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Da Lat

Overview

Da Lat’s climate isn’t the same as the rest of Vietnam. Tourists are capable of mistaking the area for a town in Europe. With the moniker of “The City of Eternal Spring,” you’ll find Da Lat’s climate to be balmy, which makes it the perfect getaway from the humidity and heat that dominates other regions. The climate of Da Lat makes it a ripe setting to grow all types of plant species (such as artichokes, pine trees, and strawberry plants) that would otherwise perish in the remainder of the country.

The comfortable and cool climate was a big incentive for the French to come over and develop the region over 100 years ago. In search of a getaway from the overwhelming humidity and heat in the South, Alexandre Dan Kia, a French bacteriologist, initially suggested retreating to Dan Kia, which was closer. Despite his wishes, Etienne Tardif recommended Da Lat instead, and construction started at the same time the 1900s did. Seeking a place to build a second home, Ernest Hebrard believed that the architecture in Da Lat was heavily influenced by France, specifically its boulevards, hotels, and villas, which are still there today.

Da Lat had the benefit of remaining fairly unaffected by the strife of war. Its participation was mostly limited to the Tet Offensive. At this time, Vietcong troops went head-to-head with military police units in southern Vietnam, leading to a number of soldiers being tragically killed. Because of Da Lat’s lack of participation in battle, a majority of the architecture and influence of French was preserved, giving it a European feel. Throughout the years, the area has been updated and developed with Vietnam culture. Nowadays, you’ll notice any European influence countered with a Vietnamese kitsch.

This distinctive integration is a major attraction for domestic travelers, particularly newlyweds, since Da Lat is known as Vietnam’s honeymoon capital. The city center has an urban ambiance, and has gone through substantial development. However, the area’s encompassing it have retained their European influence via a number of small boutiques and sophisticated cafés. The city’s exterior scenery is just as mesmerizing with its still lakes, daily peaks, and pine forests. Areas that are more rural are comprised of flower gardens, agricultural land patchworks, and coffee farms. The broad countryside and cool climate make Da Lat a paradise, for some.

Da Lat Countryside Vietnam
Da Lat Countryside Vietnam

See & Do

An impressive colonial area relic is the Cremaillere Railway Station, which features an homage to the Art Deco Movement. On the roof are a trio of peaks featuring dense yellow paint and small, stained glass windows. The station has a Japanese steam train as an exhibit, too. Situated close to the middle of Da Lat, this railway station is a perfect spot to go for a ride or take in the architecture. The route originally created to Thap Cham from Da Lat was shut down after it was attacked by the Vietcong. Today, a single route runs from the station to Trai Mat, which is not far away. Along the way, tourists are taken to the picturesque and vegetated Da Lat landscape, making it quite a scenic route. After arriving in Trai Mat, the Linh Phuoc Pagoda can be visited, giving tourists a chance to see the majesty of a mosaic dragon inside this meticulously designed pavilion.

The Bao Dai Summer Palace is an example of a relic from the Art Deco Movement that remained after the colonial era. Situated within the blunt outer perimeter was the summertime getaway of the last Emperor of Vietnam. The place was constructed close to a pine forest so that Bao Dai and his loved ones could retreat to it when the summer weather became too hot. Construction of the palace lasted from 1933 to 1937, and the family made use of the place for thirteen years afterward. An Art Deco style influenced the design, which was used by the French around the same time frame. The style reflected the Francophilia of Bao Dai. He was taught in a number of the most esteemed schools in France, and lived most his days at the palace after spending the majority of his life as an exile. Tourists can go through each room, all of which have antique furnishings. Visitors will get a glimpse of what royalty was like in Vietnam at the time. One of the most riveting pieces in the palace are the family photo connections mounted on the walls.

Lam Dong Museum is situated 3 km away from the city center. It chronicles Da Lat’s history and showcases area artifacts, some of which are 3000 years old. Each room (9 in total) displays instruments, cultural fashion, photographs, and religious props from various ethnic minorities, such as the Churu, Ma, and K’ho. You’ll also see a number of stilt homes utilized by a number of these ethnic minority communities. The museum will show you what local culture and tradition is all about.

Da Lat Vietnam
Da Lat Vietnam

Da Lat also has some impressive flower gardens that explode into bloom annually. In the central city, the 7000 square meter Da Lat Flower Park contains the greatest collection of flowers in the region. Over 3000 individual species can be found in it! The plants combine to produce a color carpet that blankets the grounds, making it one of the central attractions here. In addition to orchids and other gorgeous flowers, there are also a number of sculptures and flower displays in the park to captivate tourists.

Flower villages can be found further away from the town, all of which specialize in cultivating unique species. One of Da Lat’s largest flower villages is in Van Thanh Village, a place where all types of rose varieties are grown. The big greenhouses are stuffed of fragile flowers, all of which are carefully maintained by flowers. The original flower store of Da Lat is the Ha Dong Flower Market, which mostly grows species that are native to Vietnam. As time has passed, the technology used by farmers has evolved. They now have the ability to grow more variations of flowers than ever before. It is fascinating to observe all the work that is necessary to cultivate each flower. The steps involved – which includes greenhouse growing, garden bed transplanting, and transportation of the flowers – are plentiful. There’s something quite poetic and hypnotic about seeing the beauty of these flowers all at once.

