I am a Vietnamese who works in Ho Chi Minh City.
To avoid the sweltering heat and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, I often take a bus to Dalat to enjoy 2 days and 3 nights on weekends. I spend most of my time riding along the winding roads on the outskirts of Dalat, looking at the green pine trees, filling my lungs with fresh air and taking some pictures as a souvenir for myself.
During this trip, I stopped by a few places that I had visited in my previous trip: Xuan Huong Lake, Dalat market, and new places such as: Pongour waterfall, Prenn waterfall and Datanla waterfall.
Dalat has many restaurants and coffee shops. While restaurants are often concentrated in the downtown area, coffee shops can be found everywhere from the inner city to the remote areas. Therefore, it is remiss if you do not visit and enjoy coffee at a certain shop.
Travelling by night bus for both round-trips will help me have more time to enjoy the atmosphere of Dalat, and also save a lot on the cost of renting a room. This time, I chose a room located halfway up the hill not far from the center, with a night’s stay for two.
The costs include: – Bus ticket: $11/passenger/way – Motorbike for rent: $8/motor/day – Food and beverage: $1.5-5/person/meal – Accommodation: $27/2 persons/night Notice: The costs are based on normal times (not holidays) and depending on the choice of service.
Spring is the best time to come to Dalat. The weather is just chilly (no longer the bitter cold of winter) and there have not been heavy rains all day long in summer.
Essential things to carry
- Sun lotion
There are many ways to move to Dalat from HCMC. I chose to take the night bus of Thanh Buoi Express to be able to sleep during the nearly 7 hour journey, and the fare is much cheaper than going by plane (usually twice or three times). I chose the bus departing at 11pm so that I could arrive in Dalat early in the morning.
I usually call Thanh Buoi Bus to book a seat from HCMC to Dalat by night. You should call ahead to make sure you have tickets at the desired time and choose a good seat. You also should choose a sleeper car to have a more comfortable sleep.
Price: 240.000 vnd per seat per way
The bus will stop at stations in the city. They have shuttles to the hotels you have booked, or anywhere you want to go in the inner city. You can take a picture in the morning with the caption “Wake up in the morning in a far away place”.
- Pine Hill Homestay – The homestay with a lot of flowers
The homestay is located halfway up the hill, not too far from the center but separate from the noise of the city. The owner of the homestay has cleverly coordinated the architecture of the apartments nestled under ancient pine trees, interwoven with plants of all kinds. Check-in time is 12 noon. Because I arrived early in the morning, I left my things at the front desk, rested, cleaned up, and went out before checking in.
Price: 700.000 vnd per room per night
- Dalat Market and Xuan Huong Lake early in the morning
This is The Main Market Of The Whole City Of Dalat, Was Established In 1929. Through Many Repairs And Upgrades, It Still Retains Some Of The Old Features.
At each time of the day, Dalat market wears a different shirt. The early morning flyer is the bustling hustle and bustle of small traders preparing goods for a new day of sale. I like to enjoy traditional cakes, sticky rice, hot soy milk and watch people work, listening to the buzz of the early market corner. After that, I will walk to the shore of Xuan Huong Lake to catch the first rays of dawn, and watch the mist hovering over the sparkling lake.
Tips: You should prepare loose change to make breakfast in the market easier. There are public toilets in the market, but you should prepare your own toilet paper.
Price: 30.000 vnd per person per breakfast
- Pongour waterfall
Well-Known As “Seven-Floor Fall” (Thác Bảy Tầng) Or “The First Waterfall Of The South” (Nam Thiên Đệ Nhất Thác) – The Most Beautiful Waterfall In South Vietnam.
The waterfall is in Duc Trong district, located in the suburbs, more than 40km from Dalat city with more than 1 hour by motorbike. The waterfall is nearly 40 meters high, speeding more than 100 meters, through a 7-storey terraced stone system. Surrounded by a primeval forest with an area of 2.5ha with diverse and rich vegetation.
Tips: You should wear clothes with cool and quick-drying materials because it may be wet by the steam from the waterfall.
