Where should travellers go to get the best views of Đà Lạt?
With so many hills, mountains and forests, every inch here is beautifully unique. Many coffee shops have made the most of this landscape and turned themselves into fantastic viewpoints for travellers, such as Cà Phê Mê Linh, Horizon Coffee, and Café Panorama. Langbiang Peak at 2,167 metres is another good place to take in the majestic mountainous scenery.
What are your favourite ‘secret' spots in this town?
I’m a nature lover, so I often spend time camping or paddle boarding with family and friends at Tuyền Lâm Lake, just seven kilometres from Đà Lạt.
I also love trekking to reach waterfalls or cliffs deep in the forest such as Datanla Waterfall. Of course, this sport requires some professional training, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: you can learn how to abseil by joining a canyoning class at Datanla Waterfall.
When is the best month or time to visit Đà Lạt and why?
If you ask me, Đà Lạt is the most beautiful in December, when you can feel the lingering cold of winter just before the warmth of spring. It's an iconic picture: people in sweaters and gloves on walks around Xuân Hương Lake, with cherry apricots in full bloom.
Is there a festival or special event that travellers should not miss?
The Cherry Apricot Festival (lễ hội Hoa Mai Anh Đào) is a lovely one. Marathons such as Đà Lạt Ultra Trail, Lang Biang Trail have different levels for travellers who want to experience the city's beautiful pathways.
What does the name Đà Lạt mean?
‘Đà Lạt' or ‘Đạ Lạch' originates from the Land of Lat people. The indigenous people here are actually descendants of the Lats (K'ho people). In the 1900s, Kinh people began to move to Đà Lạt from Northern and Central Vietnam, mixing their own customs with the Lats, creating Đà Lạt's unique cultural landscape.
Although the city itself is young, ancient traditions have shaped the Đà Lạt residents of today with all the best qualities from each group: honesty of the K'hos, depth and grace of Thừa Thiên Huế, manners of Hà Nội, diligence of Nghệ An - Hà Tĩnh, and the South's free spirit.
What makes Đà Lạt different from other places in Vietnam?
Almost instantly one would think of the weather. Đà Lạt enjoys cool breezes all year round, regardless of the season, while elsewhere the temperature may reach 40 degrees in the summer. That alone is enough to set Đà Lạt apart.
If you had to describe Đà Lạt in three adjectives, what would they be and why?
Melancholy: Year after year, Đà Lạt’s melancholy remains the same. It’s in the quietness of the pine forests, of dew drops on the grass, of misty mansions. Đà Lạt has seen its fair share of love stories, and thus has inspired many poets and musicians.
Poetic: Colourful flowers, ancient architecture, highschoolers in white áo dài, vendors grilling sweet potatoes next to Xuân Hương Lake--everyday life here is poetic.
Creative: Đà Lạt's creativity is demonstrated in its many efforts to balance tourism and sustainability. The city constantly pushes for new tours and products in which travellers can experience Đà Lạt while also preserving nature and authenticity.
Which is your favourite Đà Lạt coffee shop and what do you like about it?
Café-hopping, a quintessential Đà Lạt experience, is also one of my favourite things to do. I fell in love with an unnamed café near Đà Lạt Old Market. It is the perfect spot to feel the vibe of this place. My second choice is Là Việt Coffee, which true coffee fans will appreciate.
Where do you take family or friends when they come to Đà Lạt?
If they love exploring nature, I will take them canyoning, trekking and camping, paddle boarding at Tuyền Lâm Lake, mountain biking in the pine forests, and trying out the high rope course.
If they love history and architecture, King Bảo Đại Palace, Đà Lạt Museum, Queen Nam Phương Palace, colonial French churches, Chicken Church, the old train station, the Education College are some must-visits.
For those who want to learn more about traditional crafts, we will go on a trip to Vạn Thành flower village, one of the three oldest in Đà Lạt. Coffee farm too, of course. Winehouse, mushroom farm, silk factory, and Linh Ấn Pagoda is also on the list.