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Da Lat

Dalat’s friendly residents, pleasant mountain climate, provincial French atmosphere and proximity to ethnic hill tribes make it worth a visit.

Dalat was founded around the turn of the century by Frenchman Alexandre Yersin, as a mountain retreat from the oppressive tropical climate. The town is perched 1,500 meters above sea level in Vietnam’s central highlands. At one time, the area boasted an abundance of pristine mountain streams and lakes, pine forests and wild game. These have all but disappeared after generations of slash and burn agriculture. Today Dalat’s primary industries are tourism and agriculture.

Dalat is Vietnam’s honeymoon capital. Any time of the year, but particularly in the spring, you’ll see newlyweds by the score at Dalat’s various attractions. It’s also a popular destination for domestic tourists during the Tet holiday. Many of Dalat’s hotels cater exclusively to domestic tourists and do not allow foreign guests.

Dalat is also popular with European tourists, particularly the French, who descend on this mountain valley in July and August. Catering to this crowd is a classic 18-hole golf course, built in the 1920s and recently reopened. Along with the adjacent Dalat Palace Hotel, which was refurbished in 1995, numerous French villas have been restored on the hill overlooking town. Dalat is also home to Dalat University, perhaps the prettiest university campus in all of Vietnam.

Locals say that Dalat experiences four seasons every day. Mornings tend to be chilly and you’ll find the locals all wearing sweaters. By noon, Dalat’s altitude and proximity to the equator make the sun unbearably hot. When the sun dips low in the sky, it becomes balmy and pleasant. When the sun sets, it gets downright cold. Whenever you visit Dalat, be sure to bring a warm jacket or sweater and always wear sunscreen.

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