Often referred to as "Le Petit Paris", this pleasant town in the Central Highlands used to be the premier vacationing spot of the wealthy French during colonial times. With its rolling hills, serene pine forests, and cooler temperatures, it is the perfect place to escape the heat and humidity of Saigon, and explore the beautiful scenery.
Nestled around a romantic lake and boasting its own little Eiffel Tower replica, Dalat is Vietnam's favorite honeymoon destination, and has something to offer for everyone. Take a leisurely stroll through its old neighborhoods lined with charming French colonial villas, play a round of golf at one of the elegant resorts, spend the day exploring the many lakes and waterfalls around town, visit a local flower farm, or build up a sweat during a mountain bike excursion - the choice is yours. And don't forget to indulge in some of the delicious specialties Dalat is famous for, including locally grown wine and fruit jams.
Places to See
Built in 1933, this splendid royal villa consists of 25 rooms that are decorated with the original furniture and historic objects. Highly recommended!
The cathedral was built between 1931 and 1942 for the many French who vacationed in Dalat.
A favorite spot for Vietnamese honeymooners, this outdoor "theme park" offers everything from boat rides to Vietnamese men dressed up as American cowboys.
The brain child of Vietnamese architect Dang Viet Nga, this unusual structure with its bizarre design is especially fun to explore for children, but adults will find the fantastic set up worth a visit as well. The building features tree-house like rooms, winding stair cases, oddly shaped walls, and great views of the surrounding neighborhood.
Located along a quiet alley, Lam Ty Ni Pagoda has become famous for its sole resident monk and caretaker, Vien Thuc. He has single handedly landscaped the tranquil garden surrounding the pagoda, and the entire space (including most of the building) is filled with his art works. Mr. Thuc has produced a prolific collection of paintings, drawings, and poems, as well as sculptures of himself. The atmosphere here is very Zen-like, and the eccentric Mr. Thuc loves showing off his collection. All his works are for sale.
This artificially created lake is situated at the center of Dalat and is a great place for a picnic or boat ride. A 7km long path winds its way around the lake, which is a great way to see the town and its many old villas and neighborhoods. Especially recommended during sunset!
Food & Shopping
Thanks to its temperate climate and fertile soil, Dalat is famous for its fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers. The best place to sample some of the harvest is no doubt the Central Market and surrounding area. You'll also find beautiful flower arrangements, including heart shaped bouquets made of dried flowers.
The fresh strawberries are especially delightful! Other local products, such as strawberry jam, avocado tea, or candied fruit make delicious gifts to take home. Strange as it may sound, Dalat is also home to a small number of vintners who produce strawberry, mulberry, and grape wine. All worth a try!
For recommended hotels in Halong Bay, click here: Dalat Hotels.
Temperate climate with two distinctive seasons. The dry season lasts from December to March, while the rainy season lasts from April to November. Annual average temperatures range from 24C (high) to 15C (low). Nights can definitely get cool, so make sure to bring a sweater or light jacket.
Notes From the Field
“Dalat is s very pleasant and picturesque town. The trip from Saigon is beautiful as well - the closer one gets to Dalat, the more scenic the landscape becomes. Along the road there are coffee and pepper plantations, interesting little villages, girls in white Ao Dai, and groups of school children who excitedly yell, "Hello!" when they see tourists.
It was especially fun to explore the Cantral Market in Dalat, because there were so many fruits and vegetables we had not seen anywhere else in Vietnam. There were also a lot of different jams and candied fruits on offer, not to mention the heavenly cakes and pastries and the incredible coffee!
Aside from strolls through the city center, the friendly locals who love practicing their English, and the delicious food, we very much enjoyed a visit to Lam Ty Pagoda. The caretaker of the pagoda, an eccentric monk who lives there and has created hundreds of wonderful paintings, poems, and sculptures, was happy to show us around. We highly recommend a visit!
Note: Every time we traveled by bus from Saigon to Dalat, we were told the journey would take five hours. However, it always ended up taking eight hours, so make sure to plan ahead and allow for the trip to take up an entire day.”
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