Dalat | Vietnam’s City of Eternal Spring
Vietnam, from north to south is a nation of colonial vestiges — Chinese pagodas and noodles, French buildings and baguettes, American warplanes and burgers. All these myriad of influences create the enviable cultural experience of what we now know as Vietnam.
The town of Dalat in the central highlands is no exception to this. In fact, it certainly looks more like the countryside of France than a city in the orient. While the French colonial structures are anywhere in Vietnam, this quaint highland town takes on a refreshing difference from the rest of the tourist-filled cities in the country.
Tucked high on Langbian Plateau, Dalat enjoys a year-round cool weather contrasting the tropical climate of other lowland cities. Mist hugged valleys, crisp scent of pines and radiant marigold trees are what welcome visitors to this city of eternal spring.
Developed by the French in late 1800s as a resort town, Dalat is today’s favorite playground of the rich Vietnamese, honeymooners and international tourists escaping from the burning sun of the city. At the heart of the town is the picturesque Xuan Huong Lake decked by quaint cafes, fancy hotels and posh restaurants.
The French colonial architecture dominates the landscape of Dalat. Charming chalets framed by manicured gardens, 1930s Art Deco hotels and flower-lined boulevards are its design inspirations for a refreshing French Alps in springtime hideaway.
While the city is home to many colonial relics like the steam engine powered Russian trains in the Cremaillere Railway, Dalat is also the life-size workshop of the famous Vietnamese architect, Dang Viet Nga. Famed for her eccentric style, the Crazy House has become one of today’s visited sights in the city.
But the charm of Dalat extends far beyond the town center, into its bucolic municipalities where a whole lot of exciting attractions await. Popular for its bright blooms, a trip to its vast fields of long stem roses and hydrangeas is a pretty experience. Where there are flowers, there are also bees and butterflies. Tourists frequent its farms for special organic food like honey-glazed salads made of vegetables and flower petals.
Vietnam is also one of Asia’s largest coffee growers and a major must-try here is the expensive Weasel Coffee. A coffeeholics’ paradise, weasel coffee is actually a strong blend of freshly brewed beans from the poop of a rare breed of Asian palm civet cats that live only on coffee berry diet. If you find the cat’s poop coffee gross, wait ‘til they serve you fried farm crickets. A good swig of 70% alcohol made from rice wine will make you forget that crunchy fella you just swallowed.
Waterfalling is also one of the staple adventure activities offered in Dalat. Here, many tourists don’t just trek to find plunging waters for a simple photo; they bring it to the next level by rappelling down its crashing cascades. If death-defying waterfall treks are not your type of fun, go for a smooth ride on an elephant’s back and enjoy the countryside landscape.
Dalat may have been developed in French stylistics, however it also keeps its Buddhist traditions. The Linh An Tu Temple, where a huge Laughing Buddha sits atop a hill is a serene spot for solitude.
As silk is one of the foremost produce of Vietnam, weaving villages and silk cocoon threading factories are also must-visit sights. Here, they show you how the cocoons are harvested and processed into threads until they reach the looms of the weavers.
Whether you just want to chill out or let your skin breathe from the scorching city heat or you want to be bold and daring, Dalat is just a perfect hideaway for all these travel fancies.
- Dalat can be accessed via direct bus service from all points in Vietnam.
- It is only 5-6 hours away from Ho Chi Minh and about 3 hours away from Nha Trang.
- You may also arrange for a private vehicle rental from your point of origin to bring you to Dalat.
- There is no shortage of hotels in Dalat. There are no international brand hotels yet but equally luxurious high-rise hotels are available.
- Exclusive vacation chalets may also be rented. You will need a tour operator to make this happen.
- Midrange and budget hostels from $15-$50 per night are widely available but they are located farther from the lake.
- Getting around the town center is best on foot.
- To experience the waterfalls and other outside-town attractions, you need to either join a group tour or the famous Easy Riders.
- Easy Riders are a respected brood of motorcycle driving tourist guides. They speak good English and other languages. They also make the itinerary and arrange all the necessary things needed for the trip.
- You may hop on the motorcycle with the driver or you may drive on a convoy.
- You can find them in Easy Rider Café in 7- Phan Dinh Phung Street.
- Should you wish to join a group tour for a daytrip or overnight trips, your hotel may arrange this for you.
- Bring spare clothes if you want to trek down the waterfalls. Better to come in strap-on outdoor sandals or trekking shoes.
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