My beloved Vietnam is a tropical monsoon country. I am living and working in Saigon. I kept accidentally inherently assumes that "the weather in Southern Vietnam is always hot!" There are only two seasons: the hot season and the hotter season. But I have changed my mind when I arrived in Da Lat!
This dream city is always the place to make you want to go here thousands of times if possible. You ask me "Why?". Because this city is so dear, so peaceful with early fog, with fresh nature, with classic homestays or lovely cafe houses. And it's also because of Dalat's will to change. You can never find the same version of this foggy city. Each time I came here, I saw another version of Da Lat.
Nowhere like in Dalat, nature has given here so many incentives including both climate and landscape. Those who have been here once will feel how the cool air likes. In the morning, when you woke up and stepped out, you would feel like you have just left the bed warm mattress and after that, someone has thrown you in a giant refrigerator. The refrigerator is not as dark as the normal things but bring you a sense of strange and freshness.
On the first day, the cold weather of Da Lat every morning makes me want to be lazy, I just want to wrap myself in a blanket to enjoy a little warmth more. Of course, I did not forget to poke my head out to breathe the pure air here! The air here is so great! Fill your chest with this air and you will find today a beautiful day. The morning chill brings you a noble but simple pure. If it was simply the cold, it's not cold enough. Because the cold comes from a remote and secluded place where there is no life of humans and plants, the cold only evokes a dull and dismal image in a lonely, boring atmosphere.
I kept hugging the blanket and talking with my friends while enjoying the hot tea/coffee. With the days of traveling that you can forget about anxiety like this, throwing all the alarm clock, all the deadline and just enjoy! Uhmmm... delicious hot coffee and lovely friend! What more do you need?
After breakfast, I started walking down the street even though the sun was already high (nearly noon). Dalat's street is small and winding. Surprisingly, I found that perhaps there is no traffic light here. But what surprised me most was the patience of the locals. Even at the time that all the cars from all the way to the crossroads, people also let the others go first. If there are many cars in the other direction, people automatically slow down or stop for a few seconds waiting for the other car and then go on. Therefore, even without signal lights, the traffic here is not disturbed, congested but still rhythmical in an interesting way. A local have told me that Dalat had many slopes. Stopping the red light on the halfway up the slope is difficult for the transportation. Well, Dalat is warm in such small things.
We decided to visit The St. Nicholas Cathedral - the largest Catholic church in the city with thousands of flowers with a towering bell tower. There are five masses every Sunday. The building was built as a Catholic parish by the French in 1931-1932 in an eclectic style Romanesque, but the interior was not completed until 1942. It replaces an old church built in 1917 with modifications in the chancel. All the details are perfectly matched to the original European architecture with strong, decisive lines, arched windows, and lacquered roof tiles. All create a harmonious architecture.
If talking about the classic, you can not ignore Da Lat. Dubbed as one of the oldest and most well-known railway stations in Indochina, it still retains a steam engine built in 1930. Here, I was able to take pictures with the train for nearly a century without any cost.
Da Lat railway station is a railway station on the Da Lat – Thap Cham Railway line in Vietnam, serving the town of Da Lat in Lâm Đồng Province. It was designed in 1932 by French architects Moncet and Reveron and opened in 1938. Largely unused since the abandonment of the railway during the later years of the Vietnam War, it was returned to a limited level of service in the 1990s with the reopening of a 7 km (4.3 mi) section of track leading to the nearby village of Trai Mat, operated as a tourist attraction. It is notable for its unique architectural style, which incorporates an overall Art Deco theme with elements of native Cao Nguyen communal houses from Vietnam's Central Highlands: it incorporates the high, pointed roofs characteristic of the Cao Nguyen communal buildings of ethnic minorities from Vietnam's Central Highlands. The three roofs said to represent the three peaks of Dalat's iconic Lang Biang mountain, are also reminiscent of Normandy's Trouville-Deauville Station.
Under each roof is a multicolored glass window, and under the central roof is a large clock, which has recently been restored. Inside the station, the elevated roofs create a raised ceiling. At the front of the station is a Porte-cochère, or coach gate, supported by two rows of twelve columns each. The station's unique design earned it recognition as a national historical monument in 2001.
I spent half day staying here, taking photos. It was really nice!
From the railway station, you can also take the train to Trai Mat. Then I visited Linh Phuoc Pagoda – a pretty pagoda in Dalat. What creates the uniqueness of Linh Phuoc pagoda is the millions of colorful porcelain pieces are clad throughout the walls in the traditional Vietnamese style.
Linh Phuoc Pagoda is considered a special architectural mosaic of Da Lat city. The 33 m long and 12-meter wide main hall features 2 rows of cobblestone mosaics. On top of it are many mosaic bas-reliefs featuring the history of Shakyamuni and the histories of the Lotus Sutras. Temple grounds (Hoa Long Vien) has a dragon length of 49 m, the dragon enclosure is made of 12,000 beer bottles, and the dragon mouth covers the Maitreya Buddha. In front of the temple grounds is a 37 m high seven-storeyed tower, which is considered the highest temple bell tower in Vietnam. In the heart of the Dai Hong Chung tower is a 4.3 m high bell that is considered the heaviest bell in Vietnam; it is also 2.33m wide, and weighs 8,500kg, and was cast in 1999. In front of the temple is Quan The Am. In addition, there is also a gem display, antique chinaware, and fine art furniture.
Because of this difference, the temple is also called "Ve Chai Pagoda". We spent almost 2 hours to fully enjoy the beauty of this temple.
We decided to end today with a mild romantic emotion. It is no coincidence that Xuan Huong Lake is considered to be the heart of Da Lat. At around 5:30 pm, the lake is like a huge mirror sparkling pink, nestled in the peaceful, reflected the charming city. I ran around the lake in a windy afternoon, making me feel like I was running between the early winter in Hanoi - cold and serene.
In the morning, Da Lat market sells vegetables, fruit, food as usual. At night, the market is more crowded. Despite the cold air of the mountain town at night, this place always possesses the bustle and vitality of a night market. The market starts at around 5 pm. All of the day-to-day booths changed their appearance and are replaced by nightly items.
At the night market, people buy souvenirs, woolen items, keep warm, especially the food from the snacks such as baked bread, boiled corn, soy milk to the dishes are enough for you to have a good walk and enjoy the gastronomy at night.
If you still see people walking in the streets at night, they are usually tourists. The Dalat people often go to bed very early. At about 9 pm, the street is empty. Everyone is walking back home to find a warm place. Maybe because of the cold weather, the people here never have to use air conditioning. It is hard to find a glass of iced tea in Da Lat. Instead, they will go to drink hot soy milk after each meal with their friends, their family... They usually said that: "Hey! Will we drink soy milk tonight at Dalat Market?" instead of saying this: “Care for a beer?". It sounds better! And I definitely love that healthy style of living!
Today, we go down the street in cold weather, to visit one of the famous Church in Da Lat - Domaine de Marie Church. The church was built in the style of Europe in the 17th century, with a harmonious combination of Western architecture with the architecture of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands. It is also called Mai Anh Church. The architecture of the church is quite unique. The church has a structure similar to the traditional house (in Vietnamese: Nhà Rông), the area behind is a beautiful and peaceful garden in the heart of the church. Domaine de Marie Church was built in 1930. In 1943 the church underwent a major restoration and looks like today. In general, the architecture of the Domaine de Marie church has a lot of innovations in comparison to the classical churches of the West. If you are a photography enthusiast, I think you should come here!
After taking classic photos of the church, we decided to visit another interesting place: Da Lat Sculpture Tunnel. This name may sound a bit strange to some people, but the Clay Tunnel, Clay Village ... is more familiar! This is a new and attractive tourist attraction in Dalat in recent years. Dalat Clay tunnel was built and built near Tuyen Lam Lake in 2010. It is about 2 km long, reproducing the entire development of Da Lat city. When starting to enter the gate, you will be able to admire the majestic natural scenery such as the elephant, monkeys, mountain, forests, Langbiang Mountain... this is considered the process of simulating the period wild Da Lat when it has not been explored yet. Deeper inside the destination are architectural works such as the College of Pedagogy, Da Lat Station, Con Ga Church, Vespa ... all these symbols are the lively evidence for the process of mining and the development of Da Lat city after Dr. Yersin found this land in 1893. Fortunately, today it does not rain. We have taken a lot of beautiful pictures.
Back in time, back to the roots, a little history with the visit Bao Dai Palace. In Da Lat, there are 3 chambers: Palace I, Palace II and Palace III. We drive 2km from Dalat city center to reach Palace III located on Trieu Viet Vuong Street. It is known that a few hundred years ago, this place is a green pine hill, higher than 1.500m in the Ái Ân Forest.
In the series of palaces of King Bao Dai spread across the country's scenery, perhaps Palace III (Dalat) is the most attached to King Bao Dai. This prompted me to come, learn and feel about the palace bearing the historical stamp of the "transition time”.
Step by step in the Palace III, the images of the past of the former Emperor Bao Dai, the Queen Nam Phương and the Prince or the princess appear as a memory, although in my subconscious, all that images have never been imprinted...
The campus of the Palace III gave me a light and relaxed feeling. It is perhaps because of the intricate blend of natural and man-made scenery: pine forest, flower gardens, ornamental plants, lakes, barren creepers, green grass crowded in the rocks on the small streets surrounding the mansion. What a peaceful and romantic painting!
Like the great Bao Dai Palace that I have been to, the Palace III has very European architecture. The main design of the mansion is the geometric shapes such as flat roofs, square pillars, semicircular roofs, semi-circular parking porch, steel rectangular windows. In addition, the structure outside the palace is also a harmonious combination of straight lines make the block and the gliders make the flexibility.
The outer and inner spaces are connected through extremely well-arranged walkways and glass windows are present in all rooms. This design makes anyone in the mansion also feel closer to nature and not stifling.
Step through the four-meter-wide main door is the waiting room. The history of the Palace III was recorded on a board hanging in this room. Fortunately, after reading the introduction of the Palace III, I was greeted by an enthusiastic guard telling stories around the palace: "At first, the palace was the summer resort of King Bao Dai's family. But then, the former royal family almost stayed here entirely. When there are great court rituals, they returned to Hue capital. During this time, he collected wine, was often partying, occasionally went to the Central Highlands to hunt!" - The security guide said.
Most of the furniture here is made of wood and arranged in a simple, close but very delicate. The office of King Bao Dai has historical values such as the emblem of the people, the royal seal of the Emperor, the stationery he used, the letters and flags of countries with diplomatic relations.
Visiting the ground floor, I walked up a wooden staircase carpeted red luxury to the upper floor of the mansion. The 1st floor is the King Bao Dai's bedroom and family, designed as subtle as the room on the ground floor. In addition to the bedrooms, this floor also has a relaxation room and Vong Nguyet Lau - where Bao Dai and his queen usually watched the moon, saw the flowers and admired the scenery of pine hill. The stairs are lined with wood and red carpet.
The images that make me full of emotions: moved, a little pity and regret. I'm moved by the thought that the pain of the emperor who loves his country but lost it. I felt pity for the glorious but woeful life of a beautiful queen of virtue. I was so sorry about a great prosperous feudal dynasty but destroyed…
Contrary to the very quiet emotions of yesterday, today we decided to have more intense emotions. I'm sure no one can miss the beautiful, majestic waterfalls of this green plateau. Datanla Waterfall attracts visitors with crystal clear water flowing through 7 Rocky Mountains and then pouring down large rocks, tossed white foam.
The center of 5km, located between the Prenn Pass, from the Highway 20 downhill for 300m is a small valley. We have caught a picture of a Datanla waterfall with a pristine and fascinating wilderness scenery.
Different from other fierce rapids, Datanla makes us love it from the beginning by the gentle romance. From above, the water flows down the stream gently, passing through the bumpy boulders flowing into the deep hole through the Death Abyss between the two steep cliffs before drifting downstream. It makes the landscape more spectacular. We walked down to get a better view of this waterfall. Along the way through the pine forest, our group split into two small groups. Three of us walked down about 200 steps to the next. While walking, we didn't forget to enjoy the natural scenery and enjoy the cool air in this mountain town! It will be great! Another route to explore Datanla waterfall is the slides running on the rail system (about 1,000m long). I and the rest decided to go this way. This is the way I have been looking forward to it! Wow! I cannot imagine! So excited! The feeling of sitting on the slide and 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... Gooooo! I'm flyinggggggg! We were swooping down to Datanla waterfall. This slide system has contributed to increase the tourist attraction especially young people when visiting this place, while also reducing the time to the waterfall is only about 2 minutes instead of 10 - 15 minutes’ walk. In particular, each slide can carry 2 people. The car has a sensor brake system to adjust the speed (up to 40km / h). It was this amazing brakes that helped us catch the very beautiful natural shoots. Remember that your camera must be water resistant, you must hold it tight and pay attention to your safe! This slide helped us not only feel the full beauty of the scenery but also have the experience with a bit of adventure while sitting on the runway winding around the mountainside and "smell" the taste of the mountain's breath mixed with the pure water of Datanla waterfall. In addition, you can also try the Death Abyss cable car or the thrilling games such as cliff climbing, forest jungle, climbing rope... If you are a fan of the adventure tour, you should visit here soon and experience. Explore Datanla, I suddenly think about the scenic as Khe Cai, Khe Lim, Suoi Tien... the place is still considered the famous scenery of Quang Nam. For those who have the opportunity to Da Lat, Datanla waterfall is a place that you should not miss. Come to conquer and feel the magic that nature has given us.
Dalat is a special urban phenomenon, a mixture of a very authentic European urban in the mountains of the tropical highlands. This particularity is not only reflected in the architecture of the works, transportation system, natural scenery, natural weather but also the lifestyle of residents here. Da Lat is a little, tiny town, but charming. Each time I come here, it brings a new feeling: warm, peaceful but interesting and worthwhile.