A mountainous escape nestled in southern Vietnam’s Lam Dong province, the “city of a thousand flowers” has a unique European-inspired flair that’s unlike any other place you’ll visit during your time there. Designed as a resort center by the French during colonial times, many European travelers and wealthy Vietnamese would visit to escape the coastal heat. However, if you’re looking for a sustainable trip, the city as a whole has some work to do. Unsustainable greenhouse practices have contributed to a gradual climate change that could soon affect the city’s spring-like microclimate. Since a microclimate covers a much smaller area than the region’s normal weather patterns, it makes it much more vulnerable to the effects of global warming.
Luckily, some local businesses and citizens have realized that things need to change. There has been a push to adopt more eco-friendly options to give tourists a sustainable alternative. Whether you enjoy a day exploring one of its eco-friendly farms or sipping local hot coffee made with freshly picked Arabica beans, Da Lat won’t disappoint the earth lover in you.
Da Lat’s Japanese-inspired homestay is nestled in the mountains near the famous Crazy House and offers breathtaking views, 700 square-meters of green space, and an unforgettable experience. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly mini-retreat that’s close to all the tourist hotspots, this place is perfect for you. To make their homestay more environmentally friendly, Komori House uses bamboo for their wall cladding and handmade craft items for their interior decorating. If you’re keen on exploring your inner-chef or green thumb, feel free to join their staff in cooking up some farm-to-table meals or helping out with their organic permaculture garden!
This tiny paradise overlooks Ta Dung Lake further ensuring that it’s the right choice for those wanting to escape reality for a little while, and get in touch with Da Lat’s pristine nature. Freedom Green Village provides you with eco-friendly amenities like solar water heaters and soaps made from locally sourced herbs. Sit back, relax, and indulge in the soothing sound of nature while enjoying a fresh meal made with ingredients straight from their local farm.
A quaint little homestay near the center of town and overlooking the mountains, Dom Dom Homestay combines minimalism and green living to remind their guests of simpler times while saving the environment. Dom Dom is committed to helping their guests mind their carbon footprint. Instead of letting you use plastic bags, the homestay staff provides you with cloth bags for shopping, free of charge! Like other accommodations on this list, you can enjoy some gardening and cooking farm-fresh meals in their communal kitchen.
Experiences Around Da Lat
If there’s one thing you need to experience when you come to Da Lat, it’s definitely trying a fresh cup of its homegrown coffee. Due to being 1,500 meters above sea level, the region’s highland climate gives it the perfect weather conditions to grow its famous Arabica coffee beans – which are highly desired worldwide. Along every street you walk, you’ll probably find at least 5 coffee shops offering you a unique tasting experience.
If you’re a coffee fanatic and would love to see how the process works, Son Pacamara gives tours on their sustainable coffee farm! In contrast to other coffee farmers who use pesticides and other harmful methods, Son Pacamara goes the extra mile to ensure their products are ethically made. Farm staff pick out coffee beans by hand, check their beans’ humidity and pH levels daily, and then make a final quality check before roasting. They also help local coffee farmers by collecting and transporting the beans and buying their seeds at higher market prices to help them improve their living standards.
Situated on the city’s outskirts, Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park is one of the country’s most significant and well-preserved nature reserves. Also home to the Center for Ecotourism and Environmental Education, feel free to book one of their ecotours with a local guide. The park staff wants visitors to experience the park’s beauty and learn about the environment. They see it as a chance to spread awareness of the forest’s vital role in preserving the local ecosystem. Enjoy endless sightseeing opportunities, camp in the wilderness, and admire bird species that are endemic to the area.
One of the best parts about this city is that you don’t necessarily need to go too far to reach the tourist hotspots. The city’s walkability makes it perfect if you want to get some exercise and opt for a more carbon-neutral alternative to explore Da Lat. Want to meet new people in the city while you travel? If so, you should take advantage of DalatWalks, a community walking tour that will help you navigate the city! The English-speaking guide will take you to the best spots in town and share some interesting facts, history, and anything else you’re curious about when exploring Da Lat.
Known for its exquisite fine-dining cuisine, Biang Da Lat knows how to entice your taste buds. Using only locally sourced ingredients, Jorge, the restaurant’s head chef, serves a taste of the Mediterranean to locals and tourists alike. In addition to using local ingredients, this restaurant practices zero-waste cooking in its kitchen. Scraps that normally wouldn’t be used like vegetable skins are repurposed as garnish, purée, or other appetizers.
