Dalat, Vietnam

Area Code 071, $1=16,200D, July7, 2007

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Dalat has a long history of being an internal get-away for the residents of Vietnam. It is situated in the mountains, surrounded by valleys, lakes, and waterfalls. The scenery and the cool climate led the French to establish this city in the early 1900s. Today the Vietnamese use it as their retreat, making it the most popular honeymoon spot in the country, but it's also become a stop on the foreign tourist trail. The main sights in the area are well maintained and are being built up even further.  Like many cities in Asia, it wants to be known as a "Paris of the East".  To that end, it's building a scaled-down replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Dalat is also famous for its agriculture. Coffee, flowers, and strawberries are grown here.

Datat is very popular destination for Vietnamese from HCM City. During holiday seasons and weekends, it is full of locals.

Dry Season: Nov-Apr  Wet Season: May-Oct


i Tourist Office : Dalat tourist
Not useful, poor information service. Better info from hotel staff.
$1 Industrial & Commercial Bank: 46-48 Hoa Binh, next to Anh Dao Hotel M-Sa 7:00-11:00,13:00-16:30
$2 Agri Bank: 9 Nguyen Van Troi
Next to Industrial & Commercial Bank
$3 Agri Bank: 36 Khu Hoa Binh
P Police Office: 2 Hai Thuong T822098
H Lamdong General Hospital:4 Pham Ngoc Thach T822155
M0 Post Office GPO: 14-16 Tran Phu, in front of Novotel Hotel. T822347 7:00-21:00
DHL. Postcards for overseas may cost more here.
M2 Post Office: 178 P.D.P.St. Sending postcards for overseas may be cheaper here.
M1 Telephone Office: in GPO. Int'l phone call. Fax.
@ Internet 94 Truong Cong Dinh, Near Art Cafe
rb Rent a bike: at Hardy Dalat(ta3): mountain bike 30,000VD

Accommodation
h1 Gold Hotel 3: #4 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai T826042, a/c ab HW CTV fr d$45(HS $100) C5 bf Beautiful high class hotel Buffet dinner FSa 17-20:00, 79,000VD Sky lounge on the top floor.
h2 Khach San Ngoc Lan: 42 Nguyen Chit Thanh T822136, http://www.ngoclanhotel.vn, a/c ab HW CTV fr s$65 d$75(HS s$99 d$109) C5 bf buffet dinner Sa Su 17:30-20:30
h3 Lam Son Hotel: #5 Hai Thuong, T06-822362, lamsonhotel@hcm.vnn.vn, f ab HW TV(L) d$5 C3 large clean rooms
h4 Pacific Hotel(Hanh Cafe): #9 Buithi Xuan, T824725, f ab HW TV(L) d$6-7, C4 large rooms
h5 Hoa Binh 2 Hotel(Peace 2): #67 Trung Cong Dinh T831823, f ab HW TV(L) d$6 C4 large rooms
h6 Peace Hotel: 64-57 Troung Cong Dinh, T822787, f ab HW TV(L) d$7 C4 huge rooms
h7 Hotel Chi: Lob 7 - Duong 3/2 T511159, a/c ab HW CTV fr d$10 C4 very nice huge rooms.

Restaurant

r1 Dong A: 82 Phan Dinh Phung, meal 30,000+ recommended by Lonely Planet
r2 Art Cafe: 70 Trung Cong Binh next to h6 meal 40,000+, recommended by LP and Rough Guide
h1 Gold Hotel 3: #4 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai T826042, Beautiful high class hotel Buffet dinner FSa 17-20:00, 79,000VD Sky lounge on the top floor.
h2 Khach San Ngoc Lan: 42 Nguyen Chit Thanh T822136, http://www.ngoclanhotel.vn, buffet dinner Sa Su 17:30-20:30, 75,000VD

Transport

B Tourist Bus:
To HCM $5, Muine $5, Nhatrang $4
ta1 Sinh Cafe(Trung Cang Hotel): 4A Bui Thi Xuan, T822663 Bus to HCMC dep 7:30, To Nha Trang dep7:30
ta2 Hanh Cafe(Pacific Hotel): #9 Buithi Xuan, T824725/510639
Dalat -> Saigon dep7:30, 7.5hrs
Dalat -> Muine dep7:30, 6.5hrs
Dalat -> Nha Trang dep7:30, 6.0hrs
ta3 Hardy Dalat Adventure Sports: 57 Truong Cong Dinh Street. T836840, http://www.hardyadventuretours.net
Rent mountain bike 30,000VD
Day Tours,
$10+, Day trekking $10+, canyong, house riding, mountain bike tours, etc.
ta4 TM Brothers Cafe: 58 Truong Cong Dinh Street. T838383 tmbrother_dalat@yahoo.com

