Lam Dong is located in the Tay Nguyen region, 300 km from Ho Chi Minh City and 200 km from Nha Trang. Situated at 1,500 m above sea level, Dalat has a cool climate. The annual average temperature is 18oC. The population is mainly composed of Kinh people, along with Kho Mu, Ma, Hoa, Nung, Tay, and Chu Ru ethnic minorities.
The city is decorated with a vast variety of flowers. Beautiful flowers such as rhododendron, cherry, mimosa, hydrangea, rose, daisy, and dahlia are all grown here. Dalat offers an harmonious combination of natural scenery and historical sites.
Lam Dong is the third and the largest plateau province on the Central Highlands. It is also the highest province lying on a plain the average height of which is about 1,500 meters above sea level. Lam Dong is a forest province with forest coverage accounting for 70 per cent of the total area.
The mountain resort town of Dalat is the capital of Lam Dong. The climate Dalat boasts is that of a temperate zone. Few places in the tropical Vietnam have been offered that gift by nature.
More than 50 years ago Dalat has become famous for its favorable climatic conditions which are very useful for rehabilitation purpose. Perches on a plain 1,500 meters above sea level, Dalat offers an average temperature of about 10oC in winter time and 20oC in summer. Meteorologists have rated Dalat the city of ever lasting spring due to its favorable climatic conditions.
Thanks to the warm weather the whole city of Dalat is a great garden of flower in blossom the year round. Dalat is also famous for its expanse of pine forests and many beautiful water falls and lakes.
Lake of Sighs
This is a natural lake and enlarged by a French - built dam. The lake is six kilometers to the north east of the city. It is situated on top of a high hill covered with pine forests. The lake-scape looks very poetic with the vast and tranquil water surface being compared to a human being in meditation. Standing on the edge of the lake visitors can see a small earth path running towards the forests. The only sound that can be heard comes from the pine forests where the path disappears. The continuous sound from the forests make ones think of repeated sighs from an invisible human being. The existence of the lake has been surrounded with many love stories and legends with sorrowful endings when the heroines always drowned themselves in the lake to keep for ever their true love they had once enjoyed.
One legend has it that Mai Nuong and Hoang Tung met here in 1788 while he was hunting and she picking mushrooms. They fell in love and sought their parents' permission to mrry. But at that time Vietnam was threatened by a Chinese invasion and Hoang Tung, heeding Emperor Quang Trung's call-to-arms, joined the army without waiting to tell Mai Nuong. Unaware that he had gone to war and afraid that his absence meant that he was no longer in love with her, Mai Nuong sent words to Hoang Tung to meet her at the lakeside. When he did not turn up she was overcome with sorrow and, to prove her love to him, threw herself into the conveniently located lake and drowned. Thereafter, the lake has been known as the Lake of Sighs.
The golf course is located in the centre of the city. The 18-hole golf course meeting international technical standards become operational in early 1994. The golf course runs pass several low hills which are close to the famous Ho Xuan Huong (Xuan Huong Lake). the unique design of the course combined with picturesque natural landscape has made the course in Dalat very attractive to golf players.
Dalat has three magnificent and big palaces which are always referred to as Palace 1, Palace 2 and Palace 3. The architectural designs for the three places are made to French design. They were built on top of the hills which are located in beautiful natural surroundings. The places are accessible through long flights of brick steps for walk and gently descending paths for cars. The path is completely covered with broad canopy of pine trees.
Palace 1 and Palace 2 were owned by French high ranking officials during the French domination of Vietnam more than 40 years ago.
The third and last palace was owned by the last king of the Nguyen Dynasty, Bao Dai. Interior arrangement of the palace is open to public viewing. There remain some pictures and photographs of the king, the queen and their princes and princesses.
Location: in Lam Dong Province, approximately 308km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City
Access: about 6 hours by car from HCMC, Lien Khuong Airport is connected to HCMC, Da Nang and Hanoi, train routes between HCMC and Hanoi stop at Da Lat.
Main attractions: Summer Palace of King Bao Dai, Lakes of Xuan Huong, Tuyen Lam, waterfalls, night market, Lang Biang Mountains, Da Lat Flower Garden
"Little Paris” is what this land of beautiful mountain scenery and delightfully cool mountain weather was called by the French colonists who founded it.
