Up in the highlands of Vietnam a few hours from the coast, Dalat is (literally) a breath of fresh air. The crisp mountain air is consistently cooler than the rest of Vietnam year-round, giving it the nickname “City of Eternal Spring.” Not only can you walk around and explore the beautiful highlands without constantly dripping sweat, but it’s also the perfect place for adventure activities.
I spent my first day in Dalat canyoning, which is the most popular activity among backpackers. For only $25, I got a guided canyoning tour with 10 other backpackers that had us rappelling through waterfalls, abseiling down rock faces, and jumping off cliffs. I’ve done canyoning once before in New Zealand, and considering that was $195 for a one-day tour, canyoning in Dalat was such a deal!
A highlight of the day was the 25 meter waterfall. Turning our heads to the side to avoid being hit in the eyes by rushing water, we abseiled down, sometimes slipping and sliding on the slick rock. About 5 meters from the pool below we let go of the rope while launching ourselves out and into the pool below, careful not to jump too far to the right where a giant rock lay.
Another favorite was the last waterfall, appropriately called “The Washing Machine.” This one started with a shorter abseil down a rock face until we reached the waterfall, at which point there was no more rock to step down so we just slowly released our rope and slid down through the falls. It’s called the Washing Machine because if you don’t lower yourself fast enough, the water can end up spinning you in circles all the way down. As soon as our toes hit the water below, we let go of the rope and held our breath as the waterfall sucked us under and through a small gorge for about five seconds and spat us out on the other side into a pool.
Our guides were hilarious, and we loved their motto: “Don’t be lazy, be crazy!” They even took photos for us along the way and posted them to Facebook for free later that night, which was pretty awesome.
Another great thing to do in Dalat is just to explore by foot or motorbike. I did half and half, spending a few hours just walking around taking pictures of the beautiful scenery, and another few hours on motorbike to explore areas further away. Both journeys left me with some lovely memories (and photos) of the town.
Similar to Nha Trang, one of my favorite parts of Dalat was the hostel I stayed at. Opened only three weeks ago, Cozy Nook hostel is run by one of the most welcoming and friendly families I have met. Every morning they made us breakfast for free, and every night they cooked a big dinner for everyone for only $3, and we all sat down to eat together, making it feel like a real family. The family learned my name from the moment I checked in and always made sure I was full after a meal, that my room was comfortable, that I had tours and transportation booked with good companies, and basically went out of their way to make sure that everything was perfect for each and every guest. Never would’ve guessed that my biggest challenge in Dalat would simply be leaving the hostel!
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