The Weird and Wonderful Dalat

Dalat is a funky and charmingly offbeat city in Vietnam that few people take the extra time to explore. As a mountainous town well over 100 kilometers away from the coast, Dalat is different from the other popular tourist cities in Vietnam.

Because the route to Dalat is a 3-hour detour that cuts inward and upward from the popular party city of Nha Trang, many people on the generic Vietnam tour give it a miss. Backpackers often think it’s a bit too far off the well-beaten tourist track to make the effort.

This mindset results in one of the best reasons to go to Dalat in the first place! The obvious lack of young backpackers here makes it feel a lot more authentic than the other heavily trafficked places in Vietnam. Combine this with the city’s naturally beautiful surroundings and some kooky attractions, and Dalat is high on the list of must-see cities in Vietnam.

Here are some of the best things you can see and do in Dalat:

Get lost in the Crazy House (Hang Nga) Guesthouse and Gallery

incredible architecture of Crazy House - Hang Nga Guesthouse
incredible architecture of Crazy House – Hang Nga Guesthouse

This is definitely Dalat’s most interesting attraction. Commonly referred to by its nickname “Crazy House”, this bizarre building is an iconic sight in Dalat. The design and architecture are the brainchild of the Soviet-trained, Vietnamese architect named Dang Viet Nga. Built in 1990, this oddly constructed guest house boasts around twelve rooms on multiple lopsided stories. Resembling a massive tree house, the rooms are connected by twisting tunnels and winding staircases.

Even if you’re not staying in the guesthouse, you can still enter for a self-tour around the property – and you totally should!

Entrance Fee: $1 USD

Swim and picnic at Pongour Falls

Pongour Falls , Dalat city
Pongour Falls , Dalat city

Lying on the outskirts of the city, this waterfall’s location in the middle of nowhere adds to its mystic. As one of the largest falls in Vietnam, Pongour is roughly 20 meters high and 100 meters wide. The multiple tiers of rocks create dozens of asymmetrical cascades makes for a really impressive sight. You can even climb up these tiers to paddle your feet or swim in one of the small pools.

Pongour fall is also a popular picnic spot for the locals – grab a drink or a snack at one of the small stalls nearby and join in.

Entrance Fee: $0.50 USD

Go canyoning

Climber in the background of beautiful cascading Datanla waterfall In the mountain town Dalat
Climber in the background of beautiful cascading Datanla waterfall In the mountain town Dalat

There’s no better place to rappel off the side of a waterfall than Dalat! With plenty of cliffs, canyons, and falls to explore, a canyoning day-trip is a one of a kind way for the more adventurous travelers to discover Dalat’s natural beauty. Most day-trips include transportation to Datanla Waterfall, light trekking, several opportunities for dry abseiling, swimming, cliff jumping, and experiencing a “natural” water slide. The grand finale is rappelling off a 14-meter waterfall.

Price: $50 USD

Stroll around Xuan Huong Lake

Tourists walking along Xuan Huong lake, Dalat city
Tourists walking along Xuan Huong lake, Dalat city

The Dalat city center is definitely claimed by Xuan Huong Lake. Many locals and tourists come to walk, jog, and bike the 7-kilometer path that traces the outline of the peaceful, man-made body of water. It’s also a very popular spot for honeymooners!

Around its perimeter you’ll find hotels, markets, gardens, and a golf club. There are also paddle-boats and swan boat rides available for those who just can’t resist getting out on the water. Stop in at one of the nice cafes for a leisurely drink and lakeside views. However you choose to enjoy it, this is a truly peaceful place in Vietnam where time stands still.

Price: Free

Explore the Dalat Night Market

Dalat night market
Dalat night market

Also dubbed the Night Walking Town due to its sprawling size and plentiful options, Dalat’s Night Market is a lively and atmospheric place in which to wander. Located in the Hoa Binh Zone – the city’s only functioning market area – the market comprises multiple streets near the Hoa Binh Theater including Tang Bat Ho, Truong Cong Dinh, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia, a part of Nguyen Chi Thanh and all of Nguyen Thi Minh Khai.

The shops and stalls are lit with neon lights, setting the whole area aglow every weekend evening from 5:00pm-10:00pm. In one section, handmade woolen goods are displayed and sold from large pieces of canvas spread on the ground. Tourists can trust the genuity of the ethnic fabrics found here.

Another section is all about the food. One of the best ways to enjoy a cool or rainy evening in Dalat is to post up under an umbrella on plastic chairs and order a steaming hot-pot while the madness of the market swirls all around you.

That’s not all – you’ll also stumble across street performers, new and second-hand clothing stalls, souvenirs, and fresh produce. There’s literally nothing the Dalat Night Market lacks.

Price: Free

************

These are just a few of Dalat’s many highlights. If you take the time to explore further, you’ll easily find dozens of other reasons to love the weird and wonderful Dalat.

Vietnam visa on arrival direction at the airport of Vietnam
Vietnam visa on arrival direction at the airport of Vietnam