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The Top Five Things to Do in Dalat with @The Next Somewhere

Looking for things to do in Dalat? This former French hill station nestled in the central highland region is about a six-hour ride from Saigon.

A popular destination among locals and foreigners alike, Dalat experiences a median temperature of 60 to 75°F (15-25°C) year-round, which has earned it the nickname “The City of Eternal Spring.” The combination of cool weather, scenic lake vistas, and a landscape blanketed in evergreens creates a charming character unlike any other city in Vietnam. The city proper loops around a picturesque manmade lake but on the outskirts of the city lie kaleidoscopic pagodas and raging waterfalls begging to be explored. Rent a motorbike and zip through the winding roads flanked by coffee and tea plantations as far as the eye can see.  Here are my top five things to do in Dalat, Vietnam’s most artistic city.

1. Adrenaline Junkies: Go Canyoning!

This activity is not for the faint of heart but is an absolute must for adventurists looking to enjoy Dalat’s numerous waterfalls unencumbered. Canyoning, the act of abseiling down a waterfall, is a vigorous task that involves rapelling backwards starting from the mouth of a waterfall . In recent years, the sport has proved fatal in the Dalat region so choosing a reputable company cannot be stressed enough. We went with Groovy Gecko Tours recommended by friends and were not only surprised by the affordability, but by the level of professionalism and safety measures executed by the guides. I would do this again in a heartbeat!

Where? 65 Truong Cong Dinh, Ward 1, Dalat, Lam Dong Province

canyoning top five things to do in dalat

The 30-meter descent was something I’ll never forget!

2. Zigzag Around The Crazy House

Voted one of the top ten strangest buildings in the world, Vietnamese architect Dang Viet Nga’s structural wunderkind The Crazy House, is easily the best $2 USD (~40,000 VND) you’ll spend in Dalat. First built in 1990, the nebulous building feels part Gaudi, part Disney, with branch-like winding staircases that skirt through fairyesque conical hollows shaped from concrete. Even non-art enthusiasts can appreciate Dang Vietn Nga’s attempt to fuse the natural and the manmade, a slogan called “crazy in creation.” The ever-evolving has a final completion date slated for 2020. The attraction also doubles as a working guesthouse.

Where? 3 Huynh Thuc Khang St, Ward 4, Dalat, Lam Dong Province

The Crazy House Five Things to Do in Dalat Vietnam

Peeping out of the concrete cone hollow that has yet to be completed

The Crazy House Five Things to Do in Dalat Vietnam

Captain of the castle

3. Be Mesmerized by Linh Phuoc Pagoda

Located about an 8-km drive from the city center in the neighboring Trai Mat Village is Linh Phuoc Pagoda, a temple adorned in the bits and bobs of recycled ware. Built in 1952, the colorful pagoda is much more whimsical than the rest of the pagodas in Vietnam with polychromatic debris decorating every inch of the pagoda. The highlights: A massive statue of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara, decorated in 700,000 dried blossoms of Dalat’s so-called “immortal flowers”, the 49-meter winding dragon in the pond whose scales are made from 12,000 glass bottles, and the Dai Hong Chung bell decorated in cast iron reliefs of the four seasons. Visitors are invited to write their wishes on a small piece of paper, turn the bell to the current season, and stick the paper on the bell. After ringing the bell three times, the prayers are then sent to Buddha.

Where? 120 Tu Phuoc Street, Ward 11, Trai Mat Village, Lam Dong Province
How To Get There: Rent a motorbike (roughly 8 minutes) or take the train from Dalat Railway Station (about 1.5 hours total)

Linh Phuoc Pagoda Five Things toThe Crazy House Five Things to Do in Dalat Vietnam Do in Dalat Vietnam

Tim looking out onto the front of the pagoda

Linh Phuoc Pagoda Five Things to Do in Dalat Vietnam

Dragons made from debris looping around the pillars

4. Chill in your own Private Cable Car

Cable cars are not the most thrilling of experiences but Dalat’s cable car ride was an exception. The cable car takes you on a 10-minute aerial ride over the countryside, gliding over coffee plantations and pastel complexes, to the Truc Lam Pagoda. The candy colored cable cars are pod-shaped and are able to fit a max of four people, a privacy regularly unheard of when it comes to gondala rides. Tim and I had a pod all to ourselves while visiting during down season. A one-way trip costs 40,000 VND and the roundtrip costs 80,000 VND.

 

Cable Car Five Things to Do in Dalat Vietnam

Our little cable car pod

5. Wander Through the 100 Roofs Café

Can’t get enough of Dan Viet Nga’s work? You’re in luck. 100 Roofs Café is another project by the famed architect that echoes the aesthetics of The Crazy House, just with a little more booze involved. From the outside, the café (which is actually a bar) looks like nothing special but after your purchase of one alcoholic beverage, which acts as your entrance fee, you’re invited to explore the network of tunnels down below. The 100 Roofs Café has an extensive maze of corridors decorated in bizzaro, demented artwork that goes two floors below and ascends four floors upwards. Play a game of hide and seek with some friends. Coming at night adds to the air of mystery but if you visit during the daytime, you can enjoy an outdoor courtyard sequestered in the middle of the labyrinth.

