During any adventure in Vietnam, a day trip is a must to see the beautiful hill station of Dalat–locally written as Da Lat. If you’re wise you’ll stay longer than just a day in the City of Flowers as there’s much to see and do in Dalat. These are the best things to do in Dalat in one day.
Da Lat is just a 5-hour bus ride from Mui Ne, or those that are more adventurous can hire a motorbike driver to take them on the scenic drive for a memorable experience! My time was limited in Da Lat as I visited on my Vietnam Wine Tour. We only had a day to visit some of the delightful Buddhist temples surrounded by beautiful pine trees in between wine tastings at the wineries in Vietnam’s Little Paris.
WHERE TO STAY IN DA LAT
In Da Lat, stay at the beautiful Ngoc Phat Hotel and request a room complete with a balcony that’ll boast panoramic views of the scenic Ho Xuan Huong Lake. From this vista, you’ll start to understand why Da Lat has been given the endearing nickname of Vietnam’s Little Paris as many of the colonial buildings remain in the picturesque city from the French colonial era. You’ll also be able to see the quirky lotus structure which is actually a shopping mall complete with a grocery store, food court, and movie theater! Locals congregate at Tran Quoc Toan Square by the lake at night making it a great place to get a pulse on the way of life in Vietnam’s most beautiful hill station city. The rooms at Ngoc Phat Hotel are decorated in the fashion of a darling French cottage.
Browse all accommodation options in Da Lat on Booking.com.
BE AMAZED BY THE MOSAIC WORK AT LINH PHUOC PAGODA
The most famous temple in Da Lat, and potentially all of Vietnam, is the exquisite Linh Phuoc Pagoda (Google Maps). The unique temple is completely covered in pastel mosaic artwork made from broken pottery and glass. There’s so much to see here so plan at least an hour to explore. The Linh Phuoc Pagoda has the most ornate Da Bao tower I’ve seen yet. Be sure to climb up to see a unique Buddha statue on each floor and sweeping views of the surrounding Da Lat valley.
Linh Phuoc Pagoda is relatively new as it was built in the 50s but draws in both local and tourist foreigners to visit the extraordinary Buddha covered in real dried flowers. Another key feature is the eerie basement which represents hell, skip this and spend more time being mesmerized by the incredible architecture at the Linh Phuoc Pagoda.
Within the temple grounds is a massive wishing bell–the largest in all of Vietnam. I left my hopes and dreams for the world on a yellow sticky note along with millions of other wishes and gave the bell a strong knock for good luck. As the healing sounds of the bell echoed around me I felt sure that good things were looming in the future.
My favorite part of the Linh Phuoc Pagoda is the hall that holds the tallest Quan Am Bodhisattva statue in Vietnam. The lady Buddha represents compassion and is an important image for Vietnamese Buddhists. At Linh Phuoc Pagoda the Lady Buddha is surrounded by golden statues, an emerald Buddha, and awe-inspiring mosaic motifs.
VISIT THE PEACEFUL ZEN BUDDHIST TRUC LAM TEMPLE
The elegant Truc Lam Temple (Google Maps) is also a must visit in Da Lat, even though it isn’t quite as adorned as Linh Phuoc Pagoda. This was actually the first Buddhist temple I visited in Vietnam so is very special to me as I was able to observe monks going about their afternoon duties of cleaning the ceremonial hall. I’m forever fascinated by monastic life. This temple is very new, it was just built in the 90s!
The peaceful temple is also a monastery and school where novice monks come to learn about the teachings of The Enlightened One. The temple is dedicated to Zen Buddhism–foreigners are invited to join in on Zen meditation lessons at Truc Lam Temple.
The Zen Buddhist temple of Truc Lam features several lovely gardens, unique structures, and beautiful monuments. It’s possible to reach the temple by cable car which is a lovely experience as you zip through the surrounding pine tree forest and have views of the Tuyen Lam Lake, known as Paradise Lake. When we visited a storm was rolling in–the cool weather was a sweet relief from the heat of Mui Ne! We were even blessed with the sighting of a vibrant rainbow as we left.
