On our route from Da Lat to Mui Ne on our rented scooter, we allocated a day to explore the waterfalls around the Da Lat region, typical of us we tried to squeeze in as many as possible and we managed to see 5 different falls. From the most touristy, Elephant falls, to the least, Lien Khuong, to my personal favourite, Pongour, to the seemingly deserted, Bao Dai and Bo Bla. Shoutout to Vietnam Coracle without which we probably wouldn’t have heard of let alone have been able to find half of these. We paid 20 000 VND all up for entries and parking. Handy Hint: “Waterfall” is translated into Vietnamese as “thac”.
This was our route:
Stop 1: Elephant Falls – this was easy enough to find especially with the helpful locals pointing us down the turn off once we were in Nam Ban. I kept my eye out as we drove in for any sort of sign that we would be required to pay for entry as I had read that it was free, but also that people would try to charge you entry. Sure enough, as we entered there were people sitting at a table near the entry and as soon as they saw us, out came the money tins and tickets that were definitely not there before and definitely not being offered to the local tourists. So, we refused to pay. Things actually got pretty heated in the end because a group of Vietnamese stepped in to help us out and I’m still not sure whether I would just have paid up knowing what was going to happen. But in the end, we didn’t pay and we were given tickets.. not really sure what happened at all.
We made our way down to the falls which were very impressive due to the amount of water gushing over them. It was quite crowded and often you had to wait a while to let people go in the other direction. If I had to rate all the falls we saw that day, this would probably come in at number five simply due to the number of people (at three of the other four we saw nobody) and the awkwardness at the entry. However I’m still glad we went and it definitely was an experience!
Stop 2: Lien Khuong Falls – this was probably the trickiest to find of all of them. From the roundabout head south slightly and on the left hand side is a small convenience store with a round concrete table out the front. The address of the shop is 323 QL 20, TO 7 and it’s called Thu Thao. The shop owners will ask for 5000 VND then will show you through the back and down the stairs to their back door. From here you descend quite a steep set of metal stairs and when you reach the bottom turn left to walk upstream. Our favourite thing about this waterfall was the rocks scattered around leading up to the main falls – this created many smaller waterfalls and pools as well as a fun way to jump and scramble around. And there was definitely no one else around, though it was a much smaller waterfall compared to the other four on this list.
Stop 3: Pongour Falls – these falls would be my number one recommendation if you could only choose one. We turned off the main road and followed the smaller road til eventually we reached a gate. We left our bike under supervision and paid our entry fee (15000 VND all up, 5000 for the parking). The route down to the falls was a little unclear, but essentially you walk straight for quite a while, then head down to your left. It’s a very large complex.
Once we got to the waterfall there were probably around 20 other people there, however because the general area around the base of the falls is so large it did not feel crowded at all. We quickly popped our bathers on and swum and climbed over the waterfall (NB: there is a sign forbidding this and obviously this can be dangerous – only do it at your own risk and within your comfort zone). We made it around halfway up before we decided it would be too risky to keep climbing up. It was a lot of fun, and absolutely stunning.
Stop 4: Bao Dai – this one was a little tricky to find as we drove straight past the entrance. It may have been that it was closed, or just that it is now unmanned – I’m not sure! Although it was maintained so I presume it is only officially open during peak tourist time. However we were able to drive our bike in past the gate area/ticket booth and parked just at the top of the track (next to a mini Stonehenge pictured below.. interesting quirk). The path down included a very cool tree with an interesting root system and waiting at the bottom was a gorgeous rainbow extending from the waterfall. Again, we were the only ones here.
Stop 5: Bo Bla – another slightly tricky one to find simply because it has been left to its own devices for a while – it is very overgrown! It is opposite 208 Thon 8, Xa Lien Dam. We rode our bike a little way in so it was out of view of the street and then wandered down. There are a lot of concrete sculptures (especially of elephants) scattered all over the place in various states of disrepair which gave this place a very unique feel, almost like some catastrophe had happened and the place had been abandoned for years. The falls themselves were powerful, into a reasonably sized pool you can swim in (we opted not to as it was early evening and we were ready to head to our next hotel). We really enjoyed exploring and stumbling across all the different concrete structures. And, of course, we were the only ones around.
It was a long day but we very much enjoyed our waterfall hunt and loved every stop on the route.