Pic: Sunset in Dalat
Dalat is a small hilly town in southern Vietnam. As a relatively serene and calm Vietnamese city, it has a lot to offer visitors who are looking for a more relaxed pace of travel.
With the centre of town being focused on a large lake, Dalat is an outdoor lover’s dream come true. Add to that an all year round cool climate and it becomes a perfect getaway from an otherwise chaotic tourist trail along the tropical east and south coast.
Pic: Xuan Huong Lake in centre of Dalat
This little town is home to many cafés, bars and restaurants with patios. The food variations offered are absolutely amazing. Pretty much every restaurant/cafe is vegetarian/vegan friendly and gives you an option to customise your dishes. In fact, owing to several Yoga centres and other traditional practices, vegetarianism is very common here. There are, in fact, full-scale vegetarian only restaurants in the city as well.
Just like the rest of Vietnam, Dalat’s streets are buzzing with vendors selling food, handicrafts, knick knacks and other every day items from their fixed stalls on side of the road or a quirky mobile version attached to a motorbike.
Pic: Mobile shops like this are a common sight in Dalat
Speaking of motorbikes, it’s not uncommon to see tourists and locals riding around on bicycles – sometimes tandem ones. It’s a refreshing sight when compared with the chaotic bike/scooter culture around much of Vietnam. There are lots of people enjoying outdoor activities, strolling around the lake, fishing or just enjoying a picnic in the park. No doubt, Dalat is top choice for many domestic visitors as well.
Dalat was a large centre of French colonialism and features a number of fantastic throwbacks to the time when the French still ruled this region. Streets lined with restored French colonial architecture is one of the highlights to a trip here, and for good reason. These old historic buildings give the city an overall charming vibe that is welcoming and ties in well with the history of much of South East Asia as a whole.
Pic: Sunrise from my Airbnb room
For my time in Dalat, I chose to stay with a local host couple through AirBnb. It was a bit away from the city centre and therefore, offered gorgeous views of the valley. There are, however, many hotels and hostels throughout Dalat for a range of budgets.
All in all, it’s a fantastic place and I highly recommend Dalat, if you feel like a break from the coastal route.
Richa Gupta is based in Mumbai, is an avid traveller and also passionate about writing and encouraging responsible and alternative travel ideas. After having worked in the fashion industry for over six years, she decided to quit and started with a little not-for-profit initiative to help people with travels which not only help support local culture, economy and environment but also offer life changing experiences. Her work and blog can be found at http://travels-and-stories.blogspot.in