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Our first day in Dalat was spent exploring the bizarre and kitschy sights around the city. We had planned to dedicate Day two to an exciting new form of adrenaline chasing: . Canyoning involves a combination of rock climbing and rappelling backwards down waterfalls. Unfortunately, Dalat was experiencing an unusual cold front during our visit and we no less wanted to touch a waterfall’s icy stream than we wanted to leap off it without a safety harness. Instead, we did the boring warm person’s version of that: we extended our motorcycle rental another day and drove ourselves from waterfall to waterfall, directly disobeying the orders in TLC’s 1995 Grammy nominated hit .

Datanla Falls
Our first stop of the day was to nearby Datanla Falls, a popular trip with foreign and domestic tourists. If you thought the Dalat kitsch extended only to man-made tourist attractions, you were wrong. With effort, even waterfalls can be made appropriately tacky.

It’s good that they spiced the place up though, because frankly the falls themselves are fairly unspectacular. We still waited our turn in line for the typical tourist waterfall shot, though!

By far the most exciting thing about Datanla Falls is the luge ride. With a lever, you are able to control your own speed completely, which is completely exhilarating. On the downside, you are held fully responsible if you crash into the person ahead of you, which is unfortunate when the Japanese family in front is completely overwhelmed with giddiness when they reach a speed of 2.3km/hour.

At the bottom of the luge, Mark tried his hand at archery while I considered yet another cable car ride. The Vietnamese must love their cable cars. In the end we did three, each in a different city!

On The RoadSince Datanla was so close to town, it was easy to find on a map. When it came to our next destination, Elephant Falls, things were a bit more tricky. Our guidebook, as well as a map we bought in town, both indicated the falls with arrows pointing off the page with vague kilometer markings and no further directions.

Even on the road, Dalat continued to strike a balance between head-scratching and cute. These adorable pigs crossing the street left me trying to make up a new version of the “Why did the chickens cross the road?” joke.

Dalat’s fame as a produce and flower producer made for beautiful city outskirts to drive through. More than once I made Mark pull over so I could marvel at seeing Gerber daisies, roses, and even poinsettia growing both in greenhouses and wild on the road.

While we sadly did not get to do our dream trip of motorcycling down the length of Vietnam (this time, anyway!) on this day we got a little taste of how beautiful it would be. The provincial scenes we were zipping by were the Vietnam of postcards and poetry.

Of course, we still had not so much as a clue as to where we were headed. Whenever we came to a turn or a fork in the road we would try with a zero success rate to mime “waterfall” to whatever unlucky local was passing by before giving up and going “on intuition.”

About an hour in we decided that even if our intuition wasn’t leading us to the waterfalls it was at least compensating with some stunning scenery and a fun, meandering downward road.

When we stopped to take these photos we were so in awe we all agreed that whether or not we found the falls the day had been a success. Sheer beauty.

Elephant Falls
But since, as my friend Tom says, fortune favors the brave, we did in fact find Elephant Falls. An enterprising young Vietnamese family had even set up a card table and was charging admission to the supposedly free waterfalls. Lonely Planet now owes me 25 cents.

As we gingerly climbed down the decrepit and ill-placed stairways, we realized that admission was not going towards upkeep. But the journey and the ticket were a small price to pay for the thundering show of mother nature’s power that awaited us.

Unlike our first stop of the day, there was nothing to distract us from simply sitting and soaking it in, both literally and figuratively. I will always remember feeling so impressed at that moment. Both by the amazing waterfall in front of me and the sense of adventure we embraced to travel for 90 minutes in what could have been the completely wrong direction in order to get there.

It was a beautiful day. I like to think that perhaps even TLC would have approved.

  • What a fun place to explore! You look SO happy!!!

  • Steve McKee
    January 22 2012

    that last photo is incredible.
    And I completely love this line with its most effective “completely” echo: “By far the most exciting thing about Datanla Falls is the luge ride. With a lever, you are able to control your own speed completely, which is completely exhilarating.”

