Located in the south of Vietnam is charming Da Lat which is known as a top destination for domestic honeymooners. Da Lat is mostly comprised of a scenic mountain town that used to be a hill station during the French colonial period when people came here on holiday in search of cooler weather.
As a result, you will find scenic French colonial style architecture all over the town, and if you want to explore a little further then you will find some of the best scenery in the country. As well as the city proper, the environs of Da Lat are known for gorgeous lakes, flower gardens, lush forests and quaint hill towns, so if you like trekking then this is also a great choice.
Here are the 25 best things to do in Da Lat…
1. Bao Dai’s Summer Palace
Bao Dai was famous for being the last emperor of Vietnam and ascended to the throne was he was just 12 years old.
He was also known for owning a summer palace in Da Lat which was built in 1933. Bao Dai used the palace as his summer retreat when temperatures got too hot in other parts of Vietnam and now you can visit in person and see how he would have holidayed in the days of old.
The home is still much as it would have been in the past and is filled with Bao Dai’s furniture as well as his personal possessions.
2. Walk to Datanla Waterfalls
Datanla Waterfalls is one of the most famous set of falls in Da Lat and you can easily reach this gushing cataract from the center of town.
As well as trekking to the falls, you can even enjoy a series of adrenalin filled rides here such as a small roller coaster which will take you from the summit of the falls down to the limpid pools below.
If that sounds a little bit much, then you can simply walk along the trails next to the waterfall and enjoy the cool mist and limpid pools at the base.
3. Admire the Lake of Sighs
The Lake of Sighs is steeped in local legend in Da Lat as it is actually the place where several star-crossed lovers met but were unable to be together.
The legend is indeed a little sad, but the lake itself is beautiful and is actually paradoxically very popular with local couples.
Nowadays you can rent a paddle boat and go out on the water which allows you to take in all the sights in Da Lat from a different vantage point.
As if that wasn’t romantic enough, you can also take a dreamy horse and carriage ride around the edges of the lake.
4. Enjoy Linh Phuoc Pagoda
Linh Phuoc Pagoda is one of the most famous temples in the country, in part thanks to its bell tower which stands at a height of 37 meters.
This makes it the tallest bell tower of its kind in all of Vietnam and there is also a colorful central hall here which has a series of murals that tell the story of the life of Buddha.
If you want to learn more about the history of Buddhism then this is a great spot to visit and the pagoda is also set in the middle of a series of lush grounds and lakes.
5. Visit Dalat Flower Gardens
Da Lat has made a name for itself in Vietnam thanks to its pretty scenery and the flowers here are no exception.
If you want to witness these firsthand then head to the Dalat Flower Gardens which stretch for some 7,000 square meters and have more than 300 kinds of flowers on display.
One of the best things about the gardens is that the flowers all bloom at different times of the year so whenever you choose to visit, you are guaranteed to see something of interest.
If you want to see the gardens at the height of their beauty however, then try to visit in the summer months.
6. Admire the Crazy House
One of the quirkiest attractions in Da Lat is known by its nickname Crazy House although its real name is the Hang Nga Guest House and Art Gallery.
The reason for its name is that the house is built to resemble a tree and was designed in 1990 by Dang Viet Nga who is a famous Vietnamese architect.
There are around a dozen rooms here which are all designed with a different theme in mind and you will find tunnels and ladders here as well as statues of bears, tigers and kangaroos.
If you don’t fancy staying here then it is still worth checking out from the outside, just to see a different side of Vietnamese architecture in Da Lat.
7. Browse in Dalat Market
Dalat Market is a great place to visit if you want to see a more traditional side of the city.
Here you will find some 1,000 shops which are located across several buildings and it appears as if there is nothing they don’t sell here.
You will find stalls piled high with colorful fresh produce, or there is also a rather gruesome fresh meat section.
As if that wasn’t enough, you can also find pretty flower shops as well as other stalls that sell bottles of the local wine.
