Da Lat Cathedral

Da Lat: A Perfect Summer Escape

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.

Sunlight through pine trees
Lake in the Valley of Love

A Resort Town

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.

The Valley of Love

Centre of High-tech Agriculture

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.

Practical Information

  •  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.

15 thoughts on “Da Lat: A Perfect Summer Escape”

    1. It’s much smaller than the cathedrals in Europe, but it looks cute. Too bad that I couldn’t go inside because they were holding a ceremony.

  1. Orvillewrong – "I am well read, fairly well travelled, maybe not as many stamps on my passport as I would like. Young at Heart, Always! I like Military history. I Love Life`s variable, colour, character are potential events to record for posterity!!
    Orvillewrong says:

    An interesting article with great pics!

  2. Arundhati Basu – New Jersey, US – The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.
    Dippy Dotty Girl says:

    Dalat is so beautiful and the shot of the Valley of Love is even more so.

    1. 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.

  3. Bama – Jakarta, Indonesia – Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.
    Bama says:

    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. 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 🙂

  4. What a lovely place. I can imagine how those Europeans felt a respite from the heat after discovering this place. The temperatures sound ideal for me too. And it looks so green and fresh, amazing.

  5. 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. 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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