The Pine Tree Road, Dalat, Vietnam

The Pine Tree Road

First published February 2016 | Words and photos by Vietnam Coracle

This post was last updated 5 years ago. Please check the comments section for possible updates, or read more on my Updates & Accuracy page.


An enticing road leads north from Dalat, beyond Ho Suoi Vang (Golden Spring Lake), and into the remote forests and mountains of deepest Lam Dong Province. The scenery here is exceptionally alpine, characterized by coniferous forest and peaks rising to 2,500m (8,000ft). There are a couple of poor but friendly and interesting ethnic minority hamlets which make good stops. But, most of all, this route is about trees: deciduous and evergreen forests blanket the entire landscape. King among trees in this region is the pine, whose scent fills the crisp, highland air. The Pine Tree Road is perfect for camping and picnicking, and is easily the most scenic day-ride from Dalat.

Camping on the Pine Tree Road, Dalat, Vietnam

The Pine Tree Road: perfect for camping or a day trip from Dalat for a picnic in the forest

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  • Total Distance: 110km (round trip)
  • Route: into the pine forests north of Dalat [MAP]
  • Road Conditions: good, paved, two-lane roads
  • Scenery: pine forests, mountains, minority villages


As the Pine Tree Road is only a 110km round trip from Dalat, I suggest riding it in one day – either bringing a picnic with you from Dalat or stopping at one of the few places to eat on the way. Another option is to spend a night somewhere along this route: camping in the forests (more information about that here) or staying at Lang Cu Lan Resort. I’ve included more details of places to eat, stay and camp below. The best time to ride the Pine Tree Road is the dry season: December to March. Note: Despite many maps – online or printed – indicating that the Pine Tree Road continues west to Dak Lak Province, in reality the route is only sealed until just beyond the dusty settlement of Dung K’no, some 55km north of Dalat [MAP]. Although it’s possible to continue west from here on a dirt road that eventually joins Highway 27 to Lak Lake and Buon Ma Thuot, I don’t recommend it unless your bike can handle off-road conditions (and especially not in the rainy season). On the other hand, the Pine Tree Road is slowly being extended northwards, as part of the Truong Son Dong route, so it’s worth continuing to see how far you can go.

The Pine Tree Road, Dalat, Vietnam

The Pine Tree Road is in excellent condition, leading 55km north of Dalat into acres of pine forest


The Pine Tree Road: into the forests north of Dalat

View in a LARGER MAP

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Leaving Dalat in the mid-morning sunshine of a crisp dry season day, it’s a relief to be heading out of the increasingly exhaust-heavy air of the city. Take Tran Phu Street due west until it becomes Hoang Van Thu Street and passes the appallingly polluted Cam Ly Waterfall on the right. But don’t worry, this road is going to take you to an area where rivers are still clean and clear, and the extending arms of Dalat’s urban sprawl have yet to reach.

Hoang Van Thu morphs into Cam Ly Road as it curls northwards, passing acres of flower, fruit, and vegetable gardens, all hiding under the plastic-covered greenhouses that make up the vast majority of Dalat’s suburbs. As the street climbs towards the junction with Ankroet Road, the flower nurseries give way to pine forests. Bearing left (due west) at the junction, you’ll see a small strawberry garden (vườn dâu tây) on the right, which is worth a quick stop in order to add something sweet to your picnic basket for the day.

The Pine Tree Road, Dalat, Vietnam

The road plunges into pine forests just a few kilometres after leaving Dalat’s urban sprawl

After a few kilometres, take a sharp right, leading down a steep hill to the exotic-sounding but, in reality, rather disappointing, Ankroet Waterfall. The falls are formed by a 1940s stone dam, which is somewhat more impressive than the cascades it produces. Just before the dam, Hoang Hac Quan serves good food, including Central Highlands specialities, such as cơm lam (rice cooked inside a length of bamboo).

After the falls, the road (which is now called TL722) follows the shore of the Dankia Reservoir, whose pretty banks are carpeted with grass and backed by forests. It would be a nice place for a picnic if previous picnickers hadn’t left all their trash behind. Up and over a small rise, the road connects with another, larger reservoir: the romantically named Hồ Suối Vàng – Golden Spring Lake. It’s a scenic spot and there are some rustic eateries offering food by the water’s edge, but push on, because the best is yet to come and, sadly, much of the lakeshore and surrounding forest have, inevitably, been ruined by picnickers’ trash. (For more about trash in Vietnam read this).

