After living in Vietnam for over a year, Dalat (aka “City of Eternal Spring” and “City of Flowers”) is easily one of our favorite cities in Vietnam. Located in the Central Highlands and the capital of Lam Dong province, Dalat has everything that we love – high mountains, clean air, cool weather, stunning waterfalls, and incredible flowers such as hydrangeas blooming everywhere on the sidewalks.
We had 3 days in Dalat and it was a good amount of time to introduce us to the city. While the slow-paced city vibe isn’t for everyone, it’s a great addition to a South Vietnam itinerary if you love nature. With this Dalat 3 days itinerary, we’re sharing what to do in Dalat, places to eat, accommodation, how to get around, and more.
Dalat Itinerary Day 1 – Explore Dalat City by Foot
Once you arrived in Dalat, head to your accommodations to drop off your luggage. Afterward, it’s time to explore the main city center of Dalat by foot.
Walk Around the Ho Xuan Huong Lake
In the middle of the city center is a man-made lake, Ho Xuan Huong (Hồ Xuân Hương). The total distance around the lake is 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) long. Walking around the lake is a perfect way to start out your adventure in Dalat. Depending on your walking speed, it’ll take between 45 minutes – 1 hour to walk around the entire lake.
If you need a break from walking, there are horse carriages that will go around the lake or you can sit in a swan boat to paddle in the lake. Another option is to stop by one of the vendors selling street food for a snack break.
Dalat Flower Garden
One of the tourist stops along the lake is the Dalat Flower Garden (Vườn Hoa). It’s a tranquil area with 300+ varieties beautifully maintained flowers and plants. The garden area has many flower sculptures to pose with, such as carriages, benches, and even an “I Heart Dalat” sign. It’s impressive to see the bushes in the shape of dragons and elephants. While it’s a bit random, there is a themed section that has Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs statues. We recommend spending at least an hour in this park to soak in the beauty.
Admission: Adults 40,000 VND ($1.70 USD); Children 20,000 VND ($.90 USD)
Lam Vien Square & Yersin Park
You can’t miss the next stop which is the Lam Vien Square (Quảng Trường Lâm Viên). It’s a public area that has a giant artichoke and sunflower building.
The artichoke building is a trendy coffee shop, while the sunflower building is an underground shopping center with a Big C supermarket. This is one of the nicest Big C supermarkets that we’ve been to and it has everything that you need for your stay. In front of the sunflower building has several street food vendors if you’re craving some skewered meats or grilled rice paper with stuffing (bánh tráng nướng).
In the evenings, this area is a popular hangout spot. Some teenagers practice their skateboarding techniques off of the stairs.
Across from the square is the Yersin Park. Although not as impressive as the Dalat Flower Garden, it’s still a nice place to walk through for some greenery.
Dalat Night Market
We’re headed to the popular Dalat Night Market (Chợ đêm Đà Lạt) which is next to the Ho Xuan Huong Lake. Take your time to browse through the many stalls for souvenirs, clothing, snacks, and drinks. Since it’s chillier in the evenings, there are many vendors selling jackets and sweaters. You can purchase one starting at 100,000 VND ($4.30 USD) which is quite affordable.
If you love tea, stop by the L’ang Farm stores in the market area. We recommend the oolong tea. Or, pursue the shop for various snacks.
Otherwise, try some of the amazing street foods such as ống lá dứa. It’s a warm coconut leaf cake which is rolled in a coconut and sugar concoction. We purchased 3 pieces for 20,000 VND ($.90 USD). If you need a drink, try a cup of hot soymilk for 10,000 VND ($.40 USD).
The market has a produce area where you can purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. It was amazing to see a meticulously stacked mound of avocados, permissions, strawberries, dragon fruit, and much more. Consider trying the strawberries as they’re grown in Dalat.
Dalat Itinerary Day 2 – Crazy House & Dalat City Tour
On the second day in Dalat, we’re exploring more of Dalat with visiting the Crazy House and also going on a half day Dalat city tour with OneTrip to explore the Central Highlands.
Start out the day with a little bit of craziness. The Crazy House is a must-visit when you’re in Dalat. Barcelona, Spain has artwork by Antonio Gaudi artwork, while Dalat has Crazy House. Created by Dr. Dang Viet Nga, she wanted to build a place where she didn’t want to follow any architectural rules and also an expression of her creativity. The whole place is a giant maze with quirky sculptures and decor everywhere.
