When researching Dalat briefly to see what others recommended, a lot of what came up was about activities such as canyoning, waterfalls, and an Easy Rider countryside tour. While those activities are great, there is plenty to do in the city itself on your own to keep you entertained for days. Dalat is a charming, temperate city with a European feel that is a relief from the bigger cities of Vietnam and Southeast in general. So here are six great ways to enjoy quality time in Dalat.
1.) Go to the Dalat Night Market
The Dalat Night Market is in a great part of town. The actual night market starts after 6 pm but if you get there earlier you can walk around and see flower vendors setting up for the evening. Before coming to Dalat, somebody told me it was the city of flowers and at least one of the reasons has to do with the wide array of fresh flowers available for sale ranging from roses to succulents.
After 6 pm when night falls, the area will come alive with a sea of vendors selling many food options. The food options are plentiful with many of the regular staples but with some quirky additions:
For 10,000 dong, you can get a small container of Vietnamese yogurt that tastes as sweet as my American palate is used to. Makes for a great snack or dessert.
Just to be clear, there is nothing about these that remotely resemble a pizza. They are crispy, thin bread with spreadable cheese, greens, egg, and pieces of ham on top. Occasionally, the vendors will get artistic with their designs and make pretty ones.
Despite how pretty they are, I was not crazy about how they tasted because the meat always seemed a bit overcooked. But you can try one for yourself because they are only 20,000 dong or about $1.00.
Sweet potatoes and corn on the cob cooked over the fire.
Between the cooler nights Dalat delivers and the festive atmosphere of the night market, the sweet potatoes and corn really make you feel like you are at a holiday market even in the middle of August.
If yogurt and weird pizza doesn’t do it for you, you can find many restaurants in the area surrounding the night market and other more traditional Vietnamese street food. The food options can be found in all the streets leading from the statue in the middle of the square so be sure to explore.
2.) Navigate the Maze Bar
The Maze Bar is a fun concept bar. At the entrance you buy a mandatory drink and walk inside a series of narrow, interconnected corridors with stairways going in different directions. What’s waiting for those who successfully complete the maze?
Another bar, of course, with two levels and an outdoor seating area. The bar gets pretty rowdy and packed and while I didn’t go there by myself, I heard from a few travelers I met that they did. It is kind of the perfect bar for a solo traveler because it’s more like an activity and a great place to meet people.
3.) Go to the sprawling bakery, Lien Hoa
Where do I begin about this place. This is really the reason I stayed in Dalat as long as I did and I’m only partially joking.
When I first walked into Lien Hoa, I knew I had found the right place. The assortment of pastries, croissants, and other baked goods was really astounding for any type of bakery, let alone a self-serve place. The first order of business is to grab a tray and then try your best to make reasonable choices without getting carried away (good luck). My advice is to go for anything but the croissants as they were the most average of what I tried.
The street side counter at Lien Hoa is a banh mi station with a menu in English. The sandwiches were 15,000 on average for the meat options and were very solid.
If all this isn’t enough to convince you to pay a visit to the institution that is Lien Hoa then you should know one more thing. There is also a restaurant upstairs with full seating and an array of dishes and hearty soups.
This place is always packed day or night and the staff have everything down to a science. How can a place get everything so right across the board? Well, its been around for a while.
Address: 15-17, 19 Ba Tháng Hai, Phường 1, Thành phố Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng
4.) Visit the Crazy House!
Anybody who has ever been to Barcelona has also visited at least one of the Gaudi houses. Why? Even if you are not into surrealist architecture, it makes for a unique experience and great photos. This is exactly why the Crazy House in Dalat is worth a visit.
Originally called the Villa of the Moon, the Crazy House was created by female architect Hang Nga, who studied architecture in Moscow and was a Gaudi admirer. The Crazy House will make you think you are back at the Maze Bar, just more sober. The staircases leading to the top of the building provide sweeping views of the city in some parts. The place is also very instagrammable although I failed to get anything other than a few selfies.
Another interesting fact about the Crazy House is that it is also a hotel. While exploring and climbing through the premises, you can peak into the available suites. Some of which are a bit more atypical than others:
5.) Take part in Dalat’s surprisingly vibrant cafe culture
A quick Tripadvisor search will yield the best ones closest to you but if you happen to be close to one of these, I recommend them!
This place is a chain with three locations and while its nothing special, it has consistently good drinks and customer service.
2.) An Cafe
Set on an interesting place in the middle of two roads at different heights, one side of the cafe is above a busy street and the other side borders a quiet one. The other thing that makes this cafe special is that half of it is outside and the other half is inside. Some of the tables have swing chairs.
Whether you go day or night, the ambiance of this place is mellow and relaxed.
3.) Dome Cafe
I didn’t actually go inside but this cafe is set inside a unique looking green glass dome in a square next to the Xuan Huong Lake. If you want a photo opp with your coffee then this is the place to go.
6.) Stroll around the Xuan Huong Lake
Take a walk around the Xuan Huong Lake which is surrounded by green public spaces and gardens. It would be a long walk to do the entire perimeter so stick to exploring one area. Or you could also rent a swan pedal boat.