FIND THE MASSIVE GOLDEN BUDDHA IMAGE
From the lowlands of Da Lat, you’ll likely notice a massive 79 ft sparkling golden Buddha meditating in the lotus position looking out over the mountainous valley. You can go pay this beautiful Buddhist monument a visit, it’s marked as Gold Buddha Statue on Google Maps.
The gilded Buddha image is part of the Thien Vien Van Hanh temple which was also recently erected in the 50s. Here you’ll find tranquil gardens and many delightful Buddha statues.
TRY SOME FAMOUS DA LAT STREET FOOD
Finding vegan-friendly food in Da Lat was challenging so I was delighted when we came across this vendor who was willing to amend her traditional recipe for these Da Lat pancakes and whip me up one that was veggie friendly. The crepe is made from rice and mine was stuffed with green herbs, bean sprouts, and way too much oil.
BUY FRUITS, VEGGIES, AND MORE AT THE PRODUCE MARKET
Due to its location in the highlands, Da Lat is one of the main areas of Vietnam to grow fresh produce. A stroll through the Da Lat market (Google Maps) will leave your senses intrigued with piles of oblong avocados, mountains of dragon fruit, stacks of artichoke buds, and of course Da Lat’s famous flowers.
Visit as early as possible to see female farmers balancing their bounty in traditional baskets balanced across their shoulders and conical hats protecting their face from the sun.
TASTE DA LAT WINE AT LOCAL WINERIES
No trip to Da Lat would be complete without a lovely afternoon tasting infamous Da Lat wines at local wineries! If you only have time to visit two wineries I suggest heading to Da Lat Beco and trying their Da Lat Beco Export which was my favorite white wine I tried in Vietnam. The best red wine I had was Le Chat Noir from Vinh Tien Winery! Also, try can wine and if you can stomach in the Da Lat table wine which will surely increase your appreciation of good wine.
OTHER ADVENTURES TO HAVE IN DA LAT
If you’re fortunate enough to have more than a day to explore Da Lat you’ll be able to go on any of these incredible adventures. If you’re feeling sporty head out on a guided bicycle ride of the Da Lat countryside. For an adrenaline thrill visit the Robin Hills for a ride on the cable car. Not afraid to get a little wet as you explore? Then try out white water rafting or canyoning down a waterfall in Da Lat. For less extreme experiences in Da Lat, you can visit the lovely tea plantations or take in the wonders of a traditional gong show. Beyond wine, Da Lat is also known for having incredible coffee, but sadly I didn’t have a chance to try any of the famous brew.
SKIP OUT ON SEEING THE CRAZY HOUSE
The Crazy House, also known as Hang Nga Villa, was seriously underwhelming so I’d suggest skipping it. The bizarre structure doesn’t seem very sturdy so I felt very uncomfortable walking around the still-under-construction site. There’s no denying that The Crazy House (Google Maps) is seriously quirky.
If that’s your thing the best way to experience Crazy House is to book a night in one of their abstract themed rooms on Booking.com so that you can have the place to yourself as it’s usually filled to the brim with tourists. If I had to stay here I’d book the honeymoon suite or, if you’re American and feeling patriotic, you can stay in the American themed room complete with a bald eagle! If you don’t want to stay overnight at the wacky Crazy House but would like to see more of the weirdest attractions in Da Lat join this Crazy Dalat City Tour.
TREK DOWNHILL TO THE PONGOUR WATERFALL
If you’ve booked a private driver to take you back to Saigon from Da Lat make sure to stop by the majestic Pongour Waterfall (Google Maps). During the dry season, it’s possible to get close to the waterfall which is why I was able to snap this epic shot of the powerful waterfall. It’s a quick 15-minute downhill trek to the cascading waterfall. Some people were walking across the edge of the fall but I’d strongly suggest not doing this. If you’re going to take the risk make sure you’ve purchased a travel insurance plan from World Nomads in case you get caught in the rapids. Another nearby waterfall that’s worth visiting is the stunning Elephant Waterfalls.
Have you been to Da Lat? What do you recommend people see and do in Vietnam’s picturesque hill station? Tell us in the comments!
I was a guest at Ngoc Phat Hotel courtesy of Vietnam Wine Tours. This post contains affiliate links. Please read the Miss Filatelista disclosure policy for more information.