Sight (Old data)
S1 Xuan Huong lake: An artificial lake (created by a dam) that more or less marks the town. Currently it is drained of all water, making the space look a bit ridiculous, but when full would make a nice place to walk or bike around (5km). The Thanh Thuy Restaurant used to rent bird-shaped peddle boats, and presumably will again. Use the lake as a landmark when navigating Dalat's confusing streets.
Dinh Toan Quyen: The residence of the old French Governor-General. Now used as a hotel (grab a room with a balcony for about $50), and a tourist attraction (come see how the other half lived). The style is more modern than French Colonial. Entry fee: 10,000D 7:00-18:00
Dinh Bao Dai: The former summer residence of emperor Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam. He left the throne, handing power over to Ho Chi Minh, in 1945. A 25-room villa dating from 1933 (same year at the Governor-General's residence, above), filled with personal and official effects. The living quarters upstairs are also open. The villa is located on top of a hill in a pine grove, very quiet. Entry fee: 10,000D 7:00-20:00
S2 Cho Da Lat (market): Town center. Rec
Famous for flowers, fruits, and the local strawberry jam. 1F and stalls around the market are mainly for food. Clothes and tribal handicrafts at 2F. Many vendors are from minority tribes; pick up some handiwork here. At night, this is the place to hang.
S3 Nha tho Lon Cathedral: Tran Phu St. East side of Novotel Hotel. Evening Mass service.
Usually not open to the public.
S4 Linh Son Temple: Center of Dalat Buddhism. A calm atmosphere. Houses a Sitting Big Buddha. Monks with unique hair-styles will show you around on request. Free Rec
S5 Dalat University: On the hill, 1.5 km N of the town. Open to visitors. One of the most famous universities in Vietnam for its many graduate scientists. It has a beautiful campus. Great views of the entire city from the hill-side.
Free (Bicycle parking fee 1,000D) Rec
S6 Vuon Hoa Thanh Pho (flower gardens): North side of Xuan Huong Lake. Botanical gardens with subtropical plants; some European and rare kinds of flowers. Somewhat run-down. On the west side are several sad caged monkeys.
Entry fee: 8,000D 7:00-18:00
S7 Vuon Hoa Minh Tam (garden): Front porch of Minh Tam Hotel. 8,000D
S9 Cam Ly Falls: 2km west from the city. Small but popular waterfall. Not recommended during dry season, as the water level is low and it is polluted from the nearby houses.

Outside the city
 

This is the reason to visit Dalat. The nature around the city is beautiful. It's possible to visit lakes, waterfalls and forests.
Mountain climbing, hiking and camping are popular activities. Some places charge an entrance fee.

Dalat tourist will push a guided one-day bus tour of six or seven of these sights. The price is very cheap ($6-7) but you will be on a cramped mini-bus all day with other tourists. It's possible to rent a motorbike and do these on your own. There are claims that visitors need a permit from the authorities to visit some places, but the locals will tell you not to worry about it.

Get a good map if you set out on your own.

Valley of Love (Ho Da Thien, Thung Lung Tinh Yeu): 5km NE from the city. Man-made dark green colored lake. Disney-like atmosphere, with people dressed in costumes. Boats and horses for hire. Propose to your loved one here. Entry fee: 5,000D
Lake of Sighs (Ho Than Tho): 6km NE of the city. If your loved one won't have you, come here and sigh about it. Another lake, though not as pretty nor as built-up as the Valley of Love. Horses for hire.
Lang Bian Mountain: 12km N from Dalat. 2163m Trekking, para-gliding, etc. Serious hike to the top, but great views.
Lat Village: A collection of several small communities at the foot of Lang Bian mountain. Home of the minority Lat people (from where Dalat takes its name), and a few others. Tour buses run here, but still it's an isolated place
Prenn Falls: 10km S from the city. Entrance near the Prenn restaurant. Very wide waterfall, looks like a white curtain. Even during dry season it has a lot of water. You can walk under the falls. The area around it is good for hiking or riding. 10,000D
Quang Trung Reservoir (also known as Tuyen Lam Lake): 5km S from the city. Another human-created lake being built up for tourism. Boats for rent. Many minority people live near the lake.
Datanla Falls: 5km from the city, next to Quang Trung. Full of water even during the dry season. There is a short and very nice hike through the rain forest to get there. 6,000D
Truc Lam Pagoda: Views down over lake Tuyen Tam. Zen temple made by Vietnamese Zen priests in 1993.
Chicken Minorities Village:
18km S from town. Home of the Koho people and a huge concrete chicken statue of unknown origin. Great example of a small, quiet, friendly minority village, but becoming increasingly popular with tourists.
Hang Nha Guesthouse (Crazy house): Very unique hotel and outdoor art gallery. Well-suited nickname. Alice in Wonderland-type setting. Try to find Hang Nha (the owner and creator) and ask her to see a few of the rooms. Also, don't overlook the lobby in the main house, a French Colonial jewel that features original photos of Ho Chi Minh. 4,000D
Domaine de Marie Convent: 6 Ngo Quyen Street, on a hilltop just NW of town. Very peaceful church. Beautiful flowers in the court yard.
Lam Ty Ni Pagoda: 2 Thien My Street, just SW of town, near Bao Dai's residence. Visit Vien Thuc, the one resident monk here, and chat up a storm. Forget the pagoda, just see the monk's zen garden and art gallery.   He has hundreds of scrolls and paintings, all available, for a price.

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