Price: 50.000 vnd per ticket
- Foods and Beverages
Some outstanding dishes should be enjoyed when coming to Dalat such as: shumai for breakfast, vermicelli in Anh Sang hamlet or “Banh uot” – Vietnamese steamed rolled rice cake with chicken heart at lunch, or grilled dishes, hot pot in the evening when it’s cold.
Price: 50.000 vnd per person
- Dalat Market at night
In contrast to the early morning, the hustle and bustle of the night market comes from tourists and food stalls, selling clothes and souvenirs inside and outside the market. On weekends, you are required to park your car or motor outside and can only walk in to visit, eat, and shop inside the market. You can enjoy typical Vietnamese street foods such as grilled corn, hot soy milk or skewers of all kinds at very affordable prices, just under $0.5 for each dish. Especially the famous Dalat grilled rice paper, with another name is Dalat pizza. However, you should not try porridge or snails right on the market steps because some people are selling at very high prices. Around the market, there are also many restaurants and cafes to sit and sip and watch the streets.
Since the day before, I was able to watch the sunrise at Xuan Huong Lake early in the morning, so today I want to enjoy a little more sleep. Morning begins when the sun is already bright.
- Have breakfast, enjoy flowers and take photos at the homestay
Homestay does not include breakfast. I woke up and prepared my own breakfast of omelets, sandwiches and a cup of morning tea in the homestay kitchen. After that, I walked around the house, took some pictures of flowers and grass in the early summer drizzle.
Tips: The garden here has a lot of flowers. The rooms are also isolated and have a nice outdoor space, great for reading or taking pictures.
- The Diff House’s Café
Walking on the long winding pass road towards Trai Mat, with the desire to find some warmth in the cold morning weather, I temporarily stopped at a roadside cafe. The rustic and cozy space, strong coffee and melodious music really impressed me from the first time. I spent almost half a day just sipping a cup of coffee and visiting the fruit garden of the shop. Well, then I also tried another strawberry smoothie from the shop. Fresh strawberries are picked right in the garden, very sweet.
Price: 50.000 vnd per beverage
Tips: If you want to go down to the strawberry garden, it is best to wear sneakers or flat sandals. This time I wore a pair of high heel boots, so it was difficult to move down to the strawberry garden.
- Prenn waterfall and Datanla waterfall
As two beautiful waterfalls located on the same pass leading to Da Lat city, Preen waterfall is located at the foot of the pass and Datanla waterfall is located in the middle of the pass. Both have been planned and developed into tourist attractions. Prenn Waterfall, with a height of about 15 meters, has a gentle flow like a beautiful girl’s hair. Datanla waterfall flows faster and stronger. There are two ways to visit the waterfall: walking up the stairs or experiencing the sled. You should ride a sled to experience the feeling of surfing from above to the foot of the waterfall interspersed with tall trees, while keeping your strength to visit the whole waterfall (if you are not a sports person). or regular physical exercise). Sliding ticket price is about $4/person (only available at Datanla waterfall).
- Dalat City Center
At night, most of the activities revolve around the central area of Da Lat city with the night market and Xuan Huong lake. If everyone has gone to the night market on the first day, they can take a stroll by the lakeside. When you are tired of walking, you can stop somewhere around the lake to make a cup of hot soy milk to warm people in the cold of Da Lat. I will usually go back to the night market at around 10pm when the flow of people has lessened, choose for myself a load of grilled rice paper and order two to enjoy. Probably due to being tired after walking along with the bitter cold of the highlands at night, the baked goods are strangely delicious. Well, if you’re still not full, you should also enjoy another cup of tofu with hot sugar water. Awesome!
- Prepare to come HCMC back at night
You should call ahead to make sure you have tickets at the desired time and choose a good seat. You also should choose a sleeper car to have a more comfortable sleep.
End of the trip
I will walk to Thanh Buoi bus station at 55 Phan Boi Chau. You should be there 30 minutes before departure time. I always book a midnight trip to be back in HCMC early in the morning for a new working week.
Thanks Giang Ho Photography and Mai Lam (it’s me) for all the photos in this blog, and for the wonderful trip and stories together.
If you intend to travel in Vietnam, don’t hesitate to message me, I can help you plan and ready to be your local guide.