Located in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam, the picturesque city of Dalat is a lovely place to spend some time; it is not without reason that it is the honeymoon capital of the country. Blessed with a cool, inviting climate, ‘Little Paris’ and ‘the City of a Thousand Flowers’ – as it is also known – is a delight to wander around, with a myriad of flowerbeds and charming French colonial-era buildings among it’s many tourist attractions.
Due to its scenic setting with mountains, valleys, lakes, and waterfalls all in easy reach, there are plenty of outdoor activities for you to enjoy. Hiking, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting are all particularly popular things to do in Dalat. A very unique city to visit in Vietnam, Dalat certainly has its own particular look, feel, and identity, and is a great place to head to if you want to see a different side to the country.
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12. Tuyen Lam Lake
Lying at the foot of the Phoenix Mountains, Tuyen Lam Lake is an ideal spot to visit if you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature; the scenery on show is very untouched and unspoiled. Built between 1982 and 1987, the human-made lake is one of the country’s 21 National Tourism Areas, and it sees lots of visitors.
Surrounded by pine forests and beautiful rivers and streams, the large freshwater lake has plenty of fantastic recreational activities for you to partake in. Going for a boat ride around the lake, for instance, is a lovely thing to do, while horseback riding and hiking along the lakeshore are also very popular. In addition, you can also stop by the nearby Thien Vien Truc Lam that overlooks the lake, and take in the peaceful atmosphere at the Zen Buddhist temple.
11. Bao Dai’s Palace
Built all the way back in 1933, this eclectic looking palace was once the summer residence of Bao Dai – the last emperor of Vietnam. Set in some lovely landscaped gardens, it was here in the cool climate of the South Central Highlands that the emperor came to escape the heat of the then capital of Hue.
Nowadays, the palace is fascinating to wander around. It houses a large collection of the royal family’s personal possessions, and the rooms are set up as they would have been back in their time.
10. Xuan Huong Lake
Located in the heart of the city with some wonderful parks and gardens surrounding it, Xuan Huong Lake is one of the main landmarks in Dalat and is very popular with both locals and tourists alike due to all the recreational opportunities on offer. Aside from strolling peacefully around the lake or cycling along its footpaths, visitors can enjoy a picnic on its banks or take a paddleboat out on Xuan Huong’s tranquil waters.
Once a scenic valley, the lake was actually created in 1919 when the French colonial administrators decided to dam the stream that ran through it. With lots of cafes, restaurants, and hotels overlooking the lake, it is a charming place to spend some time, and it’s almost impossible to visit Dalat without stopping by at least once or twice.
9. Dalat Market
Sprawling across several multi-story buildings, Dalat Market bustles with life as people go about their daily shop. Located in the city center, the market remarkably has over a thousand shops and stalls for you to peruse, with vendors seemingly selling everything under the sun.
As such, it is always a hive of activity, and its brightly-colored shops are a great place to pick up some local delicacies such as preserved fruits and herbal teas. At night, the market takes on a completely different feel; as darkness falls, the lights turn on and endless food stalls pop up wherever you look.
8. Dalat Railway Station
As it is the oldest remaining station in the country, Dalat Railway Station is an important architectural and historical monument that is well worth visiting if you have the chance. Designed by two French architects, the station was built in 1943, and its distinctive three-pronged roof is meant to resemble the beautiful Lang Biang Mountains that lie nearby.
Exhibiting an interesting yet harmonious mix of both Western and Vietnamese architectural styles, Dalat Railway Station is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the whole of Southeast Asia. From here, you can hop on a delightful old steam train that takes you on a short but scenic journey to the small village of Trai Mat.
7. Valley of Love
Despite what its name suggests, Valley of Love is actually a theme park that lies on the banks of the Da Thien Lake, with lots of peaceful rolling hills and verdant forests surrounding it. Located just five kilometers away from Dalat, the park is particularly popular with local Vietnamese couples and honeymooners due to its romantic setting and many love-themed monuments.
Aside from taking a swan-shaped paddleboat out onto the lake, couples can enjoy a picnic among the pretty flowerbeds or take an endless array of photos before the many heart-shaped statues.
6. Thien Vien Truc Lam
Set in a delightful spot overlooking Tuyen Lam Lake with Benhuit Mountain rising up in the distance, the Zen Buddhist temple of Thien Vien Truc Lam is a very peaceful place to spend some time. Its beautiful pagoda and main ceremonial hall exhibit some incredible architecture, and to reach the complex, visitors have to walk up a long flight of stairs.
This takes them beneath finely decorated gates and through some gorgeous gardens, which offer up breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery. Its tranquil setting is perfect for some quiet introspection and meditation, and dozens of monks and nuns live in the monastery throughout the year.
