My first visit to Bao Loc was a bit of an afterthought, but my time in this relaxed city ended up being a highlight of my motorbike trip through Vietnam. This guide covers everything that you need to know to explore Bao Loc, including the highlights, the best time to visit, how to get there, where to stay and more!
Bao Loc Travel Guide
Bao Loc is very much off the tourist trail, and I had actually never planned to stop here. My original plan had been to head north up the coast, but after speaking to the staff at my hostel in Vung Tau I was a bit anxious about driving along the coastal roads to Mui Ne. If you don’t already know, this stretch of road is notorious for having cop-stops and there is a high risk of being extorted for cash or risking having your bike confiscated. As I don’t have a Vietnamese license and I was driving solo I didn’t want the stress of being pulled over. Instead, I tagged along with a group of guys from my hostel who were heading to Dalat. This leg of the trip is 7-8 hours long so we split the journey and ended up stopping off in Bao Loc. This unplanned stop turned into an unexpected favourite for all of us!
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Bao Loc at a glance
Bao Loc is almost like a little brother to the more commonly visited city of Dalat, also in Vietnam’s central highlands. Bao Loc city is small by Vietnamese standards and surrounded by lush green fruit farms and a sea of tea and coffee plantations. It’s the perfect place to escape the crowds and heat of the Saigon, and experience a slower pace of life in Vietnam. While there aren’t a huge amount of tourist sites to “tick off” the city has a super relaxed atmosphere to soak up.
Best time to visit Bao Loc
Bao Loc is a mountain city and sits at a higher altitude, so the climate is slightly cooler than the rest of the south of Vietnam. Summer months are the wettest, but the temperature remains in the mid to high 20s all year. Winter months, from December to March have the clearest weather with the least rain. My first trip to Bao Loc was in June and I’ve since visited in April and while the weather was pleasant both times, I still needed a sweater (especially for driving) and a rain-jacket for afternoon showers.
How to get to Bao Loc
I don’t think I can say it enough; Bao Loc is really off the tourist trail, and there is no train station in town, and no airport nearby. Most of the buses are heading to Dalat and stop in Bao Loc en route, but there are a few direct options you can find on Vexere for around 200k per leg.
There are two main routes to drive yourself to Bao Loc from Saigon; the scenic route (mountain passes and countryside) and the direct route (highway). Both start and end the same way, with a different segment in the middle. I’ve driven both and would opt for the scenic route every time if you can afford to add the extra time (about 45 mins extra). The drive takes around 4 and a half hours.
Coming from Dalat to Bao Loc there is one main road through the mountains. This is a beautiful section of road with lots of view points overlooking the hills as you come into Dalat. This drive is just over 2 hours.
How to get around
Getting around the city of Bao Loc is relatively easy as it is not large, so you can wander around with ease. Unfortunately Grab doesn’t operate in Bao Loc (yet), so going further than walking will require either a local taxi or a motorbike. Again, Boa Loc is very off the western tourist trail and I didn’t see any motorbike rental stores but I guarantee you’re accommodation* will be able to set you up with a rental if you ask them.
How long to stay in Bao Loc
I stayed in Bao Loc for 3 full days and would suggest 1 or 2 days if you’re planning a trip. There isn’t a huge amount to do so this is the perfect length of stay in Bao Loc to experience the relaxed pace of life and explore the surrounding nature. I became friends with some local kids who took us camping, hence why I ended up staying longer.
Top 5 Highlights of Bao Loc
1. Dambri Waterfall
Visiting Dambri was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my trip to Bao Loc. This is one of the largest waterfalls in Vietnam, with the main plunge dropping an insane 90 meters! The waterfall is only 20kms outside of Bao Loc so you will need a motorbike to visit and the drive takes you through beautiful country roads.
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Related Post: How to Visit Dambri Waterfall
2. Go for a drink at DC $treet Cocktail bar
This little shop by day, bar by night was such a cool spot to hangout in Bao Loc, and seems to be the place that the cool “street-style” kids hang out at. They sell a variety of edgy clothing and have dj nights, not to mention they have an old school playstation set-up.
Where: 9 Trần Quốc Toản, Bao Loc
3. Drive around the countryside, filled with coffee plantations and fruit farms
The countryside around Bao Loc is beautiful and well worth a morning getting lost exploring the back roads. After living in Saigon for years this is the kind of city escape I crave; rolling, green hills with friendly locals.
4. Eat the best banh mi from Truong Soi
I feel like this is something everyone is searching for when they travel Vietnam; the best banh mi. Well, guys I’ve been all over this country and I can assure you this is BEST one yet. The perfect combo of soft bread on the inside but crispy on the outside, and lots of choices of filling with a healthy ratio of bread to filling. If you know, you know.
Where: Ngã 4 Lê Thị Pha – Đề Thám, Bảo Lộc
5. Experience a relaxed Vietnamese town
The atmosphere in Bao Loc is very different to what I’ve experienced in other Vietnamese cities. Everything seems to have slowed down here, there is less honking, less traffic (though it’s still crazy I’m afraid) and people just seem more relaxed. I recommend grabbing a coffee in one of the coffeeshops that lines the lake and soaking up the fresh air along with other locals. I sat at Orico Coffee to do this on my last trip.
What to eat in Bao Loc
Bao Loc is great for local food but there aren’t a lot of options if you’re looking for restaurants. There is definitely a strong coffee culture in Bao Loc and I tried a few really cool coffee shops when I was there, such as Cafe Cõi Riêng. If you’re looking for more recommendations then you should check out my friends brands, Energy Media. He is from Bao Loc and posts about many local spots and businesses.
And of course you should eat at least one of the epic banh mi’s from Truong Soi.
Where to stay in Bao Loc
Bao Loc isn’t the most happening place as far as western tourism is concerned and there aren’t a huge amount of hostels to pick between. But, the perk is that all the accommodation options are very affordable! My time in Bao Loc was spend with 3 of my motorbiking friends, making us a party of 4. With that we decided to get a family room, and picked a hotel called Ngoc Phuong Hotel* mainly for to its cheap cost, and location near the lake (which serves as a central point in the city with lots of cafes and food nearby).
How much money to bring
Bao Loc was easily the cheapest stop on my motorbike trip through Vietnam, which is mostly because it is off the well trod tourist path. You can find a private room for about $7 a night, drink fresh coffee in a cafe for $1-2, and as most of the things to do involve nature they are cheap or free!
Tips for visiting Bao Loc
- If you don’t speak Vietnamese then I highly recommend downloading Google Translate and downloading Vietnamese offline (though I recommend doing this for travelling in Vietnam in general this area has very little English spoken).
- The temperature in the central highlands is cooler than coastal destinations in the south due to the higher altitude so make sure to pack warmer clothes like pants and sweaters, as well as a rain jacket.
Bao Loc is one of Vietnam’s more underrated destinations, making it perfect for some off the beaten track exploration!
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For more on central Vietnam:
- A Travel Guide to Cat Tien National Park
- How to Find Dambri Waterfall
- Camping in Bao Loc with Local Friends