As December approaches, and wild sunflowers begin to bloom all around Dalat, and crisp, blue-sky days become the norm, those of us who live in the City of Eternal Spring can't help but feel just how lucky we are.
No matter the time of year, Dalat is delightful. But during these next three or four months, it's downright magical. From December through March, the lure of the outdoors is as strong as the smell of pine needles.
One of my favorite things to do when it's like this is take a stroll around Xuan Huong Lake, right in the center of town. Along the 5-kilometer loop, you'll see old cathedrals, cozy cafes, kids fishing and couples cuddling.
You'll also undoubtedly notice golfers and their caddies walking the tree-lined fairways of Dalat Palace Golf Club, Vietnam's oldest course (and arguably still its best).
Anyone with even the slightest appreciation for golf will forever remember a round at Dalat Palace. It’s got an aura about it that’s simply hard to describe.
For those who like to get their heart rate up, Dalat is pure heaven. There’s no shortage of hiking and mountain biking trails. Explore them on your own, or let the experienced folks at Phat Tire Ventures lead the way. They also offer white-water rafting, canyoning and kayaking excursions.
Another virtue of Dalat is its fertile landscape, which makes it one of Vietnam’s premier agricultural areas. You won’t find better fruits and vegetables anywhere else in the country. The strawberries and tomatoes are especially renowned. I’ve seen Dalat produce on menus at upscale restaurants as far away as Bangkok.
Which leads me to yet one more reason why I love Dalat — and you will too, especially if you’re a fan of French cuisine: La Rabelais.
This fine dining venue is located in the storied Dalat Palace Hotel, overlooking majestic Xuan Huong Lake. And like La Vallee de Dalat, it evokes a bygone era. The grand room is filled with echoes of the past, including crystal chandeliers, colonial paintings, white tablecloths and hardwood floors. Classical music wafts through the sound system, adding to the effect.
But the food is what keeps me coming back. Its menu features French favorites crafted with the freshest local ingredients, making it the perfect place to savor Dalat’s gastronomic heritage.