The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking back to our time in Da Lat are all the mini theme parks that exist around this quirky mountain retreat. It is, by far, one of the most interesting cities we visited during our month-long stay in Vietnam.
Renting a motorbike is the easiest way to explore, especially if you plan to venture around to all the different attractions as none of them are located in the centre of the city. Hiring a driver for the day or taking a grab to and from each place is also possible, but not as time or cost efficient and not nearly as fun! Here’s a list of what I think are the top 10 things to do and see in Da Lat.
THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN DA LAT
1. SPEND A NIGHT AT THE CRAZY HOUSE GUEST HOUSE
Location: 03 Đường Huỳnh Thúc Kháng, Phường 4, Thành phố Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng 66000, Vietnam
Hours: 08:30 - 19:00 (Monday - Sunday)
Cost: 40,000 VND /per Person
This weird and wonderful complex stands out in contrast to its surrounding buildings, which have French colonial influences. Its spiral staircases, sculptured bedrooms, narrow bridges, bright colours and hidden nooks create a maze that you could explore all day. This architectural feat was designed by Dang Viet Nga who works and lives at the Crazy House.
While we were there (Feb 2020), the house was under construction as they are adding a fourth area to the house. However, we didn’t feel that this took away from our experience here. There was so much to see and explore. It was amazing to see the unique architecture that has been created at this little sanctuary.
You can visit the house for a 40,000 VND (~$1.50 USD) fee or choose to stay overnight in one of their rooms. Either way, it’s a must see while visiting Da Lat.
Interesting in booking a night at the Crazy House? Click here for booking information.
2. GET LOST AT 100 ROODS CAFE
Location: 57 Phan Bội Châu, Phường 1, Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng, Vietnam
Hours: 08:30 - 24:00 (Monday - Sunday)
Cost: 1 Drink (Average ~130,000 VND)
Also known as the maze bar, this is one you won’t want to miss while visiting Da Lat. Upon arrival at the bar you will be asked to buy a drink in order to tour the massive venue. Drinks range from about 130,000 VND (~$6 USD) upwards. While these drinks are pretty expensive for Vietnam standards, there is no entrance fee or conditions on how long you are allowed to stay and experience this wacky bar.
We managed to spend about 2 hours getting lost in this maze bar. It was so much fun to explore and find little hiding places. The best part was finding the rooftop garden so be sure to find your way up there. It makes for great pictures and a beautiful view for sunset!
3. COAST TO DATANLA WATERFALL
Location: QL20 Đèo Prenn, Phường 3, Thành phố Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng 66000, Vietnam
Hours: 07:00 - 17:00 (Monday - Sunday)
Cost: 50,000 VND /per Adult, 30,000 VND /per child
Located in the middle of Prenn Pass and approximately 5 km outside of the Da Lat’s city centre, this small 20m waterfall offers some very unique attractions. It features an alpine rollercoaster that enables you to ride 1 km through pine forest and fresh flowers providing a memorable experience for visitors down to the falls. In addition, there are other various activities for everyone to enjoy including a ropes course, restaurant, cable car and kayaks to name a few. There’s ample choice at this waterfall theme park.
When initially stumbling across images of this beautiful waterfall, I knew I wanted to put this on our list. Honestly, I had done little to no research of the falls prior to visiting. All I knew was I wanted to hike, much to Justin’s dismay. However, to both our surprise, when we arrived we were met with a line of people that led to the alpine coaster. So basically no walking involved whatsoever but a really fun and unique experience that we both thoroughly enjoyed! In our opinion, it’s not one of the best waterfalls, it was more the coaster experience that made it so fun.
For those who love walking like me, there is an option to walk down to the falls. We met several people who chose this option instead. However many were dissatisfied with the walk, as they charge you a fee at each level that you choose to walk to. We opted against walking purely based on the uniqueness of the Alpine coaster and wanting to give it a go! When will you ever get to coast down to a waterfall again?
You can purchase Alpine Coaster return tickets for 50,000 VND (~$2 USD)/1 adult and 30,000 VND (~$1.25USD)/1 child.
4. MOTORBIKE AROUND THE FRENCH QUARTER
Location: (General location) Phường 10, Thành phố Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng, Vietnam
Experience unique qualities of French architecture by taking a ride through the quarter. See the long avenue of preserved villas that were built between approximately 1800 and 1920.
While many people opt to take a stroll through the quarter, we decided to check it out by bike. We typically aren’t ones to spend a lot of time admiring architecture. That’s not to say we don’t appreciate it and that we don’t enjoy seeing sites like this, however we typically prefer to prioritise our time based on what we most want to see in any given location. So, this was the perfect way for us to explore the quarter in an efficient manner. We felt that the drive by was satisfactory. If you’re like us, then a drive through the quarter is the perfect solution and for all you backpackers like us, it doesn’t hurt that this activity is completely free!
5. VISIT CHUA LINH PHUOC
Location: Trai Mat, Thành phố Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng, Vietnam
Hours: 24 Hours
Also known as Ve Chai Pagoda. From the main hallways featuring beautiful mosaics to the dragon (located in the grounds) made of 12,000 beer bottles and measuring in length at 49m, this was my favourite temple in all of Vietnam. It also features a seven-story tower that holds a 8,500 kg bell at its centre. You can climb to the top of the bell tower, which offers a stunning view.