    • Meihoukai
      January 23 2012

      I thought you might like this post…. luging is a sport after all, right? šŸ™‚

  • Zoe
    January 22 2012

    i LOVE that last photo of Mark–barely noticed him at first

    • Meihoukai
      January 23 2012

      I know, it’s one of my favorites. Might even make the frame when I get back!

  • Sarahsomewhere
    January 23 2012

    Looks and sounds like an awesome day, I love the freedom of traveling by moped, and I seriously cannot wait to experience it again. The last photo is superb!!

    • Meihoukai
      January 24 2012

      We try to rent a bike whenever possible to explore our surroundings! I’m not comfortable enough yet to want to drive a rental myself, so luckily Mark doesn’t mind lugging both of us!

  • 4feet2mouths
    December 18 2012

    Thank you writing this post we are definitely going to see some of these waterfalls in Dalat.

    • Meihoukai
      December 18 2012

      Enjoy! Dalat is beautiful, I think you’ll be charmed.

  • Kristin Addis
    February 17 2014

    Thanks for this! When I was looking for info on how to get to this waterfall (since they didn’t speak English at my guest house and I couldn’t figure it out) this helped! I decided to take a motorbike too. I loved Da Lat! What a beautiful place.

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2014

      I’m so glad to hear that! It was definitely an interesting journey šŸ™‚ Amazing how fair intuition can take you!

  • trang
    December 5 2014

    You should have gone to the coffee plantation field in Da Lat ! šŸ™‚ the worm silk factory. Those are the coolest things I have ever experienced in my life. Vietnamese coffee is pretty awesome by any means. They have plenty types of coffee and My experience was to have myself emerge in the beauty of the coffee plantation field while having a cup of coffee. Best feeling ever.

    • Meihoukai
      December 10 2014

      There is so much to see in Dalat! I really enjoyed my time there.

  • Sam
    February 23 2015

    Out of curiosity, did you ever find a reliable map to get to the falls? I’ve been looking everywhere but all maps seem to point to the middle of Dalat.

    Great post!

    • Meihoukai
      February 25 2015

      Hey Sam, never did! Just went with our intuition šŸ™‚

  • Vivy
    April 25 2015

    To go to the waterfall, you can follow the road to Ta Nung (cross Van Thanh flower village), there would be a sign for the waterfall on the right side of the road. It’s about 1.5 hours ride.

    • Meihoukai
      April 25 2015

      Thanks for the directions, Vivy! I’m sure it will be helpful to future travelers!

  • Clair Gieber
    June 2 2015

    I have been to Vietnam 4 times already but I have never visited Dalat. I have seen so many beautiful pictures on many travel blogs. It looks really lovely, I will definitely visit next time

    • Meihoukai
      June 2 2015

      It’s a really fun and quirky place! I think it’s well worth a look…

  • Jake
    December 13 2015

    I cannot believe I missed the Luge ride when I was there… Looks brilliant!

    • Meihoukai
      December 13 2015

      Sounds like a good reason to go back šŸ™‚

  • Abby
    August 7 2016

    I love your blog, Meihoukai ! šŸ™‚ My friend and I will be traveling to Vietnam on August 25th, then I’ll be traveling alone from the 31st onwards. Can’t wait to explore these places ! Like you, I’ll be exploring the Southern part as I only have more than a week to do so. Cheers! šŸ™‚

    • Meihoukai
      August 8 2016

      Thanks Abby! Vietnam has so many amazing gems. Don’t miss Mui Ne — it was my favorite!

  • Journey Vy
    August 20 2018

    Thank Meihoukai for your helpful post. The most memorable thing of my trip to Dalat was the chance of experience 4 seasons within one days. I love the colorful flowers, amazing waterfall, the fresh air and the tranquility of the city in the early morning. The coffee here is also wonderful. I hope i can settle time to come back to Dalat soon.

    • Meihoukai
      October 10 2018

      What a beautiful comment <3 Dalat is definitely a unique place!

  • Kevin
    December 21 2018

    I thought a luge was something they just had in European countries. Will have to check this out including Elephant Falls. That looks so epic!

    • Meihoukai
      December 31 2018

      Ha, guess it’s a global word šŸ™‚