Dalat by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

Dalat by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

First published March 2022 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

Many of Dalat’s most famous and impressive sights and attractions lie within a 10km-40km radius of the city centre. Linked by good roads through pretty scenery, these sights are best visited by motorbike. While Dalat city is increasing busy, noisy and polluted, the surrounding countryside is home to some of the most picturesque and easily accessible alpine scenery in Vietnam: pine-cloaked mountains, silver lakes and agricultural valleys all peppered with interesting places to stop and see, eat and drink. In this guide, I’ve created five short, easy, scenic, sight-packed motorbike routes and loops, all on paved roads and rideable in a half- or full-day depending on how much you stop and sightsee along the way. Aside from camping in the pine forests and exploring the city’s amazing cafe scene, riding through the countryside from sight to sight is the best way to experience Dalat, especially for first-time visitors.

Dalat by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

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DALAT BY MOTORBIKE: 5 ROUTES & LOOPS


Exploring the Region’s Sights & Countryside on Two Wheels

All five routes are plotted on my colour-coded map, but I’ve also created separate, more detailed maps for each route in the corresponding sections of this guide. I’ve written a brief overview of each of the five routes, including photos. The best months are the dry season (roughly November-April) when skies are likely to be clear, the air crisp and temperatures warm. At other times, there’s a high chance of persistent rain and mist, but these conditions have their charm in this region. All five routes are on paved roads (unless otherwise indicated on the maps or in the text) and can be ridden on any motorbike in a half- or full-day. Bike rental is possible through your accommodation or Dalat-based rental companies. Be careful in wet conditions when paved roads become slippery and dirt roads treacherous. For convenience, I’ve made the start/end point for all five routes the traffic circle at Hồ Xuân Hương Lake in Dalat city centre. These five routes are intended to take in some of Dalat’s main sights and scenic roads. There are many other roads to explore, but be warned that if using Google Maps to plan a different route, many roads turn out to be dirt. There is simply no way of being entirely up-to-date with road conditions. Things change all the time: no one (not even Google) knows what conditions are in real-time.

CONTENTS:

Route Map

ROUTE 1: The Lake

ROUTE 2: The Mountain

ROUTE 3: The Tea Hill

ROUTE 4: The Waterfall

ROUTE 5: The Pine Forest

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Dalat by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

*Road Safety & Disclaimer: Riding a motorbike in Vietnam – or anywhere in the world – has its dangers. I would hope & expect anyone who chooses to pursue a self-drive road trip based on the information on this website does so with care, respect & due diligence. I encourage careful riding & adherence to road rules, but I am not responsible for the legality or manner in which you ride, nor any negative consequences which may result from your decision to ride a motorbike in Vietnam: you do so at your own risk. Read more >


Dalat by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

MAP:

Dalat by Motorbike: 5 Routes & Loops

Colour Key:

Route 1: The Lake

Route 2: The Mountain

Route 3: The Tea Hill

Route 4: The Waterfall

Route 5: The Pine Forest

View LARGER MAP


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Tom

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Route 1: The Lake

DETAILS:

  • Route: around Tuyền Lâm Lake
  • Distance: 45km (approx.)
  • Duration: half-day/full-day
  • Scenery: lakes, pine hills, forest
  • Attractions: cafes, boating, pagodas, selfie-parks, clay tunnels
  • Road Conditions: good, smooth, paved roads, light traffic

