Dalat was my favourite place in Vietnam. I can still remember riding from Mui Ne, up to the cool beautiful, green rolling hills of Dalat countryside and into the stunning European looking city. It is so exhilarating. I don't know if that is simply because the temperature completely changes and suddenly you are no longer sweating at every hour of the day but you are cool and relaxed or if it is because of the complete change of scenery and general feel.
Why go to Dalat, Vietnam
Dalat is unlike anywhere else in Vietnam. Its Spring-like temperatures will be a much-needed break from tropical Vietnam. The cool air is welcomed, relieving you of the constant sweating Vietnam causes. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” you can smell and feel it in the air.
Dalat was built to be a resort by the French in the early 1900s so the architecture is not typically Vietnamese. The colonial heritage remains to make you feel like you are perhaps in Europe.
Dalat is surrounded by hills, pine forests, lakes and waterfalls. This makes it a stunning sight to see as you approach or leave Dalat but also makes exploring Dalat just as beautiful.
Whilst Dalat is not extremely off the beaten track, it isn’t quite as touristy as Hoi An, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh etc. Dalat is also a safe city for the female traveller.
Where to stay as a solo traveller in Dalat, Vietnam
Yes, you can stay in the famous crazy house. Do I recommend it? No, not really. Tourists walk all around the crazy house so you will never quite feel like you have privacy. Tourists will try and open the door to your room, despite the do not disturb signs. My advice - the craze of sleeping in the crazy house will dissolve. Visit it but stay in one of the cool hostels or cheap hotels below.
Looking to relax?
Check out The Lake House Dalat. You will feel at peace the moment you arrive. Located just outside of town, so best if you have your own transport. Located on the lake, it's the best place to calm down and relax. You will feel in complete harmony. The staff are friendly. I would recommend a stay for minimum 2 days to really get the most of this wonderful little gem. Click here to check out rates.
Looking to meet other travellers?
Hostels are always the best option for getting to get to know other travellers. Although, with Vietnams low prices it isn't necessary for the budget. Still, hostels can be a lot of fun and who doesn't want to save a few extra $$$
The Tree House Hostel is a top rated hostel in Vietnam. Reviews talk strongly on the hospitality and customer service that the Vietnamese do so well. Rates are low, location is good. The hostel has a garden and by the sounds of the reviews, they are super helpful. Check out rates here.
The Crazy Nook Hostel - With amazing reviews and a fun look atmosphere, there is no doubt you will meet other travellers at this place. With family dinners and great food as well as excellent hosts, how can you pass this one off? Check it out here.
What to do as a solo traveller in Dalat, Vietnam
Mr Rots Secret Tour
This was my favourite thing to do in Dalat and a fantastic option for the solo traveller. I can’t tell you much about it cause it is a secret. Mr Rot himself is awesome! He will leave you in stitches with many laughs and also a lot of knowledge of Vietnamese culture. If you want to find out more about the tour, have a google, I'm sure you'll find out things but it's nice to have the surprise.
The tour is not the cheapest thing you can do. I had to make the choice between Mr Rots Secret Tour and Canyoning, both fantastic for the solo traveller. Both are a similar price with similar reviews. I think this depends on what you want out of it. The price is $35 USD so it isn't exactly a massive budget breaker but I was on a tight budget. I travel for culture and knowledge so I chose this tour. Very much worth the cost.
I won’t give anything more away. I will let you know that you will get to see bits of Dalat and its surroundings that you won't otherwise see. You can ask all the questions in the world about Vietnamese history and culture. If it is a unique experience you’re after then this is perfect. Do make sure that you get the correct Mr Rots Secret Tour as Mr Rot told me he has seen some copy cats popping up and sadly ruining his reputation. Be sure to email him on - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Rots tour is done with a small tour group in a minibus that fits no more than about 10 (I think, from memory). This means its perfect for the solo traveller as you will meet other travellers. Especially since Mr Rot keeps the tour interesting, relaxed and fun. He provides plenty of chances for ice-breaking conversation with his humour.
The tour also includes the Elephant Waterfalls so don’t do this on your own if you wish to do this tour.
Don't research what goes on, just sign up and do it.
