Sitting comfortably between Ho Chi Minh City and Da Lat, Bảo Lộc is part of the Lâm Đồng Province in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The climate is cool all year round thanks to the city’s location 841 meters above sea level, as well as its varying terrain, mainly composed of mountains, hills and lakes.
Largely overlooked by tourists, it happens to be one of the best places for a quiet weekend retreat or a romantic holiday for two. Check into a Bảo Lộc hotel (the keyword khách sạn Bảo Lộc yields better results with a search engine) and read on for list of things to see and do to experience this rustic refuge to the fullest:
- Linh Quy Phap An Pagoda
One can’t help but feel peaceful and refreshed after a visit to this pagoda in the clouds, which located in the Bao Lam district, some 20 kilometers out of the Bảo Lộc city center. Built in 2006, the temple has seen popularity in recent years, thanks in part to a music video shot in the area. “Lạc trôi” by singer-songwriter and actor Sơn Tùng M-TP has racked up over 206 million views on YouTube and has since drawn droves of young people up to the little hamlet where the temple is located. Three Torii gates stand guard over a spacious courtyard atop the hill; this is where the temple’s Buddhist monks gather in the early morning to pray. It is also an excellent vantage point from which to view the surrounding scenery, as well as catch a gorgeous sunrise or sunset.
Further within are the thee main buildings: a contemplation hall, a library, and a sanctuary, as well as a Japanese-style Zen rock garden. Visitors are encouraged to join the monks in their meditating sessions and even share a meal; as this is a religious site, guests are similarly advised to dress appropriately, clean up after themselves, and respect the privacy of the monks residing there.
- Dam B’ri Waterfall
This waterfall stands majestic and magnificent: some 60 to 70 meters high and 30 meters wide, making it the tallest in the province. The stunning view is accessible by foot over some steep paths or by vertical cable car. It’s a major tourist attraction with a dedicated recreational area attached to it: guests can cross bridges built over the rushing water at the foot of the cascades to ride a mini roller-coaster, explore the lake with pedal boats, or stop in for a proper meal at any of the big restaurants located beside the falls. Following the stream further down leads you to the smaller but no less charming Dasara Falls. While beautiful all year-round, Dam B’ri is best viewed between late October and early November when the water rushes strongest, rendering the area around it a misty wonderland. It’s easy to get to – from Highway 20, just follow the road signs.
- Tam Chau Tea Hill
As the area with the largest concentration of tea trees in south or central Vietnam, Bảo Lộc is also known as the “City of Tea” and is a haven for tea lovers. Its specialty is an Oolong grown specifically in the area called B’lao, a drier, more fragrant tea that imparts a sweet and light taste—it’s so good that they’ve trademarked it. The Tam Chau Hills are themselves a sight to behold, with rows and rows of tea plants covering their surfaces as far as the eye can see. In the early morning, thick fog rolls in to blanket the hills, creating a tranquil atmosphere. A visit to the Tam Chau Tea Planting Farm starts with a complimentary drink of their signature locally-grown blend, which you can also buy on-site. The nearby lake is a great place for taking photos and just reveling in the surrounding greenery.
As a popular stopover between Ho Chi Minh and Da Lat, Bảo Lộc has plenty of restaurants and cafés to satisfy hungry travelers. Some of the best bites in the city can be found at Pizza Dona, otherwise known as Donatoss’s Pizza, where they serve a mean pie piled high with toppings, or at the colorful Tung Breakfast & Café, which serves an eclectic mix of Vietnamese and European cuisine. As for souvenirs other than the truly excellent tea, pick up a bag of dried jackfruit for a sweet, healthy treat, a bottle of wine, or a jar or two of fruit jam.