ROUTE 1 MAP: The Lake

View in a LARGER MAP


Description: A classic Dalat loop, ‘The Lake’ route skirts the edges of Hồ Tuyền Lâm, the region’s famous, glittering artificial lake, surrounded be gentle mountains and pine-studded hills. As well as the many scenic stretches of road with excellent, Swiss-like vistas, this route also passes some of Dalat’s major tourist attractions: The Crazy House, Bảo Đại Palace III, Đường Hầm Điêu Khắc (clay model tunnels), Trúc Lâm Pagoda and cable car, Happy Hill selfie-park, Prenn and Datanla waterfalls, and ‘Ghost Villa’ are all among the most-visited tourist sights in the region (see my route map.) In addition to these, the riding is easy and highly scenic, especially along the lakeside and the beautiful valley near the Wilder-nest Cafe and the Prenn Pass. Make sure to stop at some of the excellent cafes marked on my map, too. Personally, I prefer riding this loop anti-clockwise, but either direction is fine. All in all, a few hours spent on this loop is a memorable day out in Dalat. The lake is at its most magical at dawn and dusk (6am and 6pm). (Check my route map for places of interest, cafes and attractions.)


IMAGES | Route 1: The Lake

Tuyền Lâm Lake, motorbike route, Dalat
Tuyền Lâm Lake at dusk

Tuyền Lâm Lake, motorbike route, Dalat
The road to the ‘Wilder-nest valley’

Tuyền Lâm Lake, motorbike route, Dalat
The northwestern shores of Tuyền Lâm Lake

Tuyền Lâm Lake, motorbike route, Dalat
Happy Hill selfie-park on the southwestern shores of Tuyền Lâm Lake

Tuyền Lâm Lake, motorbike route, Dalat
Skirting the eastern shores of Tuyền Lâm lake

Tuyền Lâm Lake, motorbike route, Dalat
Looking into the ‘Wilder-nest valley’

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Route 2: The Mountain

DETAILS:

  • Route: around Lang Biang mountain
  • Distance: 55km (approx.)
  • Duration: half-day/full-day
  • Scenery: mountains, valleys, farms, greenhouses
  • Attractions: trekking Lang Biang mountain, cafes, farms, museums, selfie-parks
  • Road Conditions: good, smooth, paved roads, moderate traffic

ROUTE 2 MAP: The Mountain

View in a LARGER MAP


Description: Looping north of Dalat city, ‘The Mountain’ route skirts the lower slopes of Lang Biang, the highest peak in the region. Indeed, this route goes right up to the entrance for the trailhead for hiking up the mountain – a touristy excursion, but worth it for the views. Wherever you are on this loop, the green, distinctively pyramidal peak of Lang Biang can be seen poking into the clouds. The loop can be ridden in either direction (although I prefer to go anticlockwise), and includes a scenic detour north to Twin Beans Farm, a beautiful, secluded coffee plantation, cafe and accommodation. (The last section of this detour is still unpaved.) Just south of Twin Beans Farm, the route takes a relatively new and scenic road due west across to Lang Biang town (where the entrance to the mountain hike is). From here the route heads south into Dalat city, passing the famously kitsch Valley of Love (stop for a beer at the German House before or after) and the northern shores of the city’s iconic Xuân Hương Lake. In the east of the loop there are several clusters of excellent cafes and a couple of museums. (Check my route map for places of interest, cafes and more.)


IMAGES | Route 2: The Mountain

Lang Biang Mountain, motorbike route, Dalat
Farmland with Lang Biang Mountain in the distance

Lang Biang Mountain, motorbike route, Dalat
The east-west road beneath the southern slopes of Lang Biang Mountain

Lang Biang Mountain, motorbike route, Dalat
Sheltering under tall pines near Lang Biang Mountain

Lang Biang Mountain, motorbike route, Dalat
On the road to Twin Beans Farm with Lang Biang Peak in the distance

Lang Biang Mountain, motorbike route, Dalat
The valley of plastic greenhouses surrounding Dalat city

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Route 3: The Tea Hill

DETAILS:

  • Route: around Cầu Đất tea plantations
  • Distance: 80km round-trip (approx.)
  • Duration: half-day/full-day
  • Scenery: tea hills, mountains, pine forests, wind farms
  • Attractions: ‘cloud-hunting’ selfie-parks, cafes, pagodas, waterfalls
  • Road Conditions: good, smooth, paved roads, moderate traffic