Check out the Crazy House
The Crazy House is a must do in Dalat. One of the most unique buildings in Vietnam. It will take you a few hours to get around and it is a lot of fun. There are many stairs and low railings and some crazy small fun details. Designed and constructed by Vietnamese architect Đặng Việt Nga. The architect takes inspiration from Gaudí, so if you have been to Barcelona and love his work then you’ll love the Crazy House. The main structure looks like a giant tree. It was designed to recreate nature. The philosophy is to create a space that connects humans to nature.
100 Roof Bar
It doesn’t matter if you are alone or with people, this is a must see! This bar is totally fine to go on your own because the chances of you losing your friends is high anyways. If you loved the crazy house, the 100 roof bar is even better! Grab a drink and enter this amazing wonderland. Also known as the Maze Bar. You will get lost, be amazed and overwhelmed with everything there is to see. You will climb steep stairs and wonder if you missed something. The bar gets crowded, mostly on the balcony so come early so you can enjoy the fun.
The 100 roof bar is not so obvious from the outside. It is tucked away a side street but when you make your way through the maze to the top, the views are stunning. There are multiple bars all the way up so as long as you can find them you can keep wetting your whistle.
Canyoning is perhaps the most popular thing to do in Dalat. It brings in the majority of tourist and there is a good reason for it. It’s a lot of fun! This is something you will do with small tour groups so it’s perfect for the solo traveller. As you stroll around the city you will see many tour companies offering canyoning and it can be overwhelming. Most of the tour companies are roughly the same price and offer the same things. The most highly recommended is Dalat Adventure Tours.
Waterfalls are certainly something you can enjoy on your own. The easiest way to see the waterfalls is through the two tours mentioned above. The Elephant waterfall is covered with Mr Rots Secret tour and the Canyoning also covers waterfalls giving you the best way to see them. However, if you have your own transport and want to chill out by a waterfall, Dalat has several of them and they are all really easy to get to.
Take one of the best rides in the country
When in Vietnam, do like the locals and get on a "moto"
Perhaps you don't have the confidence or skills to get on two motorised wheels. Don't do it! It isn't safe. However, if you have your own 2 wheels and the skills, then go for it. As a solo traveller in Dalat, jumping on the back of a locals "moto" can be the best and most fun thing to do. Easy Rider is a popular company in Dalat and throughout Vietnam where locals take you on the back of their bike and show you around, the locals way. Be sure to check reviews and get the best company. This is also a company that is being "copycatted".
Other options would be to hire a bicycle best be prepared for some steep inclines. In my opinion, nothing does Dalat justice like a "moto"
Visit the French Quarter
I couldn't get enough of the French Quarter. The beautiful colonial houses are very striking. The huge gates, beautiful doors, unique colours, the unbelievable size of these houses if impressive. Riding around Dalat you will find plenty of these colonial houses. In fact, you will often see large and impressive colonial houses right next door to small shacks. I would stop the bike regularly to get out and take photos. Always being drawn to the beautiful doors and impressive small details.
When to go to Dalat, Vietnam
There are 2 main seasons: the dry season and wet season. The wet season starts from April to October, The dry season is from November to March. Whenever you arrive it will be a welcomed change from the heat.
Dalat is a popular honeymoon destination for the Vietnamese. It is also known as the Valley of love. Wedding season in Vietnam is from October to March. Also, try and avoid the Vietnamese Holiday dates as it will be hard to get accommodation unless you book ahead. I say this only because I didn’t book ahead and had some trouble. However, if you are a bit more prepared than me you won’t have any troubles.
What you need to eat
In the 3 months of travelling around Vietnam, there is one meal that stands out. On my way out from Dalat, I stumbled across an off-the-beaten-track place to eat the BEST Bún bò Huế I have ever had in my life. If you manage to get here please let me know your thoughts. I think this will be the best meal in your life.
How to find the best Bún bò Huế in Vietnam
Sadly, I can't remember where exactly this was but my research has narrowed it down. I took a photo of the outside of the shop and across the road. However, the address is pictured on these images and subtle clues may help - Enjoy the hunt!
Links to a bigger version of the images if you click on the images.
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