Dalat & Central Highlands
Dalat is located on a verdant plateau containing pine forests and lakes 300 kilometres northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. At 1,500 meters above sea level, Dalat's cool climate provides a pleasant respite from the heat and humidity of the lowlands and for this reason the French developed it into a summer retreat in the early 1900's. Dalat's colonial influences can still be seen in its cathedral and some of the 2,000 French villas which dot the town. The town has a relaxed atmosphere and is very popular with Vietnamese holiday makers, especially honeymooners. Ana Mandara Villas Dalat Resort & Spa, an award winning resort and spa, is located in the central highlands of Vietnam, within lush rolling hills. This unique destination offers a peaceful haven away from the stresses of city life. Sofitel Dalat Palace Hotel is one of the most beautiful remaining historical hotels in Southeast Asia. Built in 1920 and meticulously restored to its original grandeur in 1995, the hotel provides individualized service and a level of comfort and hospitality increasingly rare in the modern world. The Mercure Dalat Hotel Du Parc is located adjacent to the Sofitel. Built in 1932 and named Du Parc Hotel, it has been painstakingly restored to it former glory in French colonial style in 1997. Special emphasis to preserve and enhance its rich history resulted in a "new" hotel in a splendor and ambiance of a bygone era.
Buon Ma Thuot is home to several intriguing and untouched minority villages. Ethnic people from the M'nong and Edeh tribes live on the shores of Lake Lak, a large natural lake formed by converging rivers and streams. Visitors can visit the villages by canoe where they can ride elephants through tropical rain forests. This area also famous for its rich aromatic coffee.
Kontum, a small and peaceful highland town by the Dakbla River, is a vergin land with pristine nature and intact hill-tribe culture. Surrounded by lakes, rivers and mountains, Kontum is home to distinctive hill tribes such as the Bahnar, the J’rai and the Sedang. As the first settlement discovered by French missionaries in the central highlands in 1848, the town still retains vestiges of ancient cathedral architecture.
Dalat – Attractions
The gingerbread-style Dalat Cathedral was built between 1931 and 1942 for use by French residents and holiday-makers. The cross on the spire is topped by a weathercock, 47m above the ground. The church itself is rarely open outside of mass times.
Dalat's temperate climate makes it ideal for vegetable and flower cultivation. The centrally located morning market is the perfect place to view some of the exotic species of orchids, fruits and vegetables grown in the region. Ethnic minorities from the surrounding villages also attend the market to sell handicrafts and textiles.
Xuan Huong Lake
This man-made lake dominates the town – Dalat is built on the slopes rising from its shores. Although you can take a paddle boat on its calm waters, the best way to see it is to stroll along the 7km sealed path that encircles it.
This 10 meter high waterfall roars through the forest 13 km south of Dalat. Bridges near the falls allow for close up views and the chance to feel the mist spraying up from the falls. It’s even possible to walk underneath them.
Bao Dai's Summer Villa
Built in 1933, the 25-room villa was Emperor Bao Dai’s midsummer retreat and hunting lodge. The art-deco interior still looks much as it did early in the 1930s and provides an interesting insight in to Vietnam’s last royal family.
Truc Lam Buddhist Monastery
This tranquil and newly-built monastery is located in a forest above serene Tuyen Lam Lake. The monastery has a landscaped garden and small museum of Buddhist artifacts.
The railway is a reminiscent property of Dalat which is located 500m on the east side of Huong Lake.
Old local locomotives including a Japanese steam train are displayed for tourists and railway enthusiasts.