Dalat, as far as we can figure out, is all about three things: strawberries, coffee, and hiking.
3 days into our stay, we had indulged in the first two sufficiently. It was time to give the third a go. Lang Biang, a 2169m peak about 12km from Dalat’s city centre, was calling. If you want a guide, there are plenty of options. If, like us, you prefer the DIY approach, it’s easy as pie.
First step: get there. We caught a local bus for 12VND each way from the stop behind Cho Dalat, the central market. The buses leave every half hour or so, and seem to be numberless. If you’re lucky like us some lovely lady will be catching the same bus, and will direct you to the right one. If not, yelling ‘Lang Biang!’ every time a bus passes by should do the trick.
Lang Biang is the last stop on the route, so you can sit back and enjoy the 20 minute ride without worrying about getting off at the right place. At the gate, you should know, a small troop of zebra-painted horses await you. Many of the Vietnamese seem to come only to take pictures of these rare treasures.
Walk up concrete road for an hour — jeeps speeding past, a few shortcuts. It’s steep, sure, but already so beautiful.
There is an Entrance fee: 10,000 at first gate, 20,000 at beginning on a dirt path that leads to the summit. (Or you can stay on the road and go to a radio thing but that sounds boring.)
You can pay the second fee at a little hut and receive a nice map for your efforts. Now the niceness begins in earnest, as you stumble trough pine forests with views of the peak looming ahead.
As you are climbing to a peak, it’s a bit steep (not as much as the paved road though) and the trail is at times a little overgrown.
The views from the top of these small peaks are often obscured by clouds, but that’s not a bad thing. The hike is well worth it in-and-of-itself, and sitting and watching the rolling fog and valley floor blinking in and out of existence is nice midpoint of your hike.
Total time up: 1hr 45mins (no real breaks). Down: 1hr 15mins. The bus ride takes about 20 minutes each way, so this is the perfect way to spend a morning or afternoon. Just remember that the zebras aren’t really zebras.