Dalat is a city located on Lang Biang highlands – part of the Central Highlands region of Vietnam. Because of its history, special architecture, unique climate features and wide range of beautiful spots, Dalat is known as one of the most popular tourist destinations of Vietnam.
What to expect:
Dalat looks like a cross between Vietnam and the French Alps. Many of its hotels and houses were built in a French style during the French colonization. There are many places for tourists interested in architecture to visit, such as Dalat Railway Station, designed by French architects Moncet and Reveron, or Hang Nga guest house, a.k.a ‘Crazy house’ which is also an interesting place to stay.
The climate in Dalat is often called ‘Eternal Spring’ for its pleasantly warm temperatures during the day and quite cool at night, down to perhaps 10oC. Due to its favorable weather, Dalat is a supplier of temperate produce for all over Vietnam, for example, cabbage and cauliflower. Also, it has a nickname ‘City of Flowers’. Its flower industry is highly developed and famous for two typical flowers: hydrangea and golden everlasting
Apart from architectural places of interest, Dalat also has lots of beautiful sites such as Xuan Huong Lake – center of town, Lake of Sorrow (Lake of Sighs) – 5km Northeast of town on Ho Xuan Huong Road, Valley of Love – Phu Dong Thien Vuong Street, Lang Biang Mountain – has a 1900m peak, ideal for a 3-hour hike, Prenn Falls – 10km outside the town, Pongour Falls – one of the largest and widest waterfalls in Vietnam, 30km south of town on highway 20, etc.
Visitors arriving in Dalat can enjoy the atmosphere of Vietnamese markets by visiting Dalat market, which is full of local specialties such as strawberry jam, dried fruits, avocado, artichoke.
By air: Da Lat is well connected to Hanoi, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City by daily flights operated by Vietnam Airlines. Lien Khuong Airport saw a major renovation and reopened in October 2009, expanding in its size, capacity and level of luxury. About 30 km away from city center, the airport is served by a crew of taxi ($10 to Dalat) and shuttle bus ($2 one way to Dalat).
Flight time from Dalat to Ho Chi Minh City is about 45 minutes and to Hanoi is about 1 hour 40 minutes. Prices vary depending on classes and when you book your ticket.
By bus: Though out of the way, Dalat’s prestige as a popular destination leads to the operation of many bus services. Public buses are slightly cheaper than minivan though not as comfortable. From Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne or Nha Trang, you can book your bus ticket (recommended companies include Mai Linh and Phuong Trang) to Dalat from most travel agent or bus company office. In high season (June to August), obtain your ticket at least 1 day in advance to secure your sheet.
Here are approximate times for journeys to and from Da Lat:
Ho Chi Minh City: 308 km (7 hours)
Mui Ne, Phan Thiet: 257 km (5 hours)
Nha Trang: 205 km (4 hours)
Di Linh: 82 km (2 hours)
Others: Though impressive and good for photos, Ngoan Muc Pass might not be the best option if you ride your bike or car to Dalat. Take the inland route to Bao Loc and Di Linh, which is shorter and safer.