Dalat Cathedral

Summer Escape in Dalat

Surrounded by pine tree forests, hills and lakes, Dalat looks like a typical European resort town. Adding spring-like weather and the town becomes a favourite destination to escape the summer heat for both domestic and foreign tourists.


 

Situated on the Western Highland – a plateau 1500 metres above the sea level in the southern part of Vietnam, the hill town of Dalat (or Da Lat) has been a popular retreat since the colonial times. The French were the first to find this place and they very much enjoyed its beautiful landscape, as well as the refreshingly cool climate. Unlike most cities in southern Vietnam where the weather is hot and humid, the average daily temperatures in Dalat hover between 15°C and 24°C, making it a perfect place to get away from the heat of Ho Chi Minh City.

Sunlight through pine trees
Sunlight through pine trees
The Valley of Love
The Valley of Love – a heart-shaped valley in Dalat
Lake in the Valley of Love
Lake in the Valley of Love

After the French’s defeat in the 1950s, the resort town’s popularity didn’t decline. In fact, it spread among the Vietnamese elite who adore the European vibe. Residences, churches and villas in Western-style soon spawned up amid pine tree-forests on the slopes of Dalat. In the next decades, the city, fortunately, escaped the war largely intact, with many of its building remain in good shape, including the Dalat Cathedral (often referred to as the Chicken Church) and the residences of Bao Dai – the last King of Vietnam. Many of these buildings are now turned into museums or luxury hotels.

Dalat Cathedral
Dalat Cathedral
Dalat Cathedral
Dalat Cathedral – Often referred to as the Chicken Church thanks to a tiny chicken sculpture atop the Holy Cross.
Dalat City
Not just villas… Houses on the slopes of Dalat

Although Dalat retains an attractive tourism destination, the city is also widely known for its agricultural products. Thanks to its cool climate and a decent amount of rainfall, the farms in and around Dalat are the main producers of strawberries, flowers and other vegetables from the tepid zone. Here you can expect to find the freshest salad or the juiciest tomato in the country. There are also some newly invented fruit species, which is available nowhere else, except in Dalat. The farms are usually opened to the public so that visitors can see how products are cultivated, and you can buy them directly from the farmers.

Practical Information

  •  Taking a flight is the most convenient way to go to Dalat. The flight takes 45 minutes if departing from Ho Chi Minh City. From Hanoi, it takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Lien Khuong (DLI) is the closest airport, which is located 33 kilometres south of Dalat.
  • Travelling by cars/ intercity buses takes 4-5 hours, but you can see the landscape changes along the route, from fields of rubber trees in Dong Nai, tea plantations in Bao Loc to pine tree forests when reaching close to Dalat.
  • Although Dalat is a year-round destination, the best time to visit is during the dry season (Nov-Apr) because the rainfall in Dalat might be torrential and persistent.
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14 Comments

    1. Len Kagami

      I was surprised as well 🙂 Several years ago, this place looked horrible, the hills were deserted, everywhere is full of trash, and hawkers stick to you like glue. It’s great to see that this place was finally returned to its original state.

  1. Bama

    Dalat reminds me a little bit of Bandung, a city some 110 km southeast of Jakarta, which was used by the Dutch as a retreat place thanks to its cooler temperatures compared to the heat and humidity of Java’s coastal cities. It’s interesting to think that despite the hot climate the Europeans’ clothing in their tropical colonies wasn’t too different from what they wore back home.

    1. Len Kagami

      With tall hats, suits and long dresses? 🙂 Although the climate in the resort towns are cooler than the rest of the country, I guess it is still too warm to wear such things. Perhaps they wear it to show their status, or just to prevent mosquitoes 🙂

  2. James

    I’ve heard that Dalat is also something of an adventure capital – for mountain biking, abseiling down waterfalls, and white water rafting too. It looks so laid-back and seems like the perfect place to go on a stroll or a hike. Did you get to try those newly invented fruits and vegetables? I’m curious about how they taste.

    1. Len Kagami

      Unfortunately, I couldn’t try those fruits because they weren’t in season 😦 You are right! With many mountains, forests and waterfalls nearby, Dalat is the city of extrem sports. Hiking, biking and canoing over waterfalls are the most favourites. Its cool climate is another advantage for adventurers because they won’t be dehydrated so quickly.

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