Head into the cool highlands of Dalat, summer retreat of the colonial French, travelling through great plantations of coffee and tea up to the pine forests of the Central Highlands. Admire the fading architecture of another era, then get stuck into the outdoor activities Dalat now offers visitors. “Cool air, pine forests and European architecture make Dalat feel like a different country. Get up early and visit the market at first light and you soon remember you’re in Vietnam, not the Alps!”
For those wishing to explore more of Vietnam’s colonial heritage we recommend following the lead of the French, and heading upcountry from the hot and humid lowlands to the cool of the colonial summer retreat at Dalat, in the heart of the Central Highlands. Located at 1,500m above sea level on the Langbiang Plateau, Dalat was selected by the Indochine administration as a resort for relaxation and recuperation, with the first hotel opening its doors in 1907. Over the following years substantial numbers of colonial villas were built, many remaining today dotted throughout the pine forests.
The heart of Dalat is the Central Market, which adopts a new persona at different times of day. At night traffic is restricted around both lower and upper market squares, and the town throngs with vendors of street-food (barbecued meats are particularly popular here), clothes and toys. From the early morning the lower market transforms into an enormous bustling fresh food market, with all kinds of fruit and vegetables on sale, including those that only grow around the high-altitude Dalat area.
The countryside surrounding Dalat is a combination of attractive forested hills that hide impressive waterfalls, and the agriculture that makes the most of the unique climate. At night the hills are aglow with the warming lamps of the flower growers, who provide flowers for the markets all over Vietnam.
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.
Tourists arriving in Dalat can enjoy the atmosphere of Vietnamese markets by visiting Dalat market, which is full of local specialties such as strawberry jam, dried fruits, avocado, artichoke.?