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Dalat

A Travel Guide to Dalat

Nestled among the mountains of the central highlands of Vietnam, Dalat is a popular destination to escape the heat of southern Vietnam and get out into nature. The city is surrounded by pine forests, dotted with waterfalls, and a quick drive into the countryside will see you surrounded by fruit farms and tea plantations. Dalat feels a million miles away from the rest of Vietnam, offering a romantic vintage atmosphere of farmers markets, cosy coffee shops and narrow mountainside lanes to explore. This travel guide to Dalat will help you to plan your own trip to explore the nature of Dalat.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, all marked with * Booking through these links generates a small commission for me at no extra cost to you.

Dalat at a glance

Nicknamed as the “city of eternal spring” the weather in Dalat is adored by locals as a cool break from the otherwise tropical climate of Southern Vietnam. Dalat is the largest city in the central highlands, situated in the mountains about 300km north of Saigon. The region is known for its pine forests, rich coffee culture and fresh produce like strawberries and flowers. Aside from tourism, the main industry here is agriculture with the region providing fresh produce like avocadoes and berries that cannot be grown in the otherwise tropical countryside of Vietnam.

How long to stay – I recommend 2-3 days in Dalat.

Best time of year – Nov to Mar is dry season, which coincides with the flower season in Dalat bringing the hills to alive with colorful blooms. Rainy season in Dalat is fom Apr to Oct with evening temperatures dropping to as low as 10°C.

Things to see in Dalat

To really get under the skin of Dalat you need to get out into nature. From waterfall hunting and canyoning to simply driving around the mountains. For more things to see and do in Dalat, I recommend checking out my Dalat Wanderlist.

Visit the many waterfalls

The three most popular waterfalls in Dalat are Pongour, Elephant and Datanla Falls. Datanla fall is the closest to the city and features an alpine coaster as well as a high rope course making it perfect for adrenaline seekers. Pongour waterfall and Elephant waterfall are somewhat of a drive from the city but are great to see if you can jump on a motorbike.

🛵  You will need a motorbike the hop between the waterfalls of Dalat.

Go sunrise cloud hunting

One of the most popular things to do among Vietnamese travellers in Dalat is to get up early and venture into the mountains, where you get to watch the sunrise melt the clouds away to reveal the valleys below. Be ready for lots of dirt tracks in the dark and wear lots of cosy clothes to beat the morning chill.

💰 free
⏰ Leave the city around 5am to arrive for sunrise
Da Phu hill📍 Chùa Linh Ứng, Hoàng Sa, Thọ Quang, Sơn Trà

travel guide to dalat vietnam

Take a canyoneering tour

The waterfalls and rivers surrounding Dalat make it a great place to go canyoneering, abseiling and rafting. On our last trip to Dalat we booked the Datanla Canyoneering tour. During the day we abseiled, ziplined and slid our way down the different parts of Datanla fall. It was the ultimate adventure day. Book your own tour with Dalat Canyoning Tour.

💰  1.6 mil / $75 (includes all equipment, training and lunch)
⏰ 8 – 4pm

Get lost at the Maze bar

Also going by the name “100 roofs cafe”, this bar is what it says on the tin; a maze of interconnected rooms and paths that lead out the various rooftop views. Grab a beer at the entrance and pray that you’re friends aren’t out to spook you in the maze bar.

⏰  8am – Midnight
Maze Bar📍 57 Phan Bội Châu, Phường 1

How to get to Dalat

Dalat is the capital of the central highlands and the gateway to the region, and as such is well serviced with transport links.

The bus is the cheapest and easiest way to travel to Dalat. The nearest destinations to travel from are Saigon, Nha Trang and Mui Ne. If travelling from further afield, then flying is recommend. I’ve found the easiest way to book transport in advance is through Baolau*, a search engine that compares all travel options to find the best one for you.

From Saigon

⏰ ~5hrs
💰150-250k

From Mui Ne

⏰ 1hr
💰100k

From Nha Trang

⏰ 1hr
💰100k

From Bao Loc

There are no online bus options for travel between Bao Loc and Dalat, however, I am sure local public buses are linking these nearby cities, I just cannot find the information online. If you are in Bao Loc I suggest asking your accommodation to share the details with you.

⏰ ~1.5hrs

From Saigon to Dalat

The drive between Saigon to Dalat is long, making it a not very popular option for travelling between the two. I’ve done the drive a few times now and highly recommend breaking up the trip with a stop in Bao Loc or Cat Tien National Park. The roads wind through mountains but are well kept.

⏰  6.5hrs (closer to 8)

Nha Trang to Dalat

This drive was one of the highlights of my Vietnam road trip, so much so that I went back with friends a few years later. The drive between Dalat and Nha Trang takes you along the Khanh Le Pass and down through the valley with dramatic views in the Nha Trang bound direction. If you are an experienced driver then it is also possible to do this trip on a one-way motorbike rental, where you pick up the motorbike in either Dalat or Nha Trang and drop it off in the other. Even if you don’t know how to drive yourself, it is possible to do this route as an Easy Rider tour where you sit on the back of an experienced rider (this is a fun way to transit between the two cities).

