Da Lat - City of Eternal Spring
Da Lat - City of Eternal Spring, Vietnam
The site of Dalat, at 1475 meters elevation, was discovered by Doctor Alexandre Yersin. Because of its pleasant temperate climate, and the beauty of its surroundings of lakes, waterfalls, and pine forests, it became popular with the French after 1912 as a cool retreat from the heat of the plains.
Dalat became known as "Le Petit Paris". The city was implicitly considered to be a neutral zone and was spared fighting and destruction during the war. You can still see there a small Eiffel tower, villas modeled after regional French architecture, and a school as well as a train station which look like they are from a French little town of the first half of the century. Because of the cooler climate, school kids still wear "chandails", French style sweaters. Because of its charms, the town draws a large number of Vietnamese tourists and honeymooners for which a number of very "kitch" attractions have been created. But overall, they contribute to create a delightful intemporally dated atmosphere.
Things you should do
• Walk around Xuan Huong Lake to shop around little shops near Dalat market at night time.
• Visit to XQ Hand Embroidery Historical Village.
When to go
You can visit Da Lat all year around as it has perfect weather around 20 degrees Celsius (68 F).
Getting there & away
+ Flights: Vietnam Airlines has daily short flights between Saigon and Hanoi to Dalat. There are also two flights a week to Danang. The airport is about 30 km south of Dalat City.
• Over 300 km away from Saigon, 5 hour drive on scenic up hill roads.
• 200 km away from Nha Trang, 4 hour drive.
• 200 km from Buon Ma Thuoc City, Dak Lak Province.
• 100 km away from Muine, Phan Thiet. 3 hour drive.
Where to stay in Da Lat
Dalat Sofitel, 5 stars, from USD 200: The best hotel in Dalat, located in the heart of Dalat surrounded by a superb park, has an original 1920s style and charm. The hotel provides a shuttle service to and from the airport. It has 38 rooms and 5 suites, a gastronomic restaurant, a brasserie serving international and local cuisine, a piano bar, Larry's bar, and 7 meeting rooms accommodating up to 300 delegates. There are shops, tennis courts and a golf course nearby. www.sofitel.com
Evason Ana Mandara Villas in Dalat, 5 stars, from USD 150: Set in the cool climate of the rural highlands of Central Vietnam, Evason Ana Mandara Villas Dalat comprises 17 French colonial villas each originally constructed between the 1920's and 1930's and lovingly restored to their former glory, with all care taken to preserve original design, décor and charm. The surrounding countryside and town provide beautiful views from all areas of the gently sloping hillside property. www.sixsenses.com
Dalat Novotel, 4 stars, from USD 100: The Novotel Dalat is the ideal place to holiday with all the comfort and facilities of a 4 star hotel. This historic hotel is an oasis in the beautiful Central Highlands surrounded by lakes and waterfalls. Guests enjoy access to the Dalat Palace Golf Club. Relax with your favorite drink in one of our two bars and be tempted by a range of cuisine, including traditional Vietnamese, in our two restaurants. www.novotel.com
Resort Hoang Anh Dalat, 3 stars, from USD 70: Located in the central of Da Lat City, near Xuan Huong lake, Resort Hoang Anh Da Lat with elegant rooms fully equipped, good and Friendly Services, we offer the cozy atmosphere suitable for all kind of guests. www.hoanganhhotelgroup.com/dalat
What to eat & drinks:
Dalat is a paradise for lovers locally garden vegetables which are grown locally and sold all over the Southern Vietnam. The abundance of just-picked peas, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, green peppers, bean sprouts, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, beets, green beans, bamboo shoots, spinach, potatoes, squash and yams make for meals unavailable any where else in the country. Persimmons and cherries are in the season from November to January. Apples are known here as Bom after the French pomme. The Dalat area is justifiably famous for its strawberry jam, dried blackcurrants and candied plums and peaches, all of this can be purchased from food stalls which are everywhere in town. You should try Dalat Red Wine as it is only local wine in Vietnam. Dalat is also home of coffee and tea.
What to see
Bao Dai Third Palace: Bao Dai, the last King of Vietnam. He is considered as Play Boy King as the country was under the domination of French during his rules, so he had many palaces of leisure. The Dalat Bao Dai Third Palace was built from 1933 to 1937 when Bao Dai was on his throne in Hue kingdom. Bao Dai used this place as a resting place in summer. When the French returned to Vietnam, Bao Dai became the puppet minister in 1950 and used this place as his office and his house.
Thien Vien Truc Lam - Buddhist Monastery: the largest pagoda in Dalat, 4km from Center, established by Thich Thanh Tu Monk in the 90s and it was opened on February 8th, 1994. The area is 24.5 hectares and it is divided into 3 zones: zone for the Mons, zone for the Nuns, zone for visitors. The first outline design had the attendance of a famous architecture, Mr. Ngo Viet Thu (the architecture of Doc lap Palace- Reunificatication Palace now in Saigon).
Lat Village: about 12 km North of Dalat at the base of Lang Bian Mountain, the peak of Southern Vietnam. Traditionally, Lat houses are built on piles with rough plank walls and a thatch roof. The people of Lat eke out living growing rice, coffee, black beans and sweet potatoes. Even their life has changed, it is worth to pay a visit.
Dalat Railway Station: Built in 1943, the Dalat station offers an atmospheric slice of Dalat's colonial history. You can see an authentic old wood-burning steamer train on the tracks to the rear, and stroll around inside looking at the iron-grilled ticket windows, empty now. Although the steamer train no longer makes tourist runs, a newer Japanese train makes a trip to Trai Mat Street and the Linh Phuoc pagoda.
Flower Gardens: There are many flower gardens in Dalat, just pick the one which closes to your Hotel.
Dalat XQ Hand Embroidery Historical Village: With a skillful hand, a craftswomen pays their soul into each stitch to make the lifelike pictures, so the viewer gets much emotion. XQ hand embroidery historical village is the place you can experience how Vietnamese keep their traditional craft. Can you believe that the picture on your left is hand embroidery painting, it seems that it is a real picture of Vietnamese girl in traditional dress.
Some other tips:
• Pack warm clothes as it is cold to locals.
• Try local tea & coffee.