Navigate through the tight walkways (enough for 1 person to pass by). End up at the rooftop with beautiful views of the city, a souvenir shop, or a room with an ocean theme and 3D artwork. It’s a fun visit to walk around and see Dr. Dang Vietn Nga’s vision. During our visit, there was construction to expand this place even larger.
If you want a unique accommodation in Dalat, stay overnight at one of the themed rooms, such as tiger, pheasant, ant, kangaroo, bamboo, gourd, and more. Due to the interesting decor of the rooms, visitors might try to open your door to look inside if it’s closed. Check availability and reserve one of the awesome themed rooms.
It’s recommended to come in the early morning or late afternoon as this place is challenging to walk through when there are tour groups.
Admission: Adults 50,000 VND ($2.15 USD) / Children 20,000 VND ($.90 USD)
Dalat Cathedral (Aka Chicken Church)
About a 10-minute walk from the Crazy House is the Dalat Cathedral (aka Chicken Church). Built during the 1930s, it’s the largest church in Dalat with the French architecture. The nickname “Chicken Church” comes from the chicken sculpture located on the roof of the church. To get a good picture of the church, you’ll need to take the photo across the street. Although the church was closed in the mornings during our visit, it’s open to the public in the afternoon.
Half-Day Dalat City Tour
After an amazing half-day tour in Nha Trang with OneTrip, we decided to go on a half-day afternoon city tour of Dalat via motorbike. The four-hour city tour is an amazing opportunity to explore the Central Highlands. We had three people in our tour. Our tour guides, Binh, Tin Tin, and Tri (who guided us in Nha Trang) were awesome to hang out provided a great overview of the places we visited. The friendly connection is like we’ve been friends forever!
*Update: The OneTrip city tour has been discontinued.
Here are some alternative city tours that you can take instead:
During our tour, explored through the countryside of Dalat and went to the following places:
Robin Hill & Dalat Cable Car Ride
Robin Hill is the perfect postcard photo place. You’ll walk up a short hill to see the breathtaking views of Dalat city.
From here, take a short one-way cable car ride to overlook the countryside, numerous strawberry farms, lakes, and observe the greenery. Each person costs 60,000 VND ($2.60 USD) for the one-way ride. The cable car ride isn’t required. If you’re afraid of heights, the guides can drive you to the other side of the mountain where they’ll wait to pick up the others on the cable car.
If you visit Robin Hill cable car without the tour, purchase the round trip cable car ride for a discounted price here! Save some money by buying tickets ahead of time.
Tuyen Lam Lake
We’re off to the Tuyen Lam Lake which is perfect for couples to observe the sunset. It’s a quick rest stop here where you can try the Hong Kong style dragon’s beard candy (kẹo chỉ) and mango with chili salt.
If you love visiting beautiful palaces, then you have to visit King Palace (Dinh 1 Đà Lạt). The palace opened to the public over 2 years ago and provides the history of the king, Bao Dai, and his family during the Nguyen Dynasty. One of the highlights includes walking through the families’ house to see the living arrangements of the king. You’ll receive shoe covers before entering the house. To feel like royalty, dress up as a king and queen for photos for 50,000 VND ($2.15 USD).
Admission: Adults 40,000 VND ($1.70 USD); Children 20,000 VND ($.90 USD)
Dalat Railway Station
The Dalat Railway Station (aka Crémaillère Railway Station) has the iconic French architecture and a nice place to take photos (and engagement photos!). Although we didn’t have time, we would return to take the train to go to the Linh Phuoc Pagoda. This pagoda is known to be created out of mosaic tiles. The train departs every day at about every hour so check the schedule at the station for the exact departure times.
Snack Break of Bánh Căn
We had a quick snack of small crispy rice pancakes with quail eggs (bánh căn). What is also unique about Dalat’s bánh căn is that it’s paired with anchovies sauce or fish sauce. Don’t worry, the anchovies sauce is not as strong as you think it is.
Van Hanh Monastery
The last stop of the tour is the monastery to see a 24 meter (79 feet) high golden Buddha statue. It’s told that Buddha is gold color since Buddha came from the skies so it’s good luck.
- Going on the tour in the early morning or the afternoon will have different experience. It’ll be cooler in the morning, however, the afternoon is just as lovely with the sunset.
- Ensure that pick up and drop off is at your hotel/accommodations.
- Bring water and a jacket. Dalat has cooler weather so the motorbike ride will have more wind.