Trash left by picnickers in the pine forests of Dalat, Vietnam

Trash left by picnickers near Golden Spring Lake: litter in the countryside is a huge problem in Vietnam

Just a couple of minutes beyond Golden Spring Lake (before the road drops into a valley), several dirt tracks lead into the pine forests. Choose one of these and follow it far enough so that you cannot be seen from the road, and you’ll find some excellent camping and/or picnic spots. A night on one of the ridges here – with views over endless pine forests and the peaks of Mt. Bà and Bidoup (the highest on the Lang Bian Plateau) – is very special indeed. Needless to say, set an example by taking your trash away with you and leaving your camp/picnic site as you found it. Having camped here on several occasions over many years, I’ve come to refer to this ridge as The North Face, in honour of the brand of my tent. (For more details about camping here read this).

Camping in the pine forests, Dalat, Vietnam

Camping in the pine forests on The North Face Ridge, named in honour of my tent

Corkscrewing down the other side of The North Face Ridge, you’ll notice a small lake with a dozen thatched villas dotted around it. This is Lang Cu Lan Resort, which offers pretty good, cosy, atmospheric accommodation in a very unlikely location. If camping doesn’t appeal to you, then a night at Lang Cu Lan is (almost) as good, although a lot more expensive. Try to avoid weekends and public holidays, when it can get busy with domestic tourists. (Check rates & availability for Lang Cu Lan Resort here)

Lang Cu Lan Resort is the last outpost of tourism on this route. From here on, the Pine Tree Road sheds all of its ‘Dalat-ness’, and becomes wild, remote and rarely trodden. Not long ago, the tarmac ended here too, but now a new, beautifully smooth, river of asphalt meanders for another 35km all the way to Dung K’no hamlet.

Th Pine Tree Road, Dalat, Vietnam

From Lang Cu Lan Resort, The Pine Tree Road is a ‘river’ of freshly-laid asphalt all the way to Dung K’no

The air is crisp and cool; the light sharp and fresh: it’s an invigorating ride. There are no other vehicles as you wind up and down the contours of the Lang Bian Plateau, occasionally skirting the edges of Bidoup National Park, where wild animals, such as the Asiatic black bear and black-shanked douc still (despite generations of hunting) roam in modest numbers.

Pine forests and mountains, Dalat, Vietnam

Looking over the endless pine forests towards Bidoup National Park

The pine trees stand straight and erect, lining the road in their hundreds of thousands and spreading all the way to the horizon, like a giant army standing at attention in ranks, escorting you on your way. This area even has its very own variety of pine tree: the Pinus Dalatensis or White Pine, which grows up to 40 metres high.

Pine forests, Dalat, Vietnam

The Dalat region has a variety of pine tree named after it: Pinus Dalatensis

I’m not sure exactly what it is, but there’s something about pine forests that makes me want to settle down and make a home (or at least make camp for a night). Under the perfumed canopy they are snug, comforting, soft and benevolent places to be. The pine needles create a perfect carpet on which to lay out and, at night, the wind through the treetops sounds like ocean waves breaking on a sand beach. If you’ve brought a tent along, there are plenty of paths in this area leading into the friendly forests for a night under the pines.

Pine forests and mountains, Dalat, Vietnam

A night under the canopy of ‘friendly’ pine trees is a memorable experience

The foliage changes suddenly after reaching the top of Đèo Cổng Trời (Heaven’s Gate Pass – one of many so-named in Vietnam). Riotous jungle takes the place of regimented pine forests. The canopy becomes dense and impenetrable, with layers of twisting epiphytes, trunks, climbers and creepers. It’s recognizably tropical as opposed to the temperate forests of earlier. I can only assume that, once over Heaven’s Gate Pass, there’s a climatic change which is favourable to a different kind of flora.

