Da Lat is much loved by its year-round cool climate, green pine forests, misty landscape, and resplendent architectural gems dating back to the colonial era.
Given various nicknames like Little Paris, the city of eternal spring, the city of flowers and the city of love, Da Lat high up in the Central Highlands of Vietnam has gained popularity both as a romantic place for honeymoon couples and an oasis in a country that usually sweats all year round.
The town, situated 1,500 meters above sea level, has repeatedly garnered global attention. The New York Times named Da Lat among the world’s 52 must-visit places in 2016 while TripAdvisor readers ranked it in the top 10 list of rising destinations in Asia.
Three-day trip planner in Da Lat – VietNam
Day 1: Rooster Church – Truc Lam Zen Buddhist Temple– Tuyen Lam Lake
For a trip-around-town, make your way to the Saint Nicolas Cathedral, one of the oldest and most beautiful architectural works left by the French that lies on Tran Phu Street around a kilometer from downtown Da Lat.
From the church, head north for five kilometers and you will reach Truc Lam Zen Buddhist temple, the largest temple in Vietnam, lying at the foot of Phung Hoang Mountain and the edge of Tuyen Lam Lake.
No one knows for sure when and why the lake was named Tuyen Lam, but many think Tuyen stands for stream and Lam for forest. Tuyen Lam is this a place where water and trees meet.
The magnificent scenery around the 3.2-square-kilometer lake, comprising mountains and vast pine forests, is much admired. If viewed from the cable car above, Tuyen Lam Lake looks like a miniature ocean with its own continents.
Day 2: Hang Nga Guesthouse – Golden Valley – Langbiang Mountain – Hell Market
Situated around one kilometer from Da Lat, the guesthouse opened in 1990, and has been compared to the amazing architecture of world-acclaimed constructions such as the Salvador Dalí Museum and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
U.K. travel magazine Lonely Planet last April listed the bizarre building, dubbed the “Crazy House”, among the 120 most breathtaking human constructions on Earth.
Once forgotten, it has now emerged as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and visitors have to pay VND50,000 ($2.20) for an entrance ticket to sate their curiosity.
From ‘Crazy House’, travel 30 kilometers to reach Golden Valley. Continue riding your motorbike until you reach the so-called pink grass fields and enjoy the scenery, which is best at sunset and sunrise.
Pink muhly grass is relatively common in China and North America but extremely rare in Vietnam. Not surprisingly, the hill constantly attracts photographers and nature lovers.
The blooming season starts in September and November and December are the best months to visit.
Before conquering the peak of Langbiang Mountain at a height of 2,167 meters above sea level, find a restaurant to fill your stomach and take a break as the trip could be tiring.
It is a thrilling and unforgettable experience for young people to conquer the two highest peaks in the Langbiang plateau, the 2,124-meter Ong Mountain and 2,167-meter Ba.
Day 3: Da Lat Train Station – Linh Phuoc Pagoda – Cau Dat Tea Plantation
Begin the last day of your trip at one of the most popular destinations in the highlands town: Da Lat Railway Station.
When it opened in 1938, the station was part of the Thap Cham – Da Lat railway line, running from the former coastal Champa Kingdom in Ninh Thuan to Da Lat.
Linh Phuoc Pagoda, situated around seven kilometers to the west of the station, piques the curiosity of visitors, especially foreigners, with its colorful appearance made up of tens of thousands of pieces of porcelain. Though the materials used are scrap, the craftsmanship on display is indubitable.
Don’t forget to drop by Cau Dat tea plantation, a 30-minute drive from Linh Phuoc Pagoda and the place where the Vietnamese tea industry originated.
Food guide in Da Lat – VietNam
Here is a preview for the must-try food tour in Da Lat.
Banh can on Tang Bat Ho Street
It is said that no one leaves Da Lat without having tasted banh can.
Banh uot and chicken guts on Tang Bat Ho Street
Trang’s has been treating its customers to the famous banh uot for three generations.
Tile Grilling on Nguyen Luong Bang Street
This specialty dish is cooked over hot coals, not on the usual iron grill but a clay tile.
The grilled items include seasoned pork, beef, seafood, and game meats usually accompanied by a mixed salad. You can find this grill restaurant on Nguyen Luong Bang street.
Grilled pork roll on Phan Dinh Phung Street
Tasty, greasy and crispy grilled pork roll is a wonderful treat when the weather turns cold in Da Lat. You can find several grilled pork shops on Phan Dinh Phung Street.
Where to stay in Da Lat
You can opt for hotels near the downtown area and Da Lat night market, which makes transportation convenient. Prices range from VND150,000 to VND250,000 per night.
Homestays are also worth considering. You can choose from Jang & Min’s house, The Barn Home Farm, Moonrise Garden Dalat, and Dalat Lacasa Homestay II. Prices range from VND70,000 ($3) to VND300,000 ($12.85) per night.
How to reach Da Lat
Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet Air have direct flights to Da Lat every day. Return tickets cost around VND1.1 million ($47) from HCMC and VND2.4 million ($103) from Hanoi.
Lien Khuong International Airport is around 40 kilometers from the town. You can take a shuttle bus from the airport or take a cab to reach Da Lat.
Travel tips in Da Lat – Vietnam
– It is better that you book a hotel room in the downtown area of Da Lat before arriving. But in case you cannot find any hotel room, a homestay is not a bad choice.
Story by Nguyen Quy
Photos by Phong Vinh
Photo by Shutterstock