Used as a European escape from the searing temperatures of Saigon, Dalat sits in a spectacular landscape of lakes, waterfalls, forests and bountiful gardens. Nicknamed the City of Eternal Spring, Dalat is delightfully bohemian and, due to the pleasant temperatures, a great place to head out on treks out into the surrounding countryside.
A town where faded colonial villas sit amongst more modern developments, Dalat has a series of interesting and quirky sights to fill a day of touring. The central flower and fruit markets are a great way to see the diversity of produce that is cultivated in the fertile highlands, very different from what you would have seen in the lowland areas. For a more surrealist experience, visit the ‘Crazy House’, the ongoing master work of Mrs Dang Viet Nga. Expect sculptured rooms, bridges and flowing shapes akin to Dalí. Dalat’s Art Deco train station has a number of fascinating old locomotives on display including a Japanese steam train and a wonderfully colonial feeling waiting room. Two kilometres out of town explore Bao Dai’s, the last Nguyen emperor, Art Deco-style Summer Palace. Set in a peaceful pine grove the building is striking, whilst inside little has been disturbed since Bao Dai’s death in 1997 – his office is particularly impressive.
The scenery around Dalat is delightfully different from the rest of Vietnam. Discover it farther by hiking out amongst the verdant farmland and rolling hills, passing minority farms and villages as you go. For those with less time, the countryside is also easily explored on a day trip. Visit a waterfall – Tiger Falls is particularly picturesque thanks to its pine forest location; the scenic Tuyen Lam Lake and its peaceful pagoda; and wander amongst rows of coffee on one of the many plantations that dot the area. For more all encompassing views why not take the Dalat Cable Car over the forests, farmland and villages to the Zen monastery of Thien Vien Truc Lam, where you can spend some time contemplating the views over Paradise Lake. The very best way to travel through the beautiful countryside surrounding Dalat is by vintage steam train. Puff your way down the 7 kilometre historical line from Dalat to the village of Trai Mat. Admire the lush vistas as you go and on arrival wander around the Linh Phuoc Pagoda before hopping back on the train for the return journey.
In the heart of town close to Xuan Huong Lake, this colonial delight of a hotel is set amongst rolling, pine-covered parkland. Exuding the charms of 1920s, when it was a popular getaway for the French hoi polloi, much of the original hotel remains intact but with all the modern conveniences you could need.
In the heart of Dalat, with beautiful views over Xuan Huong Lake, the Ngoc Lan Hotel offers a relaxed ambiance and well-appointed accommodation. An easy walk from the lively market, savour both the excellent location and the warmth and hospitality of this stylish and contemporary hotel complete with spa pool and restaurant.
Set in the tranquil highlands above Dalat, the Ana Mandara Dalat Resort and Spa is housed in a beautifully preserved complex of French villas all of which are bursting with original character. Surrounded by the rich greens of pines and landscaped gardens take a step back into the glamorous world of the 1920s in accommodation that exudes charm and elegance.
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