South Vietnam,  Vietnam

Self guided tour to the Clay Tunnel and Truc Lam Monastery

The area around Tuyen Lam Lake in Da Lat is a perfect day tour destination. Reachable from the city by cable car this scenic landscape has something for everyone: breathtaking nature, panoramic views across the lake, a beautifully restored Buddhist Monastery, options for kayaking or SUP, check in photo parks and an open air art gallery in the form of the Clay Tunnel.

Da Lat Cable Car

Taking the cable car from Robin Hill in the south of Da Lat City to Truc Lam Monastery is the best way to reach your destination, while enjoying great views of the valley below.

Opened in 2003 this 2.267 meter long Cable Car is equipped with capsules of different colours, holding up to four people. In comparison to the Fansipan or Ba Na Hills Cable car it doesn’t feel very modern, but that creates a “retro” feeling while you are riding it.

You can easily reach the Cable Car station by a Grab taxi, then buy a round trip ticket. The round trip ticket is cheaper than two single tickets. Once you reach the top station you exit, take the stairs to the right and exit right in front of:


Truc Lam Buddhist Monastery

In the 1990s Vietnamese government started to invest in the restoration of Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen School and Truc Lam Zen Monastery. The complex was opened in 1994 and pagoda has since been working on combining different Zen schools in the world into Vietnamese culture and Vietnamese Zen. It is still an active monastery, despite being a tourist destination at the same time.

Usually the monks and nuns stay in the internal area of the complex, but I did have the pleasure of meeting one of the monks in the monasteries public library. We talked a bit about my country of origin, Germany, as well as Vietnam and the spread of religion in both countries.

The name “Truc Lam” means “Bamboo Forest”, which is fitting since the monastery is surrounded by over 20 hectars of protected forest.

Crossing Tuyen Lam Lake

Tuyen Lam Lake is a man made lake, created as a reservoir covering an area of 350 hectars. There are kayaking and SUP tours you can book to explore the lake, but a walk around the lake to its many viewpoints is also a popular activity, especially during sunset.

You can also book a motorboat to take a tour on the lake. The price of the boat depends on the number of people, so it is better to find others to take the tour with. By yourself you’d pay 400k for the boat. With one more person each will only pay 200k. If you don’t want to just cruise over the water for 30 minutes you also have the option to use the boat to get from point A to point B. We went from the Monastery to the Clay Tunnel, paid the boat captain 200k to wait for us for an hour, then went back to the Monastery from where we took the cable car back.

Clay Tunnel

Best known on social media for one specific art piece (two stone heads, facing each other, surrounded by greenery and looking out over a small lake – the title picture) the Clay Tunnel has more than 200 sculptures made from clay.

The park is divided into different areas: history of Da Lat, landmarks of the city and province, local animals, war planes, trains and motorbikes. At the end of the park, it’s newest addition, you’ll find the “Covid-19 park”, with many sculptures relating to the pandemic.

Is the Clay Tunnel worth a visit?

I’d say yes if you

  1. like taking pictures,
  2. like sclptures or
  3. are interested in different art forms and how a culture represents itself through it.

If neither is the case, skip this attraction.

Should you go on a tour or visit the Clay Tunnel by yourself?

I recommend doing this tour by yourself, it’s both cheaper than picking a countryside tour or booking a driver for a day (since you’d have to pay the driver and the admission tickets) and you can take as much time at each destination as you like.

  • 32k for the Grab taxi to the Cable Car
  • 150k for the round trip Cable Car ride
  • Free admission to the Monastery
  • 200k for the boat ride
  • 100k for the boat to wait for you
  • 120k admission to the Clay Tunnel
  • 32k for the Grab taxi back to the city

634k VND ~ 23,5 โ‚ฌ, I haven’t found a tour online that covers the same places, only countryside tours and those start at 41โ‚ฌ.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *