Da Lat is the capital city of Lam Dong province, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. 5,000 feet above sea level, the climate is chilly, making Da Lat a welcome getaway to the southern Vietnamese dealing with year-round hot weather. It is not too far, a six-hour drive or a 40-minute flight from Saigon will get you there hassle-free!
There are many names that the Vietnamese people use to refer to Da Lat: The City of a Thousand Flowers, Dreamy City, Sad City, The Land of Love, The Land of Cherry Blossoms, Little Paris etc. Da Lat has always been depicted in literature, paintings and pictures, wandering about in contemporary arts and travelers’ hearts. It’s hard to describe Da Lat because words don’t do justice to the feeling you get when there, talking to the locals, feeling the cool breeze, watching flowers bloom, and enjoying authentic coffee.
Let’s start by dreaming first.
7 Reasons Why You Should Visit Da Lat Right Now
Imagine immersing yourself in the slow living pace of Da Lat, just let things happen, no hassle. Take time to enjoy life and to find peace for your inner self as Da Lat is a perfect getaway for your soul. I am going to share with you some reasons why you should purchase a flight now, so you can get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and maybe never come back.
- Da Lat has a much cooler climate than Saigon, so it makes for a perfect getaway from the blazing sun of the South. For those of you who haven’t been in a temperate environment before, you will appreciate the changing weather of Da Lat within just a day: spring in the breezy morning, summer in the warm noon, gusty autumn afternoon, and a chilly winter evening.
- The cool climate also makes it the perfect place to rest, relax, and be lazy all day. It will even be an excellent experience if you decide to book your accommodation at a more personal homestay or BnB instead of an upscale hotel. Check here for one of them.
- Endless pine forests, lakes, and streams, these natural wonders give Da Lat a European feel. Not to mention exploring the wonderful hidden waterfalls, conquering the Lang Biang Peak, and other adventurous opportunities are right at your fingertips.
- Even the city itself is great to walk around, such as by the Xuan Huong Lake, the Love Valley, or the Dreamy Hill.
- Da Lat is a heaven filled with thousands of species of flowers. From the unofficial symbol of Da Lat – the Mexican Sunflower, to the Mimosa Flower (Silver Wattle), and the Cherry Blossom, these colorful beauties grow everywhere–from the sidewalks to the serpentine tracks around the mountains. Check out this guide to flower season in Da Lat to get the most out of the city’s surrounding nature!
- Apart from flowers, you can find the biggest organic farms in Vietnam, with all kinds of vegetables and fruits, from tropical plants to the ones grown in temperate climates like cauliflower and strawberry.
- Coffee shops in Da Lat are unique. Every one of them comes with a different style and theme. For instance, Café Song Vy is actually a French-style chateau turned into a coffee shop and has live romantic French music.
Are you excited yet? Get your ticket and accommodation booked now and I will show you around for the best experiences related to the list mentioned above!
Points of Interest and Famous Landmarks
Da Lat Railway Station
The Da Lat Railway Station was built in 1938, and it’s the most important station along the 84 kilometer Phan Rang – Da Lat Railway. It has a unique design, resembling the shape of the Lang Biang Peaks and the stilt houses of the Central Highlands. The station’s interiors are similar to a typical 40s train station in Southern France and the front grand clock is engraved with the date in which Dr. Alexandre Yersin founded Da Lat City. There are only seven kilometers of operational track right now, from Da Lat to Trai Mat, a small suburban town where Linh Phuoc Pagoda is located.
Location: Quang Trung Street, Ward 10
Palace No.3 – Bao Dai’s Palace
Palace No.3 also dates back to 1938, when it served the last Emperor of Vietnam – Bao Dai, as his home and his office in Da Lat. It is located within the Ai An Forest (Love-Making Forest), on top of a hill. The whole building is heavily influenced by European architecture and design, with flower gardens at the front and backyard. It contains many valuable royal items and a hidden wine cellar for you to explore.
Location: 1 Trieu Viet Vuong Street, Ward 4
Chicken Church (St. Nicholas de Bari Cathedral)
St. Nicholas de Bari Cathedral is commonly known as the Chicken Church, because of a giant copper chicken on top of the main bell tower. Apart from being the main and the biggest church of Da Lat, the Cathedral is the first and the most remarkable French architectural legacy. It follows the standard sweeping height of a Roman Catholic cathedral in Central Europe, and it’s representative of Roman arts in Vietnam.
Location: 15 Tran Phu Street, Ward 4
Domaine de Marie Convent
The Domaine de Marie is a Roman Catholic convent atop a hill in Da Lat. The church’s story dates back to the foundation of the Chicken Church and follows the French and Vietnamese style of architecture. It is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Da Lat and contains a convent for local children. It was built in reminiscence of a 17th-century French church with pink limestone walls. There is also a three-meter high statue of the Virgin Mary standing on the globe. Moreover, the sophisticated lighting system consists of multiple complexly arranged roofs, which is also based on the stilt houses of the Central Highlands.
Location: 1 Ngo Quyen Street, Ward 6
Linh Phuoc Pagoda – The Pagoda of Broken Glass and Porcelain
Linh Phuoc Pagoda or the so-called Ve Chai Pagoda is located in the town of Trai Mat, just seven kilometers from the Da Lat Railway Station. This pagoda has been well known since 1990 for its unusual and meaningful artworks. Every wall, ceiling, pillar, and statue in the pagoda are decorated with thousands of small pieces of broken glass and porcelain.
Location: 120 Tu Phuoc Street, Ward 11
Thien Vien Truc Lam – Truc Lam Zen Temple
The Truc Lam Temple is situated on a hilltop with amazing gardens. The Trúc Lâm Zen tradition emphasizes the habit of applying Buddhist practice in whatever surroundings one finds oneself. You should find a way to the temple by cable car just to observe the majestic pine forest scenery.
Location: Truc Lam Yen Tu Street, Ward 3
Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda – Gate to Heaven
On your way to Da Lat, you should give Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda a visit. The walkway up the Pagoda is small and somewhat challenging, but you are rewarded with magnificent scenery. The main yard is literally “in the clouds” with the Heaven’s Gate in the middle, from which you can contemplate the breath-taking harmony of clouds and mountains.
Location: Loc Thanh Ward, Bao Lam District, Lam Dong Province
XQ Su Quan – Silk Hand Embroidery Handicraft Village
XQ Su Quan – Silk Hand Embroidery Handicraft Village is located just opposite of the Dreamy Hill and serves as an introductory facility to Da Lat’s traditional silk hand embroidery. The complex consists of many unique traditional Vietnamese buildings, namely from Hue and other central coastal cities. Moreover, it also operates as a museum of embroidery with many gorgeous artworks.
Location: Mai Anh Dao Street, Ward 8
Passage of Clay
The Passage of Clay spans over 1.2 kilometers and consists of artistic work that grew from the love of Da Lat by a local artist – Mr. Trinh Ba Dung. The whole complex is completely built by a special mix of clay that is as durable as concrete. According to Mr. Dung, he wanted to show the visitors the first images of Da Lat since its establishment to its transformation as a tourist city, purely through art.
Location: Clay Tunnel, Ward 4
Biological Museum of the Central Highlands
This museum/institution is researching the implementation and use of chemistry, microbes, plants, and tissue engineered for biological benefits. Apart from displaying the results of this research, the museum is a library of hundreds of unique flora and fauna in the Central Highlands. There are up to nine rooms of exhibition and six rooms of documentation open to the public.
Location: Xo Viet Nghe Tinh Street, Ward 7
Zoodoo Zoo – Australian Zoo in the midst of Vietnam
If you find stuffed animals not too interesting, then how about some living ones from Australia? Yes, the Zoodoo Zoo is extremely exciting with species coming from the Australian continent such as llamas, camels, kangaroos, pony horses, hares, birds, and even hamsters. You can best enjoy this youthful place with kids!
Location: QL27C – DT723 Road, Da Nhim Town, Lac Duong District, Lam Dong Province
Shopping and Eating Da Lat Specialties
“We are from Da Lat.” L’angfarm Market is dedicated to providing the best quality agricultural products such as dried fruits and vegetables, artichoke tea and extract, coffee and local specialties to Da Lat residents and buyers from other cities.
Location: 7 Bui Thi Xuan Street, Ward 2
Da Lat Market
This market is the place to get a variety of Da Lat specialties, such as fruits, nuts, and flowers (but especially fresh fruits). The magic starts after 5 PM when the main market closes and its yard fills up with food vendors. Vietnamese pizza and banh mi are the way to go!
Location: Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street, Ward 1
Stroll Around and Snap Some Pictures
Xuan Huong Lake – Rendezvous of Lovers
Located in the heart of Da Lat, Xuan Huong Lake is considered the most beautiful and romantic lake of this cloudy land. Many tourist attractions surround this crescent-shaped lake, along with its five-kilometer perimeter. The clean surface of the lake gorgeously reflects the charming scenery of Da Lat with its green pine forests, flowers, gardens, and artistic buildings. From the banks of the lake, Da Lat looks like a summer city located in the Alps. This surely gives it the title – the Rendezvous of Lovers. I recommend walking along the banks or taking a tandem bicycle to fully experience this romantic lake!
Lam Vien Square
Lam Vien square covers an area of over 72,000 square meters and is decorated with flowery carpets and decorative plants. There is a festival yard, an exhibition area, a theater, a trade area, and car parking facilities within the square itself. The cultural palace right at the center was designed to look like a wild sunflower with a capacity of 1,000 people, where art programs and meetings will take place. Apart from these exhibits, it is a cool place to hang out with friends or your partner.
