5km south of Dalat, Tuyen Lam Lake rates as the biggest lake in the area, covering 320 hectares. Because of its various sources, Tuyen Lam is known as the lake where rivers, springs and forests meet. Kayaking tours of the lake are available, but need to be booked prior. Elephant rides through the pine forest are available here.
For a city that takes property development at a snail’s pace, Dalat’s prominent cable car Robin Hill to Truc Lam Monastery is a relatively modern investment. The cable car is VND 50,000 for a single ride and VND 70,000 for a round trip, with 2.4 km covered each way.
So named after a Romeo and Juliet-esque love story that ends in bittersweet death (like much of Dalat’s lore), Langbiang Mountain consists of three peaks – the most visited being an old American army radar base and landing pad; and the other two Langbiang (2,167 meters) and an unnamed peak (2,124 meters).
Datanla Waterfall is one of the more easily accessed falls in the vicinity of Dalat. 5km south of the city, the entrance is at the top of the fall. An easy 15 minute walk gets you to the bottom, or for something a little bit different, try the mini roller coaster.
At the base of Mount Langbiang is the village of the Lat ethnic minority, a local hill tribe from whom Dalat takes part of its name. There are a few hamlets known as the Lat Village. The closest, 12km north of Dalat, have seen frequent visitation and retain little authenticity, although it is possible to visit a traditional house and hear local stories from an older Lat gentleman.
Another themed garden, Mong Mo Hill mixes themes over a 12 hectare area. A large blue dragon spouts water into a fish pond, and an army of plaster cast warriors. Relics from the Lach ethnic grouping are displayed in four long huts, including some archival photographs of the surrounding area.
The silk weaving factory in Dalat is an interesting place to visit, to see the entire process, from cocoon to fabric. The cocoons are soaked in hot water, and the delicate thread is wound onto a machine that unravels the cocoon. The thread is then wound onto a reel, which is used on a large loom, to weave it into delicately patterned fabric.
Sittting at the end of Xuan Huong Lake, around 2km from the inner city it covers 11 hectares. With its cooler mountain climate, Dalat is perfect for growing a wide variety of flowers. The garden beds are filled with fine examples of all of the locally grown blooms, including roses, mimosas, and the more difficult to grow orchids. There is also a small cafe on site.
The Valley of Love sits around 6km north east of the city centre and encompasses Da Thien Lake. Gentle hills dotted with photo opportunities follow path that leads down to the lake’s edge, lined with souvenir stalls. Hire a canoe, try horse riding, or watch the locals taking photos of themselves on mushroom shaped benches
Fresh air, pine trees, brilliant flowers and murmuring brooks, the Golden Valley is a picturesque detour, 14km north of Dalat, this tourist park encompasses pine tree-clad hills, and man-made streams, lakes and waterfalls.
Most tours of Dalat will take in a tea plantation, as one of Dalat’s staple products. Cau Dat, around 20km from Dalat and 1,650 metres above sea level, is where the Vietnamese tea industry originated, with the Dalat Cau Dat Tea Company. Tea plantations from Holland and France were planted in 1922, and the French brought in the tea processing machines.
Truc Lam sits at the other end of Dalat’s cable car ride, and is best reached by parking your bike at Robin Hill, getting a round trip cable car ticket and easing down the scenic 2.4 km route to the pagoda. Built in 1994, the young monastery overlooks Tuyen Lam Lake and follows the practice of Truc Lam, started by Emperor Tran Nhan Tong (1258-1308), who gave up his throne to travel around Vietnam as a Buddhist monk.
Linh An Pagoda is located in Nam Ban hamlet around 30km southwest of Dalat. At first glance this pagoda seems quite plain, apart from the two side Buddhas with many arms in the main hall. The true treasure though is the enormous white Buddha statue around the right side of the pagoda, which sports a massive cheeky grin.
Most famous for their 79 foot-high golden Buddha statue, Van Hanh’s property is a great place to walk around during the day with its surrounding green gardens and lush palm trees.
Also called Ve Chai Pagoda, it was built mosaic style from glass, pottery and porcelain shards between 1949 and 1952 in a residential area south east of Dalat. The front of the pagoda is lined with ornate pillars in the shape of flying dragons, while a 4.8 metre tall statue of Buddha sits amidst 12 glaze-work reliefs which illustrate the story of Buddha.
At 3 a.m. the tofu couple rises to sell their product on the night market. The tofu is good for a day – afterwards it begins to sour, so they have to sell fast and in large quantities. Their principal clients are school cafeterias, but small restaurants buy in bulk as well. Each chunk (around the size of a child’s fist) sells for VND 5,000 to 15,000, depending on the size.
Mr. Loc is in the business of turning civet dung into profit, a man of the “weasel poop coffee” trade (the bean variety is officially dubbed Kopi Luwak) who raises the weasel-like paradoxurus hermaphroditus, or Asian palm civets, in order to dry out their excrement and extract the undigested coffee beans. He’s been doing this for the past seven years and doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Otherwise known as Palace Number 3, Bao Dai’s Summer Palace was used as a retreat by the family of King Bao Dai, the last king of Vietnam. Built from 1933 to 1938, the cube-like art deco exterior angled away from the entrance point, disguises the true size of the palace, which contains 25 rooms built within the colonial architectural framework.
Built in 1943, the recently renovated Dalat Railway Station has a quaint art deco style, with Vietnamese architectural elements. The interior features the original ticket windows. There is an original wood-burning steamer train on the tracks at the rear of the station. Originally the track ran 84 kilometres, linking Dalat with Thap Cham in Ninh Thuan Province and due to the vertical elevation, 17 kilometres of the track was a cog system, to prevent sliding.
The Dalat Palace was built between 1916 and 1922, although the architecture, concept and design were determined before the start of WW1. Originally called Langbiang Palace, the hotel faces the mountain of the same name and looks down on Xuan Huong Lake. Restoration work has retained the French-colonial style, with 1920’s desk lamps, authentic claw foot tubs and period furnishings.
Ana Mandara Villas Dalat Resort & Spa
a: Le Lai Street, Da Lat, Lam Dong Province, Vietnam
t: +84 (63) 3555 888
f: +84 (63) 3555 666
hotline: +84 (0) 164 525 9977