This is also a good spot to pick up some local handicrafts like textiles and other souvenirs.
8. Go out on Xuan Huong Lake
Xuan Huong Lake is a manmade lake that is also one of the main landmarks of Da Lat.
The lake is surrounded by lush gardens that are filled with flowers and indigenous plants and you can go for a walk in the afternoon and take in all the sights.
Along the banks of the lake you will find graceful willow and peach trees and there are also some little cafes where you can have a drink and enjoy the calm atmosphere.
Other popular activities at the lake include horse and cart rides, and you can also take a pedal boat out on the lake itself if you are feeling active.
9. Visit Dalat Train Station
Da Lat Train Station was built in 1943 and although it is small, it offers you a great glimpse of how people would have traveled in the days of old.
The traditional ticket windows are still here and there is also a delightful steam train on show.
You can take the train, which is a wood burning locomotive, for around 5 kilometers up a mountain pass which ends in the idyllic village of Trai Mar.
One thing to note however is that you need four passengers in order for the train to run so you may have to hang around if no one else shows up.
10. Trek to Elephant Falls
Like so many other attractions in Da Lat, Elephant Falls actually has another name which is Lieng Rewoa Waterfall, although the reason for this is that Lieng Rewoa actually means Elephant Falls in the local K’ho ethnic language.
This cataract is less visited than other falls in the region as it is more difficult to get to, but this means that you can skip the crowds on a trip here and just enjoy the peace and quiet of the lipid pools and gushing water.
The falls are also close to Linh An Tu Pagoda so you can easily combine a visit to both in an afternoon.
11. Travel to Lam Ty Ni Pagoda
Lam Ty Ni Pagoda is also known as Mad Monk Temple and is made up of a small monastery set inside a traditional garden.
There is also an art gallery on the grounds here which is run by resident Zen Buddhist monk Vien Thuc.
As such, you can tour the monastery and also check out his paintings at the same time and even pick up a piece of monastic art work to take home with you.
If you opt to take a guided tour of Da Lat then you will almost certainly drop by here as this is one of the premium attractions in town.
12. Have a drink at 100 Roofs Cafe
The 100 Roofs Cafe is designed in much the same style as the Crazy House which is why it is one of the most unique watering holes in Da Lat.
One a visit here you will find a labyrinth of winding tunnels and rooms and you could be forgiven for thinking that you had wandered into Middle Earth and a scene from the Hobbit.
They also have a picturesque roof garden which looks like something out of a fairytale and this is great place to watch the sunset with a cold drink.
13. Visit Lat Village
Lat Village, also known by its other moniker Chicken Village, is so named because of the huge chicken statue that stands at the entrance.
There are several legends that relate to the chickens, but the main reason to come here is to get a glimpse of rural life in Vietnam and enjoy this bustling farming community.
You can also buy local handicrafts here like cotton textiles, local wine and traditional silk pieces which make good souvenirs.
14. Admire Linh Son Pagoda
If you want to visit one of the less well known pagodas in Da Lat then consider a trip to Linh Son Pagoda.
This neighborhood pagoda is located on a hill that looks over Da Lat and lets you enjoy the pretty views over the city.
One of the most amazing things about the temple is that it also has its own tea and coffee plantations so you can also check out the monks harvesting the crops when they are in season.
15. Walk to the Pongour Falls
The Pongour Falls gush down from a height of 20 meters and jut out of the side of scenic mountains on the edge of Da Lat.
The mountains are 100 meters wide in the height of the rainy season which means that they are also the largest falls in Vietnam.
As you trek up to the falls you will be able to hear the sound of the water crashing onto the rocks below when you are still a long way off, and you can cool off in the mist from the cataract at the end of the hike.
16. Walk through the French Quarter
The French Quarter in Da Lat is the one of the prettiest parts of the city.
Here you can see how the French colonialists would have holidayed in the days of old and the quarter lies along the Tran Hung Dao Road.
Here you can take in the graceful French colonial villas, many of which date from the 1920s and 30s.