Experiencing the uniqueness of Dalat means enjoying the blend of original, diverse, western-style architecture with tropical highland panorama. Indeed, the close interaction between French colonizers and Vietnamese feudal dynasty resulted in invaluable palaces and cultural monuments, on all of which left a strong imprint of French structure, such as the palaces of the very last Vietnamese King – Bao Dai, the Dalat Teacher’s Training College, the Railway Station and the city’s flower market…
The town is also distinctive in the harmony between Western and Oriental culture, of urban and ethnic minority lifestyles. It is of a rare place where all the deep musical notes of the bell rings from typically Indochinese pagodas mingle with the chimes of western-style catholic churches at every dawn and sunset. Truc Lam zen monastery is famed for its tranquil, poetic, and beautiful garden, creating an idyllic space for every body and soul to find peace in the sacred atmosphere of Buddhism worshipping and fresh air on the top of Phoenix Mount.
Dalat has long been Vietnam’s honeymoon capital, flush with romantic hideaways like the Valley of Love, where newly-weds fresh from church pose from moored sailboats. Xuan Huong Lake is the most beautiful lake in Da Lat. Shaped like a crescent moon; it is where many honeymooners spend their romantic times together when visiting Da Lat. Valley of Love is also famous to lovers with the meaningful love legend it bears and beautiful scenery it provides.
One of the most typical features of Da Lat is waterfall. The famous ones are Prenn Fall, Gougah Fall, Bongou Fall, and so on. All are picturesque with a sheet of silver pouring into a pool of water at the bottom. Behind is a wooden and bamboo bridge hidden in the turbulence and mist created as the water strikes the rocks below. Around the fall area was once a thriving wild life refuge. Visitors to the fall can visit the various habitats of the animals in this region.
For non-honeymooning foreign tourists, Dalat offers some of the best mountain biking, trekking, hiking and canyoning opportunities in Vietnam. Langbian Mountain’s highest peak at 2,165m is very tempting for climbers. From Lom Bieng Klo peak, one can see endless green mountains reflecting the silver rays of the sun. Many tours are organized in the area, including parachuting and climbing. Explorers will also have an opportunity to interact with the Lac ethnic minority while sitting around the fire and tasting the typical alcoholic beverage of Lac people.
Aside from sport activities, tourists are given an excellent chance to explore some of Vietnam's hinterland, sample its outstanding products and vacation alongside Vietnamese holidaymakers. Come early in the evening and join the rest of the city in the broad central market area. Here, everyone seems to wade eagerly into the festive atmosphere. At the food stalls scattered throughout the area, old women in buttoned, oversized sweaters and wool hats fan wood-chip fires. Others sell puffed corn scooped from large plastic bags, or French-style baguettes from blue-painted, wheeled carts, or cigarettes from flimsy folding tables lit by candles.
Dalat, from every corner of view, is still really “something of a magical mystery land” – as admired by the Discovery Magazine in 1991.
Located in the Central Highlands region, Lam Dong is a mountainous province, and 70% of its area is covered in forest. To the north, it borders on Dak Lak and Dak Nong provinces, to the south-east, on Khanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces, and to the west, on Binh Phuoc and Dong Nai provinces.
The remarkable characteristic of Lam Dong's topography is the fairly distinctive division of tiers from north to south. The north of the province is high mountains, the Lang Bian plateau, with summits of altitudes between 1,300m - above 2,000m such as Bidoup (2,287m), Lang Bian (2,167m). The east and the west are mountains with modest altitudes (500m- 1,000m). The south is topographically the transition from the Di Linh- Bao Loc plateau to the semi-flat country.
Lam Dong province has a tropical climate with monsoon. On the whole territory, due to a complex topography, there is a difference in elevation and degree of vegetation covering. However, the weather of Lam Dong is temperate and mild all the year round, notable changes are rare in the annual cycle. The temperature varies distinctly between areas and the higher it is, the lower temperature is. The range of the average annual temperature is 16oC - 23oC. Dry season is from December to March next year. Rainy season is from April to November.
The unique tourism of Lam Dong Province is made from the combination of topographical, climatic and hydrographical factors. Together with its forests and regional flora and fauna, Lam Dong offers distinctive scenery with many picturesque lakes, falls, hills and pine forests. Some of the natural scenic spots include Xuan Huong Lake, Dan Kia - Suoi Vang Lake, Tuyen Lam Lake, Lake of Sighs, Valley of Love, Da Nhim Lake, Camly Falls, Datanla Falls, Prenn Falls, Pongour Falls, Voi (Elephant) Falls, Ponguar Falls, Golf Hills, Lang Bian Mountain, etc.
Places of historical and cultural interest include some French style palaces, Linh Son Pagoda, Linh Phong Pagoda, Truc Lam Zen Monastery, Dalat Cathedral, Cat Tien archaeological site.