Where? 26 Phan Boi Chau, Ward 1, Dalat, Lam Dong Province


HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • Stock your pantries with premium teas and coffees from the highland plantations of Dalat. The independent seller Dalat 1893 on 1H Nam Ky Khoi Nghia bottles up fruit teas, their bestsellers being passionfruit and strawberry, while L’angfarm has a wonderful inventory of gourmet coffee roasts.
  • An Café on 65 Ba Thang Hai feels more like a greenhouse than a coffee shop with swing sets for chairs, an assortment of succulents arranged around the wooden picnic tables, and a bed of gravel lining the footpaths around the cafes indoor and outdoor dining spaces.
  • The central market, Cho Dalat, sells everything from knitwear to dried flowers, to banh trang nuong, aka Vietnamese pizza, the streetfood snack taking Vietnam by storm.
  • Artist’s Alley on and Bicycle Up on, two well-known tourist hotspots, are next door neighbors. Go to Artist’s Alley on 86 Truong Cong Dinh if you’re looking for some Western food. The one-room Bicycle Up coffee shop at the top of the alley leaves a lasting impression with its charming décor.
  • Lien Hoa Bakery on 15-17 Ba Tháng Hai Phường 1 is the ubiquitous fast food stop in Dalat. The first floor is a bakery selling all sorts of baked goods with the ingredients clearly listed in English, while the second floor is a fully-operating restaurant serving mostly Vietnamese food on the cheap.
  • Nem Nuong Duc Long on B14 Hoàng Văn Thụ Street specializes in a location favorite, ‘nem nuong,’ a “roll-it-yourself” dining experience using rice paper, pickled vegetables, **tofu cracklings,*** and slices of pork
  • Léon Bar on 278 Đường Hai Bà Trưng is a cinematic arthouse themed cocktail bar appealing to cinemaphiles.
  • Enjoy some fresh air and the scenery of Dalat’s rolling mountains perched on the open-air patio at Tiệm cà phê Cheo veooo. This newly opened coffee shop’s unobstructed view can be found on 116 Hùng Vương, down Hẻm Dã Chiến.

 

An Cafe Five Things to Do in Dalat Vietnam

Sitting on some swing sets

WHERE TO STAY

The sleeping scene in Dalat is mainly comprised of independent kitschy guesthouses and hostels that capitalize on hominess.

Pi Hostel (61 Thủ Khoa Huân Street) is an elegant hostel on an elevated roadside overlooking the city. The six floors at Pi Hostel features both private and dorm rooms, although the dorm rooms are a considerably better value with a bathroom en-suite and a warmer comforter. With its rustic look, in-house cafe/bar, and quiet corners to tuck into for some private time, I’d highly recommend this place to any backpacker. It is only a five minute walk to the Dalat Market and Lien Hoa Bakery. A dorm room starts at $6 per night and a private room starts at $25 per night.

Next door to Pi Hostel, you’ll see Memory Hostel and Dalat Lacasa Homestay just in case Pi Hostel has no vacancy.

Pi Hostel Five Things to Do in Dalat Vietnam

The living room style common area at Pi Hostel

More Vietnam “Whereabouts” guides here:

🚩 Things To Do in Ho Chi Minh City

🚩 Things To Do in Hoi An

🚩 Things To Do in Hanoi

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Millette Pulido is a Bay Area-based, Boston-bred Filipina who loves to vagabond. At 29, the former expat has traded in her nomadic ways for a semi-grounded life in San Jose, CA. Recently married, she's focusing on balancing travel with a full-time job and a destination wedding side hustle, all while planning her honeymoon in 2020. She lives for good times, good food, and good peeps. Find out her #wheretonext on Instagram @thenextsomewhere.

Comments:

  • May 1, 2017

    What wicked suggestions? I’d be THRILLED to see something that’s Disney + Gaudi. Can’t believe I missed out in Spain – I didn’t even hit Barcelona! I wonder if I’ll have a chance to make it to Vietnam before heading back to North America…

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  • May 1, 2017

    Just what I needed! I am on my way to a 3-month Vietnam extravaganza. So I can’t get enough of tips & tricks about the country.

    And I love the graphic! Very stylish 🙂

    Happy continued expatting/travels!
    C

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  • May 1, 2017

    What a fun post! I am so bummed out I missed Dalat when we were in Vietnam. reason # 934943 why we have to come back! I want to check out crazy house! What a funky place! Also, it would be perfect to time our visit with the flower festival!

