Dalat Railway Station
Coming to Dalat, tourists will not only be surprised by the beautiful landscape, comfortable weather but also by the imprint of French architectures on this land. One of the most unique French monuments to recommend is Dalat Railway Station (also Crémaillère Railway Station)
History and location
The history of the railway dated back to 1932, when its plan was finally carried out by two French architects named Moncet and Reveron, under the acceptance of Paul Doumer – the French Governor – General of Indochina from 1897 to 1902. Finally, the constrcution was completed 6 years later, after several difficulties such as the last stretch, traversing Lam Vien Plateau. However, it was largely unused since abandonment of the railway (due to attack) during the later years of the Vietnam War. In 1991, 7km of the track between Dalat and Trai Mat were reconstructed and launched into operation for tourists.
Being part of French colonists’ plan to turn Dalat into a paradise in Indochina, the 1500m-above-sea-level railway is now located at 1 Quang Trung St.
What to see
Regarded as one of the finest piece of colonial engineering and architecture in Vietnam, the station was designed in Art Deco style which is perfectly in harmony with local characteristics and culture. Its three high pointed roofs resemble the three peaks of Lang Biang Mountain or as some people say, the communal house of ethnic minorities in Central Highland of Vietnam (called Nha Rong). Each roof contains multi-color glass window and the central roof has a huge clock which has been restored recently.
The other distinctive feature of Dalat railway station is the cog railways. The total length of the railway is 84km from Dalat to Thap Cham station with 16km of cog railway designed by Swedish engineers. Because of the mountainous geography, a system of cog railroad and locomotive is needed to provide the traction for uphill slopes and slow down the train when going downhill. The construction had to overcome many difficulties of the mountainous terrain so that it leaded to such a long period of time to complete which was 24 years.
In the past, there were two daily trains from Dalat to Nha Trang and Dalat to Saigon with three compartments for passengers and one for goods. However, during the Vietnam wars, the railways and station became the target of bombing and they were seriously destroyed. After the fall of Saigon and the national unification in 1975, the railways were repaired and put back into use.
Since 1991, Dalat railway station provided tourists with the 7km route from Dalat to Trai Mat station, where visitors can enjoy the fresh peaceful daily lifestyle of local people, find fresh vegetables and fruits in the local market, as well as visit small Linh Phuoc Pagoda. Sitting on the train going on a slow speed, tourists can enjoy the full sight of Dalat from different angles when the train is winding its way along hillside, as well as the purest atmosphere of the highland. Though the seat is not quite so comfortable, this train trip is really worth a try, thanks to the unique feeling of the past that it brings about.
The trip takes about 30 minutes and operated 5 times per day (at 7.45AM, 9.50AM, 11.55AM, 2.00PM and 4.05PM).
Ticket from Dalat to Trai Mat costs ~ 6USD