Vietnam is proud of the city of Dalat as the best mountain resort in the country. The main advantages of a small (about 100,000 people) town are a unique mountain climate, a large number of natural attractions, and comfort.
No wonder Dalat is called “Vietnamese Switzerland” and the city of “Eternal Spring”, “Thousands of Flowers.”
History and development of Dalat
The capital of Lamdong province is one of the youngest cities in Vietnam. The unique location of the valley among the mountains at an altitude of 1,500 meters attracted French travelers. One of them, the doctor Alexander Yersen, in 1887 drew attention to the similarity of healing air and cool climate with the French Alps.
The first hotel in Dalat was built in 1907 to provide a refuge to the French from the hot climate of the sea coast. After the official foundation (1912), the city of Dalat in Vietnam was formed in its current shape by 1917.
The advantages of the resort were appreciated by Vietnamese nobility. After the construction of the summer residence of the emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai, mansions of Vietnamese aristocrats were built in the city. The railway to Tapcha was built in 1928.
The city center is characterized by provincial alpine architecture. The French Quarter is still fully preserved.
The war in Vietnam bypassed Dalat. There were no bombings, shelling, and mining in the city. Not a single city building was damaged.
There is practically no industry in the city, and almost the entire population is engaged in tourist services and agriculture. At first glance at Dalat from the mountain pass, the number of greenhouses one can see is amazing.
An attractive feature of the city of Dalat was the huge number of flowers that can be found on all city streets, flower beds, walls of houses and fences.
The tourist orientation of the resort is best seen by the abundance of hotels. They can be found in Dalat for every taste – in the European and Vietnamese style. You can stay in a Vietnamese hotel for $15 – $20, a night in a comfortable European hotel costs $30 – $50.
Difficulties with hotel availability arise only on New Year’s holidays.
Historic and natural attractions
When visiting the city of Dalat in Vietnam, the views of natural attractions will remain your best memories. There are Pongur and Prenn waterfalls, Prenn Nature Park, Valley of Love (in Vietnamese the signs indicate Thung Lung Tinh Yeu) and “Golden Valley”.
Visiting Longbyan Mountain and Datanla Waterfall is worth it.
The waterfall closest to the city (5 km) consists of a cascade of spillways. A cable car was laid along them. The whole area near the waterfall was turned into a cultural park.
From the observation deck of Longbyan Mountain you can get best view of Dalat and the picturesque surroundings of the city. The mountain can be reached by mototaxi in 20 minutes.
In Dalat’s advertisements, photos of the Crazy House Hotel and the original Cathedral take center stage. In the city itself, a mandatory program for travelers includes visits to the most beautiful railway station in Vietnam (a tourist train runs here).
Also of interest are the pagodas Lin Phuoc, Lam Ty Ni, Su Nu, the residence of the emperor, the Lam Dong Museum of Local History, the monastery of the Virgin Mary.
From Dalat you can take a bus to any major city in the country. Suburban buses run in the city itself, on routes unattractive to foreigners as they ply to Vietnamese residential neighborhoods.
It is better to get to natural and historical sights by city taxi or motorcycle taxi. Compared to cars, motorcycle taxis cost half as much ($1 – $1.5 to nearby attractions).
You can arrange a day excursion service with a taxi driver for $25 to $30. Tourists are not recommended to rent bicycles. The hilly city is full of slopes and climbs, and the ride is physically exhausting. And the Vietnamese traffic without rules only adds to the exhaustion.
For young travelers with a driver’s license, scooter rentals are popular, the daily cost of which is standard for all of Vietnam ($6 – $8). But on winding roads you need to be careful and drive slowly. Most of the nearby attractions can be reached on foot in 15-30 minutes. A cable car lifts you to the “Dream Hill”, from which you will also get panoramic views of the city.
Climate, seasonal weather in Dalat
The period from April to October is considered rainy. Round-the-clock rains are extremely rare, showers end in 2-3 hours. The healing air is not polluted by smog, industrial gases, but there are no sanatorium-type boarding houses for pulmonary patients.The climate of Dalat, although it is considered sub-equatorial, is characterized by a small fluctuation in average monthly temperatures (from +23 °C to +27 °C).