Pine forests, Dalat, Vietnam

Pine forests (foreground) give way to tropical jungle (background) after ascending Heaven’s Gate Pass

There’s also a noticeable increase in human activity on this side of the pass. Large swathes of forest have been burned to make way for cash crops, such as coffee and corn. And parts of the forest have been regularly plundered for resources, resulting in a network of ‘bald-patches’ across the landscape. Furls of smoke rise from the valleys where piled husks of newly harvested corn are being incinerated. The rhythmic beat of chopping axes echoes from ridge to ridge as trees are hacked for firewood. All this is quite jarring at first, and some of the hillsides have the apocalyptic look familiar from photographs of napalmed forests during the war.

Forest cleared for agriculture, Dalat, Vietnam

A section of forest is cleared and burned to make way for cash crops, in this case it’s coffee

Although the villages here are very small, the impact they have on the landscape they live in is very apparent. Traditionally, people in this area (most of whom belong to several of Vietnam’s numerous ethnic minority groups) practiced slash and burn agriculture. Nowadays, the Vietnamese government encourages them to cultivate cash crops instead. The transition results in a rather ugly hodgepodge of cleared forests, barren hillsides, and heavy machinery. But it’s hoped that the new agriculture will provide local people with a more stable income. The construction of the Pine Tree Road has also made an impact on the area: from a distance you can follow the road’s progress through the landscape by tracing the scar it has made in the forest. The road has improved access to these remote minority areas, but it has also made it easier to reach previously inaccessible stands of old-growth forest, which are now being felled.

The Pine Tree Road, Dalat, Vietnam

Construction of the Pine Tree Road has left a scar across the landscape and opened access to logging

The villages appear grim at first, but people are very friendly (kids jump into the road to wave as you pass by) and, on closer inspection, some of the wooden homes are reminiscent of clapboard prairie houses, sporting wooden verandas and decorative flourishes here and there. There are a few shops selling snacks and bottles of gas. Sit down for a coffee and take a wander around one of the villages: you’re bound to make friends with a few smiling kids playing in the dust.

Kid on a bicycle, Dalat, Vietnam

Kids in the minority hamlets on the Pine Tree Road are friendly and curious to meet foreigners

At Dung K’no the road splinters: heading north, the tarmac continues for at least another 15km along a remote valley before ending in a series of dirt roads, which are good for exploring (this road will eventually lead to the other side of the mountains: to Dak Lak Province). Or, if you’re set on continuing to Dak Lak Province, head west through the village and negotiate your way along the dirt track which eventually joins Highway 27 (leading to Lake Lak and Buon Ma Thuot). However, it’s a long slog and even locals suggest you don’t do it. But, if there has been no rain recently and your bike is sturdy, it is possible. Otherwise, turn around and retrace the Pine Tree Road back to Dalat.

The end of the Pine Tree Road, Dalat, Vietnam

The end of the Pine Tree Road, just north of Dung K’no hamlet

For accommodation in Dalat I choose La Nha Homestay (a great new budget option in a refurbished French villa), the Du Parc Hotel (excellent mid-range value in an impressive French colonial building), and Ana Mandara Villas (beautifully restored French villas on a hillside – by far the most atmospheric high-end lodgings in the Central Highlands). Search many more Dalat accommodation options, rates and availability here.


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Leave a Comment

Questions, updates and trip reports are all welcome. However, please keep comments polite and on-topic. See commenting etiquette for details.

  1. Greg says:
    February 14, 2021 at 1:01 PM

    I rode this today (Feb 2021), and can report that the road is paved NORTH of Dung K’No almost all the way to the river that forms the provincial boundary. The road that drops down to the river for the last km is a stone trail, but the rest is fantastic. I almost turned around at Dung K’No, but decided to keep going. Absolutely worth it – there is a gorgeous valley of rice paddy’s that had the light hitting them just right. A photographer’s dream!

    1. Tom says:
      February 18, 2021 at 2:52 AM

      Hi Greg,

      Thank you for the updates and I’m glad you enjoyed the ride.

      Yes, the section of the Pine Tree road heading north of Dung K’No has been paved for a couple of years now, but still no progress seems to have been made with the bridge that will surely eventually cross the river forming the provincial boundary.

      Also, it’s important to note that the road heading due west of Dung K’No to join up with Road QL27 towards Lak Lake and Buon Ma Thuot is still in very rough condition for part of the way and not really passable for most riders on most bikes.

