Dalat, also Da Lat (Đà Lạt), located in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam, was originally the playground of the French who built villas in the clear mountain air to escape the heat and humidity of the coast and of Saigon, officially known as Ho Chi Minh City.
Dalat is a mid-sized city that looks like a cross between Vietnam and the French Alps. Outside of the city center, it is surrounded by a series of pine-covered hills, lakes, and higher peaks, making for some lovely scenery quite different from the rest of Vietnam.
Temperatures are pleasantly warm by day, and quite cool at night, down to perhaps 10 degrees Celsius. Be aware that during summer months, rain comes at least once a day and can sometimes dictate the mood and activities you are planning.
The city center is quite small and feels very urban, concrete, and patches of streets and buildings are in disrepair or construction. However, outside of the small urban center is a spacious landscape of well kempt and pretty hotels, cafes, restaurants, and lakes peppered among the rolling green hills and pine trees to offer tourists an escape from city life. Even further out from those are fields of fruits, vegetables, coffee, and canopied flower gardens that are harvested and exported across Vietnam. The tempo of life in Dalat is very relaxed, traffic is not frenetic, streets are spacious, and the local populace is friendly to foreigners.
Dalat is very much a niche tourism town, open to those seeking a respite from the heat of the rest of Vietnam, a change in scenery to lush pine forests and rolling hills, or those seeking world class golf. There is a steady flow during some parts of the year of tourist from all walks of life and places, small hotels, cafe's lining its streets and plenty of small shops offering anything from orchids to knitwear. The vast majority of visitors are Vietnamese, although plenty of Americans and Europeans find their way, either on short package tours, soul searching, or drawn by the scenery, vivid blue skies, fresh air, flower-filled parks, and local culinary treats. Dalat is a favorite destination for company weekend outings, family get-aways, and honeymooners. Most guidebooks for overseas visitors describe Dalat as a tourist town with a colorful approach to tourism.
Dalat is a very pleasant stop, on a north-south tour (or vice versa), or a pleasant outing from the heat of Saigon. For overseas visitors, it offers mostly a chance to cool down, observe some beautiful landscape and agriculture, view a bit of the French legacy, the Indochine legend and its momentous glories and the architecture untouched by the Vietnam conflict left behind,a unique place to enjoy the atmosphere of a unique country and its people.
Dalat is also surrounded by some of the best mountain biking, hiking and canyoning opportunities in Vietnam, with hills of coffee and tea plantations, which evoke images of the colonial hill stations of the north of India.
Dalat's high altitude (1500-2000 m) and fertile landscape make it one of Vietnam's premier agricultural areas, producing varieties of fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee beans, and flowers that do not grow in the lowlands. In markets as far north as Hanoi and Hai Phong, vegetable and flower vendors will tout their "made in Dalat" produce.
Most local and foreign travellers arrive in [Dalat] by bus, including those travelling on the famous Sinh Cafe Hanoi-HCMC open-tour bus. Mai Linh Express and Phuong Trang run several daily services to Dalat from Nha Trang, Mui Ne and HCMC.
From Nha Trang Phuong Trang Bus Station , the bus ride is about 3-4 hours, including a 30-minute breakfast/WC stop about one hour out of Nha Trang, and costs 145 000 VND including hotel pick-up. (Mar 2014)
From Ho Chi Minh City, the bus ride is about 7 hours (9 hours if there is bad traffic leaving Saigon), 230,000Đ on Phuong Trang's semi-sleepers. If coming from Mui Ne, be careful as the road is terribly rough most of the way, so try to book a large bus or at least a seat towards the front.
For western visitors it may be best to book a ticket on a bus without a television. The entertainment offered could be loud and unappealing if you prefer sleeping before arriving at their next destination.
There are various travel agencies in the town that can book buses to all parts of the country.
The airport, is a mere 30 km south of the city linked by a modern and yet scenic two lane highway and offers daily Vietnam Airlines/Vietjet Air flights to and from HCMC, Danang and Hanoi. Dalat is being serviced by two airlines at this present time, being Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet Air, a new private low-cost carrier with additional flights from and to Hanoi, Saigon and other destinations. Checking the timetables and prices being offered is well worth while since competition offers better rates with advanced bookings, Vietjet Air like Vietnam Airlines is linked into overseas reservation and ticket issuing through the GDS and airline systems.
