Da Lat Travel

dalat TravelDalat, capital of Lam Dong Province, is located approximately 308km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. At an elevation of 1,500m, Dalat bears the look of an Old French city. It was founded in 1897 when Doctor Alexandre Yersin recommended that the area be developed as a resort town. The jewel of the Central Highlands, Dalat is in a temperate region dotted with lakes, waterfalls, evergreen forests and gardens. The cool climate and the park-like environment make this one of the most delightful cities in all of Vietnam. It was once called Le Petit Paris and to this end there is a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower behind the central market. Dalat is by far Vietnam’s most popular honeymoon spot. It’s also the favourite haunt of Vietnamese artists and avant-garde types who have made this their permanent home. It’s also (hopefully) the final word in Vietnamese kitsch.

Local industries include growing garden vegetables and flowers (especially beautiful hydrangea flowers). The flowers and vegies are sold all over southern Vietnam. But the biggest contribution to the economy of Dalat is tourism (over 300,000 domestic tourists visit every year). The downside is that the locals are trying to create circus-style ‘tourist attractions’; complete with sailboats, mini-zoos, balloons for the kiddies and Vietnamese dressed as bunny rabbits.

The Dalat area was once famous for its big-game hunting and a 1950s brochure boasted that ‘a two hour drive from the town leads to several game-rich areas abounding in deer, roes, peacocks, pheasants, wild boar, black bear, wild caws, panthers, tigers, gaurs and elephants’. So successful were the hunters that all of the big game is now extinct. However, you will get a whiff of Dalat’s former glory by viewing some of the ‘souvenirs’ about town:

What will stick in my mind most is the appalling stuffed animals they seem so fond of in Dalat. These seem to have spread all over Vietnam, but the citizens of Dalat in particular, have taken taxidermy to new lows. We had a terrible lit of the giggles as we left the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi when the thought surfaced of what the Dalat animal stuffers could have done with Ho Chi Minh City if the stuffing contract hadn’t been given to the Russians.
Dalat Vietnam

dalat TravelThe city’s population includes about 5000 members of ethno-linguistic hill tribes, of which there are said to be some 33 distinct communities in Lam Dong Province. Members of these ‘hill tribes’ (who still refer to themselves by the French word montagnards, or ‘highlanders’) can occasionally be seen in the market places in their traditional dress. Hill tribe women of this area carry their infants on their backs in a long piece of cloth worn over one shoulder and tied in the front.

There is a New Economic Zone (a planned rural settlement where southern refugees and people from the overcrowded north were semi-forcibly resettled after reunification) 14km from Dalatin Lam Ha District; it has a permanent population of about 10,000.

Dalat is often called the City of Eternal Spring. The average maximum daily temperature here is a cool 24°C and the average minimum daily temperature is 15°C. The dry season runs from December to March. Even during the rainy season, which lasts more or less from April to November, it is sunny most of the time.

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