Vietnam - Getting to know Dalat
'Le Petit Paris', 'City of Eternal Spring', 'the Jewel of the Central Highlands'... call it what you will, Dalat is very pleasant place to spend a few days cooling down and enjoying a very different side of Vietnam. The town and its surrounding highlands are famous throughout Vietnam for pine forests, waterfalls, flowers and vegetables, and Dalat itself is the honeymoon destination of choice for Vietnamese newlyweds.
Dalat was originally established at the end of the 19th century as a hill station for Ho Chi Minh City's European population, thanks to a French doctor, Dr Alexandre Yersin, who suggested establishing a health resort here in 1893. The therapeutic properties of the region's temperate climate, and surrounding countryside with its seemingly endless supply of tiger, elephant and deer, allowed heat-stricken Colonial visitors to escape the hot plains and indulge the then popular pasttime of big-game hunting.
What to do in Dalat
- The game may now be long gone, but there is still plenty to see in the town. There's an attractive collection of French Colonial architecture, including timber-framed farmhouses and villas, several restored Colonial-era hotels, a cathedral, and a fine Art Deco railway station.
- In the surrounding central highlands, there are many minority hill-tribe groups. While they are perhaps not as colourful as those found in the northern mountains, they are diverse, and maintain a range of fascinating cultural traditions.
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