“Dat Aliis Laetitiam Aliis Temperiem”
(It Gives Pleasure to Some, Freshness to Others)
Da Lat is a city of Lam Dong province, has been long famous all over the world for its immense charms and beauties. To many Vietnamese, Da Lat is like a small European town full of flowers among the mighty forests and mountains of Central Highland. Da Lat has many more nicknames such as the city of pines, of fog, of flowers, or even “mini Paris”… which just tell us how loved is Da Lat. What we talk about when we talk about Da Lat? Many people will easily answer either the flowers, cool weather, the lakes, the pine hills, the villas…. But the many waterfalls in Da Lat, to me, must be the most appealing charm of this beautiful city.
Related: A travel guide to Dalat
- PonGour Waterfall
Pongour is the most famous and loved waterfall in Da Lat, considered as the symbol of the city’s tourism. The fall is located at Duc Trong district, about 50km away from Da Lat on the south. Pongour is 40m high, 100m wide with 7 levels of terraced rock, belonged to Da Nhim River. There is a legend related to this fall telling the story of a K’Ho heroine named Kanai with 4 giant rhinos who helped the people conquer the wild beasts and spent all her life protecting the land. When she died, her hair turned into water and the rhinos’ horns into rocks.
The best time to visit the fall is wet water when the white water flow never ceases to descent from the top to the bottom’s lake. Pongour is also the only waterfall to have a festival of its own: each year, on the first month of the lunar calendar, young people regardless of ethnic groups gather here to enjoy the springtime and wish for a good new year.
To reach the waterfall, drive along Lien Khuong – Prenn highway to national highway 20, turn right to the smaller road to the fall for about 2,3km more. Admission is only 10,000VND per person.
- Bao Dai (Jraiblian )Waterfall
Bao Dai has the most intimidating looking, especially in the rainy season. The fall is located in a very remote area, on a hilltop of Ta In the forest, nearly 60km away from Da Lat city. Not many people knew about its existence but the fall was the resting place of numerous hunting trips of King Bao Dai – the last emperor of Vietnam.
The waterfall also has a legend to tell. Once upon a time, in Ktun land, an uncle named Zuwar and his nephew Stak went fishing together and caught a strange egg. They decided to boil it and Stak got to try it first. However, after eating the strange egg, his whole body started to itch. The uncle was afraid and returned to the village to get help. When Stak’s family came to him, he already turned into a crocodile. He begged his family to feed him and after eating he would happily die. But even after eating so much, he just became bigger like a giant crocodile. His family and villagers came to agree that they should kill him. So they heated a big iron bar then throw into his mouth. By that he died immediately; however, when the water flowed through his tongue, it became alluring music. Not only humans but also the animals were intoxicated by the magic sound, abandoned their houses and works, and came to the stream to listen until they all starved. Their bodies turned into the rocks at the bottom of the fall as we see today.
Bao Dai waterfall is around 70m high and 100m wide. The massive volume of waterfalls straight from the top of the vertical wall of volcanic rock to the bottom stream, making it a raw scene and quite overwhelming sensation of nature. Bao Dai fall is definitely an “off-the-beaten-track” destination for backpacker and those who just want to enjoy pure nature. Drive through the highway 20 to highway 288, over the west side of Dai Ninh lake, turn left to reach Ta Hine commune. The fall is located near the east branch of the giant Dai Ninh lake. Admission is free, of course.
- Datanla Waterfall
Datanla, located on the Prenn pass, is only 6km away from Da Lat city so it must be the touristic waterfall of all, full of activities and services. However, this is also the most dangerous waterfall and you can see it just in the name of the famous Death Canyon.
This waterfall has several legends to explain its name but the simplest story is about the fairies bathing at the bottom pond of this fall because it has many trees around to cover. So the people first didn’t know there was a waterfall because of many trees and leaves. When they did, they called the fall “Da Tam Nnha” which means “water under the leaves”. Then with time, the name’s pronunciation changed to Datina and finally Datanla.
The rock setting of the fall is very spectacular, not only because it has complicated looking but also because there are caves and a canyon. The fall’s rapids reach up to 20m high. The decorations below are decent too, with statues and a bridge. You can climb the steps to enjoy the view or do the cliff climbing down the Death Canyon’s walls. Be careful of the slippery rocks.
Another activity is roller-coaster riding which costs 60,000VND per adult for a round-trip ticket, 40,000VND per child round-trip, 40,000VND per adult one-way. The admission is 10,000VND.
- Elephant (Lieng Rowoa) Waterfall
Elephant waterfall belongs to Nam Ban town, Lam Ha district, on the flow of Cam Ly stream. The fall is about 30km away from the city centre of Da Lat with 30m high and 40m wide. At the bottom of the fall, there is an elephant-shaped rock.
Once upon a time, in Joi Bieng land, the land tribe’s patriarch had a very beautiful daughter with a very lovely singing voice. She was in love with the son of the neighbourhood village’s headman. One day, the boy had to go to war and years after years he never came back. The girl was grieving by using her voice, moving all the hearts of humans and animals. She died singing, the elephants died listening to her voice. A waterfall has been made like magic to continue her songs.