December – April and New Year (“Tet”) according to the Vietnamese calendar (late January – early February) are considered the high season in Dalat, when hotel prices double. People from the CIS countries in Dalat are comfortable at any time of the year if they prepare for cool nights.In any season, vacationers should be prepared for nights cold in Vietnam (from +11 ° C to +16 ° C), in hotels heating and air conditioning are rare. Therefore, tourists from the sea coast need to take warmer things with them.
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Cuisine of the city and where to eat
The popularity of Dalat is great throughout Southeast Asia. Wealthy Vietnamese and people from Europe willingly come to the mountain resort, famous for its flower park and excellent golf courses.
The cool climate, the glory of the city of artists and musicians made Dalat the most popular destination for honeymooners. Therefore, Asian, European, and Vietnamese cuisines are presented in cafes and restaurants of the city.
Despite the generally recognized cheapness of food in Vietnam, the best cafes and restaurants of Dalat do not differ in low prices. The cost of lunch or dinner increases due to excellent service, cozy interiors and European dishes.
The waiters of the city are generally familiar with the English language. The names and short descriptions of local dishes in English are common to good restaurants.
Duong len trang restaurant
Many visitors consider the restaurant Duong Len Trang as the most interesting restaurant in Dalat. The separate building of the institution consists of several halls with different design, connected by stairs and narrow passages imitating cave manholes.
Many visitors are already interested in a tour of the restaurant, which is distinguished by the originality of the interiors. Separate rooms are decorated in the form of rock or forest grottoes, underwater caves, view balconies, and there is a garden on the roof. A small assortment of drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and a small set of snacks can be had here.
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One more cafe
Of the small cafes, the first place among Russian-speaking foreigners is “One More Cafe”, which is located in the city center. From menu consisting of European dishes you can chose several types of spaghetti, scrambled eggs with bacon and Caesar’s salad (served in large portions).
All visitors praise its desserts, among which stand out cakes with carrot cake in particular, pastries and fresh mango smoothies.
Lunch for two at a comfortable table with flowers for decor will cost 210,000 – 230,000 dong ($9 – $10).
Artist alley restaurant
Fans of originality are happy to visit this restaurant. Finding it in the alleyway of the French Quarter is not easy, but taxi drivers know this restaurant well.
The interior design of two floors of the establishment is designed in French retro style, combines dining rooms with an art gallery.
The menu includes French (garlic bread, fish dishes, pumpkin soup) and Vietnamese cuisine. In the evenings, a guitarist or a small band plays in the cafe, but many visitors consider the service somewhat slow.
Among the Vietnamese dishes, the guest favorite is “fish in a pot”.
If you are looking for a cafe for breakfast and lunch, you can visit “An Cafe”. It has a Russian owner, and the cafe is strewn with flowers, children’s swings and designer jewelry.
It has a good cook, a large assortment of drinks, a relatively small selection of dishes, some desserts and excellent coffee.
Ganesh Indian restaurant
When visiting Dalat, lovers of Asian cuisine can not skip going to this Indian restaurant. In the halls, the Indian atmosphere is supported by illuminated openwork arches, paintings and mosaics on the walls. The menu is dominated by Indian cuisine, but presents dishes from other Asian countries and Vietnam.
Travelers will especially like a variety of lamb dishes, grilled cheeses, chicken tikka masala, etc. Connoisseurs of India compare Ganesh with the good Indian restaurants of Mumbai and Kolkata. The menu can be viewed on the official website of the institution – www.ganesh.vn.
How to get to the city of Dalat on your own and with a guided tour
It is most convenient to get from Nha Trang to Dalat on your own on a rented bike or bus. Google map does a good job directing the way.
A day rental of light vehicles ($6-9) is approximately equal to the cost of a bus ticket from Nha Trang, but mobility and flexibility allows you to see many more interesting things.
The road is quite complicated, although newcomers drive it. You need to prepare for the route traversing sharp turns on mountains. There is a high risk of falling, so you need to rent a helmet, protective shields and gloves.
In windy or rainy weather, the risk increases, so a trip from Nha Trang (or another city) to Dalat is better done on a calm day.
If you do not break any rules, you need not be afraid of being stopped by the police, it rarely stops white foreigners. The main restrictions are riding without a helmet and speeding in cities.