The restaurant has also been replacing single-use straws with eco-friendly paper and wooden ones instead. Throughout your culinary journey at Biang Da Lat, rest assured that you’re indulging in a high-quality meal from chefs that genuinely care about where their food comes from, and where it goes.
At the heart of the busy downtown area sits An Cafe, an oasis full of freshly-grown greens and local flowers. Catch an iconic city sunset while enjoying their delicious Da Lat strawberry smoothie. If you’re craving a fresh meal, you’ll be glad to know that all of their ingredients come directly from local farmers.
What sets An Cafe apart, however, is its creative approach to sustainability. For takeaway dishes, they use paper containers and biodegradable bamboo straws instead of conventional plastics and styrofoam. Food leftovers are used as animal feed. Even their frying oil is recycled by donating it to local soap makers! Its commitment to saving the planet in every way possible makes it a must-try during your trip to Da Lat.
The Choco is a regional favorite specifically made for chocolate lovers who stop in this city. With nine different varieties of Nama chocolate (including free samples!) and tons of drink options, you can get your chocolate fix while giving back to the community. In case you were wondering, The Choco also uses paper straws, paper bags, and paper boxes and rejects single-use plastics. Sit back and listen to the local acoustic band that donates 100% of its proceeds to locals in need when you visit their main store on Saturdays.
Do you intend to bring back a unique handmade souvenir to your loved ones? One of the first places on your list should be Labata Handmade. The shop makes handmade notebooks, handbags, soaps, and other crafts using recyclable materials. It is Labata’s primary goal to create durable items, so you can reduce your overall waste and consumption. If you have some extra time to spare, make sure to join their immersive bookbinding workshops to create your personalized notebook!
This is the place to go if you love essential oils and handmade soap. Roughly translated into the “shop of youth,” this small business was started with the idea of helping out those in need, particularly young people with hearing loss. In addition to helping with soap production, employees are also trained as coffee shop baristas. Quán Của Thời Thanh Xuân has a small farm where they source natural ingredients like organic lemongrass for their soaps and essential oils.
Being an agricultural hub, Da Lat is where you go to buy some fresh produce. Xuân Trường Farm, in particular, decided to partner with local organic farmers in the area to offer clean, high-quality food products at an affordable price. The shop is incredibly transparent about where their produce comes from, and each farmer is carefully vetted before they are allowed to sell at the shop. Unlike other conventional markets, Xuân Trường uses only paper bags to make your experience more sustainable. Make sure to get there on Wednesday and Saturday evenings during their “golden hours” to get 20% off your purchase!
Da Lat Sustainability
There’s no doubt that you’ll love Da Lat because of its natural beauty, fresh food, and eternal spring weather. However, this city’s still in transition. It’s trying to balance its traditional agricultural exports with more sustainable alternatives. But times are changing for the better. The local government is developing strategies to shape the city into a more sustainable hotspot in the near future. Through reforestation programs, creating a centralized wastewater facility, and reducing the number of vehicles with high CO2 emissions, the city’s government has been investing in practical solutions to make Da Lat more environmentally friendly.
As the government takes action, smaller businesses and locals are also becoming increasingly vital to creating a greener future. Through reinvesting your tourist dollar in shops that care, you can play an important part in helping turn Da Lat into Vietnam’s eco-friendly paradise in the mountains.
ecomadic is a sustainable tourism brand that empowers travelers to make more conscious decisions. By curating a marketplace to easily find and identify responsible businesses to support, and providing educational publications through our online green travel magazine, ecomadic is committed to helping empower travelers make responsible choices throughout their journeys.
Want to learn more?
Komori House – Home – Facebook
Komori House & Foods – Indiegogo
Freedom Green Village – Home – Facebook
Freedom Green Village: where souls love nature and like peace – Ken H Homestay
Vườn Đom Đóm Đà Lạt – Home – Facebook
DalatWalks – Bees4life
An Cafe – Home – Facebook
The Choco – The Choco VN
Labata Handmade – Labata Homemade
Nhà của Thời Thanh Xuân – House of Youth
Xuân Trường Farm – Trần Lê – Home – Facebook
DA LAT – The 2nd APEC Low-Carbon Model Town Symposium