The guides they selected were very good and, in three cases (Seoul, Hoi An/Hue, and Angkor Wat) simply outstanding.
The capital of Lam Dong province, Dalat is located in Vietnam's south-central highlands, just under 200 miles from Ho Chi Minh city. Pleasantly sized, it's as easy to get around as it is on the eye. Remnants of the French colonization remain; favoring the city's cooler climates, the French built their holiday chalets and villas here, giving Dalat a charming alpine feel that is only emphasized by the pine forests at its edges. Known as "Petit Paris", it's less frenetic than its namesake; the friendly and welcoming urban center has a calm, slow pace and soon gives way to the lakes and rolling green hills with which it is surrounded, a backdrop of misty mountains in the background.
Visitors to Dalat - glad of the respite from the rest of the country's heat - will enjoy its pretty streets, quaint shops and excellent food, spanning the gamut from European to Asian. Activities and day trip options are many and varied, from a round of golf on a royal course, to an afternoon boating on the lake, or exploring the city's architectural wonders, there's something to suit all tastes.
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Dalat is home to a number of world-class golfing destinations and perhaps the grandest and most famous is Dalat Palace Golf Club, built in 1922 for the last emperor of Vietnam Bao Dai to practice his swing. The views are gorgeous and the cafe serves a range of delicious fare.
Xuan Huong Lake
A focal point of the city, the lake is a draw for visitors and locals alike. At just over three miles in diameter, it’s peaceful even at peak season and many of the best hotels and even the palace overlook it. The lake is the perfect spot for a romantic stroll or picnic, while boats are available for hire.
Hằng Nga guesthouse is more commonly known as Crazy House, owing to its fantastical design. Architect Dang Viet Nga was inspired by Gaudi in her design of this wacky building that resembles something from the imagination of Dr Seuss.
Thien Vien Truc Lam Monastery
Visitors take the cable car to the peaceful peak, where the monastery overlooks the city and the surrounding countryside. Set in beautiful gardens full of wildlife both real and in topiary form, the monastery is the perfect place for a long walk or relaxing afternoon.
For a little local action or to pick up some bargains, happy shoppers join the clamor of the city market. Here the traders come to ply their wares including souvenirs and edible specialities from the surrounding areas; fruit conserves, avocados and artichokes are among the favorites.
French-Asian fusion is a rare cultural find but comes to life in charming Dalat. Be a coffee connoisseur as you sample what has been named the world’s best coffee. This 8-day luxurious Vietnam vacation takes you through both historical fortresses and stunning natural sites such as the Dray Nur Waterfalls and Dray Sap.
Take an exhilarating 15-day luxury bike journey through Vietnam’s beautiful countryside and along its stunning coastline. You’ll travel up the coast from Saigon, stopping along the way for private boat trips, sightseeing, shopping at local markets, and to rest your head in some of the country’s most luxury hotels.
Ana Mandara Villas Dalat
Just five minutes’ drive from Dalat’s pretty city center, Ana Mandara Villas is an alpine sanctuary, in lush green gardens, nestled in the rolling hills overlooking the colonial town. The resort’s 17 restored French villas blend elegant, old-world charm with modern comfort. The beautiful rooms and suites are decked out like alpine cabins with warm wooden cladding and flourishes such as teak ceiling fans and open log fires, to create a cozy atmosphere in which to completely relax. The menu at Le Petit Dalat Restaurant spans continents with dishes drawing from Vietnam’s rich culinary heritage as well as Japan and Europe. What’s more, guests can benefit from the chefs’ extensive knowledge with a cooking class. Refreshing cocktails are available at the pool bar, while Nine Bar is perfect for a pre- or post-dinner tipple. In this peaceful setting, a visit to La Cochinchine Spa is a must and guests can choose from a range of indulgent treatments with which to unwind.
Dalat Palace Hotel
Perfectly positioned for the best views of the majestic Xuan Huong Lake, the elegant art deco Dalat Palace Hotel, set amongst acres of alpine garden and rolling green golf course, is the last word in luxury. The cool climes of beautiful, colonial Dalat are perfect for relaxing and guests at the Dalat Palace with be delighted by the sumptuous, Parisian inspired suites. Opulent drapes, sparkling chandeliers and stunning views, coupled with modern amenities, make for the most comfortable of stays. Dining at Le Rabelais, with the hotel’s lush gardens in the background, is a gourmet treat with its award-winning French cuisine. Meanwhile, al fresco dining can be enjoyed overlooking the golf course at The Terrace. Sophisticated cocktails are on offer in Le Cosy Bar, while Larry’s Bar is an informal drinking den, perfect for more relaxed occasions. Active guests will want to take advantage of the gym, tennis courts and, naturally, the golf course, while more peaceful experiences are available in the spa.