Da Lat Canyoning, Vietnam: An Epic Guide
If you’re looking for a thrilling and challenging adventure to get your adrenaline pumped up, why not try canyoning? WWB writer, Nursyafiqa shares that one of the best places to have this experience in Southeast Asia is Da Lat canyoning.
If you’re visiting Vietnam, make your way 300km northeast of Ho Chi Minh city to experience a full day of canyoning in Da Lat. It is something you can’t miss and would be the most exhilarating experience you will ever have.
Before you embark on this adventure, there are a few things you need to know.
What is canyoning in Da Lat?
You’re probably wondering what is canyoning? Is it the same as mountain climbing? Well, it’s like the other side of the coin.
Instead of going up, you go down the mountain accompanied by the gushing waters of secret waterfalls. Canyoning involves abseiling or rappelling down waterfalls, cliff jumping, swimming, sliding into whitewater and trekking through the gorges, often using technical equipment for safety.
It is like the best of all the adventure activities thrown together. If all of these sound right up your alley, then you should definitely give this a try!
Photo from Skeeze from Pixabay
Why do it in Da Lat?
Photo from Quang Nguyen vinh from Pixabay
Da Lat (or sometimes spelled Dalat) is the capital city of Lam Dong Province and is located in the south central highlands of Vietnam. It sits 1500m above sea level on the Lang Biang Plateau, making it famous for its cold climate throughout the year, compared to other regions in Vietnam.
Surrounded by beautiful mountains and blessed with farmlands, coffee plantation, tea gardens, French architecture and of course, an abundance of WATERFALLS, Da Lat is definitely a must-visit in Vietnam.
Da Lat is also called the City of Flowers and popular with honeymooners. However to those adventurous souls seeking a little bit of challenge in their trip, Da Lat offers a lifetime adventure of epic canyoneering at the beautiful Datanla Waterfalls.
It is the best way for you to explore the waterfalls, by wading and swimming through various depths and sliding down slippery waterfalls. If you are a beginner thrill seeker like me, ( who by the way, don’t even know how to swim), Da Lat canyoning is the perfect place to kickstart your canyoning adventure.
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Best Da Lat Canyoning tour operators
It is important for you to choose the right and reliable operator that is certified with good equipment. Remember to do your research and check out review onlines before deciding on an operator to go for.
Here are some of the trusted and best operators that you can choose for your adventure.
Most of the tours would provide you with three tour guides to help you with your canyoning experience, each one with their own respective role.
The main guide would be the one helping you to secure your harness and ensure the equipment is safe to use, the second guide would help you to capture every exciting moment of your adventure and carry your things in his drybag, (if it’s not too heavy) and the last one would be, well, kinda like your lab rat. He would be the first one to show you how to jump off the cliff so you’ll know it’s safe.
The trained guides from Da Lat canyoning tours speak good English, so you don’t really have to worry about language barriers. They are friendly, chatty and would try their best to make sure you feel comfortable throughout your journey. So it’s like hanging out with your friends, or dare I say, even better. ( You don’t secretly feel annoyed at them, like you would with your friends. We’ve all been there.)
They are also patient, so if you’re not really in good shape, they’ll wait for you to catch your breath. (On a side note, do stretch or do a little bit of workout beforehand, you don’t want to underestimate the difficulty level of this).
What to expect when canyoning in Da Lat?
You will be picked up in the morning at your hotel or hostel with a minivan (you can arrange this via email) to Datanla waterfall. It would be better for you to have breakfast before your departure as you need all the energy to navigate your way through the gorges of the waterfall. Lunch will be prepared for you by the tour but you will receive them halfway through the day.
Once you arrive at the canyoning spot, your guides will take you to a small clearing with a mild incline to teach you the basic techniques of knotting, wearing belts, and how to abseil down the cliff in the right way.
If you are in a small group, or alone (like I was), you would get to practice for several times before heading to the falls.
If you are in a larger group, the training would take longer and your guides would probably have a hard time to maintain their attention. So, it would be better to be in a smaller group.
Once you are confident with the training, off you go for the real thing, Da Lat canyoning!
Depending on the tour you choose, the tracks and stops would be slightly different.
For most tours, the first rappel would be an 18m down a dry vertical rock accompanied by gushing waterfall cascading next to it. Upon reaching the bottom, you would feel the coldness of the river drenching your legs.
Photo from Author, 18m rappel next to a waterfall
You would then walk deeper to find another waterfall waiting for you. You’ll get some time to have your photos taken by the guides. Or you can whip out your GoPro and snap those beautiful pictures of the waterfalls yourself.
Next, you will face your second rappel. This is almost the same as the first one. Once you reach the bottom, you would have to wade across the icy stream to get to the other side with another waterfall waiting for you. Do stop to have your pictures taken again!
Photo from Author, second dry cliff rappel
The third stop would be the water slide in which you will be launched into the bottom pool, head first, lying on your back. If you are someone with very little swimming skills ( like me), be prepared to swallow LOTS of water for this one.
Your guide would already be waiting for you as he would be the first to go, so you really have nothing to worry about (except bashing your head to the wet stone, please don’t).
