Dalat is located at about 1,500m above sea level, and the average temperature is about 10 degrees C cooler than down in Ho Chi Minh City. This makes it a popular destination for anybody looking to escape the heat. And the French also thought so when they were here. So with it's French influence and cooler temperatures, it is locally referred to as the European city of Vietnam.
Although we were sceptical about how European it would really feel, we did like the idea of enjoy some cooler weather and had also heard that there are a number of trekking options in this area. So we packed in our hiking shoes and headed for the 'City of thousands of pine trees' - another name it has adopted.
I had also asked a Ho Chi Minh City local what are some of the best things to do in Dalat, and was told 'drinking coffee at the coffee shops'. And so we also did a fair amount of that.
Below are some photos from our long weekend in Dalat. Enjoy, and we hope you feel inspired to visit.
Selfie with our guide, Dom
After considering a few options for trekking in this area, we ended up deciding to go with a local guide through a company called Viet Challenge. They offer a number of trekking options and the one that we decided on was 'Trek to Heaven Gate'. This trip is also referred to as 'Trek to Tiger Waterfall', but this doesn't really give a fair idea of what the trek involves. A better name would be 'Trek in the mountains through beautiful scenery that includes pine trees, coffee plantations, and a walk along a river'.
One of the local houses that we passed
View of one of the coffee plantations that we trekked through
Our lunch time view
Dom preparing lunch. Banh mi, fresh fruit and biscuits - yum!
The challenging part of the trek: A suspension bridge that hangs at an angle.
That is Bronwen in the background making her way across. Our advice: Keep left!
This suspension bridge was far more user friendly.
After the trek, and on the way back into Dalat city, we stopped at Linh Phuoc Pagoda.
One of the attraction is the 8,500kg bell, which is thought to be the heaviest in Vietnam.
The bell is covered with yellow pieces of paper that contain wishes and prayers. After sticking the note to the bell, the visitor chimes the bell three times to send the wish to Buddha.
Another attraction at the pagoda is the 18m tall statue of Bodhisattva that is covered with thousands of flowers. Estimates range from 10,000 (what a local had told us) to over 600,000 (according to a Vietnam tourism website).
Back in Dalat, we also had time to visit the flower gardens. Although peak flower season had already passed, the gardens were still in good condition and we enjoyed the walk around.
We also managed to buy some orchid bulbs, and now looking forward to growing our own.
Linh Son Pagoda
A find that we really enjoyed was Truong Cong Dinh street, and specifically the DeLYcious cafe. The Very Berry cake is a must :)
Views along Truong Cong Dinh street
Dalat is about 300km north-east of Ho Chi Minh City, or an almost 7 hour drive according to Google Maps. Although it is possible to get there by overnight bus, we decided to go for the flying option instead. There are a few operators that fly between HCMC and Dalat, and even with a last minute booking on a long weekend we were able to get a relatively good deal.
Our 3 days in Dalat included 40km of walking, and we thoroughly enjoyed our countryside getaway.
Saying it feels like a European city is a stretch, but it does feel different to any of the other Vietnam cities that we have visited. It is also probably one of the few places where you will see Vietnamese locals wearing jackets, beanies, scarves and gloves.