Situated in the Southern Central Highlands of Vietnam, Dalat is a moderate-sized city encompassed by pine trees and wonderful fields with lakes, cascades and evergreen timberlands to explore. Dalat has a mostly casual vibe and is not quite like anyplace else in Vietnam. Temperatures are charmingly warm in the day however can get very cool around evening time and can drop to around 10 degrees Celsius in the nights. The land in Dalat is also incredibly rich and fertile which in effect has led way to the region providing some of the highest quality produce that is sought after across Vietnam and the world and it is especially revered for its blossoms, strawberries, espresso and avocados. Established in 1907 by the French as a summer getaway, Dalat still attracts a lot of visitors from Vietnam and abroad and a major reason is because of the French charm that it holds due to its colonial roots.
Best time to Visit:
While the northern part of Vietnam is pretty much visitable year-round. Dalat is known for its fresh air and low temperatures. With median weather of just around 14-23 degrees Celsius, it makes for an amazing summer retreat compared to the more urban parts of Vietnam. Dalat has two primary seasons, rainy and dry and If you want to avoid the rains, visit the city from November to April. Make certain to bring a sweater though as it might be very nippy during this time, particularly in the nights or early mornings. On the off chance that you are looking for more milder temperatures, head on over there between April to October but, you gotta be ready to face some rain.
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How to get there:
The Majority of travelers tend to gravitate towards buses to get to Dalat as there are daily services from HCMC (Ho Chi Minh City), Nha Trang & Mui Ne. If Travelling from Nha Trang try to book with Phuong Trang transport buses. The coaches are comfortable and safe and from Nha Trang, Dalat city is around 3 – 4 hours, including a brief 30-minute rest stop about an hour out of Nha Trang. From HCMC you can take one of Phuong Trang’s semi sleepers. The journey takes around 7 hours and it can take up to 9 if the traffic is awful leaving HCMC. Phuong Trang transports don’t run from Mui Ne to Dalat, you can in any case book tickets at their Mui Ne office for an alternative service that will take you to Dalat. Try to book the biggest possible coach and get a seat upfront as the road to Dalat is subpar to put it lightly.
Flights to Dalat are also available from HCMC, Danang and Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet Air. The Danang airport is 30km south of the city and is linked by a highway that is well connected via city buses that are accessible from just outside the airport. Tickets for the bus can be bought from the counter outside the airport or you can take a taxi as well. If you are looking to book the taxi through your hotel, they might attempt to charge extortionately for it. Never pay more than 250,000 VND, this is the most that the airport taxi’s charge generally for the transfer.
Dalat being established as a hill station has no dearth of available accommodations. You have something here for everyone at every price point. Dorm style accommodations start at around 4 USD a night and private rooms start at around 10 USD a night. You also have a lot of homestays that cater great food and great accommodations or you also have some amazing resorts like ‘Terracotta Hotel and Resort’ with incredible views of the mountains as well. Finding a good place to stay isn’t too hard here and as usual, when it comes to finding a place to stay. websites like TripAdvisor and Google are your best friends. We don’t believe in recommending particular hotels to stay as prices differ across the year so just run through various portals to compare and get the best deals.
Activities and Sightseeing:
1. Downtown Dalat
Downtown Dalat comprises small streets with extraordinary things to find. From cool bistros selling the freshest coffee you’ve had, to little stores selling handmade goods created painstaking, you can get it all. Set aside some time to wander around the city, get some delightful fresh fruit from one of the numerous roadside merchants and take in the European energy that makes Dalat unique.
- Stroll around Xuan Huong Lake
The Japanese nursery beside the Xuan Huong lake is a brilliant spot to unwind and appreciate nature, you’ll be encompassed by trees, blossoms, and birds chirping away. To get a break after some casual strolling, cross the red bridge onto the little island on the other side and grab some freshly brewed coffee at the cafe there and take in the views of the lake and the hills. You can also hire some pedal boats in the shapes of swans around the lake as well.
- Visit Truc Lam Pagoda by Cable Car
Truc Lam pagoda certainly justifies a visit because it’s just not the pagoda which is awesome, the journey to reach it is also engaging and fun. You’ll have to take a cable car to robin hill that opens up a lot of scenic views for you along the way and then bounce on to a gondola for the 2.6 kilometer trip from Robin Hill to Phoenix Mountain where you’ll discover Truc Lam. All this takes about 20 minutes and it offers stunning views of the encompassing slopes, woods, and valleys on your way there. When you’re at Phoenix Mountain, take an hour or two to investigate Truc Lam, Vietnam’s biggest zen monastery. On your way back grab a banh mi, a baguette sandwich with a Vietnamese twist. It’s yummy, filling, and light on the pocket.
- Take a vintage train ride at Trai Mat town
One of Vietnam’s most established train stations is in Dalat and certainly worth a visit especially if you’re into vintage train experiences. There is a tour that happens every 2 hours from Dalat to Trai Mat town. Make sure to get to the ticket at the office early. Else, you may lose out on getting a seat as they tend to get sold quite fast. To ensure you don’t miss the train back to Dalat city, check and confirm the time with the staff for the return train. Once there you can visit Linh Phuoc Pagoda which has its own unique style that strays away from the simple styling that you find in most other zen monasteries. Or visit the night market that is open each day from 5 PM to 5 AM and offers a wide range of amazing street food. Try not to have supper before coming here as there is a lot on offer.
- Trekking Lang Biang Mountain
Lang Biang Mountain is the highest peak near Dalat at an elevation of over 2300 meters and this makes it a great vantage point that offers the best views of the surroundings. Just 12 kilometers from the downtown area, roughly a 45 min drive away. Lang Biang, offers the most stunning perspectives of the open country and if you can’t hike up the mountain you can take jeeps to the top to spare time and energy. The area attracts a lot of tourists though so if you are looking for peace and quiet, there is Bidoup Pan which is another mountain peak right near Lang Biang. It is only accessible by foot though and takes around 3-4 hours to scale. But, if you are up for the challenge this is a better overall experience.
- Go Canyoning
For adrenaline and adventure junkies, things certainly can’t get better than this. Canyoning is basically scaling across canyons using various techniques. The canyoning at Dalat generally takes place at the Datanla Falls and it is a mixture of Zipline, rappelling down waterfalls against rapids, sliding across wet rocks, free fall jumps from heights of 7-11 metres, It’s just insanely fun. If you are a thrill seeker, this should be on your priority list.
So there goes our guide to exploring Da Lat city. If you are planning a vacation to Vietnam, Da Lat should definitely be on your mind as it’s quite unique in the sense that It blends French and Vietnamese culture in one place and also offers a bunch of other things to do and see around it. This makes for a great well rounded vacation experience in my opinion. If you are looking for Vietnam packages or deals, then visit Pickyourtrail. India’s leading online vacations platform that allows you to customize your itinerary yourself and If you’re stuck along the way or need more help you can just instantly connect with the destination experts at Pickyourtrail who will be able to help you plan your vacation.