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Da Lat city is probably one of Vietnam's most well known vacation destination. Since the turn of the century, Da Lat has been the vacation spot for well-to-do Vietnamese and foreigners. It is the unofficial honeymoon mecca of Vietnam. Located on Lam Vien (Langbian) high lands, part of the greater Central high lands of Vietnam (Cao Nguyen Trung Phan), the city is 1500 m above sea level and is 305 km from Saigon. The name Da Lat originates from the hill tribe people in this region. In the local Lat language, Da Lat literally means Stream of the Lat people.


The first person to explore this region was Mr. Nguyen Thong. Approximately 25 years later, in 1893, Dr. Yersin, a French immunologist discovered Dankia high lands while on an expedition to the Langbian high lands. Dankia is 10 km from the city of Da Lat. This region reminded Dr. Yersin of his homeland, and particularly the similarities between Da Lat's evergreen forests and those in the Swiss Alps. He made the recommendation to the government to form a resort town with health spas for government officials and foreign dignitaries in Dankia.

Not long after, Dr. Tardiff, also a French citizen, had an expedition through this region and visited Dankia and Da Lat. He recommended Da Lat to the government due to the favorable water source and locale. At the time, South Vietnam was under French rule, and was known as Cochinchina. The Governor of Cochinchina personally visited Dangkia and Da Lat and decided to take Dr. Tardiff's recommendation.

Because of its pleasant temperate climate, and the beauty of its surroundings of lakes, waterfalls, and pine forests, Dalat became popular with the French after 1912 as a cool retreat from the heat of the plains. Dalat became known as "Le Petit Paris". The city was implicitly considered to be a neutral zone and was spared fighting and destruction during the war. You can still see there a small Eiffel tower, villas modeled after regional French architecture, and a school as well as a train station which look like they are from a French little town of the first half of the century. Because of the cooler climate, school kids still wear "chandails", French style sweaters. Because of its charms, the town draws a large number of Vietnamese tourists and honeymooners for which a number of very "kitch" attractions have been created.


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Additional Photos by NgocSon Nguyen (NgocSon) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 115 W: 30 N: 80] (282)
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