Dalat, capital of Lam Dong Province, exhales its own poetic and romantic charm. Situated at 1,500m above sea level, Dalat is often called ‘Eternal Spring’ City for its pleasantly warm temperatures during the day and quite cool at night, down to perhaps 10oC. The annual average temperature is 180C. Due to its favorable weather, Dalat is a supplier of temperate produce for all over Vietnam, for example, cabbage and cauliflower. Also, it has a nickname “City of Flowers”. Dalat looks like a cross between Vietnam and the French Alps. Many of its hotels and houses were built in a French style during the French colonization. There are many places for tourists interested in architecture to visit, such as Dalat Railway Station, designed by French architects Moncet and Reveron, or Hang Nga guest house, “Crazy house” which is also an interesting place to stay. Apart from architectural places of interest, Dalat also has lots of beautiful sites such as Xuan Huong Lake – center of town, Lake of Sorrow (Lake of Sighs) – 5km Northeast of town on Ho Xuan Huong Road, Valley of Love – Phu Dong Thien Vuong Street, Lang Biang Mountain – has a 1900m peak, ideal for a 3-hour hike, Prenn Falls – 10km outside the town, Pongour Falls – one of the largest and widest waterfalls in Vietnam, 30km south of town on highway 20, etc.
Lam Dong Province is homes of many ethnic groups such as Co Ho, Ma, Nung. Therefore there are distinctive festivals like Ma Festival, Co Ho – New Rice Ceremony, Buffalo – Stabbing Festival of the Co Ho ethnic group, Worship of the Source Spirit of the Ma ethnic group or Worship of the Water Spirit – the largest ceremony of the Chu Ru ethnic group.
Dalat is 110km from Phan Rang (Ninh Thuan), 200km from Buon Ma Thuot (Dak Lak), 205km from Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa), 293km from Ho Chi Minh City, and 1,481km from Hanoi.
Lien Khuong Airport is 30km south of Dalat. There are daily flights to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and two flights a week to Danang.
Reaching the top of Prenn Pass, the gate to downtown Da Lat, visitors can see the high bell tower of Nha Tho Chanh Toa Da Lat (the main church in Da Lat) in the distance.
However, the church on Tran Phu Street near the city’s post office is better known under the name of Nha Tho Con Ga (Rooster Church), because on the top of its bell tower sits the statue of a rooster.
Historical documents show that the church started out as a small chapel built by the French in 1920 and named Hic Domus Est Dei. Two years later it was rebuilt into a 26-metre-long, eight-metre-wide cathedral with a 16-metre-tall bell tower.
From July 1931 to January 1942 the church was enlarged again to turn it into the largest cathedral in Da Lat. Currently, it is 65 metres long and 14 metres wide and boasts a 47-metre-tall bell tower.
The bronze rooster statue on the top of the tower is 66 centimetres long and 58 centimetres tall. The rooster replaces the customary displays the cardinal points and is a favourite animal of the French.
The cathedral’s architecture also recalls the French influence and mimics European Catholic churches in the Middle Ages. It has 70 French-made stained glass windows which colour the sunlight falling through them.
The main door of the church, itself located on a hill, looks toward Langbian, the highest mountain in Da Lat.
Nha Tho Chanh Toa attracts not only churchgoers but also local and foreign tourists. Daily services start at 5:15am and 5:15pm on weekdays. On Sundays, the services are held at 5:15am, 7am, 8:30am, 4pm and 6pm.
Built in 1938 and located on a high hill some eight kilometres northwest of downtown Dalat, Domaine de Marie is a Catholic monastery for nuns.
The church bears the European architectural style of the 17th century. Its noteworthy feature is that it was built mainly with limestone and molasses.
Unlike many other churches, Domaine de Marie has no bell tower and its façade has triangular shapes decorated with small arches.
Beautiful designs line the main hall inside the church and the most salient point is a three-meter statue of the Virgin Mary standing on a one-ton globe.
Suzanne Humbert, wife of the then French governor in Indochina Jean Decoux, donated the statue. The nuns say Humbert used to visit Domaine de Marie and contributed to upgrading the church.
Unfortunately, in 1944 she died in a car accident on Prenn Pass while she was on her way to Da Lat to reconcile Queen Nam Phuong with Mong Diep, a concubine of Vietnam’s last monarch Bao Dai. Humbert was buried behind Domaine de Marie, according to direction in her will.
In spring Domaine de Marie seems to be even more beautiful as cherry blossoms planted around the church and along the road leading to it embellish the area with vivid colourful displays.
The hill, where the church is located, offers visitors a panoramic view of Da Lat.
Daily services at the church start at 5:15pm on weekdays and at 6am and 4:15pm on Sundays.