Museum culture in Dalat is not very well developed, but there are some interesting museums around to visit on a rainy day.
The primary museum of Dalat is the Lam Dong Museum, exhibiting various items of the ethnic minorities and ancient tribes of the Highlands, along with archeological discoveries from unearthed sites and detailed displays of tribal life. You can even play instruments to recreate the sound of these old cultures. In the basement, you can get Vietnam’s perspective of the American War with various photog propaganda and war remnants.
One of the weirdest museums you probably never heard of is what the Biological Research Institute. The arcane building is a remodeled church and a decent selection of stuffed animals. French zoologists actually started cataloguing the native Vietnamese wildlife in Dalat, so many of the exhibits are from the colonial era.
Most visitors are younger people who see it as some sort of odd freakshow, but it’s definitely a must-see for any biologist or other visitor with a background in science. (Please don’t touch the exhibits, they are in a bad enough shape.)
The Bao Dai Summer Palace is, strictly spoken, not a museum. But it shows how the last king of Vietnam spent his time in Dalat and has an interesting décor.
If you happen to visit Linh Phuoc Pagoda, check out the museum/gallery sections, containing artwork of stunning complexity. Tea tables made of 30-centimeter-thick jade, carved rootstocks, wooden figures of worship, porcelain Buddha sculptures and more. Many items are for sale or advertise the artist’s skills, but the rooms also show much about the culture of Buddhism and history of sacral art in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.
In the basement of the Linh Phuoc pagoda, you find an area dedicated to the Buddhist vision of hell. The depiction of torture and violence is quite graphic, but the figures, probably made of paper maché, look so makeshift that it appears rather funny than intimidating, so it’s not totally unsuitable for children.