Crazy House in Dalat, Vietnam. Photo: agoda
Crazy House in Dalat, Vietnam. Photo: agoda

The Crazy House – also called Hằng Nga House, Biệt thự Hằng Nga or Ngôi nhà quái dị – is located in the middle of the small provincial town Đà Lạt in the central highlands, around one kilometer southwest of the Xuan-Huong Lake. When the architect Dr. Đặng Việt Nga started to erect the bizarre building in a quiet and calm place it caused some attention. She transformed existing houses and integrated trees and bushes into her structures on higher ground. The other residents observed this strange but still creative doing and her site got quickly named „The Crazy House“. In a testimonial (check below) the creator describes gloriously how she worked for years for national institutions and designed for them conventional architectonical concepts, but now with this Crazy House Project she is able to fulfill and realize her „dreams of independence and freedom in the art of architecture”.

Described as a „fairy tale house” (Hằng Nga Vietnamese: 姮娥, is the Chinese goddess of the Moon), the building’s overall design resembles a giant tree, incorporating sculptured elements representing natural forms such as animals, mushrooms, spider webs, and caves. Its architecture, comprising complex, organic, non-rectilinear shapes, has been described as expressionist. The architect has acknowledged the inspiration of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí in the building’s design, and visitors have variously drawn parallels between it and the works of artists such as Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney. Since its opening in 1990, the building has gained recognition for its unique architecture, being highlighted in numerous guidebooks and listed as one of the world’s ten most “bizarre” buildings in the Chinese People’s Daily, according to Vagabundler.

Location & History

The house is located at 3 Huynh Thuc Khang St., Ward 3, Dalat City, covering an area of approximately 1,600m2. Stemming from the need to build something completely on her own, Architect Nga's house was started constructing in 1990. The construction, as well as the process of claiming for possession of this house, are both long stories. Started from scratch, there was a time that Ms. Nga was on the verge of bankruptcy when all banks refused to lend her. It was at this point that she came up with the idea of selling tickets for tourists visiting the house. Moreover, after 18 continuous years and 6 times filing, she has been given possession of this house, as well as its recognition as a piece of art. Still, she doesn't want to relax at all but is going to add up more constructions, such as a communal house inside the existing area, Vietnam online reported.

The story behind Vietnam's 'Crazy House'

Photo: du-lich-da-lat
Photo: du-lich-da-lat

Opened to the public in 1990, the Hằng Nga Guesthouse began as a pet project of architect Đặng Việt Nga, daughter of ranking communist leader Trường Chinh. Đặng Việt Nga studied at the University of Architecture in Moscow, later receiving a Ph.D. She began her professional life in Hà Nội but eventually moved to Đà Lạt. It was here that she built her now-famous guesthouse, modeling it after the natural beauty she saw all around her in the rolling green mountains. The main structure of Crazy House is based on a banyan tree.

Unique Architectural Design

From an architectural standpoint, the guesthouse has been described as an expressionist work. Many people see influences from Salvador Dali and Walt Disney, but Đặng Việt Nga claims she was inspired by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. The construction is as fluid and nonlinear as you could ever imagine when using cement. Despite being entirely crafted by human hands, the whole structure somehow feels natural. It’s only when you encounter sections of the guesthouse still under construction that you see the real skeleton of this disorienting creation.

Another interesting note is that Đặng Việt Nga didn’t use blueprints for this guesthouse. Instead, she made paintings of her ideas. Then she worked with local craftsmen to build her artistic conceptions, The Culture Trip cited.

An exercise in creativity

After earning a Ph.D. in architecture in Moscow, Dang worked for several years in Russia then moved to Hanoi, where she worked on government projects.

On a business trip to Dalat, Dang says she fell in love with the lush landscape, cooler climate and kind people and hoped to eventually move there.

In 1983, she relocated to Dalat with her then 8-year-old son, Nguyen Viet Thang.

After years of working on state-owned developments, which afforded little creativity, she felt compelled to unleash her imagination.

"With this form, you have to try to free your mind," she says. "There are no rules -- aside from basic structural principles [to make sure it's safe and stable] -- it's all about self-expression."

When it came time to construct the house, Dang used various types of materials, including steel, wood and concrete.

"My mother used a lot of concrete because it's inexpensive and very easy to play with," says her son Nguyen, who is now 44.

"Since she can create whatever shape she wants, it reflects what she is envisioning in her mind."

Less than a year later, the guesthouse was open for business and welcoming its first guests.

Closer to nature


Today, Crazy House feels like a woodland fantasy brought to life.

"I felt that, over the last century, people have really destroyed nature. Not just in Vietnam, but around the world," says Dang. "So I wanted to create a structure that brings people closer to nature."

An elevated main house, which looks like it belongs in Hansel and Gretel, sits in the center of an open courtyard, surrounded by four enormous tree houses.

Sinuous cement "branches," which double as bridges, twist, and wind between the various houses so people can move from one to the next.

At first glance, the surreal structures recall mind-bending scenes from a Salvador Dali painting or perhaps even the organic works of modernist Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.

The playful style continues within the treehouses, where 10 guest rooms -- each named after an animal or type of plant -- are full of organic shapes, cavern-like beds, and wooden seating areas.

"Reconnecting nature is one message that I want to communicate with the house," says Dang.

"But it's also a message to others to think outside of the box. Don't limit yourself by the rules and the expectations -- free your mind and let your imagination run wild."

Following her own advice, Dang continues to dream up new additions to the property while Nguyen now manages the business.

She is currently dreaming up two new gardens -- a Land Garden and a Sky Garden -- to add more greenery and flowers, as well as another treehouse.

"I would say that Crazy House will never really be finished," says Nguyen. "It's like a living thing. It is always changing." CNN Travel noted.


Not only can you visit it - you can also sleep in it

Crazy House is also a hotel with some guest rooms for those who want to live closer to nature. We have total 10 guest rooms located inside the building in form of tree trunks. Each room is named after an animal and it represents a country: Bamboo room for Vietnam, Bear for Russia,… To introduce the concept of “Back to nature”, our rooms are outfitted with natural furniture and essential facilities; therefore, you can not find modern equipment such as a television, air conditioner. Living in the hollow of the tree trunks will give you the warm and pleasant feeling as if Mother Nature is sheltering you. With this idea, we hope that everybody will be more eco-conscious and will do things to save our planet, Amazing Architecture wrote.

We offer two types of the guest room as follows:

Type 1: Room with one queen-sized bed for two adults

Type 2: Room with two queen-sized bed for four adults or family with children

Visitor Information

Photo: lonelyplanet
Photo: lonelyplanet

For a small fee of VND 20,000, tourists can visit the house as a museum of contemporary architecture which is nowhere else to be found in the world

Stay here

Single room costs $34-$47/night while double room's price ranges from $47-$84/night. Rooms are named after animals such as Kangaroo, Bear, Ant, Pheasant, etc.

Useful Information for visitor

  • Location: Huỳnh Thúc Kháng, Phường 4, Da Lat Lam Dong, Vietnam
  • Best for: Family, couple, solo
  • Entrance: 20,000VND
  • Hours: 9 AM - 4 PM
  • Distance to city center: 3.2km (2.0 mi)
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