ROUTE 3 MAP: The Tea Hill

View in a LARGER MAP


Description: Heading due east and then south of Dalat city centre, ‘The Tea Hill’ route passes through highland villages, farms, pagodas, waterfalls and tea plantations. On the way out of the city, the route passes by the old Dalat Train Station, which is appropriate because the rest of the route follows the old railway line for much of the way. In the busy little town of Trại Mát stop to look at the elaborate Linh Phước pagoda. Continuing east, take a brief detour to Tiger Waterfall (Thác Hang Cọp). From here the route goes south through farmland and pine trees, passing several selfie-parks, old railway tunnels and cafes perched on the sides of valleys, until entering the town of Cầu Đất. Famous for its coffee and tea hills, more recently Cầu Đất has become a centre for Vietnamese travellers to đi săn mây (‘go cloud hunting’). Indeed, there are several coffee shops (including the spectacular PhinDeli) and selfie-parks near the top of the cold, windswept tea hills (overlooked by towering wind turbines) that offer great views across the landscape, which waxes and wanes as the clouds and mist come and go. After exploring the tea hills, rejoin the main road for a scenic downhill stretch twisting through hairpins all the way to D’Ran village. Back in Dalat, stop by Cù Rú bar for a cocktail. (Check my map for sights and attractions along the route.)

*If you want to turn this route into a loop you can do so by taking QL27 due west of D’Ran and then north back to Dalat (see the red line on my map). However, this a rather boring, busy road, so I think it’s better to just return the way you came – on the blue line)


IMAGES | Route 3: The Tea Hill

Cầu Đất Tea Hill, motorbike route, Dalat
The tea hills of Cầu Đất

Tiger Waterfall, Dalat
Impressive cascade at Tiger Waterfall

Cầu Đất Tea Hill, motorbike route, Dalat
A săn mây (cloud-hunting) platform looking over the valley near Cầu Đất

Cầu Đất Tea Hill, motorbike route, Dalat
Riding through tea plantations beneath the looming presence of giant wind turbines

Cầu Đất Tea Hill, motorbike route, Dalat
One of several cloud-hunting (săn mây) selfie-parks at the top of Cầu Đất tea hills

Cầu Đất Tea Hill, motorbike route, Dalat
Tea terraces and wind turbines at Cầu Đất

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Route 4: The Waterfall

DETAILS:

  • Route: around Elephant Waterfall & beyond
  • Distance: 120km round-trip (approx.)
  • Duration: half-day/full-day
  • Scenery: waterfalls, coffee farms, pine hills, valleys, villages
  • Attractions: cafes, waterfalls, pagodas, selfie-parks,
  • Road Conditions: good, smooth, paved roads, moderate traffic

ROUTE 4 MAP: The Waterfall

View in a LARGER MAP


Description: Spreading south and west of Dalat city, ‘The Waterfall’ route is a meandering ride on good roads through big landscapes, passing scenic valleys, waterfalls, selfie-parks, cafes and a couple of great detours. Head out of Dalat on DT725 due southwest down the Tà Nung Pass and into Nam Ban valley. Densely cultivated with fruits, flowers, vegetables and coffee, this valley is famous for the impressive cascade at Elephant Waterfall (Thác Voi) and several huge farms that have been turned into Instagram theme parks with creative props for posing in front of, such as Chuồn Chuồn, Dalaland and Mê Linh Coffee Garden. It’s pretty touristy, but just a bit of fun. In amongst the kitsch there are several more tasteful countryside cafes, such as Midori. Nam Ban and Tà Nung villages are quite busy and dusty, and traffic on the roads here is surprisingly heavy with farm trucks.

