Getting around Dalat
Dalat has many ups and downs and a bicycle is an easy way to explore the city. Just down from the main markets in town and outside Lotteria you will find bicycles for hire. Grab one, and set off to investigate the town. An easy ride to start with is around the lake where you will find coffee shops, restaurants, and many photo opportunities. Still feeling fit? Then climb the hills and meander around the old streets where you will uncover many hidden gems. Mix in with the locals, enjoy street-side coffee and push on for more adventures.
BY MOTORBIKE (on your own)
For the adventurous souls, a motorbike is the only way to explore. There are many locations to hire a bike, but be aware that you are required to have a Vietnamese driving license, not that the rental company will stop you from renting one. If you are unlicensed, there is a good chance that your travel insurance company will not cover you in the case of a crash. If you do rent a bike, ensure that there is a helmet provided, as they are not only compulsory but lifesaving. Bear in mind that the roads are chaotic, pot holed and scary at the best of times. Ride carefully, wear long pants, shoes, not thongs, a long sleeve jacket and travel slowly. Ten minutes from the center of town you will be in the mountains and experiencing a whole different slice of the city. Motorbikes are for rent at the same place as the bicycles, just down from the markets, near Lotteria.
Dalat is certainly unique in many ways, no more so than in the methods you use to get around town. In other cities you will be able to jump on a local bus to save your legs, but not here. The buses you see in town, are to move you to further destinations away from the city. This is a great way to get out and about, and see the countryside as a local does. Just hop on one and go to the final stop, have a wander around and catch it back. Cyclos, that ever present iconic image of Vietnam, are also absent from Dalat. Maybe it’s the hills! There’s always a romantic horse and buggy ride to get you around the lake. The other element that is missing from Dalat, and is one of the most frustrating objects of modern life is the traffic light. Yes there are no traffic lights in Dalat and everything seems to work just fine without them.
Taxis in Dalat, as in the rest of Vietnam are plentiful, reliable and cheap. You will find them cruising the streets, so simply wave and they will be there to deliver you to your next destination. All the taxis are metered, the drivers are well dressed and with their names prominent on the dashboard. For trips to and from the airport, negotiate a price, or have your hotel sort it out for you. Mai Linh taxis are the green ones you will see around and are spot on for service.
Mai Linh Taxi: 063 38383838
Vina Gold Taxi: 063 3866866
Lado Taxi: 063 3666777
Dalat is a well-planned city and has a very efficient network of local buses. They head off in a variety of directions to various villages. Want to be adventurous? Just jump on one and see where it ends up. Have a wander around and come back. The buses are comfortable, air conditioned and inexpensive. Services start early and also finish early in the evening, so check the timetable and don’t get caught out on your return journey. The accompanying route map shows you all you need to know.
BY XE ÔM (motobike taxi)
One of the easiest ways to get around Dalat is with a motorbike taxi or XE ÔM as they are known. You will find these fellows on most corners around town. Bear in mind that they are independent and not part of a taxi company, so be sure to negotiate the price in advance, and have the correct money as they never seem to have change.