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  • May 2, 2017

    These are all great suggestions! You make me want to get out of Ho Chi Minh Not as many rough and ready outdoorsy activities here in the heart of the big city. That 100 roofs place looks great! Maybe on my next trip!

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  • May 2, 2017

    Dalat looks like a lot of fun! Especially the canyoning – it looks scary but I think I would still have to give it a go anyway. Thanks for inspiring me to add this to my bucket list!

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  • May 2, 2017

    The temperatures alone will bring me to this place because Spring is absolutely my favorite season. I would love to visit the crazy house. I’ll have to put it on my bucket list for 2020 🙂

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  • May 3, 2017

    The cable car looks so cool! And I’m feeling pretty ready to try some of that pizza. The prices of the rooms you mentioned really have me questioning my decision to stay in North America for the next few months!

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  • May 3, 2017

    I wished I knew about this place when I was visiting Vietnam. Dalat, looks like so much fun and an interesting place to visit. I love the looks of that crazy house, I would love wondering around here and the fact does not cost much to visit is always a good deal. Great post on a hidden gem and definitely adding to my list if I ever returned.

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  • May 3, 2017

    Wow, these five things to do in in Dalat Vietnam is sound really exciting. I would like to try the Canyoning cause it sounds like really challenging. I haven’t been to Vietnam yet and this will surely be a help for me. Riding in a private cable car is also exciting and fun, you guys look amazing in the picture. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

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  • May 3, 2017

    All of this looks so much fun. I haven’t heard of this place, but I have to pin this to remember it till I go to Vietnam 😀 Linh Phuoc Pagoda looks so colourful 😀 I would definitely love 100 Roofs Café. The pink cable car looks so cool, and absolutely love the photo 😀 Thanks for all of this valuable information 😀

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  • May 3, 2017

    Dalat is lovely. There seem to be so much to do and experience, I am sure there is not going to be a dull moment. Personally, my favourites here would be the 100 Roof cafe and the Pagoda. I would love to visit the Pagoda too, it looks so ethereally beautiful.

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  • May 4, 2017

    I’d like to do all of these awesome activities. My fave is the private cable car. It looks exciting! I love the bright color too.

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  • May 4, 2017

    Ling Phuoc Pagoda looks absolutely amazing! I have never heard of this city.Thank you very much for sharing

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  • May 5, 2017

    I’ll definitely be bookmarking this for my next trip to Vietnam. Haven’t been there in many years, and reading this gave me some great ideas. Thanks for the excellent suggestions!

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  • May 6, 2017

    Canyoning?! Never heard of it and never tried, especially if it can be fatal…scary. But you look so happy and thrilled to be doing it in your photograph that it totally makes me think: “If she can, I can too, maybe, I think, I don’t know” haha Great guide for Dalat, another city I haven’t visited from your list of Top 5. Pinning!

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  • May 6, 2017

    I’ve never even heard of Dalat, but now it’s definitely on my radar. It looks incredible, and what awesome tips. Not sure that I’d brave the canyoning (fear of heights), but the Crazy House and 100 Roofs Cafe look totally unique and trippy.

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  • May 6, 2017

    Sounds like the perfect spot to feed the adrenaline junkie & the heritage enthusiast in me! Linh Phuoc Pagoda looks so incredibly gorgeous! 700000 dried blossoms? OMG!! Love your selfie pic from atop in that cable car!

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  • May 6, 2017

    So many unusual things to do in Dalat. I would never have associated all this with Vietnam! Would be very interested in knowing more about Dan Viet Nga’s work. He seems several steps ahead of Gaudi in bizzare 🙂

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  • May 6, 2017

    This is great! I’m heading to SE Asia this summer, so this post has given me some great ideas for Vietnam!

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  • May 7, 2017

    I loved Vietnam, but didn’t visit Dalat. Your tips are great to keep in mind. I enjoy riding cable cars, so it would be my first pick from your list. Thanks for sharing.

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  • May 7, 2017

    Dalat seriously sounds like a plan! Every time I read your blog post I feel so alive. You have a special way of giving life to the places you visit. Nice vibrant post. Great pics as well.

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  • May 7, 2017

    That Canyoning looks pretty crazy. I’ll beware about which company I pick if I decide to do that. The Pagoda looks amazing with all the artwork. It seems like there is tons of things to see in the area.

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  • May 8, 2017

    Wow! I think either Dalat has changed a lot or I missed a ton 10 years ago when I visited. I clearly need to go back. You guys found some awesome things to see there. so fun!!

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  • May 9, 2017

    Amazing trip you had. I have visited vietnam, Ho CHi Min City and Hanoi but not Dalat.

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  • June 15, 2017

    Amazing place and wonderful suggestions. You make me like to visit at Dalat. Great Post!

    Thanks!

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