As of January 2013 there are shuttle buses available just outside the airport building, tickets are sold from the counter next to the baggage pickup area for 40,000. Beware when catching the shuttle bus that the driver might try to drop you off elsewhere in Dalat rather than your hotel - make sure to specify which hotel you want to be dropped off at to the tout and see that this is communicated to the driver. Be firm but polite with the driver if he tries to drop you off elsewhere, unless you don't mind walking!
Fixed prices taxis are advertised for 250,000 also from the counter inside (as of January 2013) - this seems to be the cheapest rate you'll get a private taxi for. Some hotels offer special arrangements with taxi companies to ferry hotel-stayers to and fro the airport also around 200,000 VND.
Hotels can try to rip you off by asking for anything between 300,000 to 400,000 for Airport transfer. Be adamant on 200,000. You can try calling 0633835583 - they have a fix price so 200,000. Malinh asked for 300,000 for airport. Don't even think of going by meter: It comes to around 577,000 by meter (distance: around 35km). Update: As of May 2013, taxis are asking 250,000 to the city and this price is even printed on almost all the taxis at the airport. For trips to and from the airport, always agree on the fare before you get into the taxi. My family took two taxis from the same hotel and at the same time but upon arrival at the airport, one driver insisted on 300,000 and the other demanded the metered fare! Do not fall into this trap of taxi drivers asking for a higher fare when you arrive at your destination. If in doubt, get a ticket at the taxi booth for 250,000 inside the airport terminal. If you happen to stay outside Dalat City, it is good to know where your destination is relative to the city from the airport. One lady who appeared to be helping us with translation claimed that the distance to our hotel (Dalat Edensee Resort) was about 10km further and jacked up the fare to 300,000 (the hotel is closer to the airport than the city itself!). Obviously both were in cahoots but upon being exposed, she claimed that they were both rivals!
Depending on where you stay, you can walk to most parts around town. You can catch a Xe Om (motorbike taxi) from most corners, so if you're going somewhere farther out of town, you have a fast way to get there. Taxis are also abundant and reasonable in price, yet watch the meter, as meter fixing is a common practice from north to the south.
There is a local bus which passes near most of the main tourist sites. Heading south you can catch it at the bus shelter by the lake. Otherwise, the bus hub can be found on Khu Hoa Binh street, just up from the market. The last bus each day is at 5PM.
There are many places around town to rent a bicycle, tandem or motorbike. Please consider carefully before you move to rent a motorbike, as according to the Vietnamese law you must be in the possession of a valid Vietnamese drivers license, to be able to operate and drive a motor vehicle in the country, failure to have one, cancels any insurance that the bike might come with and makes you liable according to the law for any damages and remember in South East Asia, you are always liable, as you are always guilty, as you are presumed to have more money then the other party. Hence you will have to pay for damages to the bike and its full value, damages to other people and their property, as well you might have just ruined your own vacation time, due to injury and of course hefty payments to third parties.
Car rental prices (as mostly anything in Vietnam) usually increase during holiday seasons especially around Tet (Vietnamese’s New Year). Make sure to avoid high prices by booking it beforehand with the car rental services.
Be aware of copycat establishments in Dalat. Dalat's tourism industry has taken on a very particular character that does not show up in many other cities in Vietnam; some establishments have chosen to copy the name of successful businesses and misrepresent themselves as "the original". For example, there are two restaurants called "Peace Cafe" within a block of one another. The most egregious violators surround "Easy Riders", a company that has built a reputation of providing excellent multi-day tours of Vietnam by motorbike. This issue becomes salient in Dalat because they are also the main way to take a guided day-tour of the most popular tourist locations in and around Dalat. There are at least four companies that claim to be the original Easy Riders, and maybe upwards of ten that all proudly have shops with the name "Easy Riders" and variants of the blue jackets that they are known for. This makes it incredibly difficult and time consuming to choose a tour based on prior reputation and consumer feedback. For example, "Dalat Easy Riders" is located at 66 Truong Cong Dinh Street, however "Original Easy Riders" is located at 67 Truong Cong Dinh Street... literally one address away and geographically across the street. This makes customer feedback from sites such as Tripadvisor dubious, as it is not clear that all customers necessarily know that they are leaving feedback for the company they had a tour with. The most reliable thing to do is to visit a shop in person, ask to talk directly to a tour operator that would be providing the service, and converse about the tour to see if their personality and english speaking capabilities are good enough to make for an enjoyable day.