One way rental 💰 800k ($34)
Easy Rider 💰1 mil ($45)

✍️  For more information on motorbiking in Vietnam, check out my Complete Guide to Motorbiking in Vietnam.

The nearest airport is Lien Khuong Airport and is located approximately 30km outside the city. The airport is predominantly domestic, but there are some international flights from neighbouring countries likes Malaysia and Thailand.

Shuttle bus

You will need transport to take you from the airport into the city. You can book an airport shuttle bus to get into the city centre, or you can take a taxi.

💰 40k
⏰ 45mins

Getting around Dalat

The city of Dalat is well serviced by Grab Taxi and local taxis which makes navigating the city easy.

However, if you are looking to experience the nature of Dalat then you will want to get onto a motorbike and get out of the city. If you don’t drive yourself then you can consider taking an Easy Rider Tour where an experienced driver will take you to some of the sites in the countryside. Your accommodation* should be able to help set you up with a rental, but if not you can rent one independently.

Motorbike Dalat 📍 8 Doan Thi Diem, Phường 1

Dalat is a mountain town and is surrounded by winding mountain roads. The roads outside of the city are mostly well kept, however, I don’t recommend motorbiking here for novices and advise caution for all.

What to eat in Dalat

Dalat is definitely more of a coffee hotspot than a foodie haven, but there are a few dishes that you should try while visiting the region. Some of the most popular at banh trang nuong and banh mi xui mai.

Banh Trang Nuong

Nicknamed the Dalat pizza, bánh tráng nướng is a must-try when in Dalat. This street snack is made from a toasted rice-paper base and topped with egg, meat, veggies and cheese. You can find it at the central market (Cho Dalat) and on street corners around the city.

Banh Mi Xiu Mai

Another speciality is meatball soup served with a fresh baguette on the side, called in Vietnamese bánh mì xíu mại. This dish is most popular in the morning and will certainly warm you up in the cool weather. There are a number of known street spots to try it across the city.

travel guide to Dalat Vietnam

Where to eat in Dalat

Aside from local street eats, there are a lot of great restaurants in Dalat with a mixture of Vietnamese and foreign food on offer. Here are some of my favourites to check out.

Biang Bistro 📍 94 Đường Lý Tự Trọng, Phường 2
Le Chalet Dalat 📍 6 Đường Huỳnh Thúc Kháng, Phường 4

Where to Drink in Dalat

Dalat is renowned for its coffee culture and is home to hundreds of cosy coffee shops to sip a local brew. These are some of my favourites.

An Cafe 📍 63Bis Ba Tháng Hai, Phường 1
Tiệm cà phê #Cheoveooo 📍 116 Hùng Vương, Phường 11

Where to stay in Dalat

The city doesn’t have a backpacker area like you’ll find in Saigon or Hanoi, but it does have an abundance of cute accommodation options from hotels to homestays to hostels. These are my recommendations on where to stay in Dalat.

Please note that all of these options are slightly removed from the city centre. As I’ve never visited Dalat without a motorbike this has never been an issue for me, but it is something to consider if you don’t drive.

Tigon Hostel (cosy hostel with a great view from the breakfast bar – they’re not on booking.com but you can book on Facebook).
Dalat Memories Homestay* (super cute rustic homestay with great views)
Chang’s Village* (personally haven’t stayed here but looks like a cosy cabin vibe)

Daily Budget

Dalat can be a very budget-friendly destination, but of course, cost more when you include tours like canyoning and eating/drinking at nice cafes and restaurants.

🚗 <$20

It is cheapest to take the bus from Saigon or Nha Trang, averaging around 250k per leg. Book transport here*.

📸 <$20*

Dalat could be really cheap to explore as many of the sites are cheap to enter but if you have the budget, I highly recommend trying the high ropes or canyoning at Datanla as will certainly be a highlight of your trip.

Canyoneering 💰 1.6mil ($70)
High ropes course 💰 1mil ($43)

🛏 ~$6-10

Accommodation is available for every budget, with dorm beds for as little as $3 and privates from $10. Browse all accommodation options here*.

🍜 ~$20

Street food can be found easily for less than 50k ($2) and restaurants for around ~250k ($10). I would budget in more for coffee shops, especially if you like to try local coffee as Dalat is famous for it.

Daily budget: $70 per day*

*Doesn’t account for any tours.

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Meet Frances; Scottish lass turned Vietnam expat, and creator of this space. She can be found sippin’ ice tea’s and writing about her adventures from her sunny base of Saigon, Vietnam’s southern metropolis. All with a healthy side of researching her next road trip. With 5 years of living, travelling and scooting around Asia under her belt – let Frances be your guide to travelling the region.

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