Hiking In Vietnam: Lang Biang Mountain, Dalat (DIY Guide)

After running out of options on mountains to climb near Saigon, which there basically are only three (Black Virgin Mountain, Chua Chan Mountain and Dinh Mountain), I hopped on a bus and headed to the highlands of Da Lat, a popular tourist destination for both foreigners and locals in Vietnam. Vietnamese call Da Lat a “love city” for locals usually go there to have a romantic time with their partners. Being in the highland, the temperature is definitely lower than in Saigon which makes the ambiance more charming. However, I believe it’s not just for lovers but also for adventure-lovers. A bunch of outdoor activities can be done here such as canyoning, waterfall-chasing and since it’s a highland, mountain-climbing.  I went not for the city itself though, but for the peak northwest of it in an attempt in hiking Lang Biang Mountain.

View of Dalat City from Lang Biang Peak
View of Dalat City from Lang Biang Peak

Getting to Lang Biang

There are two popular bus companies that would take you to Da Lat but you only have to take note of the more convenient and less-complained about one which is Thành Bưởi in 430 Lê Hồng Phong, phường 1, District 10, not further away though from District 1. Fare is VND210k one way for a sleeper bus. You just need to get to the station to book the soonest leaving bus. I arrived there at 10pm and got a ticket from one of the ticketing tables for a 10:30pm trip. Buses depart at 15 minutes intervals even late at night. The staff are mostly non-English speaking so it might be hard to communicate a lot. Just say “Da Lat” and they know what to do. I suggest you figure out a way to request though that you be given the seat in front or middle where you don’t have to lie beside someone else, instead of the exrteme back where six beds are adjacent to each other. They’re pretty strict about seat numbers so you couldn’t change it once they’ve booked it. They will hand you a ticket which you will have to pay for once you’re already on the bus.

My trip only took 6 hours including the 2 stops the bus made for toilet and snack break. Sleeping was not very hard though. I just popped on my headphones with a travel playlist and I fell asleep just fine, occasionally waking up during stopovers. I was dropped of at the Thanh Buoi station in Da Lat and boy, weather sure doesn’t feel like I’m in Vietnam!

From the map above, you will find that the bus station going to Da Lat is just a short walk from Thanh Buoi dropoff. I went there knowing that the bus route should be Bus #5, however a Bus #3 arrived in which Lang Biang is printed at the side. So I assumed correctly that it’s heading to Lang Biang mountain. The last stop of the bus is right before the entrance of the park so don’t worry about missing it. Going back to Da Lat, the bus has a schedule to depart from Lang Biang park at 9:45am, 10:45am, 1:45pm, 2:45pm, 3:45pm and 4:45pm.

Sunrise at Xuan Huong Lake

A night trip to Da Lat is just perfect if you’re a fan of sunrise. You’ll arrive to the city just an hour before the sun comes up. From Thanh Buoi bus stop, just follow your map to go to the side of the lake. Remember that the sun rises at the East so you wanna be at the west side of the lake to catch the sunrise reflecting on the water.  🙂

Sunrise at Xuan Huong Lake
Sunrise at Xuan Huong Lake
Sunrise at Xuan Huong Lake
Sunrise at Xuan Huong Lake

Hiking Lang Biang Mountain (2,167 MASL)

Difficulty: 4/9
Jumpoff: Lang Biang Park Entrance
Hours Required to Summit: 3-4 hours
Trail Distinction: Pine trees, forest, campsites, steep steps towards the summit

After satisfying my craving for sunrise, I went ahead to find a travel agency to rent my tent as I planned to camp at the peak. Most travel agencies offer packages to take you at the top but I’m not a fan of touristy climbs. I walked more to reach the bus stop for roue #5, and after eventually hopping on bus #3, I reached the entrance of Lang Biang park in 30-40 minutes!

Now once you enter the entrance, you will see a big Lang Biang signage, similar to Hollywood trademark, but smaller. There are three peaks: Radar peak, Unnamed Peak and the real summit which is Lang Biang Peak. The first one is very touristy, reachable by a chartered jeep on a paved road. The second one didn’t interest me at all as well so I headed for the true peak.

Lang Biang Map
Lang Biang Map

The map above shows two options going to the middle part of the trail. The left is the paved one which is used by the chartered jeeps. The one on the right though is a spectacular alternative for adventurers as you will find greenhouses, berry plantations and abundant pine trees! I suggest you take it. You will not get lost as long as you follow the path in your google maps. 🙂 (Can’t hike without it these days!). Should you decide to take this, you have to take the dusty trail on the right of the entrance as shown on the next photo.

Take the dusty path to the right to get rewarding trail.
Take the dusty path to the right to get rewarding trail.

