Where is Da Lat?
Da Lat is a small town up southwest highlands mountains of southern Vietnam. It is approximately 300 kilometers away from Ho Chi Minh city. For centuries, Vietnamese tribes have called this town their home. The word “Da Lat” means “river of the Lat tribe”. Some would say that this place is the alter ego of Ho Chi Minh city with its relaxed vibe, no rush hours, cold weather, great coffee, and fresh air. Average day time temperatures would range from 15C to 24C making it a great escape for domestic travelers.
Spending 3 days in Da Lat was not enough to see all the attractions. If we were to come back, perhaps 5-6 day itinerary would be the best. We were not able to explore the deep forest trails due to our limited time. But let me take you to what can be seen in a short amount of time.
How to get to Da Lat from Ho Chi Minh?
By Plane – 50 minutes to 1 hour
There are direct flights from Tan Son Nhat international airport (Ho Chi Minh) to Dli Lien Khuong aiport (Lam Dong) which is 31 kilometers away from the Da Lat town proper. The average cost of the flight is around PHP 2,200 ($43). You may opt to take the following airlines.
By Bus – 8 hours
There are different kinds of buses going to Da Lat. You may choose from a full sleeper, semi sleeper, limo, and the ordinary bus. Due to budget constraints we decided to take the semi sleeper bus because it was way cheaper than taking a flight. We booked a ticket with Thanh Buoi bus lines and took the 4:00AM schedule going to Da Lat. We paid a total of PHP 749 ($15) per person. I will share the link where to buy bus tickets at the end of this blog.
Top Must-See Attractions
From nature to culture to food, Da Lat’s attractions caters to every type of traveler. Just in the nearby outskirts from the town center, you will find adrenaline-filled activities such as mountain biking, mountain climbing, mountain views, and waterfalls. Around town there are historic Buddhist pagodas / temples, weird houses, and night markets where you can buy all sorts of Vietnamese street foods.
The best way to see the attractions is to join a tour group or rent a private car with a driver. Since we are a group of 3, we decided to rent our own private car which costs us $60. The itinerary we chose were a mix of nature attractions, pagodas, and city sights. We wanted to start early and asked the driver to pick us up at our hotel by 7:30AM. We returned around 5:00PM after seeing the sights. Here is what we saw.
Robin hill is one of the highest places in Da Lat which has a great overlooking view of the town. There is also a cable car from Robin Hill going to the Truc Lam Monastery. The cable car costs PHP 110 one way per person.
Truc Lam Monastery
One of the three largest Zen monasteries in Vietnam. One thing that makes this monastery a bit special is that it is located on top of a mountain overlooking the lakes and the lush pine forests
Da Lat offers many waterfalls and if you would have to choose only one, then this has to be it. The Pongour waterfall is around 47 kilometers away from the town proper which is quite far but it has less tourists compared to the Dantala and Elephant waterfalls. Make a quick trek down the trail and you will be greeted by a wide multi layered falls. Definitely the top attraction in Da Lat in my opinion. Entrance fee per person is at PHP 22.
Linh Phuoc Pagoda
The Linh Phuoc Pagoda is also known as the pagoda of broken glass. The entire place is surrounded by statues of mythical creatures all inlaid with broken terracotta, porcelain, and glass.
Tuyen Lam Lake
Tuyen Lam lake is a man-made lake built from 1982 to 1987. This is one of the must see attractions which gives tourist a peaceful and relaxing feeling. You can also rent boats to go around the lake
A maze of spiral stair cases, bright colored rooms, secret passages, and many more. This artsy house is also listed in the Guinness World Records as one of the 10 weirdest houses in the world.
Da Lat Old Railway Station
A unique French monuments is the Dalat Old Railway Station (also Crémaillère Railway Station). This railway transports people and goods around the city. You can take a ride which lasts for about 30 minutes and operates 5 times per day. Ticket costs P235 per person.
Other notable places which we visited on foot.
Da Lat Night Market
Ho Xuan Hurong Lake
Click here to view our trip to Vietnam’s majestic Sand Dunes
Where to stay and other tour details
We recommend that you stay somewhere near the Da Lat market (Cho Dalat) since the area has many restaurants and shops nearby. It is also a few meters away from Ho Xuan Hurong lake which is a good place to stroll around. We stayed in Tulip Hotel 3 and booked through Booking.com.
Hotel coordinates: Tulip Hotel 3 (Google maps)
Ho Chi Minh to Da Lat
Bus Company: Thanh Buoi
Class: Semi Sleeper
Cost: PHP 749 (as of October 2019)
Travel Time: Approximately 8 hours including 2 stop overs
Ho Chi Minh bus terminal location: Ho Chi Min Bus Terminal Coordinates
Da Lat bus terminal location: Da Lat Bus Terminal coordinates
Where to buy tickets: Online booking
Going around Da Lat – The town has a Grab app so it would be best to travel around with Grab. It is a bit more expensive than taking a taxi but it saves you the inconvenience of haggling the price.
We booked our day trip with Dalat Car Rentals. You can book through their website and email them directly. Legit tour group and responds to email quickly!