To the east of Dalat, in the village of Trại Mát, you’ll find one of Vietnam’s most amazing temples. Completely covered in carefully-arranged shards of broken glass and pottery, the insane Pagoda of Linh Phước provides a sight unlike any other.
At the end of a perilous dirt track to the east of Dalat, the Tiger Cave Falls seem to have fallen off the city’s tourism radar. During our visit, there was nobody else there… and we got the feeling that it’s been that way for a very long time.
A long cable car connects the lake of Hồ Tuyền Lâm to the city of Dalat, dropping people off at the foot of Thiền Viện Trúc Lâm, a temple that sits atop a hill overlooking the water.
A couple kilometers north of the city center, we found the XQ Embroidery Village, a bizarre mashup of a gallery, factory, museum and theme park. While exploring the village, we also felt somewhat mashed-up. Were we supposed to be confused, amused, creeped out, or impressed? Because we were feeling all those things at the same time.
About 30 kilometers south west of Dalat, are the Elephant Falls (Tách Voi). This unbroken sheet of water crashing down ten meters makes an impressive backdrop… even for wedding pictures.
In the small town of Nam Ban, we visited the Cường Hoàn Factory to learn how silk is made, from worm to spool. This was a fun excursion, which tied in well with the nearby Elephant Falls.
Though its days as an important hub of transit are squarely in the past, the Dalat Train Station is still active, welcoming passengers aboard a scenic journey to nearby Trại Mát. Even if you’re not taking a ride, it’s worth stopping by the station to check out its art deco architecture, and the classic locomotives in its yard.
Dalat has three palaces, or “Dinh”. The Dinh III is the summer palace of Bao Dai, which we had visited earlier in the day. The Dinh II is the Governor’s Mansion, closed to the public. And then there’s the Dinh I, the “King’s Palace”, built in 1940 by French millionaire Robert Clement, and purchased by Bao Dai in 1949.
When I heard people talking about Dalat’s “Crazy House”, I wasn’t entirely convinced. I assumed it was going to be like some clown who promises “craziness” at your kid’s birthday party, but then he’s actually kind of normal. And while you’re glad that he didn’t kill anyone, part of you is disappointed that his definition of “crazy” was balloon animals.
Until he left in 1954 for permanent exile in France, Bảo Đại kept a summer palace in Dalat. Today, the palace is open to tourism. Little has changed since his departure, so visiting provides an excellent glimpse into the life of Vietnam’s final emperor.