Another peculiarity about Dalat is that some tourist businesses in the city (like Easy Rider) have taken upon themselves to manipulate information on the internet about their services to direct business their way. This Wikitravel article, for example, is peppered with some pockets of advice or advertising that have clearly not been written by customers or travelers. So, please be aware of this as you do research on Dalat.
Packaged day tours are easily purchased round town, which will take you to a variety of sites, it is recommended to use one of the three licensed operator, as they are registered with the tourism department, offer insurance coverage and in the event of any disputes, or grievances have to respond to the claims against them. Fair pricing policies apply to them, which might not be the case with some of more shady characters in the business, hence ask for the government registered license and receipt with a red invoice when contracting any services. (An indignity not uncommon in the developing world -- visitors from outside Vietnam are often required to pay double what Vietnamese pay for admission to many places when visiting individually, hence going through licensed operators will avoid some of those challenges.
The tourist agency, "Trung Tam Dich Vu Lu Hanh Da Lat," located on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, is not recommended due to their unethical practice of duping tourists by reserving tickets for Sinh Cafe Open Tour bus for $12 (240,000 dong), then contacting the tourist's hotel to change the ticket for a later Phuong Trang bus, for 120,000 dong. The tickets will have extra zeros whited-out to make it look like $12.
Tours typically include a handful of stops like the following:
Other sites of interest:
There are many competing businesses with names that are variants of "Easy Rider". The four main ones that seem to garner the most praise on the internet are: Easy Riders - 66 Truong Cong Dinh Street "Original" Easy Riders - 67 Truong Cong Dinh Street Datat Easyrider - 70 Phan Dinh Phung Street "Original" Easy Rider - 35 Dinh Cong Trang Street
All of them claim to be the "original" Easy Riders, so it is somewhat of an exercise in futility to really ascertain the truth. It is best to simply visit a few and see which establishment you develop the most rapport and trust with.
Alternatively, if the concept of Easy Rider is not your ideal, you can go the more traditional route and simply book a tour through a standard travel agency, such as Sinh Cafe or Kim Travel.
Many agencies propose 1, 2 or several days trips : Canyoning, Mountain bike, White water rafting, Hiking, Rope course
Head official office : 66- Truong Cong Dinh Street- Da Lat. Phone:+84 903 703 912 (Mr Long).+84 903 662 831 (Mr Hong). Web : dalat-easyrider.com.vn a place for anyone interested in exposing the hidden charms of Viet Nam, as well in having a deep insight into the tradition, culture, history, people of the country by mortobikes. You can ask for guides you really want to go with,for any road you like to take. The place promises to provide you with only good experienced and english speaking Easyriders. Easyrider tours, easy way to discover Viet nam.
(email: email@example.com, Website: vietnam-motocycle-easyriders.com , Office : 61- 3 thang 2 street, Da Lat, Vietnam) is a great and inexpensive way for non-motorcyclists to tour the Central Highlands, giving you access to places you would otherwise never know about. They speak English quite well, and are from the local villages, and know everyone and everything in and around the place. Be warned that there are many Easyrider copycats around the town. You can find out more information about them from their website and can contact Mr. Quan at the phone number:0903640643
The same tour (including a lunch) in Dantala canyon is proposed by different agencies for a price from 30 to 45$ :
2 rappels of dry abseiling (18m and 16m) 2 rappels of water abseiling (25m and 16m) 1 jump into water (7m or 11m) 2 water slidings
Level: 3CII in ACA grade
The difference of prices is often motivated by the material used and if the guides are certificated for canyoning (sometime only the owner of the agency is certificated or guides are certificated for hiking but not for canyoning). Most of time the insurance is not included, be sure that your own insurance cover this activity
Most visitors to Dalat are Vietnamese, and most of them leave loaded with stuff. What they like to take home is dried and candied fruits, strawberry preserves, coffee, green and artichoke tea, local wine, dried venison, orchids, strawberries, avocados, and other fresh produce. If you take any sort of organized tour, chances are you will be off-loaded for a half hour at a shop selling these items. Local treats are also for sale in abundance in the large central market located in the area around Nguyen Thi Minh Khai and Le Dai Hanh. Part covered and part outdoor, the market has dozens of small stalls selling also fruits and vegetables, clothing, and a wide variety of other goods. There is a supermarket on the top floor selling necessities for travellers. Strolling around the market is a favorite evening activity, and every night it buzzes with thousands of sweater-clad visitors.
