Location: in Lam Dong Province, approximately 308km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City
Access: about 6 hours by car from HCMC, Lien Khuong Airport is connected to HCMC, Da Nang and Hanoi, train routes between HCMC and Hanoi stop at Da Lat.
Main attractions: Summer Palace of King Bao Dai, Lakes of Xuan Huong, Tuyen Lam, waterfalls, night market, Lang Biang Mountains, Da Lat Flower Garden
"Little Paris” is what this land of beautiful mountain scenery and delightfully cool mountain weather was called by the French colonists who founded it.
Experiencing the uniqueness of Dalat means enjoying the blend of original, diverse, western-style architecture with tropical highland panorama. Indeed, the close interaction between French colonizers and Vietnamese feudal dynasty resulted in invaluable palaces and cultural monuments, on all of which left a strong imprint of French structure, such as the palaces of the very last Vietnamese King – Bao Dai, the Dalat Teacher’s Training College, the Railway Station and the city’s flower market…
The town is also distinctive in the harmony between Western and Oriental culture, of urban and ethnic minority lifestyles. It is of a rare place where all the deep musical notes of the bell rings from typically Indochinese pagodas mingle with the chimes of western-style catholic churches at every dawn and sunset. Truc Lam zen monastery is famed for its tranquil, poetic, and beautiful garden, creating an idyllic space for every body and soul to find peace in the sacred atmosphere of Buddhism worshipping and fresh air on the top of Phoenix Mount.
Dalat has long been Vietnam’s honeymoon capital, flush with romantic hideaways like the Valley of Love, where newly-weds fresh from church pose from moored sailboats. Xuan Huong Lake is the most beautiful lake in Da Lat. Shaped like a crescent moon; it is where many honeymooners spend their romantic times together when visiting Da Lat. Valley of Love is also famous to lovers with the meaningful love legend it bears and beautiful scenery it provides.
One of the most typical features of Da Lat is waterfall. The famous ones are Prenn Fall, Gougah Fall, Bongou Fall, and so on. All are picturesque with a sheet of silver pouring into a pool of water at the bottom. Behind is a wooden and bamboo bridge hidden in the turbulence and mist created as the water strikes the rocks below. Around the fall area was once a thriving wild life refuge. Visitors to the fall can visit the various habitats of the animals in this region.
For non-honeymooning foreign tourists, Dalat offers some of the best mountain biking, trekking, hiking and canyoning opportunities in Vietnam. Langbian Mountain’s highest peak at 2,165m is very tempting for climbers. From Lom Bieng Klo peak, one can see endless green mountains reflecting the silver rays of the sun. Many tours are organized in the area, including parachuting and climbing. Explorers will also have an opportunity to interact with the Lac ethnic minority while sitting around the fire and tasting the typical alcoholic beverage of Lac people.
Aside from sport activities, tourists are given an excellent chance to explore some of Vietnam's hinterland, sample its outstanding products and vacation alongside Vietnamese holidaymakers. Come early in the evening and join the rest of the city in the broad central market area. Here, everyone seems to wade eagerly into the festive atmosphere. At the food stalls scattered throughout the area, old women in buttoned, oversized sweaters and wool hats fan wood-chip fires. Others sell puffed corn scooped from large plastic bags, or French-style baguettes from blue-painted, wheeled carts, or cigarettes from flimsy folding tables lit by candles.
Dalat, from every corner of view, is still really “something of a magical mystery land” – as admired by the Discovery Magazine in 1991.