Colonial French pleasure seekers struck into the central Highlands of Vietnam seeking escape from the high summer temperatures of coastal regions, and built a hill station in the mountains still famed for its beauty over a century later.
The French founded the city of Dalat (Da Lat) on the Langbian Plateau some 4,000 feet above sea level as a mountain resort for colonial citizens in 1907. They paved broad avenues dotted with manicured gardens and parks, and filled the hills around the plateau with villas and other colonial edifices, giving the city the feel of a little Paris in the Vietnamese Highlands.
The Dalat Flower Garden is a stunning French-made park filled with a beautiful array of multicolored blossoms, reflecting pools, and dancing fountains. The broad garden park rings the beautiful Xuan Huong Lake near the center of town, and is large enough to spend a relaxing afternoon strolling along flower scented footpaths.
The last Vietnamese Emperor Bao Dai built his summer palace here, and the colonial-influenced structure sits on the edge of town. The exterior of the building is striking, but its interior is decorated simply belaying the building’s imperial status. Little of the summer palace has been changed since Bao Dai abdicated from the imperial throne in 1945, and the couches and chairs in the sitting room look like the royal family might sit down for a chat at any moment.
Truc Lam Temple lies on the edge of the town center. The temple was built in 1994 as a meditation center and active monastery dedicated to reviving Zen Buddhist traditions in Southern Vietnam. The temple grounds cover about a mile of well-kept gardens and paths surrounding several central structures built in traditional Vietnamese architectural styles. Around 100 monks and nuns live in the temple’s inner sanctuary, and courses on Zen meditation are regularly taught on the campus to both foreign and domestic travelers hoping to polish their meditative states.
Best Time to Visit Dalat:
Due to its elevation, Dalat has excellent year-round weather that’s earned it the nickname “City of Eternal Spring.” The dry season from November to April rarely sees temperatures reaching more than 80 degrees, and the rains that fall between May and October give the town and surrounding mountains a misty veil and lush vegetation.
How to get to Dalat:
Dalat is located in Southern Vietnam on the Langbian Plateau. Our guests on luxury tours of Vietnam can reach the mountain resort using our private vehicle service departing from Nha Trang on the coast.
Coming from the humid coast to the temperate mountains is a refreshing drive, and the beautiful scenery, splendid architecture, and laissez-faire atmosphere of Dalat is an unforgettable stop we highly recommend to all of our guests traveling on Vietnam tours.
Appropriate Attire :
For most sightseeing excursions Western-style clothing is perfectly acceptable, but if you’re visiting the Truc Lam Temple, Buddhist modesty requires shoulders, arms, and knees to be covered while on holy ground.