      Thanks again,


  2. Eliska says:
    February 25, 2020 at 6:43 AM

    there is some update to the connecting dirtroad DT722. We did it yesterday (two people and backpacks on one Honda XR150) in the direction from Buon Ma Thuot to Da Lat. The conditions were pretty dry so we assumed we will manage. And we did! But I can’t recommend it, really not. The main problem was the first half of the road. While the second part closer to Da Lat is currently being built for cars (it is still a dirt road but very wide and easy), the first part looks unused and it is more an eroded path rather than a road. Putting away all the fallen bamboos and zigazagging between the deep holes, streams and rocks would be doable – but there were several places where you either have to be superexperienced rider or have a great luck. For example: you have to cross former bamboo-dirt bridge – but half of it has eroded and you find yourself balancing on 50 cm wide unstable piece of land, with 2m fall on both sides. Not fun at all. Or many times you have to break downhill with no saving ground beneath your feet (there are deep holes everywhere) – just relying on your balance on the unstable dust. The first third took us one hour and a half. Then the path got a bit better (still pretty eroded but no such dangerous places) – and it seemed to be really used by the locals. It is possible that there might be another path going from the first village through the valley and then connecting to the DT722 circa after the first terrible third (we saw the connecting path coming from the valley but did not explore it). The rest of the road was better and when we reached the village in the middle, we continued on the comfortable newly built wide road.
    So, to sum up, if you wanna try it even after reading this, please, don’t go alone and ask the locals about an alternative path to avoid the worst third (Buon Ma Thuot side). If you are curious and have enough time, you can try to explore it from the Da Lat side and see where you can get.
    Hope this helps!

    1. Tom says:
      February 25, 2020 at 6:49 AM

      Hi Eliska,

      Thank you for taking the time to write this update. I appreciate it, and I’m sure other riders will too.


  3. Nicholas says:
    November 6, 2019 at 9:44 AM

    Any updates to this? Looking to do this in a couple days then take the dirt track to link up with QL27.

    1. Tom says:
      November 6, 2019 at 1:33 PM

      Hi Nicholas,

      Most reports are that the road is still passable in good (dry) conditions if you’re on an appropriate bike, but still pretty challenging if it’s wet or been raining a lot recently.


  4. Weijie says:
    February 5, 2019 at 4:57 PM

    I’m planning to go from Dalat to Lak Lake. Would definitely like to make the trip through this pine forest trail. Any updates on whether the westward DT722 route had been developed?

    Riding a CBF125 which should be able to handle the terrain but I’m riding with a pillion and backpack and might wanna avoid putting the passenger through too much trauma lol

    1. Tom says:
      February 6, 2019 at 3:54 PM

      Hi Weijie,

      As far as I know that section of DT722 is still off road, but locals do it and say it’s fine when it’s dry.

      I would guess that, if you’re on a CBF and it’s dry conditions and you have some off road experience, it should be OK.

      I’ll be in the area tomorrow so I’ll ask around,


  5. Marangé Marie says:
    March 29, 2018 at 1:11 AM

    Hello Tom , all the time i’m Really enjoyed to read your guides
    I was in Dalat to weeks ago and I followed some roads on your map . The sunset of the lake was incredible . I sleept with 2 others families and kids at Ana Mandara Resort easy with kids
    I drove also on the Mimosa road beautiful and I was lucky because when I Cam back to Dalat on this road the sunset was like magical orange .

    1. Tom says:
      March 29, 2018 at 3:07 AM

      Hi Marie,

      Thanks. That sounds great. I’m really happy to hear you enjoyed your time in Dalat and at Ana Mandara Resort – it’s lovely place.


  6. cameron says:
    September 13, 2017 at 11:23 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve enjoyed your site. Did the Pine Tree round trip today and loved it. We wanted to try the rice at Hoang Hac Quan but got kinda turned off by them specializing in “wild game.” I agree smd saw first hand the environmental points you made so clearly. Roads going deep into forests are a double edged sword. They push humans deeper into areas that were protected. If you truely love animals and nature, may I suggest a restaurant in DaLat. It’s inexpensive and authentic.
    Nha Hanh Hao Sen
    62 Phan Đình Phùng, Phường 2, Tp. Đà Lạt
    If coming from Ana Mandara Villas Dalat Resort & Spa use google route “walking” to ride a shortcut through a neighborhood and over a cool bike bridge.

