Guidebook Da Lat: grand with even grander surroundings

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Da Lat: grand with even grander surroundings

“Da Lat’s ageing architecture still retains some of the grandeur of the past,” writes Luke Nguyen at SBS Broadcasting. Once known as “Le Petite Paris,” it feels like “I’m in the French Alps during springtime, with French villas and mountains covered in tall pine trees.” The name Da Lat, which originates from the hill tribe people of this region, means “Stream of the Lat people,” he explains. “The Lat people are highly gifted in agriculture, and today Vietnam is the world’s largest coffee producer, with 85 per cent of the crop being grown in the Da Lat central highlands.”

Dalat’s magic is “in its surroundings,” says Craig Tansley at International Traveller -- “huge lakes and waterfalls surrounded by thick forests and endless farming land.” Driving to Elephant Falls, 30 kilometres west, involved “winding my way round hair-pin corners on narrow bitumen roads,” part of a “landscape of lush green plantations ploughed by water buffalo,” where “entire families pass me on scooters, balancing cumbersome farming equipment across their handlebars.”

Darlat sits “among the clouds and amazing high mountains,” writes Hub Pages. “You will climb up an incredible 1500-1600 metres in altitude, all while going along gorgeous, curvy, scenic mountain roads before ending up in this breathtaking city.” The city is a “beguiling amalgam of winding streets, picturesque churches, bounteous vegetable gardens and crashing waterfalls, this quaint colonial curio is a great place to chill out, literally and metaphorically; if its cool air gets you in the mood for action, you could try trekking to minority villages, mountain-biking and rock-climbing.”

Darlat’s tourist attractions “fall into two categories,” says Travelfish: those targeting domestic tourists and those for international tourists. “The former are heavy on the kitsch and will have foreigners scratching their heads at concrete animals, costume photo ops and horses painted with zebra stripes.” Meanwhile, for Western tourists, Da Lat is about “waterfalls and countryside, and the best way to explore both is on two wheels, whether you are driving yourself or you ride pillion.” And while Dalat is, essentially, a city, “when I went to shoot it,” says David Hagerman at The New York Times, “I wanted to give the reader a view onto the countryside that exists not so far from the city centre” -- and here’s the result.

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