Your guide would normally ask you if you would like to go for the second round, just say yes to this! You won’t regret sliding down for the second time.
Photo from Author, water sliding with my guide, Eric.
After the waterslide, you will head to the next waterfall for some free fall cliff jumping. There used to be two leaps to choose from, 7m leap and an 11m jump which requires more running and jumping skill, but they no longer have the 11m jump.
Don’t be disappointed by this as the 7m jump would still send shivers down your spine (at least for me). Believe me, once you made the jump, it would be the most liberating thing you have ever done.
If you are in a smaller group, chances are you get to do this twice. Just take the leap!
Photo from Author, 7m free fall cliff jumping
Finally, you will swim to the shore to your last destination, the famous Washing Machine. The rappel is 13m high and it is called as such because of its spinning nature when you’re hanging freely above the strong waterfall. Like a washing machine.
Before letting go of the rope, take a look at your guide and strike a pose. You would want to have a nice ‘before’ picture of you being washed by the ‘washing machine’.
Once you let go of the rope, you would then slide underwater into a whirlpool below. It’s a little bit scary but hey if you handle a 7m free fall cliff jumping, this is nothing.
Photo from Author getting spun by the ‘washing machine’
The Washing Machine would be the last stop in your Da Lat canyoning adventure. All of these would take around 5 hours to complete. You then would have to hike back up to the van for about 20 minutes. It could be more than 20 minutes if you have to trudge and drag both of your legs. ( I’ve been there, no shame people)
Once you’re at the minivan, you can retrieve your clean clothes to change and secretly pat yourselves on the shoulder for finishing the course.
What to bring when canyoning in Da Lat
When you go canyoning, you don’t really want to bring a lot of things with you. With all the heavy walking and jumping, you would wish to leave everything in the van.
If you don’t bring too much stuff with you, your guide would probably offer to carry them in his dry bag. A few things I would suggest you to bring are:
- Clean clothes to change after your crazy wet adventure ( Leave it in the van).
- Towel (Leave it in the van)
- Sunscreen (apply it beforehand)
- GoPro or waterproof camera (Most of the tour would provide photos inclusive with the tour price, so this is not really necessary. You would probably be too worn out to take out your own camera, so you might end up only using their photos, most of them come out pretty decent)
What to wear
- A quick drying clothes (The tour provides wetsuits too if you want to use theirs.)
- A good sturdy pair of shoes
What Not to wear
You want to focus on your canyoning adventure, so bringing less items with you and leaving unnecessary stuff behind is a smart choice
Cost for entire excursion
Basic – 50USD ( RM213).
Additional – 70USD (RM298)
The basic cost for the Da Lat canyoning trip is only 50USD ( RM213). This is inclusive of lunch, photos and transport from and to the place you’re staying. If you ask me, it’s a pretty good deal.
Now, there’s an additional package of 50m ziplining at the waterfall. This is a recent challenge being added by some of the tours. If you would like to go for this one, the price is 70USD (RM298)
Depending on the tour company, you can either pay before or after your canyoning trip.
Things to watch out for when canyoning in Da Lat
Da Lat is COLD. Soaking yourself in the waterfall would be too chilly to some. Make sure you’re wearing fast drying clothes. You should also wear a sweater and gloves at night.
Even though the walking, jumping and sliding was still doable for a novice adventurer such as myself, this should not be taken lightly if you’re someone with health concerns such as asthma.
Avoid unauthorised tours
Da Lat canyoning is one of the most popular activities to do in Da Lat and there would be plenty of companies offering this. Make sure you really find an authorised tour to manage your day canyoning. At the hand of experienced guides, the chances of you getting hurt would be almost none.
Getting to Dalat
For those of you on a tight budget, you can take the sleeper bus from Ho Chi Minh city to Da Lat but watch out as sleeper bus is not as peaceful as it sounds. It’s called a sleeper bus, but you can hardly get any sleep on it.
The journey on the bus takes around 7 hours during the day and around 5 hours at night. The journey on the bus can be a bit scary and bumpy. There were a lot of honking and emergency breaks. (kinda like the Knight bus in Harry Potter, without the talking head).
Besides, be aware of your stops or you might end up stranded alone in the middle of nowhere at midnight like me. (this is a story for another time).
Best places to stay in Dalat
If you love waking up to the smell of coffee, you’re going to appreciate your stay there. The lower floor is a coffee shop, so there’s a perpetual smell of coffee in that hostel.
Besides, they also provide free breakfast and coffee for their guests. You can also do your laundry there after a day of your canyoning trip.
If you would like to enjoy a serene peaceful vibe while sipping your coffee after a day of Da Lat canyoning adventure, you’re going to love this place or shall I say, you will be aMUSEd by it.
Check out other hostels that offer you chances to meet new friends and other travellers.
The number of hostels in Da Lat has mushroomed in the recent years, so even if you haven’t booked your accommodation, worry not as there are plenty of nice places to stay .
There you have it. All you need to know about Da Lat canyoning. It would be one of the scariest yet thrilling experiences you will have.
Even if you are new and have no previous experience or special physical training, you can still join this. If you want to push your limits at the hand of experienced guides, Da Lat canyoning is definitely an adventure that should be in your list.