Walking tour - Dalat - self guided - review by Rusty Compass
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Walking tour - Dalat - self guided

| 26 May 2017
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Map

Map
Walking tour - Dalat - self guided
Bao Dai Dinh 1, Tran Quang Dieu St - starting point

Map

Price guide: Free

Our rating
26 May 2017

Spend an afternoon exploring Dalat's impressive architectural heritage. Allow 3 - 4 hours - it may take longer if you want to stop often. You’ll cover 5 - 6 kms. It's mainly shaded easy walking downhill. The setting is green and picturesque, and Dalat's afternoon climate is usually perfect for walking. Starting in the afternoon also allows access to the old Lycee Yersin.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service

Bao Dai’s Palace Number 1 and the Old Franciscan Monastery

Grab a taxi and head to one of King Bao Dai's lesser known residences, Bao Dai 1, known in Vietnamese as Dinh 1, on Tran Quang Dieu St.

Vietnam's last king had three palaces in Dalat. His downtown residence, known as Bao Dai’s Summer Palace, has long been open to visitors. Palace Number 1, built in the late 1920s, opened to the public more recently. We're told it's a privately run museum.

King Bao Dai acquired the property in 1949 from a wealthy French official.

It has a different feel to your average Vietnamese government run historical sight. But it is only slightly more generous in the provision of historical information.

It takes a Disneyesque approach, with models of Bao Dai and his wife, but only the most superficial explanation of the building, and events that occurred here. You get the sense quite a bit happened here too - during and after Bao Dai's time.

President Ngo Dinh Diem also used the building as a Dalat retreat during the late 50s and early 60s.

 

The recently opened Dinh 1 Palace - one of King Bao Dai's three residences in Dalat. It's an interesting building that pre-dates Bao Dai. There's no historical information of any substance.
Photo: Mark Bowyer The recently opened Dinh 1 Palace - one of King Bao Dai's three residences in Dalat. 

 

Abandoned Franciscan Mission, Dalat
Photo: Mark Bowyer Abandoned Franciscan Mission, Dalat

 

From the palace, head down Tran Quang Dieu St, past the old Franciscan Monastery, towards Tran Hung Dao St. The ruined monastery is a fascinating contrast to the palace. Once again though, information is non-existent.

 

Dalat's colonial era mansions

As you hit Tran Hung Dao St, you'll pass an amazing collection of grand houses that give a sense of what Dalat must have been like in the 40s, 50s and 60s - a playground for the rich and powerful.

 

 

You may want to stop by the Lam Dong Museum. It doesn't see too many visitors and doesn't look to get much love either. It provides a broad history of the area - minus the juicy years of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Colonial era structure, Dalat
Photo: Mark Bowyer Colonial era structure, Dalat

 

Grand colonial mansions of Dalat
Photo: Mark Bowyer Grand colonial mansions of Dalat

 

Dalat Train Station and Teacher Training College

Take a right down the trail at 15B Tran Hung Dao St and head towards the train station. Inaugurated in 1938, the line once connected Dalat with the coast. It would have been a magnificent train ride in its day. The building's another unique piece of Dalat architecture fusing ethnic minority and art-deco elements.

From the train station, head towards the tower at the Teacher Training College - formerly the Lycée Yersin - named after the Swiss doctor who founded Dalat.

Dalat's distinctive railway station.
Photo: Mark Bowyer Dalat's distinctive railway station.

 

Dalat's distinctive railway station.
Photo: Mark Bowyer Dalat's distinctive railway station.

 

The distinctive tower of the Teacher Training College - formerly the Lycee Yersin
Photo: Mark Bowyer The distinctive tower of the Teacher Training College - formerly the Lycee Yersin

 

Teacher Training College, Dalat
Photo: Mark Bowyer Teacher Training College, Dalat

 

This is another dramatic piece of architecture. The arc shaped main building is like no other we’ve seen in South East Asia. This place is open to visitors after 5pm Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday.

It counts Bao Dai and Norodom Sihanouk among its former students.

From there, head down to Xuan Huong Lake for sunset.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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