Dalat looks like a cross between Vietnam and the French Alps. Many of its hotels and houses were built in a French style during the French colonization. There are many places for tourists interested in architecture to visit, such as Dalat Railway Station, designed by French architects Moncet and Reveron, or Hang Nga guest house, a.k.a ‘Crazy house’ which is also an interesting place to stay.
The climate in Dalat is often called ‘Eternal Spring’ for its pleasantly warm temperatures during the day and quite cool at night, down to perhaps 10oC. Due to its favorable weather, Dalat is a supplier of temperate produce for all over Vietnam, for example, cabbage and cauliflower. Also, it has a nickname ‘City of Flowers’. Its flower industry is highly developed and famous for two typical flowers: hydrangea and golden everlasting.
Apart from architectural places of interest, Dalat also has lots of beautiful sites such as Xuan Huong Lake – center of town, Lake of Sorrow (Lake of Sighs) – 5km Northeast of town on Ho Xuan Huong Road, Valley of Love – Phu Dong Thien Vuong Street, Lang Biang Mountain – has a 1900m peak, ideal for a 3-hour hike, Prenn Falls – 10km outside the town, Pongour Falls – one of the largest and widest waterfalls in Vietnam, 30km south of town on highway 20, etc.
Attractions in Da Lat
Legend says that the name Lang Biang was derived from the name a couple who were deeply in love with each other - the boy named K'lang and the girl named Ho Biang. They fell in love with each other after K’lang saved Biang’s life from a fierce heard of wolves. However, they weren’t allowed to get married due to the long-standing feud between their tribes.
Since Lang Biang consists of the two highest peaks of Lam Vien Highland: Lang Biang (2,167m) and 2,287m high Bidoup Ban, which is often regarded as the roof of Dalat. The mountain is famous for its spectacular nature, as well as its marvelous view of the whole wide area of Dalat City, the forest, the rivers and houses of tribal people.
Camping, exploring the natural flora, bird-watching and enjoying the unique culture of ethnic minority groups are recommended activities for tourists coming to Lang Biang. Also, Lang Biang is an ideal place for adventurous activities like mountain climbing, conquering high peaks, paragliding and trekking. “Thung lung Tram nam” (Hundred-year valley) which lies at the foot of the mountain is regarded as an entertainment and ecological tourist site.
Bao Dai Summer Palace
Da Lat, the city of love, not only attracts tourists because of its charming landscape, comfortable weather but also the number of French architectures, typically the antique villas. Bao Dai’s Summer Palace (also known as Palace 3 as there are 2 other palaces of Bao Dai in Dalat) is a must-visit villa for almost all travelers.
Visiting this 2 stories structure, travelers will have a chance to discover the living of the royal family through 25 rooms and its amenities. The ground floor is the working place of the king. It consists of the office room, the guest room and the reception room. Upstairs is the living space of the king and his family. The bedroom of the king also has a gorgeous balcony called the watching moon balcony where the king and the queen could appreciate the moonlight. Each of the room reflects the characteristics and status of the owner: the eldest son's room is painted yellow and considered luxurious at that time, the Queen's room can be easily identified with her feminine touch
Inside the palace, there are many valuable items still preserved in good condition. They include several sculptures of royal family, the life-size white bust of Bao Dai himself and a smaller gold and brown bust of his father Khai Dinh, picture of Angkor Wat given to King Bao Dai by King Sihanouk of Cambodia and an engraved glass map of Vietnam, to name a few.
Xuan Huong Lake
Xuan Huong Lake lies charmingly at the very heart of Dalat City, surrounded by Nguyen Thai Hoc, Ba Huyen Thanh Quan, Tran Quoc Toan, Le Dai Hanh and Yersin St. Used to be the site in which many indigenous people of Langbian highland inhabited, this man-made lake is nowadays the most beautiful lake of Dalat, giving the city an invaluable gift of having a lake right in the center.
The history of Xuan Huong Lake distinguishes it as one of the most special lakes in Vietnam. In the past, there was no lake where we see Xuan Huong Lake today. In 1919 and 1923, two dams were formed on a branch of Cam Ly River to create two small lakes. Unfortunately, during a severe storm in 1932, both dams were destroyed. Between 1934 and 1935, a larger dam was built of boulders below the sites of the two previous dams to create one large lake. At that time, the French named it Grand Lac (large lake), but in 1953 it was renamed Xuan Huong Lake to express the people’s appreciation to the famous Vietnamese female poet in the 19th century who has the same name. The lake has gone through several constructions. There would be time when it's not full of water (very unlucky if you drop in the city by then, though)
Domaine de Marie Church
The façade of the building is designed as an isosceles triangle with many small arch-shaped windows, and a cross on the top. Right at the center of the façade is a grand rose-shaped window, a detail which usually appeared in the architecture of French church at the end of the 17th century. The walls are decorated with the Normandy style which allows creative manipulation of lights: dark-bright, solid-hollow, etc. The Vietnamese part, however, does not subside.
The Vietnamese arrangement of this church makes it special and different from the classical churches of Europe. The roofs of the church have their origin from the design of Nha Rong, a typical type of stilt house in Central Highlands, Vietnam. Even though the huge and steep roofs look pretty bland, the elegant stained glass windows make them a work of arts and illuminate the interior of the Domaine de Marie Church. The 3m-high-statue of Mary is another example of the interaction. It is created by a French architect named Jonchère in 1943, but resembles the image of a Vietnamese woman. This statue was a present from the Indochina governor's wife, who used to worship at the church and generously donated for the renovations of the construction. In fact, she was buried behind the church in accordance with her will. Also, the area behind the church is filled with beautifully blossoming precious Hai Tien flower blooming.
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