The Da Lat Valley of Love is the embodiment of romance, and its garish ambiance characterizes the place. The park is situated in a stunning valley adorned with colorful flower beds and imposing pine trees. A vast array of heart photo frames and animal sculptures are all over the grounds, each of which are great places to take romantic selfies in. The flamboyant design may seem over-the-top in contrast the modest natural beauty surrounding it. Nevertheless, there is a special charm to this place. It is just the spot to watch tourists have fun – if you’re lucky, you might wind up seeing one lover proposed to another here. They don’t call it the Valley of Love for nothing!

Da Lat Vietnam
Da Lat Vietnam

The Truc Lam Temple is a ways away from the city. Located in the broad countryside, you can only get to this temple and monastery by a cable car (2.5 kilometers in size), which carries tourists over the pine-coated hills. The aerial perspective exposes Da Lat’s unique flora. Truc Lam Temple is what lies at the end of the cable car ride. The architecture’s thick gold feels like a radar amongst a sea of vegetation. The temple is a tribute to the revival of Zen Buddhism and houses about 100 Buddhist nuns and monks. Meditation’s importance is emphasized by Zen Buddhism. The serene setting, peaceful gardens, and crisp air in the mountain make this place the perfect atmosphere to self-reflect quietly.

In addition to the enthralling flower carpets and ethereal pine forests, Da Lat also features a handful of waterfalls scattered along the countryside. Close to Da Lat City is Datanla Falls, which is approximately 6 km away. Though small in stature, Datanla Falls has a breathtaking waterfall in addition to a number of tourist activities that are fun to partake in. Tourists can opt to travel to the falls through the river on a manually-run bobsled or explore by foot. The falls roll down between densely-rich forests that are surrounded by rocks. According to the folklore of the ethnic minority community of K’ho, fairies cleansed themselves in these waters at one time.

A bigger (but underdeveloped) waterfall is situated further away from the city at the end of a mountain pass. Some call Elephant Falls the region’s most dramatic waterfall. The water’s spouting wall seeps into the turning cliff, onto the rocks covered in moss, and into the underlying river. A set of unstructured steps embedded into the face of the rock trail the entire waterfall. At the end of it, tourists will be fascinated with the beauty and strength of nature while drinking coffee produced by homegrown arabica beans. Visitors seeking out more adventure can walk through the rejuvenating waterfall spray, which will bring them into a cave!

Da Lat Vietnam
Da Lat Vietnam

You’ll be surrounded by a thick forest in Bidoup Nui National Park, approximately 32 km north of Da Lat. More then 70,038 hectares of land cover the park in the elevated mountains of Langbiang. Dense forests of coniferous and evergreen trees shroud the park, as do tall bamboo groves that echo. A cool climate and high altitude make way for a one-of-a-kind ecosystem that a number of fauna and flora species are supported by. It is a habitat for many interesting and rare species, such as yellow cheek gibbons, vampire flying frogs, and black bears. 62 plant species (most of which are rare) and almost 250 orchid species can also be found in the park, which is zigzagged with deep trails. There are multiple trails to accommodate all plans and schedules, whether you plant to take a stroll in the afternoon or go for a vigorous hike spanning a day or two. Emphasis is placed on conservation and ecotourism in the park – you can find plenty of information about this in the visitor center. In addition to offering hiking routes, there is information on display about the K’ho Hill tribe tradition and culture here, too.

You can also engage in many outdoor activities in Da Lat, which are best enjoyed when the weather is temperate. One of the more popular things to do in Da Lat is mountain biking, as there are tracks that run through the dense pine forests. Mountain biking is a great approach to seeing Da Lat, as you can zip through the changing countryside, passing by farms, rivers, and forests along the way. Though mountain biking is a high-octane endeavor, it’s also a wonderful way to interact with members of local ethnic minority communities. You can take the time to learn more about these contemporary villages scattered along the region.

Another sport that will spike your adrenaline is canyoning. This activity integrates swimming, abseiling, and trekking in the waterfalls and canyons of Da Lat. While canyoning is not for everybody, it is an approach to experiencing the aquatic scenery of your surroundings.

Culture & Arts

You’ll find a unique style of artistry in Da Lat, as well as a passion for quirky and kitsch things. The Hang Nga Guesthouse features some of the odder art pieces in Da Lat. Translated to mean “crazy House” in English, the stunning structure was conceptualized by Dang Viet Nga, a Vietnamese architect. The building was developed to take the shape of a curved Banyan tree, with curious animals, enigmatic caves, and spiderwebs embedded into the branches. Its almost as if the house came from the imagination of a child. The style can be likened to Dali’s surrealist artwork or Gaudi’s architecture, combined with a touch of fairy tales and fantasy. The house’s interior is just as eccentric, as every room is themed with a unique animal or insect, including a tiger and an ant.

