Things To Do In Dalat, Vietnam: Train Rides, Temples, Waterfalls, And More!
Published November 30, 2019
When I first visited Dalat earlier this year, I was sadly unable to explore outdoors because of heavy, non-stop rain. That’s why I was so excited to revisit the city with my friend Ismael a few months later! When we got off the plane and were greeted by blue skies, I was so excited to finally see what Dalat had to offer.
The one good thing about my first rain-soaked trip was that I got to explore the city’s amazing cafe scene. Since Dalat is the heart of Vietnam’s coffee-growing region, the cafes there are some of the best that I’ve come across in all my travels. I wrote a separate post about it, which you can check out here. I also updated the list with five new cafes and restaurants I tried with Ismael, so be sure to check it out!
I came away from Dalat this time loving the city. The green hills around town and the unexpectedly cool temperature will make you feel like you’re in Canada or Northern Europe. There are a couple of interesting and unique attractions in Dalat which are discussed in this post. They center around a historic train ride and a waterfall. To learn more, keep reading!
Unique Attractions in Dalat
A Tourist Train Ride
Dalat’s most noteworthy offering is a short historic train route that runs from Dalat Railway Station (Ga Đà Lạt) in the city center to Trại Mát Station (Ga Trại Mát) in the suburbs to the east. While Trại Mát has a beautiful temple that you should definitely check out, the scenic train ride is a fun experience all on its own. Below are more details on Dalat Station, the train, and the temple.
You’ll first want to head to Dalat Railway Station, located here. The station itself is an attraction to check out with its distinctive yellow façade.
There are also old train cars on display, a couple of gardens, and a chocolate shop.
The Train Ride
After exploring the station, board the train at your designated departure time. Check out the vintage interior of the train and find a seat. As you chug along, you’ll be treated to scenic views of coffee farms and greenhouses.
The Linh Phước Pagoda
Chùa Ve Chai (Linh Phước)
The terminal station for this route is located here. Walk just a bit to the east, then turn south to find the entrance to the pagoda. Follow the crowd or ask an employee for directions if you’re not sure where to go.
We paid for round-trip train tickets, but this would’ve made for a very rushed temple visit. We wanted to take our time exploring the Linh Phước Pagoda, so we decided to forego the train ride back and took a taxi back to the Dalat town center instead.
The temple is a pretty large complex with a number of different rooms and shrines. If you only spend half an hour here, you might miss some of the most impressive parts. Those who are able should climb the steep staircases up to the top of the tallest pagoda, which offers really stunning panoramic views. It’s about seven stories tall!
Like the temple mentioned above, this waterfall is also a short distance outside of the city center. Unfortunately, there is no train service out here. Instead, visitors should call a Grab car (the local version of Uber) and ask to be dropped off at this point.
The Datanla Waterfall appears to only be accessible via a “roller coaster,” although it’s not the kind of thing you might imagine in an amusement park. It’s relatively slow and smooth, and even has a mechanism for slowing down. You ride in an individual car which is not connected to any other passengers.
I found this to be a fun part of the excursion, but I can imagine that some travelers might not be interested in (or able to) do this. You could inquire at the ticket booth about other ways to reach the waterfall, but it seemed to me like this might be it.
As mentioned above, the coaster ride itself was smooth and comfortable. The only thing I didn’t love about it was that the inclines felt pretty steep, and the car design has passengers reclined quite a bit. This gave me the feeling of almost laying down while being brought up the hill with my legs higher than my head, which didn’t feel natural. If the thought of that freaks you out, you might want to skip the Datanla Waterfall.
After all this talk of the coaster, you might be wondering about the actual waterfall itself. This is what it looks like (pictured below). At the bottom of the hill where it’s located, there’s a small visitor area. When you’re ready to go back, you’ll have to get back on the roller coaster to return to the main entrance.
An Amazing Array of Cafes
Dalat has a vibrant food and drink scene, but in this town, coffee is king! That’s because coffee is one of the region’s most important industries, so much of what you’ll find here is local specialty brews. This post would be way too long if I included all my recommendations, which is why I’ve written a separate post all about Dalat’s best cafes. Be sure to check it out!
Other Points of Interest
As you can see, Dalat is a very green city that has a small-town vibe. That’s why it’s such a great place for outdoor activities as long as the weather is good! I highly recommend setting aside some time to explore on foot, and an excellent place to do this is along the shores of Xuan Huong Lake (Hồ Xuân Hương).
Along the southern shore, you’ll find Lam Vien Square (Quảng trường Lâm Viên) which has some interesting modern architecture, cafes, a shopping center, and street vendors.
Also, here’s one tip: pack layers! Since the town is in the mountains and not on the coast, it can be surprisingly chilly, especially at night!
Where to Stay
On my first visit to Dalat, I stayed at the Tigon Dalat Hostel (affiliate link). On this trip, we booked a room at the Tía Dú Homestay (affiliate link). Both were a little out of the way, but the panoramic views from the homestay were a great reason to stay in that particular neighborhood, which is pretty residential.
If you’d rather be closer to restaurants, bars, and cafes, I’d recommend looking for a place to stay in District 1 (Phường 1). To browse other hotels, hostels, and homestays in Dalat, feel free to use the affiliate widgets below! If you make a booking with them, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra charge to you, which helps me produce travel content just like this post!
Go check out Dalat!
This blog post is by no means exhaustive. If you stay for longer than a few days, you’ll have ample time to see everything mentioned here and more! Have you been to the area before? Are you interested in checking it out on your next trip to Vietnam? Leave a comment and let me know! Thanks for reading, and if you’re either in Dalat now or headed there soon, enjoy!
This post was published on Nov 30, 2019