Da Lat attracts travelers who intend to get new experiences and see another, unusual Vietnam. This charming city opens the French part of the history of the state, it is often called “little Paris”, and the nearby territory – “Alps in Vietnam.” What are the attractions in the city of Dalat that make it so unusual for Vietnam?
The French built Dalat at the beginning of the 20th century, and French influence manifests itself in the layout of city streets, in the presence of some symbolic objects. For example, in the central square there is an exact, albeit reduced in size, copy of the Eiffel Tower – it can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Near the tower is the Moulin Rouge restaurant. In Dalat there is also the Catholic Cathedral of the Virgin Mary, built by the French, and the Flower Park laid by them. All these objects create a French atmosphere, they also serve as an explanation of why the Vietnamese city of Dalat is called Vietnamese Paris.
What is worth seeing in “little Paris”? The most interesting sights of Dalat are located outside the city, but there are many interesting objects, a visit to which can be accommodated in a one-day itinerary.
Xuan huong lake
Lake Xuan Huong, located in the very center of the city, is artificial, it appeared in 1919 as a result of the construction of a dam.
You can go around the lake in a few hours, and during a walk you can see exhibitions of sculptures from unprocessed or partially processed minerals, a collection of bonsai, you can go to a restaurant or cafe – there are a lot of them.
Children will enjoy walking to Xuan Huong Lake, because here you can ride swan catamarans and watch Dalat from the water. Renting such a catamaran will cost 60,000 VND per hour.
In summer, lake water can have a somewhat unpleasant, stagnant smell. But this is unlikely to spoil the overall impression of a walk on Lake Dalat.
Flower Park (Dalat Flower Park)
Finding the Flower Park in Dalat will not be difficult at all: it is located near the Xuan Huong Lake, and the entrance to it is marked by huge green arches.
On the territory of Flower Park there are several ponds, a lot of flower beds with amazingly beautiful flowers, there are installations from bonsai, a greenhouse with roses and orchids.
When you want to relax, you can sit on a comfortable bench or sit in a cozy gazebo – there are a lot of them in the park. There is also a playground for children, where a variety of swings are installed. On the territory of the park complex you can always buy ice cream, tea and coffee.
The Flower Park in Dalat acquired its modern look in 1985 – then it was successfully reconstructed. And it was laid by the French colonialists in 1966.
Amateur gardeners, attention! Here you can buy seeds of various exotic plants. And remember: bargaining is a must!
- Dalat Flower Park is open for visitors daily from 7:30 to 16:00.
- For adults, entry costs 30,000 dong ($ 1.5), for children – 15,000 dong ($ 0.75). But you can go in for free – you just need to go not through the main entrance, but a little to the left, through the car parking.
There is another unique attraction in Dalat: Crazy House. From the city lake you can walk to it in just half an hour, and from the center you can take a taxi, which will cost up to 30,000 dong.
Biet thự Hang Nga, Crazy House or Crazy House in Dalat was conceived by Ms. Nga as a hotel for lovers.
Ms. Dang Viet Nga is such an extraordinary personality that it is necessary to tell about her separately. She, the daughter of the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam, lived for 14 years in Russia, where she studied and successfully graduated from the Moscow Architectural Institute. When I returned to Vietnam, for a long time I worked in a public position and developed designs for the most ordinary buildings. But once Dang Viet Nga left this job and began to engage in creativity – that’s how the construction of Crazy House began in the early 1990s.
This construction of Dalat is truly unique, with a completely extraordinary architectural solution. The bizarre structure looks like a huge tree with interwoven roots and branches, overgrown with mushrooms and wrapped in cobwebs. There are many labyrinths and stairs, and individual passages are very dangerous due to the fact that they are located at an altitude of up to 15 m above the ground and at the same time do not even have a railing. The views of Dalat from the open upper areas are magnificent!
Construction work continues now: the old buildings are being redone all the time, new guest rooms are being completed, and the restaurant building is being erected.
- Now at the Madhouse Hotel in Dalat there are 9 rooms, and in the Honey Moon house, which is located separately in the courtyard, there is a room for a honeymoon. The cost of a room at Madame Nga is up to $ 100. There is a completely tiny “Termite No. 6” license plate on the ground floor (its area is only 10 m², but at the same time it has everything necessary for living). The cost of living in the room is $ 35 per day. The hotel has free wi-fi, however, it works intermittently. For $ 5, you can order a continental breakfast in Crazy House, which will be served in your room at the indicated time.