 

Off the beaten track to Lang Biang Peak
Off the beaten track to Lang Biang Peak
Pine tree hill after a dusty trail
Pine tree hill after a dusty trail

One hour is enough to hike up the first half of the trail, however, I’m sure you would take your time taking photos and resting as the trail is quite steep. You will then eventually reach a ticket booth, which I don’t think is manned. Passed by it twice and in both cases, I didn’t see anybody there. So in short, hiking up could always be free of fee! Pursue the trail to the right which is pure beautiful and peaceful sight.

Ticket booth marking the next segment of the trail to Dinh Lang Biang
Ticket booth marking the next segment of the trail to Dinh Lang Biang
View from the trail to the summit of Lang Biang
View from the trail to the summit of Lang Biang

The trail then transistions from pine tree slopes to a mossy forest where the path could be slippery and muddy when during rainy days. Also, it’s impossible to get lost on the second half of the trail as the paths are clear and there are occasional trail markers to assure you that you’re going the right way.

Trail markers to Lang Biang Peak
Trail markers to Lang Biang Peak
Trail markers to the summit of Lang Biang
Trail markers to the summit of Lang Biang

After 3 to 4 hours, I have finished hiking Lang Biang mountain. It was a challenging hike especially that I was carrying a 8.5 kg-backpack at that time. I was rewarded with excellent views of the city from one angle and other mountain peaks on other angles, which are tempting backgrounds for your cover or profile picture on FB. Aside from the peak marker that states “Dinh Lang Biang” or Lang Biang Peak, there’s also a nice spot with a protruding rock where you can stand on. The summit is not very wide though, you would find yourself sharing the view with other hikers, most of which are Vietnamese groups.

Dinh Lang Biang
Dinh Lang Biang
Dinh Lang Biang Peak
Dinh Lang Biang

Since going back to the park entrance would take around 2 to 2.5 hours from the peak, you should be heading back down from the summit at least 4pm, and earlier if you would like to catch the bus back to Da Lat.

Camping at Dinh Lang Biang

Another option is to stay overnight at the summit, which I did. I have always been a fan though of day hikes where I get to stay in a comfy room after a day of a hard climb. But for this time, I challenged myself to camp at the summit for the first time, alone. It could sound dangerous for a solo female traveler to camp in the mountain alone but I actually felt safe at the summit knowing that no other humans are around!

Camping at DInh Lang Biang
Camping at Dinh Lang Biang

By 4pm in the afternoon, all hikers have already left the peak and what’s left of my company are the birds and crickets with the soundtrack of the rain drops and the wind slapping my tent. I had no choice but to stay inside the tent as it was cold and wet outside due to the gentle rain. All I could see was the clouds passing by me.  No sunset as expected, nor stargazing. Soon it was dark, I could see the gorgeous twinkling lights of the city. I also managed to start up a camp fire (for the first time) but didn’t last long due to the rain. The rest I could do was to sleep and talk to the only one I could talk to at that time, God. It was a peaceful meditation and I believe the camping experience enriched my soul.

Morning view at DInh Lang Biang
Morning view at Dinh Lang Biang

Itinerary

Dayhike Option
Day 0
10:30PM – Board the bus to Da Lat from Than Buoi Bus Station

Day 1
05:00AM – ETA at Da Lat, wait for Sunrise by the lake
06:30AM – Breakfast
07:00AM – Explore the city
09:00AM – Board bus #3 or #5 to Lang Biang (Alternatively, you can use rented bicycle or motorbike)
09:45AM – Arrival at Lang Biang Entrance
10:00AM – Start hiking Lang Biang mountain
01:30PM – Arrival at the peak
02:30PM – Start descent
04:30PM – Arrival at entrance
05:00PM – Board the bus to Da Lat
05:45PM – Arrival at Da Lat

Camping Option

Day 0
10:30PM – Board the bus to Da Lat from Than Buoi Bus Station

Day 1
05:00AM – ETA at Da Lat, wait for Sunrise by the lake
06:30AM – Breakfast
07:00AM – Explore the city
09:00AM – Board bus #3 or #5 to Lang Biang (Alternatively, you can use rented bicycle or motorbike)
09:45AM – Arrival at Lang Biang Entrance
10:00AM – Start hiking Lang Biang Mountain
01:30PM – Arrival at the peak

Day 2
05:00AM – Wake up to witness sunrise and have breakfast
07:00AM – Start descent
09:30AM – Arrival at the entrance
10:00AM – Board the bus back to Da Lat
10:45AM – Arrival at Da Lat

My Actual Expenses

RT Bus Fare (Saigon to Da Lat) – 420K
RT Bus Fare – (Da Lat to Lang Biang) – 24K
Tent Rental – 100K
Food and water (including camp food) – 150
Rain coat and lighter – 30K
Bonet I brought from a street stall- 25K

Total 750K (~33USD for 2 days)

Recommendation

Although challenging, Lang Biang Peak is an achievable adventure even to first time-hikers. You should not miss it when visiting Da Lat. 🙂

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