  7. cameron says:
    September 12, 2017 at 11:35 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing. Did the Pine Tree today and loved it. We wanted to try the rice at Hoang Hac Quan but got kinda turned off by it specializing in “wild game.” If you truely love nature, may I suggest Nha Hanh Hao Sen 62 Phan Đình Phùng, Phường 2, Tp. Đà Lạt, Lâm Đồng, Vietnam. If coming from Ana Mandara Villas Dalat Resort & Spa use google route “walking” to ride a shortcut through a neighborhood and over a cool bike bridge.

    1. Tom says:
      September 13, 2017 at 12:22 AM

      Hi Cameron,

      Great to hear that you enjoyed the Pine Tree Road.

      Thanks for the restaurant suggestion – I’ve already recommended Nha Hang Hoa Sen in my Dalat Food & Drink guide (but it’s definitely due an update now)


      1. cameron says:
        September 13, 2017 at 11:24 AM

        Da. You’re the best!

        1. cameron says:
          September 13, 2017 at 11:26 AM

          We found “North Face” easier on the return and plan to camp there.

          1. Tom says:
            September 13, 2017 at 1:47 PM

            Hi Cameron,

            Great, I hope you enjoy it.


  8. Nicola Bellavere says:
    September 8, 2017 at 4:20 AM

    Hello Tom,
    thanks for this interesting page.
    Not really clear to me one thing…
    I intend to go from Dalat to Buon Ma Thuot using this pine road and then head West on the DT722 and reach the QL27 driving beside Song Krong No…
    Is it a good idea? How is that road?
    Great thanks!

    1. Tom says:
      September 8, 2017 at 4:42 AM

      Hi Nicola,

      Road DT722 is usually in bad condition as it heads west at the end of the Pine Tree Road as outlined in this guide. Unless you have a motorbike that is good off-road you will need to take a different route from Dalat to Buon Ma Thuot. Take Road DT725 south from Dalat past Elephant Waterfall until it joins Road QL27, then take this to Buon Ma Thuot.

      I hope this helps,


      1. Nicola Bellavere says:
        September 9, 2017 at 12:54 AM

        Hello Tom,
        yep… confirming what I was afraid I had understood…
        I’ll follow your advice and I’ll make sure I book homestay through your site… 🙂
        Great thanks!

        1. Tom says:
          September 9, 2017 at 1:08 AM

          Thanks, Nicola.

          Enjoy the ride.


  9. Suhaa says:
    July 17, 2016 at 12:04 PM

    I too was a naïve idiot and trusting the maps rode through this road on a reworked Honda Future in the rainy reason to Buon MA Thuot.
    Had to ride through streams upto 2 feet and all the associated mud. The path was not suitable for riding especially for the bike I was riding ( I never intended to do off roading anway).
    I gave up 70 percent through the road and it was only through the incredible help of some locals who rode it to the nearest village and their hospitality of hosting me for the night that I made it back to the road the next day.

    1. Tom says:
      July 17, 2016 at 3:56 PM

      Hi Suhaa,

      Yes, well apparently there’s plans to pave it, and progress is being made. Great to hear that you got some help from locals in a difficult situation.

      The first 30-40km as I’ve outlined in this guide is certainly worth the trip anyway.


  10. An Vietnam says:
    July 5, 2016 at 9:00 AM

    You are a real traveler. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Tom says:
      July 5, 2016 at 9:32 AM

      Thanks, An. I’m glad you enjoyed reading 🙂


  11. adam says:
    February 28, 2016 at 1:35 PM

    I went on this road but carried on to Buon Ma Thuot was one of the toughest drives of my life but an incredible experience. I got stuck in the jungle for four hours as those beautiful roads slowly turned into rocky tracks through dense forest. Hidden gem though as the roads were very quiet and the scenery was incredible. Great Post

    1. Tom says:
      February 28, 2016 at 2:54 PM

      Thanks, Adam.

      Yes, I hope they’ll paved the road all the way sometime soon – but then, as you say, it wouldn’t be such a hidden gem anymore.