Dalat Itinerary Day 3 – Exploring Dalat Waterfalls
We had an amazing time with OneTrip with yesterday’s half-day city tour so we signed up for the full day Dalat waterfalls tour via motorbike for our third day. This tour was one of our favorite aspects during our time in Dalat. Not only were our guides, Tin Tin, Tri, and Hung, awesome as usual but we chased waterfalls and visited unique areas of Dalat. Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit or another set of clothes for the waterfalls.
More information about the tour is here.
Tuyen Lam Lake for Coffee & Breakfast
After grabbing sandwiches (bánh mì) and sweet sticky rice (xôi) for breakfast in the city center, we drove to the Tuyen Lam Lake to enjoy breakfast and a cup of coffee or tea. The lake is peaceful in the morning.
Did you know that there is a “Chicken Village?” The village area has a huge iconic chicken statue. While you can climb into the chicken’s stomach to sit inside, you won’t be able to go on top of the chicken’s head. The area is known for the ethnic minorities of Vietnam and they focus on farming. They also sell stunning handicrafts made out of silk.
Love mushrooms? We’re off to a local mushroom farm to see fresh shimeji and wooden ears grown out of vertically stacked tubes.
Pongour Waterfall is the second largest waterfall in Vietnam. It’s a jaw-dropping waterfall with the multi-tiered layers. From the parking lot, walk down along a dirt path to the base of the falls. We went during the start of the rainy season so the cascades were heavier but still magnificent to see.
While you can’t swim in the falls, you can walk onto the first level of the falls and up to a certain point. Don’t rush when walking on top of the rocks. The moss makes the rocks very slippery. Feel free to have a brief meditation underneath your waterfall “shower.”
Lunch at a Local Host’s House
Remember how we stopped by the mushroom farm? We had it as a part of our lunch. To get to our lunch host’s house, we went through an off-road muddy path. Luckily our tour guides were used to riding through the mud with ease and we didn’t have any motorbike injuries!
Lunch was delicious and also tailored to our pescatarian diet (no meat but seafood is okay) with rice, egg with green onions, tuna, spinach, squash and shrimp soup, and the squid with fresh mushroom. So good!
While Pongour Waterfall has elegant cascades, Elephant Waterfall has powerful cascades. Although you can view the falls from above, the best view is at the bottom of the falls. Be careful as the rocks and walking paths are slippery from the mist.
Another unique area is to head behind the falls. You’ll need to straddle between rock and branches. It’s quite the adventure but well worth the effort. Prepare to get drenched from the waterfall’s pressure.
Weasel Poop Coffee Farm
While weasel poop coffee is one of the souvenirs to buy in Vietnam, for us it was sad to see the civets (not officially weasels) in their cages. Many of the civets were distressed in their cages as they roamed back and forth in them. The civets are force-fed coffee cherries so they can defecate the coffee.
Similarly to yesterday’s city tour, it’s best to schedule the tour online. Tours start at $55 USD.
Other Things to Do in Dalat
If you have additional time during your after your 3 days in Dalat itinerary, check out these other things to do in Dalat.
Domaine de Marie
What – a pink Catholic church?! Check out this Instagram worthy spot and also take a walk around their gardens.
If you want a fun adventure in Vietnam, consider canyoning. It’s such a rush to rappel down a canyon and into the waters. Click here to reserve a spot for your canyoning adventure.
Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance in advance if you do this adventure! You never know if you get injured or need medical assistance during canyoning.
Langbiang Mountain (Núi Langbiang) is the perfect place to hiking spot in Dalat. The round trip trek to takes 3-4 hours, or you can take a Jeep to the peak of the mountain. We didn’t get a chance to visit here but it’s on a bucket list. Don’t forget to take a photo of the giant Langbiang sign.
There is a guided tour option of Langbiang Mountain which combines with a city day tour. Click here to learn more about the tour and reserve your date!
Bidoup Nui Ba National Park Trek
As you know, Dalat has amazing trekking opportunities due to its gorgeous mountains. If you have at least two full days, consider taking a trek up Bidoup Nui Ba National Park. The trek takes at least 28 kilometers (17.3 miles). You’ll walk through the forest area, reach the summit at 2,287 meters (7,503 feet), and spend the night at a campsite.
Read more about our intense Bidoup Nui Ba National Park trekking experience here.
Clay Sculpture Tunnel
Love seeing artwork? Check out the Clay Sculpture Tunnel. While we haven’t been here, it looks like a fun place to see sculptures made out clay. There are sculptures of animals, two heads looking at each other (one of the popular pieces for social media), life in Dalat city, and more. Buy your tickets in advance for Clay Sculpture Tunnel and save money!