- A huge inconvenience for the Crazy House guests is created by tourists who are allowed in the hotel from 8:00 and, trying to see absolutely everything, knock on all rooms in a row. Entrance ticket to inspect the building costs 40 000 VND ($ 2).
Domaine de marie church
There is one completely unusual for Vietnam attraction in Dalat – this is the active Catholic monastery of the Virgin Mary. It is located on the outskirts of the city, on Huyen Tran Cong Chua Street.
The monastery complex includes a church, 2 cell buildings and several utility rooms. The building of the attraction is interesting because it organically combines elements of the folk architecture of Vietnam and French architecture of the 17th century. The roof soaring to the sky and lancet windows give the monastery a special elegance. The walls are very elegant – they are painted in bright pink. In the evening, the building is highlighted, making it look even more attractive.
A special decoration of the Sightseeing is a well-groomed patio, which is all buried in luxurious colors.
- On weekdays, services are held at 5:15 and 17:15, and on Sunday at 5:15, 7:00, 8:30, 16:00, 18:00.
- On Sundays, the church is quite crowded, as many people attend services.
Market in Da Lat (Da Lat market)
The central city market must be included in the list of what to see in Dalat! Vietnamese markets best show the culture and life of local residents, and the market in Dalat is one of the most colorful. And even if purchases are not planned, it makes sense to look at its territory to fully imbue the atmosphere of Dalat. Many sellers speak Russian, and you can, and even need to bargain with them, although you can just chat.
By the way, it’s better to visit the market on your own, without an excursion. As a rule, with a guided tour you will not be able to see anything “alive”, “real”, since tourists are usually taken simply to the shops.
You can buy a lot of interesting things at the Dalat market, for example, the Macadam nut – here it is probably the cheapest in Vietnam – only 300,000 dong per 1 kg. A variety of fresh exotic fruits and vegetables are sold. And Dalat is famous for strawberries, greenhouses with which occupy vast areas. It is not so easy to find strawberries in Asia, so the opportunity to enjoy ripe juicy berries in the middle of winter is a good reason to come to Dalat.
There is a huge selection of seafood, and at very uniform prices of 70,000 dong. Here you can enjoy the delicacies of Vietnam: boiled snails and mussels, fresh pastries.
In the evening, the central market of Dalat is transformed beyond recognition. Several neighboring streets overlap for cars, and along them are merchants with food and souvenirs. Walking in the evening on the market square of Dalat, you will have to try to ignore the noise coming from street cafes of aromas, rather intrusive sellers. But if you treat this pastime as another entertainment, you can spend some time quite interestingly.
Chuk Lam Monastery (Thien Vien Truc Lam)
Thien Vien Truc Lam Monastery is located 5 km from Dalat. You can get to it by using the cable car, or by taking a taxi.
The starting point of the cable car (Cable car) is located near the central bus station. Its length is 2.3 km, and it is one of the longest cable cars in Asia.
The road runs from 7:00 to 17:00 (lunch from 11:30 to 13:30), one-way fare (in dongs) – 50,000 ($ 2.3), two-way fare – 70,000 ($ 3 ) The cabin is designed for 4 people. The path to the monastery takes up to 20 minutes, and during this time you can admire the “Vietnamese Paris”, pine forests, numerous flower greenhouses of Dalat, and simply cultivated plots of land from above. You can also make colorful photos of the sights of Dalat (Vietnam).
If you go to Chuk Lam by taxi from the center, it will take about 5 minutes in time. It is best to take small yellow cars, as they are the cheapest – for landing only 5,000 Vietnamese money, and then the prices on the counter and they are the most affordable.
Thien Vien Truc Lam was built in Dalat in 1994. The whole territory of 24 hectares is divided into 2 parts: open for visiting by tourists and closed, in which the monks live. The complex includes a functioning Buddhist monastery, a tower with a bell, several pagodas, a library, a school of Buddhism, a statue of a Buddha holding a lotus flower in his hand is installed in the pagoda. You need to go inside the temple without shoes, so it is advisable to bring socks with you. You can take a walk around the complex, which is a garden surrounded by marvelous colors.
There is no need to pay to enter the monastery.
On the path that goes from the monastery down the side of the mountain opposite the cable car, you can go down to the large Tuyen Lam Lake, surrounded by mountains and coniferous forest. The lake is artificial, quite deep, the water in it is very clean and cold. There is a small cafe near the lake, as well as a station where you can rent a catamaran or a boat (1 hour for a catamaran for two people costs 60,000 VND ($ 3)). By the way, the path to the monastery at 16:00 is closed by the gates, so you need to get back in time!
