Hidden away in the Central Highlands, Dalat plays the cooler cousin to Vietnam's seaside destinations. Famous for its countryside charm, Dalat draws couples, outdoor enthusiasts, and golf enthusiasts alike. This mountain resort town was once a summer getaway for the French, who left their mark in European-inspired architecture and manicured, rolling lawns. Dalat's main lake is the centre of the action, but countless treasures await in the hills as well.
Trong Dong Restaurant is a local eatery along Phan Dinh Phung Street, about a 15-minute walk from Da Lat Market. The decor is nothing to write home about - however, while simple plaid tablecloths hang off the dining tables, and generic paintings hang on the walls, it’s the food that makes the experience memorable. Nonetheless, the low-key atmosphere is calm and welcoming. Its staff are warm and hospitable, making the dining experience all the more pleasurable at this family-run restaurant.
Artist Alley Restaurant is one of the most popular eateries in Da Lat and makes for a great place to enjoy live music while dining in a cosy atmosphere. The moderately-priced menu focuses on French and Vietnamese cuisines. Living up to its name, there are unique paintings hanging throughout Artist Alley Restaurant, lining each and every wall, which were all painted by the owner.
The Escape Bar Da Lat is one of the best places to enjoy fancy cocktails and live music during your stay in Da Lat. From country and blues, to rock & roll and reggae, this 1970s-style bar is located at the basement of Muong Thanh Dalat Hotel, about a five-minute walk from Xuan Hong Lake. The bar’s decor fits the music, as the overarching vibe is 1970s chic. The walls feature creative paintings of deceased music and film legends. The lounge area in front of the stage features comfortable cushioned chairs for relaxing and taking in the tunes from local and international artists while sipping one of the bar’s fancy cocktails.
Da Lat Night Market offers what seems like an endless number of food stalls, which spill into the streets around Nguyen Thi Minh Khai. Offering many local favourites at affordable prices, some of the most popular ones include traditional rice noodles, banh mi, Vietnamese pizza (grilled rice paper with a variety of topping), and finish it off with fresh soy milk. The market attracts many people during the evening - some for the food, some for the atmosphere, and some to perform or to watch street performers. Hip-hop dancing, roller skating, and jainzi (shuttlecock kicking that’s like badminton with your feet) all happen in the market’s open spaces. Though freshly-cooked food is the focus of the night market, other items, including textiles, traditional clothes, flowers, and fresh produce are all available as well.
The Valley of Love is a picturesque valley of rolling hills with a lake as its centrepiece, serving as a romantic getaway for locals and tourists. The French originally named the area Vallée D’amour (The Valley of Love) in 1930, due to its tranquil setting and greenery. The name was changed to The Valley of Peace under the reign of King Bao Dai, and in 1953 was changed once again to its current name, The Valley of Love or Thung Lung Tinh Yeu.
Linh Phuoc Pagoda is a beautiful Buddhist shrine in Da Lat, every surface of which is covered in stunning mosaics. Completed in 1952, the pagoda is often referred to as the pagoda of broken glass due to the 49-metre-long dragon’s head at the entrance gate, which was meticulously pieced together from 12,000 glass bottles. The main hall consists of two rows of cobblestone mosaics and there are also many intricate mosaic bas-reliefs featuring the histories of the Lotus Sutras and of Shakyamuni. The walls, ceilings and structures of mythical creatures are all inlaid with thousands upon thousands of small pieces of broken terracotta, porcelain, and glass. In front of Linh Phuoc Pagoda stands a 37-metre-high bell tower that’s considered to be the highest in Da Lat.
Elephant Falls (That Voi) are aptly named after a giant rock that is supposed to resemble the head of an elephant. The falls are located in a valley at the bottom of a scenic mountain pass outside of Nam Ban village, about 30 kilometres from Da Lat’s city centre. Getting there is pretty straightforward. Every 40 minutes between 06:00 to 18:00, local buses leave Da Lat for Nam Ban, which takes just over 30 minutes and costs VND 20,000 each way. The falls are impressive because you can get up close and personal to their thunderous flow, which is a delight for all the senses.
Dalat Market is Dalat’s central food market and home to a hubof daily activity, asvendors buy and sell a variety of fruit, vegetables, wine, and other goods. Built in 1960, it is made upof more than 1,000 shops in a few multi-storey buildings. The market also specialisesin fresh Vietnamese delights. Be sure to buy some local strawberries while you’re here. Head upto the upper level of the market to find warm, fresh, and cheapmeals. Most vendors are respectful, allowing you to view items at your leisure. Be sure tobargain asit’s all part of the fun of shopping inDaLat Market, butdoso fairly. Many vendors sell similar products, so take a long walk around the market before deciding onwhat you’d like to buy.
The Da Lat Flower Gardens house an extensive collection of native and exotic flowers, and for this reason, Da Lat is dubbed “the city of flowers” in Vietnam. Founded in 1966, the gardens feature more than 300 different kinds of flowers, many of which blossom all year round. Visitors can explore a variety of different gardens, including a giant cactus garden, fields of orchids, and rose, mimosa, and hydrangea displays. There are also finely-trimmed topiary displays found throughout the park. The park entrance greets visitors with an arc-shaped flower arrangement featuring hundreds of impressive flowerpots.
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