Our experience here was so lovely. The pagoda itself is vibrantly decorated and such an incredible site to see. Upon arrival, we saw the massive bell that is located towards the base of the tower (2nd floor). Here you are able to write prayers, wishes or good fortunes on little pieces of paper that you can then place on the bell. Although we didn’t write our own it was fun to witness the process. We then decided to venture to the top of the bell tower, which rewarded us with beautiful views. However, given how old the tower is, it was slightly terrifying on the climb up whenever the stairs creaked. (Maybe I should mention that I’m also slightly anxious when it comes to heights. Justin didn’t seem to share my reservations.) After our climb, we enjoyed viewing the Buddha statues located on the 2nd level of the pagoda opposite the bell tower at either ends of the building; one of which is open air and the other, enclosed in a room.
If you decide to visit, be mindful of your attire. While it is open to tourists, please remember that it is still a place of worship. Most of the temple has an open air concept, aside from the tower and one room. If you choose to enter these areas, you must be dressed appropriately.
There are no fees to enter this pagoda but you are welcome to donate if you wish. If you bring your own bike you will have to pay a small fee for parking.
If you do pay a visit to this picturesque pagoda, we promise it won’t disappoint!
6. EXPERIENCE INFAMOUS VIETNAMESE WINE AT VINH TIEN
Location: 81D Đường Hoàng Văn Thụ, Phường 5, Thành phố Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng, Vietnam
Hours: 07:30 - 17:00
Cost: 50,000 VND /Per Person (Entrance Fee)
Vinh Tien Winery, also known as Fairytale Land, is set up like a theme park. The owners of the winery created Fairytale Land with the idea of sharing the numerous specialties of Da Lat with visitors. With little houses like the shire houses from the hobbit, this fairytale-themed park emphasises natural Vietnamese products. With shops, a cafe and ample opportunities for great photo spots, it's a fun experience.
There is an entrance fee of 50,000 VND (~$2 USD). If you choose to do a wine tasting. there is an additional fee of 100,000 VND (~$4 USD). You will receive 4 wines to taste and have the option to choose between 2 different sets. (Justin and I got one of each and shared).
To sum up our experience, while these activities at Fairytale Land make for an enjoyable day, the wine itself does not. So for all the wine lovers like me, don’t get too excited by the possibility of a wine day. This wine lover couldn’t finish a single wine in the tasting experience.
7. LOAD UP ON SNUGGLES AT THE PUPPY FARM
Location: Cam Ly, Phường 7, Thành phố Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng, Vietnam
Hours: 08:00 - 17:30
Cost: 50,000 VND /Per Person (Entrance Fee)
Experience the magic of unlimited puppy snuggles at Da Lat’s doggie haven. Dog lovers can fill up on puppy kisses and take as many photos as they like with the pups. Complete with a coffee bar, guests can also relax and enjoy delicious coffee drinks and cakes. For extra snuggle time, book an overnight stay at the puppy farm in one of the huts arranged in the puppy garden.
For all you dog lovers like me, this is a must! It was by far one of my favourite experiences in Da Lat. There’s no denying that travelling the world with Justin has been a dream come true, but that has come with several consequences back home. One of those was having to make the decision to leave my dog with family friends while we set out on this adventure. While it may sound silly to some people, that has been the hardest part of traveling for me. Sometimes you just need some doggie love! While it’s not the same as cuddling my own dog, it sure does help! I honestly could have stayed there all day.
The couple who started the farm are animal advocates whose goal was to create a loving and safe environment for the dogs. All of these dogs are extremely well taken care of by being provided with balanced nutritional meals, vaccinations and routine baths. Many of them have been given to the farm for a better life as they were strays.
There is an entrance fee of 50,000 VND (~$2 USD), which most of the proceeds go towards the care of these dogs.
8. TAKE A SWAN PADDLE BOAT AROUND THE LAKE
Paddle in a swan boat around the Lake while taking in the scenic views at sunset. For just 60,000 VND (~$3 USD), enjoy an hour on Da Lat’s beautiful lake. Bring some wine and enjoy this experience at sunset for a more romantic vibe. This is a super cheap and fun way to spend some of your time in Da Lat!
For us, this was one of those spur of the moment experiences. We were riding around the lake on our motorbike and happened to see all the swan boats on the lake. A man waved us over trying to get us to take a boat for an hour. We decided to go ahead and do it and I’m so glad we did. We managed to catch the sunset on the lake during our ride. It’s a little tiring to paddle for an entire hour so we only spent about half the time on the lake and the rest enjoying the views from the bank.
If you’re wanting to give this paddleboat experience a chance, don’t worry, there are plenty of guys around the lake who offer this opportunity!
9. TRY PHO AT PHO THUNG
Indulge in Da Lat’s best Pho restaurant. For those who don’t know what this is, Pho is one of Vietnam’s traditional popular dishes. It’s a type of noodle soup that contains rice noodles and meat (typically you can choose from chicken, beef, etc.). We absolutely love this Vietnamese dish and for those with a gluten allergy like me - it is usually a great gluten-free option! (Stay tuned for a post about living gluten-free in Vietnam!)
When arriving in Da Lat on our first day, we finally made it late that evening to our hotel . With motorbike rentals done for the day and our hotel being slightly out of the main town area, we weren’t sure what to do about food.
We ended up checking out Grab for food and stumbled across this Pho place that delivered. We went ahead and ordered from there and I’m so happy we did. It was so delicious that we had to go check this place out in person! The actual restaurant is located down a small alleyway off one of the main roads. There’s no signage for this place, so it really is a hidden gem. If you’d like to go give this place a try here are the coordinates!
Have you ever been to Da Lat? What were your favourite experiences? If you have, let us know down in the comments. Da Lat was by far one of our favourite destinations in Vietnam. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet, we hope you can experience the magic of this beautiful mountain town someday!