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Vietnam, Dalat - Eiffel Tower lookalike | by Philip Roeland
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Vietnam, Dalat - Eiffel Tower lookalike

Dalat, also Da Lat (Đà Lạt), located in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam, was originally the playground of the French who built villas in the clear mountain air to escape the heat and humidity of the coast and of Saigon, now know as Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Dalat looks like a cross between Vietnam and the French Alps. Many of its hotels and houses are built in a French style. The city spreads across a series of pine-covered hills, with a small lake in the center and surrounded by higher peaks, making for some lovely scenery quite different from the rest of Vietnam. Temperatures are pleasantly warm by day, and quite cool at night, down to perhaps 10C.

 

Dalat is very much a tourist town. Tour buses by the dozen run up and down its hills, and small hotels line its streets. The vast majority of visitors are Vietnamese on short package tours, drawn by the scenery, vivid blue skies, fresh air, flower-filled parks, and local edible treats. Dalat is a favorite destination for company weekend outings, family get-aways, and honeymoons.

 

Most guidebooks for overseas visitors describe Dalat as a cheesy town with tacky tourist sites, which is partly true. Attend a "mountain tribe" dance performance, and your eyes might get stuck in the upward-rolled position.

 

But Dalat remains a pleasant stop on a north-south tour, or a pleasant outing from Saigon. For overseas visitors, it offers mostly a chance to cool down, observe the Vietnamese at play, view a bit of the French legacy, and enjoy the atmosphere. Dalat is also surrounded by some of the best mountain biking, hiking and canyoning opportunities in Vietnam.

 

Dalat's high altitude (1500-2000 m) and fertile landscape make it one of Vietnam's premier agricultural areas, producing varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers that don't grow in the lowlands. In markets as far north as Hanoi, vegetable and flower vendors will tout their "made in Dalat" produce.

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Taken on October 10, 2008