Dalat Palace Golf Club is Vietnam's oldest course, and arguably still its best.
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.
A walk around French-built Dalat reveals a mountain town that is still one of the most romantic destinations in Asia.
I took a long walk a few weeks ago. I started at Du Parc Hotel, ventured across the street and through the legendary Dalat Palace
, then circled all the way around majestic Xuan Huong Lake.
At one stage, the old golf course — its lush fairways slightly obscured by a fence line draped in vibrant bougainvillea — was directly to my right.
At another point, I passed through the shadow of the post office’s Eiffel Tower-style transmitter and looked across the boulevard at another grand landmark — the towering Cathedral.
The stroll probably took a couple of hours. But I was in no hurry. The sun was out, the sky was blue, the air was crisp and clean, and the staff at Cafe de la Poste was still setting up for breakfast by the time I finished.
I've probably walked that particular route a dozen times. I never tire of it. Each time, I'm struck by the architecture. The ample sidewalk space. The hilly and romantic nature of the town and its surroundings. And I’m reminded of why the French were drawn to this piece of Vietnam real estate as well.
The funny thing is it took them some time to figure that out. At least according to Barbara Crossette, whose research on the origins of Dalat is documented in her book, The Great Hill Stations of Asia.