Surrounded by pine tree forests, hills and lakes, Da Lat looks like a typical European resort town. Adding spring-like weather, it 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 Da Lat (or Dalat) 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 Da Lat hover between 15°C and 24°C, making it a perfect place to get away from the heat of Saigon.
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 adored the European vibe. Residences, churches and villas in Western-style soon spawned up amid pine tree-forests on the slopes of Da Lat. In the next decades, the city, fortunately, escaped the war largely intact, with many of its building remain in good shape, including the Da Lat Cathedral (often referred to as the Chicken Church) and the residences of Bao Dai – the last Emperor of Vietnam. Many of these buildings are now turned into museums or luxury hotels.
Although Da Lat 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 Da Lat 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 here. 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.
- Taking a flight is the most convenient way to go to Da Lat. The flight takes 45 minutes if departing from Saigon. From Hanoi, it takes approximately 90 minutes. Lien Khuong (DLI) is the closest airport, which is located 33 kilometres south of the city.
- 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 Da Lat.
- Although the hill town is a year-round destination, the best time to visit is during the dry season (Nov-Apr) because the rainfall in Da Lat might be torrential and persistent.