5. Elephant Falls
Known locally as Lieng Rewoa Waterfall, Elephants Falls looks absolutely incredible, with a massive wall of water cascading down the rock face to a glimmering pool below. Towering over 30 meters in height and stretching for 15 meters in width, the falls are surrounded by a lush forest, with lichen-covered rocks protruding out from the powerful jets of water that cover the area in a fine spray.
The majestic waterfall is named from a local legend that says the falls were created by elephants who were so moved by a young woman’s passionate singing for her fiance who never came back from war. Located on the outskirts of K’ho village, some 25 kilometers from Dalat, the falls make for a great day trip and are very popular amongst visitors to the city.
4. Dalat Flower Park
One of Dalat’s many nicknames is ‘City of a Thousand Flowers,’ and it is easy to see why once you visit the spectacular Dalat Flower Park. Lying next to Xuan Huong Lake, the park covers a vast area, and there are over 300 types of flowers on show.
While wandering around its perfectly manicured flowerbeds, you’ll see roses, lilies, and daffodils planted next to beautiful orchids and cacti from various parts of Africa. A particularly fantastic time of year to visit is during the winter when the colorful flower festival is held.
In addition to Dalat Flower Park, there are also a couple of other flower-filled gardens scattered around town for you to visit, with Langbiang Flower Farm, Lam Sinh Farm, and Anh Quynh Orchid Farm all well worth checking out.
3. Datanla Falls
Located on the outskirts of the city, Datanla Falls is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region and is easily reached from the center of Dalat. Due to its popularity, it can get quite packed, especially at the weekends; lots of tour groups come to enjoy the wonderful scenery and the many recreational activities on offer.
While Datanla Falls certainly does paint a very pretty picture tucked away amongst some very rugged terrain with pine forests all around it, it is getting to the falls that is the most memorable part of any visit. To get to the falls, visitors can either take a scenic trek through the dense undergrowth or take an exhilarating rollercoaster ride through the foliage.
In addition to this, you can also go abseiling or free jumping in the surrounding nature, with river rafting also a popular pastime.
2. Linh Phuoc Pagoda
Unlike anything you have ever seen before, the Linh Phuoc Pagoda is one of the most famous temples in the whole of Vietnam – and rightfully so for the astounding and indeed unique architecture on show. Built between 1949 and 1952, with various buildings and extensions being added on over the years, the magnificent pagoda is covered in beautiful mosaics. Its impressive 49-meter high dragon temple is remarkably coated in 12,000 beer bottles.
As well as being home to the highest bell tower in the country, Linh Phuoc Pagoda also boasts an absolutely stunning ceremonial hall. In here, you can find lots of bas-reliefs depicting the life and times of the Buddha, as well as the Lotus Sutras. An amazing work of art, the seven-tier pagoda really is a must-see when in Dalat.
1. Crazy House
Another very unique place to visit is the aptly named Crazy House, which really does look as bizarre as its name indicates. Designed and built in 1990 by Dang Viet Nga, a famous Vietnamese architect, the house resembles a giant tree, with various sculptures of fauna and flora jutting out from it here and there.
Very much inspired by Antoni Gaudi – the renowned Catalan architect – Nga hardly incorporates any right angles in the building; as such, it looks as if it has sprouted up almost naturally. Despite being widely known by its ‘Crazy House’ nickname, the building’s actual name is the Hang Nga Guesthouse, and staying the night in the fairytale-esque house really is a delight.
Each room has a particular theme to it, such as the ‘ant room,’ the ‘tiger room,’ or the ‘kangaroo room.’ Each room is decorated accordingly in a fittingly elaborate and eclectic manner. Famed throughout the country, Crazy House’s fantastical mix of Walt Disney meets Salvador Dali will astound and allure visitors in equal measure.
Best Time to Visit Dalat
As December through April is much cooler in Dalat, the skies are bright and clear and there is barely any rain, these are the most popular months to visit. Warm temperatures of 22 to 26°C (71 to 79°F) are great for sightseeing or strolling about its phenomenal flower gardens.
As spring is so beautiful in the city and many people have holidays, December, January and February see huge crowds pour in. Besides pushing up prices, its hotels, parks and lakefront are all packed.
During these months, hugely popular events like its biennial Flower Festival and Vietnamese New Year’s also take place. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle, you can always hike and bike about its nearby hills and tea plantations.
From May through November is the rainy season with the amount of tourists dropping as a result. Despite this, many Vietnamese head here, particularly in July and August, to escape the unbearable heat and humidity of the coast.
As the sun usually comes out straight after the torrential showers, you can still enjoy all its lush green countryside and flower parks. This is a great time to see its waterfalls though it’s a good idea to take an umbrella and jacket with you!