Elephant Fall actually has a quite large volume of water yet not too overwhelming like Bao Dai waterfall. At the bottom, stream are some moss-ridden rocks but sure they don’t look like an elephant. The stone steps that lead to the viewpoint are steep, quite slippery and can be dangerous if you don’t watch your steps.
There is a café at the entrance named Reng Reng Café which has fine coffee made of Arabica beans from Lam Dong plateau. To reach Elephant Fall you can just follow the provincial road 725. The admission is also free.
- Dambri Waterfall
Dambri is the highest waterfall of Lam Dong with a height of 70m. The fall is about 130km away from Da Lat city centre and 17km from Bao Loc city, located in Dambri Tourist Complex with an area of 1000 hectares.
The people here tell a story about a sad love story of a K’Ho girl who had sat near the stream to grieve over her lover who never came back to her. Days passed, the girl’s endless tears created a waterfall, her body turned into a rock with her tears keep falling. Local people called the fall “Dambri” which means “waiting” in K’Ho language.
From Da Lat, follow the Lien Khuong – Prenn highway to the south to reach highway 20 then drive all the way to Bao Loc city. Turn right and continue on Ly Thai Tho highway to the tourist resort. This journey would take you up to 2-3 hours by car or motorbike. The road quality is in good condition however there are some parts that would be challenging. The entrance ticket is fixed at 50,000VND per person, more expensive than most other falls. From the resort, there are more sites for you to explore like Monkey island, Chau Ma ethnic village, Di Da pagoda….
- Bo Bla Waterfall
Bo Bla Waterfall is 80km away from Da Lat and located near Lien Dam commune, Di Linh district. The name Bo Bla in K’Ho language means “elephant tusks”. There is a legend related to this name: in the time the Cham Empire still ruled this land, they forced the locals to pay tax by furring, rhino’s horns, and especially elephant tusks. The village’s patriarch and his men found a giant pair of tusks that even horses couldn’t jump over. The king of Cham liked them so much so he named the fall Bo Bla which means “elephant tusks”.
From above, the falls run off the tree-covered rock cliff of a doline down to the green pool at the bottom where you can find a lovely fountain and several small and elephant statues. This fall is not much of a tourist site when almost everywhere was covered by trees and bushes. You wouldn’t see too many travellers visiting this spot; local people mostly come on weekends. However, the atmosphere here is clean and it’s a great place for a picnic or camping. Even if you’re going alone, you will find a very relaxing time with Bo Bla waterfall.
No admission is required, it’s free to visit. From Da Lat, go down on Lien Khuong – Prenn highway to reach highway 20. The fall entrance is one the highway, around Village 8, Lien Dam district.
- Tiger Waterfall (Hang Cop waterfall)
Tiger waterfall is located in the east of the city centre, unlike other falls which are mostly in the southwest. The fall is about 12km away from Da Lat at Xuan Tho commune, easily reached by car or motorbike through highway 20. Two last kilometres will give you a ride through a lush pine forest.
The fall is 25m high and 10m wide with unique rock setting. The water is so clean and cool, flowing between trees and leaves. There is an actual cave which is believed the place tigers and wild beasts dwelled in the past. So a part of the cave was filled but the rest is still opened for tourists.
Literally, in Vietnamese, “Hang Cop” means Tiger’s cave, related to a story of a tiger and a hero. In the year 1950, the land was still full of forests and wild animals. A tiger was dwelling in the cave near the fall, threatening the lives of many people. A Chi’ll man once met the tiger and shot an arrow to its leg and since then the tiger never showed up again.
In the yard near the fall, you can see both the statues of the tiger and our hero demonstrating a scene of the story. Admission fee is 10,000VND. The facilities are quite decent with bench, toilet and picnic huts….
- Prenn Waterfall
Prenn waterfall is located just near the famous Prenn pass which is just as beautiful. Prenn fall lies inside Prenn tourist complex with the highlight is the 10m high waterfall descending softly onto a small lovely pool, surrounded by a green forest. The complex is about 16km on the south of Da Lat and just a few kilometres away from another great site, Datanla waterfall.
The name of the fall came from the word Prenh of K’Ho language, is the name of bitter brinjal and changed into Prenn. In the past, along the banks of the upper stream, there was a lot of this plant growing wild. Local people used for meals because of its bitter taste. The height of this fall isn’t as high or its sight isn’t as spectacular as other falls of Lam Dong but the most charming feature of Prenn is the peaceful and relaxing feeling.
Inside the complex, there are plenty of services and activities such as cable car to the fall, a lot of eateries and restaurant just outside of the entrance, boating, jeep car, elephant riding, etc. The entrance fee is 20,000VND.
Lam Dong in general and Da Lat, in particular, have not only impressive waterfalls but also raw and primitive nature in the surrounding. Many of them were once developed into tourist sites however nature prevailed and returned them to their former look again. There are many more waterfalls and they are also great sites for camping and sightseeing.