Just as true love has to surpass several obstacles, the Valley of Love in Da Lat had to surpass many challenges in the course of time to earn its meaningful name today. Originally, the valley was called Vallée D’amour (Valley of Love) by the French. Its beauty charmed people to name it after the most wonderful thing in the world–love. Not just limited to the title as the top honeymoon destination for newlywed couples, this valley is even regarded as the Niagara Falls of Vietnam with its wondrous waterfalls. To truly marvel at the scenery, follow the natural tracks and staircases all around the valley to visit and admire the gorgeous nature that will take your heart away.
Dreamy Hill is one of those places you can wander about for hours with your loved one. You will find lots of flower bungalows and artistic sculptures as well as a wishing tree and an outdoor auditorium with live local music performances.
Lamenting Lake – Ho Than Tho
This lake is located on a hill surrounded by tranquil pine forests and quiet peaceful feelings. It attracts numerous tourists who love to explore romantic natural landscapes and savor the stunning scenery. Although not as large as Xuan Huong Lake, thanks to its faraway location from the city center – around 4 kilometers to the northeast, Than Tho Lake takes advantage of that. It is home to ideal ecological terrain for tourists to comfortably enjoy nature without much disturbance. There is also a local legend about the lake, which is there for you to discover as you walk its shores.
Tuyen Lam Lake
Just five kilometers south of Da Lat, Tuyen Lam Lake is the biggest lake in the area. The name originated from the grandiose nature around it – flocks of streams and forests blending into each other. Because of its various water sources, Tuyen Lam is known as the lake where rivers, springs, and forests meet each other in harmony. It is one of the largest and the most beautiful lakes in town.
Da Lat Flower Garden
Da Lat is famously known as the land of a thousand flowers, and undoubtedly the Da Lat Flower Garden is the star. The Garden lies next to the Xuan Huong Lake, 15 hectares in area with sophisticated decoration and floral arrangements. There are approximately up to 300 evergreen species of flowers. The most festive event of Da Lat – Da Lat Flower Festival is held in this garden every year, but the date changes annually.
Savoring the Natural Sceneries In and Around Da Lat
Lang Biang Peaks
With three peaks, Lang Biang Mountain offers a fantastic vista of the surrounding hills and lakes. Its top two peaks are Lang Biang – 2,167 meters – and the 2,287-meter high Bidoup Ban, which are often regarded as the roofs of Da Lat. The mountain is famous for its spectacular nature, as well as its marvelous view of the whole wide area of Da Lat City, the forest, the rivers, and the houses. Visitors will have the option of venturing to the peak by an old Russian jeep or taking the challenge of their own endurance from the pine forest up to the Lang Biang Peak (2,167 meters).
This ten-hectare tourist site is hugged by sloping pine trees and grassy hills. Strolling on the hill, tourists can hear the sound of pine leaves chanting in the wind and indulge in the colorful flowers on the way. Golden Valley features a harmony of natural and man-made beauty. Under the shade of pine trees and green grass is a rock garden with several types of precious stones, such as chalcedony and agate, in different shapes from simple to extremely detailed, carved by nature and the hands of artisans.
Terraces of White Kunai Grass in Lac Duong
These terraces cover a ten-hectare area, located in Da Sar ward, Lac Duong district and only 40 kilometers away from Da Lat. This place is considered the golden destination of many young locals for its dreamy and beautiful scenery. The blooming white kunai grass turns the whole hill into a white color, like bringing a snowy grassland from Europe and placing it here in Vietnam. It is also perfect for photographers to capture nature’s beauty.
Cloud Walking in Thien Phuc Duc Hill
Six kilometers away from the city center to the north, facing the Lang Biang Peak is the cloud-hovering Thien Phuc Duc Hill. Getting here is fairly easy. You just need to make your way to the Thanh Mau Church of Ward 7, and voilà, you are on top of the hill. Arrive in the early morning or late afternoon to best savor the heavenly scenery, seeing the clouds covering the whole Da Lat city.
Explore the Pristine Beauty of the Waterfalls
Da Lat – Lam Dong area is blessed by mother nature with a huge number of waterfalls. You will regret not visiting any of these, hidden away in the midst of a pine forest. The most spectacular waterfall of the whole Central Highland is Pongour Falls, which looks like silver steps to heaven. The other ones like Cam Ly, Datanla, and Prenn will also take your breath away with their own unique beauty. Yet there are just too many to talk about, so I would rather leave them for you to explore. Get in touch with a local tour guide to discover even more secret waterfalls.
End of Story
Note what you want to discover and keep it in your pocket. Da Lat awaits, are you ready? Let me know in the comments below about your experience in the places I have mentioned. I would be happy if this guide helps you! Check out more about Da Lat in these following articles: