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Đà Lạt Travel Guide

About

As opposed to other Vietnamese cities, Đà Lạt is situated 1,500m above sea level, making it not only a popular tourist destination, but a uniquely beautiful one. The origin of Đà Lạt's name is certain: some sources state it derives from a Latin acronym that means "It Gives Pleasure to Some, Freshness to Others", while others agree that it comes from the ethnic Lạt living in the area, with the city's name originally meaning "Stream of the Lạt". Since the 1890s, Đà Lạt's discovery by French explorers led it to function as an oasis for travellers escaping the heat of lower coastal areas, with a resort centre for European colonists being built in 1907 under the proposal of Alexandre Yersin, protégé to the noted French chemist Loius Pasteur. Till today, the Swiss charm from French-endowed villas and boulevards remain in Đà Lạt, paying homage to its timeless heritage and modernity. Đà Lạt is also something of a "garden city", with the famous Đà Lạt Flower Festival celebrating and promoting local floriculture, as well as some of its main exports being artichoke tea and coffee. In addition, one of its more unconventional gems is the Hằng Nga Guesthouse or "Crazy House", a bizaare banyan tree-looking structure completed by Vietnamese architect Đặng Việt Nga in 1990. Originally a personal project, the house was finished and endorsed by the Hanoi government after much peservance on Việt Nga's part of personal funding and opening it up to tourist visitations and lodging. In some ways, this strange attraction reflects Đà Lạt's history and existence: surviving war and other tragedies to become this strangely mixed country of Art Deco buildings and sleek glass skyscrapersa.

Local Custom & Slang

Festivities

  • One of Đà Lạt's more famous cultural festivals that takes place in the city itself and some parts of the Lam Dong province, the Đà Lạt Flower Festival serves the purpose to both exhibit Đà Lạt's extensive collection of flowers, vegetables and other ornamental plants to attracts vistors and stimulate economic development, but to also honor the value of the flowers itself and the hard work poured into floriculture. Those who love the stunning natural display of flowers in Sapporo and other countries with similar festivals, be sure to make this a must-see stop during your trip in Đà Lạt, which happens between every end December to early January of the year.

Color Me Informed

  • Just like every other culture, Vietnamese culture has specific meanings linked to specific colors, so do be aware of the appropriateness of each one: Red presenting luck and wealth very much parallel to the Chinese, green to signify a new beginning and rebirth, while black is usually associated with bad luck and death.

Table Etiquette

  • Besides knowing the proper techniques of using chopsticks and where to and not to put them during meals, one essential phrase you can drop to impress your Vietnamese friends the next time they invite you for a meal togther is "Chuc moi nguoi an ngon mieng". While this direct translates to "bon appetit", the context is much heavier, especially the respect it conveys to any older Vietnamese who happens to be at the table, telling them to "have a nice meal".

Phrases for eating

  • May I have the menu please: Cho toi cai menu duoc khong (Cho toy khai menu duuc khom)
  • What is this?: Cai gi vay? (kai zi vai)
  • I am allergic to peanuts: To di ung voi dau phong (Doi yi ung voy dau fong)
  • I cannot eat pork: Toi khong an duoc thit heo (Toi khom an duo tit hehll)
  • I am vegetarian: Toi an chay (Toi an chayh)
  • I would like to have this: Cho toi cai nay (Chor toi kah nai)
  • May I have the bill please: Tinh tien (Din ting)

Phrases for shopping

  • How much (is this?): Bao nhieu? (baow nyew)

  • Could you reduce the price?: Giam gia duoc khong? (zam za duoc khom)

  • Is this for sale?: Co ban khong? (cor ban kohm?)

  • It's too expensive: Mac qua (mac wa)

  • You are very beautiful: Em dep qua (Em dep wah)

  • You are very handsome: Anh dep trai qua (Anh dep wah)

  • a cheeky but effective tip is to ask the price from a Vietnamese seller then compliment them. The Vietnamese love it when visitors do this, and you would almost every time score much more affordable prices after pulling this tactic.

Trip Essentials

  • Weather
  • Currency
  • Visa
  • Electricity
  • Đà Lạt's climate is split into two seasons; the first one being the "hot" ot dry season. This occurs between November and March, with temperatures ranging from 30°C to 32°C and May being the hottest month.

  • On the other hand, the "cold" or the dry season of Đà Lạt is between the months of November and March, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 23°C and January being the coldest month.

  • That being said, most of Đà Lạt is located on hilltops, meaning the region enjoys a relatively cool and mild climate throughout the year, making it a popular destination for both local and foreign tourists seeking an escape during long weekends.

  • Another optimum time to visit Đà Lạt is between December and March, where its famous flower gardens are in full bloom. This is when the city's biannual flower festival is held. In addition, temperatures between these months are perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming and cycling.

Transportation

By Bicycle Rental

  • Đà Lạt's cool weather and relatively open roads with many precautionary measures such as safety barricades and fences to make sure that pedestrians have their own paths to take without having to cross the road dangerously. Most locals cycle instead of drive, they themselves can be living proof to the convenience and comfort of this mode of transport in Đà Lạt.

  • Prices of bicycle rental can vary according to the type of bicycle you choose, but rates can begin from 30,000 VND.

By Motorcycle Rental

  • Another mode of transport that would be equal parts thrilling and cool traversing the hilly terrain of Đà Lạt would be the humble motorcycle. There are numerous motorcycle rental agencies to choose from in Đà Lạt, but all require a valid license and insurance before they hand you the keys. Do remember to perform the cursory check for malfunctions and wear and tear before taking it for a spin.

  • Rental rates start from 120,000 VND to 160,000 VND, but can also vary depending on extra charges like insurance, equipment and the bike model.

By Taxi

  • This is the most convenient alternative to travelling around Đà Lạt if you do not wish to cycle and do not possess a motorcycle license. You can arrange for one to pick your from the airport through your hotel of choice, or simply hail one from the airport pickup points itself. While numerous colored cabs can be found in Đà Lạt, the most trustworthy one is the Mai Linh company, which can be distinguished from a green livery against a white background. Choose these cabs to ensure a fair price and speedy journey; a much better transport choice should you require your driver to speak English.

  • Local Operator: Mai Linh Taxi

  • The basic fare can began from 5,000 VND, while flat rates for airport/hotel transfers can cost anything from 200,000 VND to 500,000 VND.

By Bus

  • Most bus services found in Đà Lạt are for travelling to other cities outside Đà Lạt itself. Bus is also another cost-friendly and popular way of arriving in Đà Lạt, with the bulk of travellers coming from Nha Trang. Beginning from Nha Trang Phuong Trang Bus Station, the total journey can start from 3 to 4 hours, with a 30-minute breakfast and toilet stop just an hour out of Nha Trang. Shop around between the various travel agencies available in Đà Lạt to get the best deal.

  • Prices can vary between distance, starting point and bus agency; but the basic rate is usually 145,000 VND.

By Car Rental

  • If you are travelling in a group and the schedule permits, you may consider renting a car to get around and out of Đà Lạt. As opposed to most other car rental agencies that simply rents you the vehicle, renting one in Đà Lạt comes with an English-speaking local driver that not only can ensure a safe journey, but also visiting many secret spots only locals would know about. The arrival hall of Đà Lạt International Airport itself houses many car rental agencies, just be sure you have a valid driver's license and accident insurance before choosing this mode of transport. Alternatively, you can book one fromn your hotel reception.

  • Rental rates can begin from 924,000 VND to 1,115,000 VND for a spacious seven-seater off-roader. Consult with the agency about the make and type of car you choose to rent.

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