Da Lat - City of Eternal
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 Lám Vi(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. It
literally means Stream of the Lat people.
Da Lat History
The first person to
explore this region was Mr. Nguyen Thong.
Approximately 25 years later, in 1893,
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
The first hotel was built
in Da Lat around 1907. It was made completely out of
wood and was called khach san Ho (Lakeside Hotel -
Hotel du Lac). In 1916, work commenced on the Palace
hotel. In 1922, the hotel openned to the public. It
was the largest and most elegant hotel in this region.
Da Lat has many homes built
of wood much like the Swiss chalets found in the Alps.
It also has many grand villas built by French
officials during the early part of the century. Many
more villas were built by the South Vietnamese
officials in the 60s and 70s.
Xuan Huong Lake
Da Lat is also famous for
its many waterfalls and lakes, one of which is Ho Xuan
Huong (Xuan Huong lake). This man made lake was a site
where many indigenous people of Langbian high land
made their homes. In 1984, the lake was emptied for
renovation purposes. At the bottom of the lake,
scientists found many relics belonging to the hill
tribe that once lived in this area. Xuan Huong lake is
shaped like the crescent moon. Visitors to Da Lat and
the town's people use the lake as a place to meet and
talk. The lake is also where many honeymooners come to
Xuan Huong lake is the
most beautiful lake in Da Lat. It is approximately 5
km2. In 1919 a dam was formed on a branch of Camly
river creating a small lake. In 1923, another dam was
built further down stream to create yet another lake.
During a severe storm in 1932, both dams were
destroyed. Between 1934-35, a larger dam was built of
boulders (site of Ong Dao bridge today) below the
sites of the two previous dam creating one large lake
named Ho Lon or Large lake. Ho Lon was later renamed
after Ho Xuan Huong, a famous vietnamese poet in the
A small stream fed from
Xuan Huong lake pours into CamLy fall leading to Suoi
Vang (Gold Stream). Many people believe the name Camly
has its origin in Han Viet. Cam means sweet and Ly
means where the land absorbs the water. The river and
fall was given the name Camly to signify a stream of
cool fresh water leaving an impression (absorb) in the
heart of the visitors. More probable however is the
fact that Camly is the vietnamese pronunciation for
K'Mly, name of the chief of Koho tribe who made their
home in the Xuan Huong valley during the 19th century.
Thung Lung Tinh Yeu (Valley
of Love) is now a park developed by the local
government to attract tourists. The valley is
approximately 5 km from the center of town. At the
floor of the valley is Da Thien lake. To go to the
lake there is a small dirt path used for horses.
Recently the park attendants have built a series of
steps leading to the bottom of the valley. Lake Da
Thien is quite small and there are peddles and
motorized boats for rent.
Prenn fall is located at
the foot of Prenn pass and is about 10 km from Da Lat.
Around the fall area was once a thriving wild life
refuge. Visitors to the fall can visit the various
habitat of the animals in this region. Today, Prenn
fall is a destination to visit in Da Lat. A local
compared the scenery at Prenn fall to those drawn in
paintings. The water falling from the top of the fall
creates a sheet of silver pouring into a pool of water
at the bottom. Behind this sheet of water is a wooden
and bamboo bridge where visitors can cross behind the
Gougah fall is
approximately 40 km from Da Lat. The fall is located
500 m to the left of route 20. Guga is 17 m high. Its
waters path is naturally split in half mid way down
the fall. The path to the right flows calmly to the
bottom, while the path to the left has great
turbulence and mist as the water strikes the rocks on
its way to the bottom.
Dalat Central Market
One of Da Lats charm is the
laid-back way of living of the local people. On any
given day, from early morning to late at night, Da
Lat's Central market is bustling with activities.
Unlike most market in Vietnam, Da Lat's market has an
open promenade where people can walk about. At the end
of the promenade is a stair leading to the Le Dai Hanh
Street, one of Da Lat's major thoroughfare.
Da Lat enjoys favorable
weather year round. During the winter months the
average temperature in Da Lat is 10 degrees C. During
the summer months the average temperature here is 18
degrees C. The locals claim that Da Lat is Vietnam's
botanical garden in the middle of a pine forest. Many
of the countrie's fruits and vegetables come from this
part of the country.
Ho Than Tho - Lake oF Sorrow
Lake of Sorrow is located
approximately 5 km northeast of the city. According to
local lore, the lake was named during the war between
Vietnam and China. As the story goes, long ago there
lived a young couple in this area. They loved each
other very much and often met by the lake to enjoy the
tranquil setting of this area. At about the time when
they spoke of building a future together, Vietnam was
in the state of war with foreign invaders from the
north. There was a general call for able-body young
men to take arms. The young man, Hoang Tung, being
extremely patriotic, decided to join the army of king
Quang Trung - Nguyen Hue to help defend Vietnam.
The young couple decided to
meet by the lake to say their goodbye as Hoang Tung
was leaving with his garrison for the north. His
betrothed Mai Nuong, being equally patriotic, decided
not to be a burden in his mind, lest he won't be able
to perform his duties, decided to commit suicide by
drowning in the lake. When the time came for the two
to meet, Hoang Tung found that she has passed away.
The people in this region heard of the young couple's
story and decided to rename the lake Ho Than Tho or
Lake of Sorrow. Several variations of the story are
published. One version along this line claimed that
Hoang Tung did not show up at the appointed time. Mai
Nuong was heart broken and spent many days by the lake
to wait for him. Hopeless, Mai Nuong committed suicide
by jumping into the lake.