Dalat or Da Lat is a region in the Central Highlands of Vietnam with lush mountainous surroundings, a mild climate, and lots of nature-related activities. Raw and unique, it’s an excellent inclusion on any Vietnam itinerary. On this basis, here are the best places to visit in Dalat.
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Welcome to Dalat: Vietnam’s Green Mountain Paradise
Dalat (also spelled “Da Lat”) is the capital of the Lam Dong province and the hub of the Central Highlands region of Vietnam. Before the 1880s, it was a collection of small towns.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the French colonial authorities developed the region into a tourism center thanks to its micro-climate and stunning mountainous surroundings.
Dalat sits at around 1,500m (4,900ft) and offers visitors a much milder climate than most of southern Vietnam. Couple that with the mountains, waterfalls, and countless hiking opportunities, and you’ll see why Dalat is such a unique location.
The region is a popular destination for Vietnamese tourists and is starting to become an international tourism hotspot as well.
Two days is the minimum you should plan in Dalat if you want to see both the city and the surroundings. Here is a comprehensive guide to the top attractions and things to do in Dalat, Vietnam.
The Best Places to Visit in Dalat
The best things to do in Dalat are scattered all over the region. The best way to visit Dalat is to start in the city center, get a motorbike, and then explore the lush surroundings.
Dalat City Center and Lam Vien Square
When it comes to the best places to visit in Dalat, the city center can be your starting point. The center stretches out from Xuan Hong Lake, one of the many bodies of water in the region.
Here, you’ll find Lam Vien Square, home to quirky structures like the Dalat Opera House, resembling a sunflower.
The center is also home to various churches built during French colonial times. In this context, Domaine de Marie (1940) and Da Lat Diocese Cathedral (1942) are among the best places to visit in Dalat City.
Dalat Central Market
Like any Vietnamese town, the central market (Cho Da Lat) is the beating heart of the city.. You can get anything from fake fashion to traditional dresses, street food, and pottery here. The market also has a rooftop cafe with stunning views over the city center.
Tuyen Lam Lake
Tuyen Lam Lake sits south of Dalat City and is home to many top Dalat attractions. On this lake, you’ll find the Clay Tunnel, several monasteries and pagodas, and also the Lavender Fields.
The Lavender Tourist Area is a stunning location in the middle of nowhere on Tuyen Lam Lake. The area is perfect for photography and a peaceful oasis nestled between lavender fields.
Datanla Waterfalls and Rollercoasters
One of the best places to visit in Dalat is undoubtedly the Datanla Nature Park. It’s home to several waterfalls, rollercoasters, ziplining, hikes, and many other nature-related activities. The area gets busy in the afternoon, so be sure to visit in the morning before the crowds.
Linh Phuoc Pagoda
Completed in 1952 and restored in the 1990s, the Linh Phuoc complex is home to severaBuddhistst temples, pagodas, and religious buildings. Located around eight kilometers from Dalat City and shows a different side of the region.
Truc Lam Buddhist Monastery
Another religious spot to consider is the Truc Lam Buddhist Monastery. Established in 1993, it’s one of the largest temples in the region and the perfect spot for meditation or an introduction to the region’s Buddhist heritage.
There are many viewpoints in the region, and watching the sunset over the mountains that sit above the clouds is one of the best things to do in Dalat.
Hoang Hon 3000 is a recommendable restaurant with breathtaking views over the city and the surroundings as well as delicious BBQ.
Alternatively, you can go on an organized Dalat sunrise tour that will take you to some of the best viewpoints. I recommend this tour which includes some of the best sunrise spots as well as a farm tour.
Dalat Railway Station
The city’s historic railway station is part of any Dalat sightseeing tour. Designed by the French and completed in 1938, it stopped serving passengers several decades ago but is one of the best-preserved colonial structures in Dalat.
The Clay Tunnel is a small theme park on Tuyem Lam Lake featuring lots of sculptures made out of clay. It’s not a must, but if you have time, it’s worth including it on your Dalat itinerary.
The Elephant Waterfalls are undoubtedly among the best places to visit in Dalat thanks to their sheer size. They are located more than twenty kilometers from the city center, so it will take time to get there.
In this context, I recommend joining an organized tour that will make the journey easier. This tour also includes coffee tasting, a silk village, the famous “Crazy House,” and a set of mysterious caves.
Where to Stay in Dalat
When traveling to Dalat, you basically have three choices. You can stay in the city center, in the hills surrounding Dalat City, or on Tuyen Lam Lake. All three choices have pros and cons.
Staying in the center will give you access to markets, restaurants, and nightlife. Staying in the hills will give you more peace and quiet – and better views.
Finally, staying on the lake will give you the ultimate Dalat nature experience. As such, where to stay in Dalat will depend on your personal preferences.
I stayed at a place called Hodota Blessed Virgin in the city center, and it was a clean and comfortable no-nonsense hotel. You’ll also find luxurious options in the city center, like the Colline Hotel.
Find your accommodation in Dalat here.
Best Places to Visit in Dalat: Know Before You Go
To complete our guide to the best things to do in Dalat, here are some FAQs.
How to Get to Dalat
As an alternative, the city has a new bus terminal with connections to all regions of Vietnam.
You can also get a limousine bus (more comfortable minivans) that can drop you off anywhere in Saigon or cities like Hue, Nha Trang, and Da Nang. The best way to book these minibusses is to use Asia-focused travel sites like Traveloka.
Best Time to Visit Dalat
The high season runs between December and March when you can enjoy the mild temperatures and dry climate.
There is, however, a caveat here. Dalat is not “cold,” as Vietnamese people describe it. It’s a region with a mild year-round climate, but in summer, temperatures easily reach 28C/82F during the day and 18C/64F at night. Temperatures don’t vary much, so you can expect those standards year-round.
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How to Get Around Dalat
The best way to get around Dalat is by bike. You can rent bikes at any hotel or hostel for around 150k VND (~6.5 USD) per day. Grab is also available in Dalat.
Is Dalat a Suitable Location for Digital Nomads?
Overall, Dalat is a great location for remote workers who are looking for a peaceful city in southern Vietnam and don’t mind being further away from major hubs.
It is, however, not as developed as other places in the country, and English speakers are quasi-non-existent. There are enough coffee shops and other remote working locations. In a nutshell, you can make it work as a digital nomad base, but you need to have the right expectations.
- Read my complete Complete Vietnam digital nomad guide for more info.
Bottom Line: Is Dalat Worth Visiting?
The answer has to be a resounding yes. It’s one of the most unique places in Vietnam and super budget-friendly.
The green, lush surroundings are the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Vietnamese cities, and the mild climate is a refreshing alternative to other spots in the country. As such, it’s a worthwhile inclusion on any Vietnam itinerary.