Dalat was definitely the coldest place where I have been in Vietnam, and where I saw the most beautiful temple: Linh Phuoc Pagoda. Besides visiting it in August, Dalat managed to have the same low temperatures as back at home, which I actually don’t appreciate. I prefer hot weather and even very hot weather.
Still, Dalat has some charm. I went from Nha Trang to Dalat and the journey was through the mountains most part of the time. The views were great! I bought my bus ticket at the hostel and I regret it. The ticket included pick-up at the hotel and the vehicle was one of the most decadent ones I have seen during all my trips in Southeast Asia. And that was weird because usually when things are arranged for tourists, they tend to be better looking and comfier. But apparently, this wasn’t the case. I don’t even know how this minivan packed with foreigners managed to make its way to the bus station.
But I don’t regret buying the ticket at the hostel because of that. It is because the bus from Nha Trang to Dalat has only foreigners. I usually avoid this kind of transport as I enjoy spending time with locals and learn about their culture. Plus, the bus was way worst than Futa Bus that I wanted to book but was full when I tried- that was why I ended up on this shitty bus. Anyway, for this reason, I didn’t enjoy this bus ride.
Reaching Dalat feels like home as there are pine forests everywhere. Just like back at home. Dalat doesn’t conquer me at first sight. I prefer to see other types of trees that I don’t usually see back in my own country. But, besides cold, Dalat has actually many things to do and visit. This wasn’t by far my favorite city in Vietnam, but I still enjoyed my time here.
On the day after my arrival, I decided to sleep late and then visit the old railway station and one of the most beautiful temples I have seen in Vietnam: Linh Phuoc Pagoda.
I walked all the way from my hostel to the railway. It was far, but Dalat doesn’t seem to have many local buses running. Besides that, I like to walk and enjoy the feeling that the city vibrates.
Dalat Railway Station
Dalat railway station doesn’t have more trains running, besides a touristic train that travels to Linh Phuoc Pagoda, which is kind of distant from Dalat city.
The station also works as some kind of train museum with several trains that don’t move and are only there for tourists to see. There is an entrance fee to visit Dalat railway station, but the reason why I came here is the train to Linh Phuoc pagoda.
The trains on display were very good looking, well preserved and beautiful. There were many tourists here taking pictures and so did I. The trains were so vintage and cute! I loved to see them and it even felt like a journey back in time. The fact that the railway is surrounded by lush green plants makes it even more attractive.
The train that departs to Linh Phuoc Pagoda is also vintage and therefore a great trip. The train takes about 30 minutes to get to the last station, which is near the pagoda. The train journey itself is delightful as we cross fully green landscapes at low speed and we can travel with windows open. I love train rides and I enjoyed this one very much. The train ticket to Linh Phuoc pagoda costs 130K and it includes two ways. You can’t buy only a one-way ticket.
I wasn’t expecting this train to be so packed with Chinese tourists, so I was pissed with the idea that the pagoda will be filled with them. But somehow I managed to enjoy the temple for myself most part of the time.
Linh Phuoc Pagoda
Linh Phuoc pagoda is about 10 minutes walk away from the train station. It consists of not only one temple but a bunch of things to explore. The next train departs within 1 hour and I felt like it wasn’t enough, so I stayed in the area for 2h30. I went back to Dalat on the last train that departed at 17:35h.
The pagoda is unlike anything else I have seen before and I have seen loads of temples. Every single thing is made with tiny porcelain parts that seem to be put together by color. They look like the remains of broken ceramics. This construction technique is delightful and I haven’t seen it being used on such a big scale, as all the temple walls are decorated this way. Mesmerizing. It was jaw-dropping to see it and unbelievable to think about how much work is behind this construction.
There are many things and different complexes to visit in the area of Linh Phuoc Pagoda that is not that big. There is this 6 story tower that no one dared to go up. I managed to be the only person there among so many people that were in the area. It was tiring, but not that hard to do, plus the view up there was really beautiful. I guess this place might be great for sunset watching, but I can’t stay to see it. But the views were rewarding and it was worth going all the way up. I think this tower saves some important sculptures or books, or whatever as each floor is guarded by surveillance cameras. I could notice them too clearly and at some point, I was embarrassed for being there. I could see them following my moves because I was the only person to look for. I was taking long breaks on each floor and those people behind cameras would have thought I was weird. In the highest story, the cameras were so close to my face haha. I could hear them squeaking as they turned to follow me. It was creepy haha. I definitely didn’t feel that alone.
By the time I visited there was this world record statue made of natural dried flowers. It was huge and beautiful and unbelievable that it was covered in tiny yellow flowers. I needed to watch twice to realize those were flowers covering the statue. There are many beautiful constructions at Linh Phuoc pagoda, so be prepared to take a long time if you want to see everything slowly.
I also found something I wasn’t expecting. There was this place with beautiful rocks, crafts, and sculptures being exhibited. So many wonderful objects!! What I wasn’t expecting was to find an underground maze that I assume might symbolize hell.
Everything was very creepy down there. The place was totally dark with some colored lights to light up the way and the creepy statues that could be seen. Horrendous things were happening down there haha. People torturing and killing each other in varied bizarre ways with creepy sounds to make things look even worse. It was daunting! I managed to scare some Vietnamese that were walking down there. Maybe because I’m white… I don’t know. I did nothing to scare them…
It was very interesting to visit this idealization of ” hell” that I only realized was there because I saw a person coming out of nowhere and decided to check what was going on.
So, visiting Linh Phuoc pagoda was great with beautiful things to be seen. I’m an architecture and temple lover, so I was not bored at all to see more and more Buddha statues. I think this temple is so worth a visit!! It is definitely a must-visit in Dalat.