During April 2015, I hired a car/driver to take me from the beach town of Nha Trang (see my Nha Trang post) through the gorgeous south central highlands of Vietnam to the high-altitude city of Da Lat. Da Lat is only about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Nha Trang as the crow flies, but due to the winding mountain road the drive took 3.5 hours. It was 3.5 hours of sheer beauty — steep pine-covered mountains, cool air, tea plantations, coffee plantations, wildflowers, and alpine scent everywhere. Da Lat is often referred to as a cross between Vietnam and the French Alps. The landscape just outside of Da Lat is peppered with pretty guest houses and lakes and cafes and restaurants with gorgeous views of the city and surrounding landscapes.
The change in climate between Nha Trang and Da Lat was striking, being that they are only 60 miles apart (straight line that is). When I left Nha Trang, the temperature was a scorching and super humid 40 degrees C (100 degrees F), with nighttime lows of 90 degrees F. When I arrived in Da Lat, the temperature was a cool and dry 65 degrees F.
One reason that Da Lat is very popular is that it serves as an escape from the heat of the rest of Vietnam. The pace of life in Da Lat is much slower than all of the other many places that I visited in Vietnam. Interestingly, the climate of the Da Lat region is actually a temperate micro-climate located in the tropics. If you read my post about Jeju Island, South Korea, you know that Jeju Island is actually a subtropical micro-climate located in a temperate zone. Climate-wise, both places are opposites of sorts. So, it was interesting to be in Da Lat so soon after being on Jeju Island.
I stayed at the Beepub Guesthouse located in the city center of Da Lat. From the guesthouse, it was an easy walk to the central food market, and to the huge Xuan Huong Lake located in the city center next to the central market. Da Lat is built on hills, so many of the streets are steep and there are many staircases around Da Lat to allow you to walk across the city. Popular activities around Da Lat include scenic driving, hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and camping.
The high altitude landscape around Da Lat is very fertile. Fruits, vegetables, coffee, and flowers are grown there that are not found elsewhere in Vietnam. The city of Da Lat is chock full of excellent coffee shops and restaurants. And, in Vietnam, the city of Da Lat is often referred to as “The Little Paris.”
I hired a taxi to take me around Da Lat and the surrounding mountainous areas for two days. Both the urban and natural scenery is so striking that your head is constantly turning. I took most of my photos in five separate locations in and around Da Lat, and my five image galleries below are organized as such.
The Robin Hill area at the edge of Da Lat city provides panoramic views of Da Lat city and the surrounding area. At the top of Robin Hill is the Truc Lam Monestary.
The top of Langbiang Mountain, located in a rural area about 20 kilometers from Da Lat city, provides panoramic views of surrounding forest and farmlands. Jeeps are used to transport people to the top of the mountain to enjoy the views.
Downtown Da Lat is compact and located next to sizable Xuan Huong Lake. The expansive and central indoor/outdoor food market forms the epicenter of downtown Da Lat. I found the Da Lat food market to be the largest (aside from the Tokyo central fish market) and most interesting of any I have visited in Asia, and I make it a point to visit the central food market wherever I travel.
Again, the 3.5 hour drive from Nha Trang is a fantastically scenic drive. I highly recommend getting to Da Lat by driving there from the beach town of Nha Trang.
Below is a gallery of images that I captured while in the Da Lat area, included are: views from atop Robin Hill; views from atop Langbiang Mountain; photos of downtown Da Lat and Xuan Huong Lake; scenes from the Da Lat Central Food Market (the Cho); and scenes the Drive from Nha Trang to Da Lat.
For each photo gallery below, be sure to click on any photo to trigger a “lightbox” presentation of the the photo gallery — doing so really brings the photos to life.