The second part of ‘The Waterfall’ route is due west of Dalat on a beautiful road through pine hills out to the seldom-visited villages of Đa Nghịt and Păng Tiêng. The road is wide, smooth and new, and the scenery very good. But just south of Păng Tiêng the road ends in dust and construction. At sometime in the not too distant future, this road will continue south all the way to Nam Ban, thus creating a big loop. But, at the time of research, the western half of the potential loop (the red line on my map) was still under construction and best avoided. Instead, take a couple short but very pretty one-way detours from Đa Nghịt on very steep paved lanes with excellent views (marked ‘Scenic detour 1 and 2’ on my map). Both detours currently dead-end but are worth the ride. Finally, don’t forget to stop for a whole roast chicken (gà nướng) and a bottle of local forest fruit rice wine (rượu sim) at the fantastic wooden shack restaurant of Thung Lũng Xanh. (See my route map for all places mentioned in this description and more.)


IMAGES | Route 4: The Waterfall

The Waterfall route, motorbike route, Dalat
View over pine-studded hills from ‘scenic detour 1’

The Waterfall route, motorbike route, Dalat
The thundering water of Elephant Falls (Thác Voi)

The Waterfall route, motorbike route, Dalat
Coffee plantations and viewing gallery at Mê Linh Coffee Garden

The Waterfall route, motorbike route, Dalat
A steep hairpin bend on ‘scenic detour 1’

The Waterfall route, motorbike route, Dalat
View from a pass on ‘scenic detour 2’

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Route 5: The Pine Forest

DETAILS:

  • Route: around Suối Vàng Lake & beyond
  • Distance: 150km round-trip (approx.)
  • Duration: full-day
  • Scenery: lakes, pine forests, mountains, rivers
  • Attractions: cafes, BBQs, river swimming, selfie-parks, the open road
  • Road Conditions: good, smooth, paved roads, very light traffic

ROUTE 5 MAP: The Pine Forest

View in a LARGER MAP


Description: Although the longest of the five routes, ‘The Pine Forest’ is also the easiest to navigate and ride. This is because most of the route is on one (fabulous) road leading north of Dalat deep into the pine forests, mountains and jungles. This route is light on traffic and big on scenery. Heading northwest of the city centre, the road rounds Suối Vàng Lake, along the shores of which several lakeside barbecue shacks sell grilled meats and cơm lam (sticky rice cooked in a length of bamboo). The vistas are pretty and the riding is easy. However, it’s north of the lake that this route really starts to shine. After passing the countryside theme park at Làng Cù Lần, the road ploughs through dense pine forests which cloak the purple ridges for as far as the eye can see. The air is cool and clear, the scent of pine is on the breeze and the whispering of their needles is the only sound to be heard in the vast landscape. In fact, this is part of the Trường Sơn Đông Road, which leads all the way north to central Vietnam. However, this particular section hasn’t been finished yet, and dead-ends after passing along a beautiful river some 70km north of Dalat. Even though this is a (long) one-way ride, it’s well worth it because the views are amazing, the river is swimmable, the riding easy and joyous, and there is no one else on the road. Just make sure you have enough gas, because the only petrol available is at the village of Đưng K’Nớ. (See my route map for places mentioned in this description and more.)


IMAGES | Route 5: The Pine Forest

The Pine Forest, motorbike route, Dalat
Ploughing through the pine forests north of Suối Vàng Lake

The Pine Forest, motorbike route, Dalat
Beautiful Krông Nô River valley near the northern limit of the route

The Pine Forest, motorbike route, Dalat
North of Đưng K’Nớ village the Trường Sơn Đông Road is new, empty and a joy to ride

The Pine Forest, motorbike route, Dalat
Snaking along the Krông Nô River before dead-ending at the northern limit of the route

The Pine Forest, motorbike route, Dalat
Alpine scenery around Suối Vàng Lake

*Disclosure: I never receive payment for anything I write: my content is always free and independent. I’ve written this guide because I want to: I like these routes and I want my readers to know about them. For more details, see my Disclosure & Disclaimer statements and my About Page

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