Dalat does not offer lot of high-end handicrafts of the sort favored by overseas tourists. Dalat is famous, however, for its beautifully crafted silk embroidered pictures, which can be purchased at a massive mark up from the many galleries around Dalat or at a fraction of the price from the central Dalat market.
Dalat also has an abundance of fruit, vegetables and flowers available for purchase if you plan to stay for a few days and want to liven up your hotel room or cook your own meals.
Dalat has countless restaurants to serve the diverse visitors, from all walks of life and origins, with offerings ranging from Local Lamdong province, Dalat food, to central and southern Vietnamese dishes and a fair number of Western and French inspired eateries, bars and restaurants, serving every budget and aspirations.
It is an amazing place, good food and cheap price with very nice decoration. The staff speak good English and you can get more information for the area around Dalat.
17 Huynh Thuc Khang, P.4, Da Lat. TEL: 063 382 1126 (or +84 63 382 1126). EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open until 9PM. Vegetarian restaurant. There are three vegetarian restaurants in Da Lat, and this is probably the best one. They serve primarily Vietnamese food, but the menu does have some English. The servers don't speak much English but the owner does and he is happy to help you out. There are two dinning area, the older original cafe area and the newer classy section. They sometimes have live music. They are located on the same street as the Crazy House (see things to do above), just walk 5 min west of Crazy House until you see their big green sign and some statues out front. Quality food and service.
76 Truong Cong Dinh Street (On the main tourist street in Da Lat), ☎ +84-63-355-5299 (email@example.com). The Art Café features Vietnamese and International dishes which are lovingly prepared from the freshest, carefully-selected, local ingredients available. Staying true to it's name, the Art Café is also the center for local artistic events such as live music acts, group painting sessions, movie nights, team dining extravaganzas, etc. so be sure to check with the cafe to see what offerings are scheduled. And, as they say at the Art Café: Life is Art. Enjoy!
1/1 Bui Thi Xuan, Dalat, Tel (84) (63) 352 0215 Open daily from 7:00 to 22:30. V Cafe is the home of great food and live music in Da Lat. Boasting a unique and fun east meets west atmosphere, excellent service, a large and diverse menu of international dishes, and regularly hosting the best live music in town. There is something for everybody at V Cafe.
No.1 Phu Dong Thien Vuong Street, Dalat Tel: (+84 63) 3821 201 - Cafe, Pro Shop and Clubhouse, open daily from 6 a.m. until about 8PM. If you are craving quesadillas, tacos and haven't had Mexican, Western Food in the months, you will find what you're looking for at the Pro Shop. It's little bit out of the way, but in Dalat everything is round the corner anyways, but the food, the chips with salsa and guacamole, sandwiches and burgers, are excellent. And, the beer is always cold.
No. 12 Tran Phu Street, Tel. (063)825 777, part of the Dalat Du Parc and Dalat Palace compound, French and Western Country Style cuisine, at affordable prices, outstanding service and open from 6 a.m. till 11 p.m., wide selection of traditional dishes and fast food favorites, cold beer and a pretty impressive wine list, besides their famous fresh Dalat fruit juices. Service is great,served by English speaking friendly staff.
12, Tran Phu Street, one of the best fine dining experiences, besides fancy eateries in Hanoi or Saigon, receiving each year visitors just to experience a unique French ~ Vietnamese influenced fine dining experience, second to none. Recipient of numerous international prizes and accolades. Great service, elegant and distinctly old fashioned with class and style, if its unique 1920's atmosphere and cusine and refined service, this is the place in town for that fancy birthday, anniversary, or special moment in life.
