Dalat Travel Guide
Situated in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, Dalat has long been a favoured getaway from the heat of the lowlands for locals, colonial authorities, and travellers. With pleasant daytime highs and lows that get down to ten degrees at night, it is the perfect break from the humidity for which Southeast Asia is famous.
Start your cultural tour of Dalat by first paying a visit to the Linh Phuoc Pagoda. Situated eight kilometres out of town, this unorthodox Buddhist hall of worship was crafted out of a mix of glass and pottery, with the dragon sculpture alone having been crafted using 12,000 beer bottles.
Standing over 49 metres tall, this elegantly crafted structure stands out from the surrounding area – it’s splendid exterior is worth the trip on its own, but inside, you’ll also find plenty of antique furniture, and priceless china and gems – allow at least an hour or two for this attraction.
Make Truc Lam Temple your next stop. Located six kilometres from the downtown core of Dalat, this Buddhist monastery will induce a feeling of peace within you not long after arrival. Its setting in nature goes a long way to engendering these feelings, as does its numerous wind chimes and view of a placid lake beneath its hillside location.
While this is a great place to sightsee and partake in some meditation, note this is a working Buddhist sanctuary – respect the rules of this place by dressing respectfully before visiting.
If your appetite for temples has yet to be satisfied, move along to the Thien Vuong Co Sat Pagoda. Found five kilometres outside Dalat, this temple is accessed by a scenic cable car ride. Upon arrival, you’ll be struck by the beauty of the gardens you’ll find there, the detail put into three sandalwood Buddha images and the intricate architecture of the main pagoda. Around since 1958, it is a peaceful place that lends itself well to meditation, so don’t be in a rush to leave – an hour or two is suggested for temple lovers.
If you are looking for one more cultural sight worth your time while in Dalat, carve out a spot in your itinerary for the Statue Of Golden Buddha. Situated only a few minutes away from the Valley of Love, the views of the town and area below is worth the time you’ll spend getting up here. The statue itself is an imposing one, standing dozens of metres tall – just remember that the image is located on the grounds of a Buddhist temple, so dress appropriately before leaving your hotel or hostel to come here.
Those who love the outdoors will not want to miss Elephant Falls during their trip to Dalat. A massive cataract that will trigger gasps of disbelief at first sight, it is best visited during wet or at the start of the dry season. Given its size, though, we think you’ll still be impressed no matter when you drop by to see it.
Take your time on the way down, as the tremendous volumes of mist produced by this waterfall coat the stairs and rocks, creating slip and fall hazards. Don’t forget to bring cash, as an admission fee is charged at the front gate – despite this inconvenience and the slippery conditions, a trip here is well worth your time.
Take in amazing vistas of the surrounding countryside by including Lang Biang Mountain in your Dalat travel plans. While you can get up to the peak by way of a hired jeep, we recommend tackling this peak with your own two feet instead. Two or three hours later, you’ll emerge at the pine tree laden summit, with sweeping views of the surrounding landscape everywhere around you. While you’ll have to contend with the package tourist hordes, be consoled by the fact you put in the effort to earn the vistas available here.
Back in town, you’ll find plenty of bizarre and intriguing touristy attractions, but few stand out in their audaciousness like Crazy House does. An actual guesthouse which accepts paying guests, it embraces surrealism wholeheartedly, with the exterior and interior design features taking their inspiration from Anton Gaudi and Salvador Dali. With costs as low as $30 USD per night for foreigners, it is worth spending just a bit more for one night of sleeping in what feels like an artistic masterpiece.
End your stay in this highland paradise by observing locals in their daily routines at the Dalat Market. Here, you’ll find row upon row of local fruits, veg, and other goods like wine and everyday goods Dalat residents need to run their homes. Be sure to try out the Vietnamese ‘pizza’, a snack which is made from pizza ingredients laid atop a disc of grilled rice paper.