Add these other Dalat waterfalls onto your list – Prenn and Datanla which are nearby the Dalat city center.
If you visit Datanla, you can ride an alpine coaster and zip through the forest area. Purchase your alpine tickets at discounted prices here.
Visit a Dalat farm to pick fruits.
How to Get to Dalat
The fastest way to get to Dalat is to take a flight to Lien Khuong Airport (airport code: DLI). Daily flights to Dalat are available on VietJet, Jetstar, and Vietnam Airlines. From Ho Chi Minh to Dalat, the flight is 50 minutes.
The airport is 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the main Dalat area, so you can take a Dalat airport shuttle bus to the city center for 40,000 VND ($1.70 USD).
Another option is to hire a private airport transfer to the Dalat city center. It’s hassle free! Click here to check availability and book your airport transfer in advance.
The cheaper route is to take the bus to Dalat. We’ve been to Dalat from Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City via bus and sleeper bus, respectively. From Ho Chi Minh City, the bus ride is about 6 hours and costs between 180,000 VND – 220,000 VND ($7.75 – $9.50 USD) one way.
We can’t recommend the sleeper buses enough. It’s one of the easiest ways to travel throughout Vietnam. You get to recline in a bus and not have to worry about driving.
How to Get Around Dalat
If you’re staying in the city center, walking is the best way to get around Dalat. It’s good exercise and you can take your time exploring. Otherwise, you’ll need to rent a motorbike if exploring areas outside of the city center. Local buses and taxis are also available.
Where to Stay in Dalat
Due to Dalat’s focus on increasing tourism, there are plenty of guesthouses and hotels that you can stay at.
We prefer the more affordable route and found a clean hotel, Mộc Trà Hotel, located in a residential area for around $25 USD per night. This hotel is hidden as it’s in the back of an alleyway. It wasn’t an issue as the area was quiet. The hotel is less than a 10-minute walk to the Night Market.
Our bedroom and bathroom was very clean. The bed was also very comfortable. The receptionist was so friendly during our stay and helped us reserve bus tickets to head to our next destination, Mui Ne. She even brought us to the bus pick up spot to ensure that we made it on board.
If you’re looking to stay at higher-end resorts and hotels, here are three highly-rated recommendations for you to consider:
- Ana Mandara Villas Dalat Resort & Spa – Stay in your own villa! Cost is around $140 USD per night. Click here to make a reservation for Ana Mandara Villas.
- Swiss-Belresort Tuyen Lam – Stay near by the Tuyen Lam Lake and get a mountain view. The rooms are between $80-$145 USD. Click here to reserve a room at Swiss-Belresort Tuyen Lam.
- Dalat Edensee Lake Resort & Spa – Here is another hotel by the Tuyen Lam Lake. Stay in a suite and overlook the lake. Rooms cost between $150-$200 depending on the room. Click here to reserve a room at Dalat Edensee Lake Resport.
Where to Eat in Dalat
Surprisingly, it was challenging to find local foods in Dalat. Many of the high reviews on TripAdvisor and Google reviews were for Western food. We did, however, find several local places which we would recommend listed below.
Hoa Sen Vegetarian Place
This is a fabulous vegetarian place to eat in the city center of Dalat. While it’s not a local “quán” type of place, it has reasonable prices and delicious food. We had lotus sen fried rice, 3 types of mushroom clay pot, sweet and sour Thai soup, banana leaf salad, and fried eggrolls (although, we wouldn’t recommend the eggrolls). Cash only.
Address: 62 Phan Đình Phùng, Phường 1, Thành phố Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng
Located in the Night Market, this place has delicious BBQ seafood. Choose your seafood such as shrimp and squid and have it prepared however you’d like. Don’t forget to ask how much it costs because there aren’t any prices on the menu. The servers have limited English so it’s helpful to know Vietnamese and/or Chinese.
Address: Dalat Night Market
Are you a fan of Vietnamese desserts (chè)? This place is well known for their Thai Vietnamese desserts. We’ve had the special and regular chè and each mug had jellies, lychee, jackfruit, a dollop of durian, and mixed with coconut milk. Thumbs up for the durian addition as we love durian!
Address: 15 Bà Triệu, Phường 1, Thành phố Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng
We hope you enjoyed this 3 days itinerary for Dalat. There is a lot to explore in this city, so spend more time in this mountainous area if you can such as hiking, trekking, or mountain biking.
What excites you the most about visiting Dalat, Vietnam? Let us know in the comments.
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Pin #1 photo credit: Ekaterina Abramova via Scopio Photos