As you wander along the road, you can also check out the schools and churches that are also built in the same style.
17. Trek to the Prenn Falls
Prenn Falls is one of the premium attractions in Da Lat and soars to a height of 10 meters.
The falls are particularly busy at the weekends and around major holidays so you may want to plan accordingly.
It is around a 10 kilometer walk from Da Lat to the falls and you can also take cable car here, or use a path behind the falls, although bear in mind that you will get very wet if you take this option.
The falls are also close to Au Lac Temple so you can also visit both at the same time.
18. Visit Truc Lam Pagoda
Truc Lam Pagoda is one of the newest temples in Da Lat but this also means that it is one of the prettiest.
The pagoda sits on the Phuong Hoang Mountain which is close to the scenic Tuyen Lam Lake and there is a large cast bronze bell here as well as carved images of the Buddha.
One of the great things about the temple is that you can travel here by cable car and take in the views from the top.
19. Spend the day at the Valley of Love
The Valley is Love is not a valley at all but actually a theme park that is often visited by Vietnamese couples.
The park is set amidst lush green hills and backs on to lakes and gardens which are the perfect spot to have a picnic.
There is an amusement park here as well that is staffed by locals dressed up as cowboys and you can even take horse or pony rides or take a swan shaped pedal boat out on one of the lakes.
20. Eat at the Central Market
If you are looking for some cheap and cheerful local bites during the day then head to the Central Market in Da Lat.
Here you will find a huge number of street food stall selling simple noodle dishes as well as fried snacks and barbecued meats.
This is also a good place to come for breakfast when the market is bustling although you won’t have much luck in the evening as everything closes down so make sure to come early.
21. Walk to the Thien Vuong Pagoda
One of the nicest pagodas in Da Lat is the Thien Vuong Pagoda which is sometimes called the Chinese Pagoda as it was built by the Chinese local community.
The pagoda is also part of a monastery that features three important Buddhist statues that date back to the 16th century and as the pagoda is located in the hills behind Da Lat, you can come here and drink in the crisp air and relaxed setting.
22. Da Lat Cathedral
If you want to get a look at some of the local architecture in Da Lat then head for the Da Lat Cathedral which looks more like a gingerbread house than anything else.
The cathedral was built n 1931 and completed in 1942 and would have been the place of worship for the French colonialists on the days of old.
The building is topped with a pretty spire and weathervane in the shape of a cockerel although you may have to stick to admiring it from the outside as it is closed except for services at the weekends.
23. Explore Lam Dong Museum
If you want to learn a little bit about the history of Da Lat then head to the Lam Dong Museum.
Here you will find a splendid natural history gallery which has a range of taxidermy animals like wildcats as well as photographs of the indigenous people from the area.
You will find galleries dedicated to the Ma, Churu and K’Ho people and can enjoy collections of traditional costumes, musical instruments and ceremonial pieces.
They also have signature antiques such as a xylophone made of stone that is said to be 3,000 years old.
24. Dine at Dalat Train Cafe
If you are an avid trainspotter then you can’t miss this glorious and quirky cafe in Da Lat.
The cafe is set up in a railway carriage which dates from the French colonial period and you can order food and drinks and enjoy the pictures of famous trains from all over the world which adorn the walls.
Handily, the Dalat Train Cafe is located just up the hill from the Dalat Train Station so you can spend a day checking out all things locomotive in the city.
25. Explore Bidoup Niu Ba National Park
Bidoup Niu Ba National Park is part of a huge area of forest that sits high on a plateau above Da Lat.
The park is filled with graceful bamboo groves as well as waving grass lands and the altitude here ranges from 650 to 2,288 meters.
You will also find coniferous woodlands and members of the local indigenous community here are on hand to take you along the trails and show you all the flora and fauna.
There is also a visitor center here where you can learn about the history and culture of the K’Ho hill tribes.
The park is around 32 kilometers away from Da Lat so you can visit this as park of day trip from the city.