Climbing Lang Biang, Dalat, Vietnam
I thought today would be a walk in the park – literally. I was wrong. You would think by now I would have learnt to do my research, wouldn’t you?
I’m in Dalat, a city in southern Vietnam that has a reputation as a bit of an alpine holiday destination for the locals.
There’s nothing particularly alpine about it in reality but the Vietnamese here are all rugged up in scarves and beanies. Meanwhile, I’m walking around in shorts and a shirt. I guess temperature is all relative.
Anyway, I digress. Dalat is known also for the nature that surrounds it and there are plenty of activities to do if you want to experience some of the countryside in the area.
Tour companies in town prominently display trips to go hiking, canyoning, cycling, and all sorts of other intrepid day outings.
I’m often a bit hesitant of these kind of tours because you never know for sure what you’re going to get if you book on the street.
There are a few options here online that come recommended, though, if you’re interested in exploring around Dalat:
But I’m more interested in hiking than biking, so I decide to do my own thing.
I decide to go for a trek to a popular spot nearby – Lang Biang mountain. Without any tour company to transport me there, I am determined to walk to the start of the track.
There are public buses that ply that route but I like to stretch my legs and it wasn’t too far. Although, again, distance is all relative.
So I walk to the bottom of Lang Biang, which turns out to be about 10 kilometres and takes me less than two hours. There’s an official entry point here, which I wasn’t expecting, and it costs 20,000 dong (US$1) to get in.
There are quite a few local tourists loitering around the entrance. As it turns out, they’re waiting to catch a jeep up to the top.
I’ve walked this far, so I keep on walking. It’s uphill but nothing too strenuous. Then I get to the turn off to the Lang Biang peak.
The jeeps keep driving past me here – in a different direction! Ah, so there are two peaks, I find out, and the jeeps are going to a different one, not Lang Biang. The only way to get there is to walk.
Fine by me, that was the plan anyway. Although there is another checkpoint where I have to pay another 20,000 dong (US$1).
But this is where things turn out to be a bit different to what I expected. Because I had assumed there was a road the whole way, I had imagined it would be a fairly relaxed route.
But now, suddenly, I’m on a dirt track. It’s quite peaceful so at first I’m relieved – no jeeps whizzing past me with their side mirrors just centimetres from my arm.
At first the path is wide and quite flat. I can see the top of Lang Biang through the trees for the first time. Hmmm… it still looks quite a distance. And quite high up too.
My fear that I wasn’t as close as I hoped becomes apparent within minutes when the track narrows and dives into thick foliage. The view of the mountain is obscured and so is the sun. I’m now starting a fairly steep ascent.
The path gets muddy and slippery. Thankfully there are step-like levels built into the track with wooden boards which helps me not slide back down. But it does make each step a bit harder, as I lumber up.
On a few occasions, fallen trees block the way and I have to climb over them. Or a step is so high that I need to grab onto a hanging branch to pull myself up.
I wouldn’t say it’s extremely hard, but it’s not quite walking along the side of the road. Also, by this point, I have run out of water and my mouth is as dry as my back is wet.
You would think by now I would have learnt to be prepared for this kind of thing, wouldn’t you?
Eventually I get to the top and look back down the path, almost dismissing its difficulty. Perhaps it was just the unexpected that had thrown me – it really didn’t take that long! (About an hour from the second checkpoint.)
Then I actually feel a bit of pride because at the top I find a few groups of hikers who had all come with tour groups from Dalat and had local guides with them. A few people ask in astonishment whether I had done the walk by myself.
Now I wasn’t complaining, I was wearing it as a badge of honour.
The views are decent but not overly spectacular. I rest for a little while then set out again for the bottom. I really need to get down and find some water.
It doesn’t take nearly as long going downhill and is quite an easy hike. I’m back down in about half the time. Then I only have the walk back to Dalat ahead of me.
By the time I get back, My phone tells me that I have done a total of 43,000 steps and climbed 197 floors (how does it know these things, by the way – it’s a bit creepy!) It seems like a good accomplishment.
So, a walk in the park, it was not. But a good day out with a decent hike through some nice scenery? Well, that it was.
THE BEST ACCOMMODATION IN DALAT
For an unusual experience, you might like to stay at the Crazy House. Otherwise, here are some more normal accommodation options I would recommend.
For the most comfortable hostel, I definitely recommend Mooka’s Home with great beds.
A cheap option at a standard hotel in a good location is Phuong Vy 2.
There are stylish apartment-style hotel rooms at The Art – N’Queen Villa.
And if you are looking for a four star hotel in a prime location, TTC Hotel – Ngoc Lan is your best option.
9 thoughts on “Hiking in Dalat”
Sounds great! I recently completed a hike I was very unprepared for – my book said it was easy. Well it wasn’t. But in the end me and my three year old completed a hike up the highest mountain in rarotonga and back across to the other side of the island. Oops.
Great post, it felt as if I was there 🙂 We are actually in Da Lat at the moment and looking into doing a hike in the next day or so so your post is very helpful! 🙂
I went to Dalat last Dec and I was totally captivated by it. I also did canyoning in Dalat and it was awesome. Have you been to Ninh Binh before? I like it very much too! Check out the article if you are keen to find out more about the beautiful Ninh Binh. 🙂
There are lot’s of people recommending me this trail site. And your post makes me want to go there sooner 🙂
Thanks Dan. Please let me know if you get there and what you think of it!
Thanks for providing this information. There is little signage, so with your post, I was able to find the trail head. You are correct about it’s difficulty. To put it in perspective for others, I am in military shape and found it difficult—almost a right of passage. But totally worth it. The views are absolutely stunning.
Follow the road up or hike the woods using google maps and find the trail head located on the right hand side.
Thanks for taking the time to write this. I had an incredible experience with the hike. Highly recommend!
Thank you for the information, it was really useful. However, I was looking for a trail instead of walking on the road. I asked a guide who was hiking with a group of Vietnamese university students. He told me to start behind the ticket office on a dirt trail/road. In fact you don’t even enter the parking lot. The first 500 m or so are quite flat, then you turn left uphill, go by some coffee plantation, and then a beautiful trail in a line forest. When you cross the road walk about 100 m up on the road. The trail continues at the switchback. It was nice not to have to walk on the road.
Thanks for this report . Are there any coffee shops nearby at the base of the mountain?
I enjoyed reading your post about your little adventure. Thanks for the information. There is one thing that is not clear for me: where the trail actually starts? I’ve never been there so I can’t imagine based on descriptions. Can you maybe add a Google Maps link to the exact location?
All the best,