Getting to Dalat by bus
The Nha Trang – Dalat bus runs from the main bus station (there are also Sinh Tourist and Nam Phuong bus stations in the city). A ticket is inexpensive – about $ 8.
The first bus from Nha Trang leaves at 7 am, then – at 8:00, 11:00, 13:00 and the last – at 15:00. Tickets are best bought in advance – at least one day in advance. In this case, there will be free places, and the schedule will be able to clarify, because it can change.
The road takes a little more than 3 hours. In the window all the way you can see beautiful landscapes – rice fields and mountains.
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Getting to Dalat with a guided tour
There are few Russian-speaking tourists in Dalat; their visits to the city are often limited to sightseeing trips of their beach hotels Nha Trang and Mui Ne. When ordering excursions, the question of how to get from Nha Trang to Dalat is secondary.
Sightseers can be taken in a small comfortable minibus with air conditioning or in a large bus. The time difference in the journey is an hour and a half, but the minibus is more mobile, can change the route, stop more often. It is easier to carry mountain serpentines.
It doesn’t make much sense to go on a one-day excursion, the round-trip road from Nha Trang takes 7-8 hours, for the remaining time you only have a glimpse of the city. In two to three days you can see most of the natural wonders and city attractions.
Having bought tickets directly to Dalat, you need to get from the CIS to the resort by plane, which fly to the international airports of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh. Closer to get through Ho Chi Minh City, which is located 300 kilometers from Dalat. A bus with berths goes to Dalat about eight hours, a ticket costs $ 9. Flights with transfers to Dalat airport for $50- $90 are rarely practiced by travelers from the CIS.
Souvenirs and gifts from Dalat
Before you start buying gifts and souvenirs, tourists from the CIS carefully study the exchange rate and prices. The latter often depend on your bargaining ability. In markets for people with a European appearance, sellers overestimate the initial price by half.
It makes little sense to buy clothes or shoes in Dalat. Markets and ordinary shops sell inexpensive Vietnamese and Chinese products. The exception is the products of the Dalat silk factory. In local shops you can inexpensively buy scarves, blouses, tablecloths of colorful Vietnamese silk. A traditional silk bathrobe costs $10-15.
An interesting souvenir will be a bottle of local wine. Dalat is the wine-making center of Vietnam, wines with the label “Vang Dalat” are considered the best in the country. It costs a bottle of wine 65,000-120,000 dong ($3 – $6).
You will find an expensive gift in the Village of Embroiderers, located next to the Valley of Love. In numerous stores, local craftswomen sell paintings embroidered on silk, from which you can choose the plots of traditional Vietnamese mythology, stylized landscapes of picturesque places of Dalat, portraits.
Coffee and tea
Another good souvenir will be Dalat artichoke tea with an original sweetish taste. Before buying, you can taste several varieties of black or green tea in the city’s tea shops.
Many tourists bring from Dalat local coffee (the best in Vietnam), which is sold at the cheapest prices in the country. Coffee is also better to buy after a tour of the coffee plantation and tasting several varieties. Vietnamese coffee, which costs $ 4-5 per kilogram, doesn’t reach the CIS countries; European countries buy the main crop.
Delicious and cheap Dalat fruits to take home is not very convenient. But all the fruit variety of the region is also represented by their candied versions, which tolerate transportation well.
If you are after Ginseng though, experienced tourists do not recommend buying it in Vietnam, since there is a high probability of receiving a fake.
Most travelers buy compact and inexpensive frames, caskets, mahogany or bamboo figurines in Dalat to take home as souvenirs. Other inexpensive gifts can be wooden dolls in national costumes, ointments of snake venom, bronze statuettes of Buddha, incense sticks, bamboo lanterns and funny patchwork toys.
It’s risky to buy ivory jewelry, cheap silver, and pearls on the market. Often these are plastic fakes. Try to buy such things in specialized stores where the product is accompanied by a certificate.
Crocodile leather products (belts, purses, handbags) can also be purchased, which are relatively inexpensive in Vietnam ($50 – $100).
A sightseeing trip to Dalat (Vietnam) will be a pleasant side trip on an otherwise hot beach holiday. Many tourists who visit the city over a weekend return to spend a month or two vacation weeks here.
W encourage you to see Dalat in the video below.