Vietnam days 22-25: exploring the Da Lat highlands + canyoning tour

Hi friends! I’m officially in Southern Vietnam, and I’m also in my final week of my big Asia trip (howww?). The last few days, I said goodbye to the heat in Central Vietnam and headed to a town in the southern highlands called Da Lat. Da Lat is a mountain-resort town and popular tourist destination as it’s known as “the Alps of Vietnam.” After seeing beautiful photos and hearing backpacker friends report good things, I was very excited to head here and see what it was all about.

Day 22: Travel day to Da Lat

To get to Da Lat, I flew from Hoi An – after several night buses in Vietnam, I treated myself to a flight this time. 🙂 My first impression of the town was, “Alps of Vietnam…really?!” To me, it looked like another busy city in Vietnam. To be fair, it was raining, so I tried to keep an open mind for the next few days.

Even though the flight was short, traveling took a lot of energy and I laid low after arriving in Da Lat. I hung out at my hostel (Dalat Family Hostel), got to know the other guests over a family dinner, played a few games of pool, and called it an early night.

Day 23: Exploring Da Lat in the rain

The next morning, I woke up early and found breakfast in town at An Cafe. The place was very trendy and felt like an Instagram cafe, but the food was very good.

Then, I walked around town to get a better feel for Da Lat. The sun came out in the morning which made a better impression than yesterday, but overall I still felt it resembled other big cities in Vietnam. I did enjoy the green trees lining the streets and the cooler temps. It was so nice to have a full day to explore and not worry about escaping the heat.

There was a manmade lake in the center of town that provided a nice walking path and a break from the busy streets.

Some nice views as I walked further from the center of town.

I headed back to the hostel for some rest. I was originally going to rent a scooter to see the outskirts of Da Lat, but the rain cut that plan short. So instead, I decided to visit Crazy House, a hotel in Da Lat with quirky decor and architecture. I headed there with a new friend from the hostel, Nelson, who was also from the U.S. We actually met in Hoi An and coincidentally ended up at the same hostel in Da Lat. Once again, the backpacker trail is so small in Vietnam!

I didn’t have any expectations for Crazy House, but it was surprisingly super fun. The hotel was large and felt like an endless maze of individually-themed rooms, weird objects, and lush greenery everywhere. It was animated, weird, and very interesting. It gave me Alice in Wonderland vibes. The stairs were especially interesting as we got lost winding through the stairs. We felt like little kids as we explored every inch and constantly found new places. At a $2 entrance fee, I do recommend coming here!

After a fun and rainy afternoon, I took a warm shower at the hostel. Later on, Nelson and I got dinner in town. We bonded early on over both being sober; it was nice to have someone to hang out with in the evenings as our hostel was somewhat a party hostel.

Day 24: Canyoning tour!

The highlight of Da Lat was today as I did a canyoning tour! Canyoning is the most recommended activity in Da Lat. I had already done canyoning once in Costa Rica, so I was pretty close to skipping it in Da Lat. But after so many guests at the hostel came back reporting good things, I decided to go for it, and I’m SO glad I did! 🙂

The tour started off with getting all our gear on and getting a rappelling tutorial. We also practiced on a short wall at the entrance of the park, and it all came back to me from the few times I did it in the past. I liked that we had a small group so we weren’t waiting around for too long. Some tour groups we saw had 20+ people! Everyone in our group was engaged and full of positive vibes.

Then, it was time to enter the park and start our adventure! We were in a large forest reserve with several rock walls and waterfalls that we’d rappel down. Our tour guide always started off with describing the route, as each wall was different from the other and we had to do different maneuvers. Our first wall was straightforward which got our confidence up.

The treks between each rappelling station were very nice. We walked through the forest and deep in river portions. At one point, we had to go down a river which ended up feeling like a lazy river ride with our life jackets. It was so relaxing and hilarious – one of my favorite parts of the day. 🙂

Next up was the zip line. We rappelled down a short cliff that seamlessly transitioned into a zip line which was new for me. We were all a little scared to let go of the rope and start the zip line, but the contraption worked and it ended up being a fun ride! The landing was pretty funny as it turned out there was no way to gracefully land in the water.

The next rappel was the highlight of the day – a 25-meter waterfall! When I saw the waterfall, I was shocked. I was not mentally prepared for something like this. The waterfall was very strong and there were portions when the water was beating down our faces. The footwork was also tricky as we were continuously stepping on the slippery rock. It was challenging but super fun!

The last portion required jumping into the water from ~5 meters. I hesitated here as I was scared of the height, and I didn’t commit to the jump and ended up crashing into the wall. I didn’t get hurt, but this waterfall was certainly no joke!

It felt really good to tackle this one. We were all relieved to complete the hardest station of the day.

Next up was a cliff jump. I have done cliff jumps before up to ~10 meters; this one was around 7 meters, but I was SO scared! I swear my nerves have gotten worse over the last few years. Looking back, I don’t know how I bungee jumped and did all these thrill-seeking things in my early-20s because I cannot imagine doing it now. I took about 2 minutes waiting on the edge mustering the confidence for this cliff jump, but I survived. 🙂

Next up was a water slide on a rock. It was short but super intense! All of us came out of it like, “what just happened?” I don’t know if you can tell from my face but I was not having it. 😛

Our very last rappel of the day was a fun one. At one point, we were dangling in our harnesses, slowly letting go of the rope while a waterfall was streaming down our heads. Then, we had to let go into the water where a strong current carried us to the end. They called it the “washing machine.”

And that was the end of our canyoning tour! They even gave us a certificate which I thought was very cute. I’ll be adding this to my resume. 😉 What a fun time and highlight of Da Lat.

In the evening, Nelson and I headed out for dinner again and also checked out the night market in the center of town. This was actually a really nice night market as there was plenty of open space, live music, and street eats.

I tried avocado pudding with durian ice cream – very Vietnamese and very tasty. 😉

Day 25: Chill last day

My last day in Da Lat was a chill one. I hung out at the hostel in the morning and worked on this blog post. Then in the afternoon, I headed out on a bus to my next destination.

I originally had high hopes for Da Lat and was planning to stay here for a full week, but after 3 days, I feel like I’ve done enough and am ready to move on. Also, as much as I love the cooler weather here, the rain has been kind of depressing and I’m craving the sun again. So I last minute decided to carve out time for one more stop before flying back home. Next up – I’m heading to a beach town in Southern Vietnam to spend my last days relaxing on the beach. My usual travel style is to end a country on the beach, and I’m excited to end Vietnam the same way. 🙂

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