There are waterfalls in Dalat that are worth a look! One of them is Datanla Waterfall, located 5.5 km from the city center. You can go directly to it from Tuyen Lam Lake, you will have to go almost 3 km along the road through the mountains. If you get from the center of Dalat, then this can be done in several ways:
- on foot all along the same road (5.5 km);
- by taxi – payment by the counter will be from 55 to 70 thousand dongs;
- on a bike (rent a bike about 120 thousand per day).
Further, from the parking lot of tourist buses and bikes, directly to the Datanla Falls waterfall you can get free on foot or in a civilized and comfortable way. Datanla waterfall is three-cascade, respectively, and the path will be three-stage:
- You can drive to the observation deck of the first cascade in small cars on a rail track laid through the forest – this resembles a fun rollercoaster. It is advisable that the passengers in the previous machine were younger, they will go faster. For adults, a one-way trip will cost 40,000 VND, two – 50,000 VND, for children 15,000 VND and 20,000 VND, respectively. The cash desk is located to the right of the entrance, near the souvenir shops.
- A cable car has been laid to the second site of the waterfall, and it is from it that you can observe the most powerful cascade, which is not visible from the walking route. A ticket for the cable car is sold immediately in both directions, for children it costs 15,000 VND, for adults – 40,000. The ticket office is located on the first platform of the waterfall, on the left.
- An elevator equipped directly in the rocks leads to the third waterfall. He is free.
- Yes, you will still have to pay for the entrance to the park, but this is not much: 20,000 dongs for adults and 10,000 for children. The park is open from 7:00 to 17:00.
It is interesting to see Datanla Falls after the rain. The water will be painted in red-brown color – this is due to the peculiarity of the soil of the highlands of Vietnam, but this fact does not detract from the spectacle!
At a distance of 40 km from Dalat, not far from the airport and from the village of Nam Ha, there is another waterfall – “Elephant” or “Falling elephant.” You can ride a bike to him, or you can take a taxi – it will cost about 300,000 dong. For the entrance to the waterfall will require to pay 20,000 dong.
Elephant Falls is the strongest waterfall in the local area of Vietnam, it can be viewed both from below and from above. But the path to the foot is quite difficult, especially in rainy weather: it is not very well equipped and runs through boulders, which is why it is rather slippery. In any case, you have to jump over the stones, so you need to take comfortable shoes!
To the right of the observation deck is a staircase that leads to Chua Linh An Pagoda. You can go up there, take a walk along the beautiful cozy territory of the pagoda, see the statues of the goddess Skanda and the huge sculpture of the blue Buddha.
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Linh Phuoc Pagoda
There is a completely unique place in Vietnam – this is the Lin Phuoc Pagoda.
The construction of the Lin Phuoc Pagoda lasted from 1949 to 1952, and construction work in the complex is ongoing. This building is not only a religious shrine, but also an amazing architectural experiment. The uniqueness of this building is that it is completely lined with fragments of broken glass bottles and ceramic dishes – that is why the shrine was called the “Temple of broken dishes”.
All premises of this complex are open to the public. At the entrance to the temple, you need to take off your shoes, you also need to ensure that your knees and shoulders are closed. The prayer hall (dimensions 33 x 22 m) looks luxurious: its ceiling is supported by 12 dragons. In the lobby, which precedes this room, there is a 5 meter high Buddha statue sitting on a lotus flower.
The central structure of the complex is a bell tower rising to the sky to a height of 27 meters (7 floors). On each floor of the bell tower there are statues of various deities, and all the stairs are decorated with beautiful mosaics from the same glass and ceramic fragments. In 1999, a bell was installed on the second floor of the attraction: its height is 4.3 m, diameter 2.2 m, and it weighs more than 10 tons. You can stick notes with written wishes on the bell, and then you need to hit it three times – since it’s pretty hard to beat a 10-ton bell, everyone is sure that the desire will come true.
The monks living here earn their living. They make furniture, various crafts from stone, ebony and mahogany. These products are sold here, and quite successfully: many tourists buy them as souvenirs, reminiscent of the city of Dalat and the sights seen on its territory.
- The pagoda is 8 km from the center of Dalat, at the end of Trai Mat. To get to this attraction is best on an old and very slow wooden train that leaves from the Dalat railway station – Ga Trai Mat stop, next to Dalat.
- Admission is free, the complex is open daily from 8:00 to 16:00, and the time for inspection needs at least 2 hours.
Below is a video of city of Dalat from a tourist’s viewpoint.