciate the views. A must try for all new comers is the locally brewed beer.
Café de la Poste
Café de la Poste lies across the road from Dalat’s main post office and is adjacent to (and owned by) the Sofitel. If you want to try out fairly expensive French cuisine without breaking the bank, this is the place to go. The building and its setup are very typical French, meaning it is charming and has a lovely ambience with a good selection of French wine. Café de la Poste is popular for its breakfast and lunch set menus. If you happen to be in Dalat on a Sunday, check out its famous Sunday brunch.
Da Lat Night Market
Da Lat Night Market offers what seems like an endless number of food stalls, which spill into the streets around Nguyen Thi Minh Khai. Offering many local favourites at affordable prices, some of the most popular ones include traditional rice noodles, banh mi, Vietnamese pizza (grilled rice paper with a variety of topping), and finish it off with fresh soy milk.
This legendary bar is part of the vintage Hotel Dalat Palace Hotel and was named after Larry Hillblom, the American billionaire businessman who was a key person in turning Dalat into the up-market resort that it is. Hillblom is also known as a co-founder of DHL Worldwide Express. The cosy bar features pool tables, games, widescreen TVs and private corners, with a menu covering western pub food including pizza, burgers and more.
Le Rabelais Bar
A smaller setup, Le Rabelais is located on the lobby floor of Dalat Palace Hotel. It has a maximum capacity of 20pax allowing customers intimacy with comfortable seating and a fireplace. Sometimes there is live music with a violinist and pianist.
Saigon Nite Bar
Saigon Nite is a friendly and cosy little bar located downtown and has been around longer than many of its competitors. It has pool tables, games, and serves inexpensive drinks and cocktails.
The Escape Bar Dalat
The Escape Bar Da Lat is one of the best places to enjoy fancy cocktails and live music during your stay in Da Lat. From country and blues, to rock & roll and reggae, this 1970s-style bar is located at the basement of Muong Thanh Dalat Hotel, about a five-minute walk from Xuan Hong Lake.
It is true that live music is very limited in Dalat but what V Café has to offer is just right for this small resort town. This popular all-day dining café is run by an American-Vietnamese couple. Their regular live music makes them a popular hangout for many expats and quite a few visitors. The kitchen offers homemade Vietnamese dishes and good choices of Western food such as steaks, pizza, burgers, roast pork, tacos, soups and lemon meringue. Vegetarian dishes are also available. V Café has free WiFi as well as a pool table.