Lat Village is a place in Da Lat’s northern sector, and is a habitat for the hill tribes of the Lat, which is where the city’s name originated from. A hamlet assortment is placed at the end of Langbiang Mountain, and comprised of contemporary stilt homes. The villages thrive with children playing in the middle of wooden stilts, while their mothers use their looms to weave. Lat Village is not only were the Lat ethnic minority community resides, it’s also where the K’ho, Ma, and Chill tribes live as well. Once you explore the diverse local community culture, you can hike up to Langbang Mountain’s peak. You can see some outstanding panoramic perspectives of the unique, pine blanketed countryside from the summit.

As one of Lat Village’s hamlets, Chicken Village (aka Lanh Dinh An) has been called an integration of art oddities and local culture. The primary draw here is the colossal poultry statue leaping from a block of concrete. The chicken looks as though it is shouting out to the natives. Lanh Dinh An is a wonderful area to engage with the locals and learn about their culture. Females who live in the village allocate the majority of their time to weaving detailed fabric reams from their looms. Whatever they make (usually bags and scarves) tends to be sold in souvenir aisles.

 

Ethnic Minority in Da Lat

Festivals & Events

There are a variety of contemporary and conventional festivals in Da Lat that pay tribute to the region’s unique traditions and culture. A couple of them display the primary crops in Da Lat. At the Flower Festival, a biannual color explosion of gorgeous flowers blankets the city through elaborately-produced presentations. The Flower Festival brings to light how proud Da Lat’s inhabitants are of their plants – the region’s beauty is truly appreciated at this event. The festival transpires at a different time annually, but tends to take place either at December’s end or January’s beginning. The festival takes on a new theme every year, and artists customize their displays as part of the show. In addition to the displays, the festival also features cultural events, trade fairs, and competitions.

The Biennial Tea Festival celebrates local produce and transpires on opposing years of the Flower Festival. The tea industry in Da Lat is recognized all over the world, and plantations of tea dominate the countryside. At the tea festival, all things relevant to the flourishing industry are celebrated. Tea manufacturers have a platform to show off their specialties here.

There are also a number of ethnic minority community festivals that take place in Da Lat, many of which are passed on through generations. One of them is the Gong Festival, which happens to be one of Vietnam’s two cultural legacies bestowed with UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage title. Vietnam’s Central Highland provinces – Lam Dong, Dak Nong, Dak Lak, Gia Lai, and Kon Tum, operate the festival. The event’s purpose is to acknowledge the connection between the gods and the gong. Many people believe that the more a gong ages, the stronger a god becomes. Some people also think that the more gongs one has, the greater their prosperity will be. Because of to their sacred importance, many renowned ceremonies feature gong music. At this festival, a number of ethnic minorities have a chance to put their traditions on display for everyone to see. A gong melody is audible at these types of cultural events, some of which take place year-round.

Food & Drink

The unconventional weather of Da Lat offers extraordinary opportunities for farming, as the vegetables and fruits that can be grown here cannot be grown in other areas. Avocados, strawberries, and artichokes flourish in Da Lat, and tend to be used as ingredients for local dishes. Ice cream is made in an unusual way in Da Lat – it is a simple combination of strawberries and avocados. The flavor is just a sweet as the dairy version of the treat you are used to.

Coffee is farmed in Da Lat as well, as you may stumble upon plantations scattered throughout the region. There are a number of farms that grow flavorful Arabica beans, where you can see firsthand how coffee transitions from seed to cup. The savory and rich coffee these natural beans produce can often be found at several cafes in Da Lat. The beverage is just what you need to warm you up in cold weather.

One of Da Lat’s stranger drinks is a locally made wine called Vang Dalat. In contrast to other types of alcohol produced in the country, this style of this wine has a heavy European influence. Created with a combination of grapes from Phang Rang, strawberries, and mulberries, there are multiple variations of this drink that can be purchased all over the world, not just in Vietnam. The methods used for Vang Dalat production are intended to create an inexpensive but exquisite wine with a European feel.

In addition to the abundance of local produce, you’ll have no shortage of signature meals to choose from while in Da Lat. Banh Trang Dalat is an appetizing snack that you can purchase from small coal fire vendors parked on roadsides. Round and narrow rice paper sheets get grilled up and supplemented with a combination of prongs, eggs, and spring onions. After the concoction has formed a fluffy and soft omelet, it is rolled up and topped off with a sweet and spicy sauce. This warming and filling snack is the perfect treat when cold weather is predominant.

Another tasty food to sample in Da Lat is Banh Can, which you can find in street eateries and roadside stalls. These fluffy and light cakes are made with rice flour; they are stuffed with fragile quail eggs and spring onions. Besides the exquisite flavor, it is interesting to see the vendors prepare the Banh Can with tiny rounded pods. Egg and cake mixture dollops are added to the molds and covered with a tiny lid. Before long, they expand into small, delectable treats.

Da Lat Vietnam
Da Lat Vietnam

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