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map of location Hue Da Nang Phong Nha Sa Pa Ha Noi Ha Long Cat Ba Hoi An Quy Nhon Buon Ma Thuot Nha Trang Da Lat Mui Ne - Phan Thiet Ho Chi Minh Vung Tau Can Tho Phu Quoc

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Da Lat

Known as "Le Petit Paris" by the early builders and residents of this hillside resort town, Dalat is still considered a kind of luxury retreat for city dwellers and tourists tired out from the steamy coastline in Vietnam. Here you can have a game of golf on one of the finer courses in Indochina, visit some beautiful temples, and enjoy the town's honeymoon atmosphere and delightfully hokey tourist sites.

At 1,500m (4,900 ft.), Dalat is mercifully cool year-round -- there's no air-conditioning here -- and is a unique blend of pastoral hillside Vietnam and European alpine resort. Alexander Yersin, the Swiss geologist who first traipsed across this pass, established the town in 1897 as a resort for French commanders weary of the Vietnamese tropics. In and around town are still scattered the relics of colonial mansions, as well as some serene pagodas in a lovely natural setting; you've escaped from big-city Vietnam for real. A few ethnic minorities, including the Lat and the Koho, live in and around the picturesque hills surrounding Dalat, and you can visit their small villages.

Dalat is the no. 1 resort destination for Vietnamese couples getting married or honeymooning. If the lunar astrological signs are particularly good, it's not unusual to see 10 or so wedding parties in a single day. Many of the local scenic spots, like the Valley of Love and Lake of Sighs, pander to the giddy couples. The waterfalls are swarming with vendors, costumed "bears," and "cowboys" complete with sad-looking horses and fake pistols. A carnival air prevails. It's tacky, but it's one of those "so bad that it's good" kind of tacky that's kind of fun. You'll also get a chance to travel, lodge, and dine with Vietnamese on holiday, a rare opportunity.

Da Lat Sightseeing