No.12 Tran Phu Street, Dalat Palace Hotel, based in the belly of the colonial style hotel, its a bar established by the late American billionaire, philanthropist and controversial bon vivant Larry Hillblom, with a unique colonial - outback bar atmosphere, great music ( live Friday and Saturday evening performances) and the best pizza to be found east of the Mekong river and beyond. The friendly staff have been there for years and know their punters by name and preferred drinks. One of the few waterholes in town to close past the midnight hours, kitchen service until closing moments. Prices are pretty high (e.g. for a personal pizza as of Dec. 11).
No. 4C Chu Van An street, tel: 0633822875, 15' walking from Xuan Huong Lake, 10' walking from "Dinh Bao Dai" (Bao Dai's Summer Palace #2)), well known for "Bún Bò" and "Mì Quảng", the traditional noodle that Vietnamese often have for breakfast. Price: 12,000-45,000 VND. 7AM-10PM.
No.49 Truong Cong Dinh) offers very high-quality French & Vietnamese cuisine at reasonable prices by Western standards.
No. 9A Le Dai Hanh) offering both local and western food along with an excellent selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Small and neat atmosphere, overlooking the city gardens. Either eat alfresco, watching the hustle and bustle of DaLat's streets moving by, with some nice indoor dining. Owner speaks English.
Bottom of Hai Thuong near the roundabout. Serves pretty standard local fare at reasonable prices and is packed with locals for both lunch and dinner. In the evening, try the hot milk (7000 dong) from the stall just to the left of the restaurant which is likewise packed. (January 2014)
Nightlife is extremely muted in Dalat (at least at time of writing in July 2014). It usually starts up around 8pm, peaks around 10pm, and all drinking establishments are emptied out by midnight or 12:30am at the latest without fail. While there are several bars listed below, the only ones that have more than a handful of people are Beepub, which can reach capacity on a lively night, and Alo.
Escape Bar and Saigon Nite are also frequently listed bars in Dalat, but as of July 2014 are consistently quiet during evenings.
Accommodation in Dalat is very reasonable in the 'off-season', for as little as US$10 per night for a perfectly presentable hotel room with double bed and ensuite. In high season prices rise and advance booking is a good idea - particularly during weekends most hotels in the centre are fully booked.
In the property,you will also have a great variery of opportunities to pick such as cooking classes, canyoning, cycling and especially the famouse original easyrider tours. Web : vietnamabenteuer.com bikegears.vn Price is from $4.99 to $5.99 with breakfast included.
1-star standard,(branch of mydreamhotel)contact Ms Leha at 0918564472 or Ms Hong at 0938002002 and charges from US $10 The staff speak English,French , Korean. rooms are clean with cable TV, hot shower,safety box... and there is excellent wifi for all floors. You can book for a daily tour by car or motorcycle here, managed by mimosatravel.
Tourist and FIT Hotels
12, Tran Phu Street the only 5-star hotel in Dalat, with 43 luxury rooms and suites, one presidential suite, built in the Art Deco style of the 1920's French architecture and refurbished during later stages in a Victorian Art Deco style, with imperial dining rooms and facilities. It has beautiful gardens, it was conceived as the very center of the city and dominates with great views onto the Xuan Huong lake. It also has an 18-hole championship golf course,tennis courts, spa, a unique site and among the most beautiful in Vietnam. It has been home away from home to the famous and scandalous from all over the globe for the past many decades, with historical figures and moments in time, so special and unique that it has inspired many books and novels. www.dalatpalace.vn
Safe bus (45 seats with A/C) is ready every 30 minutes to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city). It costs about 220.000 VND/ticket. Approximately 8hrs/trip (7 hrs at night) by Phuong Trang bus (FuTa)
To Nha Trang it costs 140.000 VND/ticket, 4 hrs/trip. To Ho Chi Minh city is 220.000VND/ticket, 7hrs trip. To Muine Beach is 140.000VND/ticket, 4hrs trip.
If you're short of time and want to avoid connections, you can go straight to Hanoi as well. A sleeper bus (Tai Thang Bus) direct to Hanoi on a 45 seat sleeper bus will cost 700.000 VND/ticket. You can buy the ticket at the bus station (1 To Hien Thanh St, Ward 3) or at the office of the bus company (5 Pham Ngoc Thach St, Ward 6). Total duration is around 30 hours.