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Around Dalat

AROUND DALAT

Lake of sighs

The lake of Sighs ( Ho Than Tho; admission: 10.000vnd) is a natural lake enlarged by a French-built dam; the forests in the area are hardly Dalat’s finest.

According to legend, mai Nuong and Hoang Tung met here in 1788 while he was hunting and she was picking mushrooms. They fell in love and sought their parents’ permission to marry. But at that time Vietnam was threatened by a Chinese invasion and Hoang Tung, heeding empersor Quang Trung’s call to arms, Joined the army without waiting to tell Mai Nuong. Unaware of this and afraid that his absence meant that he no longer loved her, Mai Nuong sent word for him to meet her at the lake. When he did not come she was overcome with sorrow and, to prove her love, threw herself into the lake and drowned. Thereafter, the lake has been known as the lake of Sights.

There are several small restaurants the hill from the dam. horses can be hired for 80,000 an hour, while a ride in a houres drown carriage costs 140,000d per hour.

The lake of Sighs is 6km northeast of the centre of Dalat via Phan Chu Trinh.

Tiger Falls

These falls ( Thac Hang Cap, admission 10.000vnd) is named from the lacal legend of a ferocious tiger living in a nearby cave. This helps explain the huge ceramic tiger statue as well as the nearby statue of a hill tribe hunter. The falls themselves are set in a quiet one forest, and are very photogenic. There are also good hiking trails in thr area.

Tiger falls is about 14km east of Dalat and can be easily reached by bicycle or motorbike. Follow Hung Vuong str.to Trai Mat village and from the train station there, continue for another 3.5 to the left hand turn ( signposted) From here it’s another 3km along a dirt road to the falls. Its is also possible to trak to the falls from Dalat, but you’ll need to allow a full day.

Prenn Pass

The area along National Hwy 20 Between Dalat and Datanla Falls is known as Prenn Pass, The Hillsides support mature pine forests while the valleys are used to cultivate vegetables. Prenn Falls ( admission: 10.000), 13km from Dalat towards Phan Rang and Thap Cham, consists of a 15m free fall ( elevation 1124m) over a wide rocky outcrop, but is so full of kitschy horrors and commercial exploitation ( including animals that are kept in deplorable conditions) that it is no longer worth visiting, The park around the falls was dedicated by the Queen of Thailand in 1959

Quang Trung Reservoir

Created by a dam in 1980, Quang Trung Reservoir ( Tuyen Lam Lake) is an artificial lake that was named after Emperor Quang Trung ( also known as Nguyen Hue). A leader of the Tay Son Rebellion. Paddle boats, rowboats and canoes can be rented nearby. The hills around the reservoir are covered with pine trees. There is a switchback path up the hill southwest of the water intake tower. Ethnic minority farmers live and raise crops in the vicinety of the lake.

To get to Quang Trung Reservoir, head out of Dalat on National Hwy20. At a point 5km from town turn right and continue for 2km.

Datanla Falls

The nice thing about Datanla Falls ( Admission 10.000d) is the short but pleasant walk to get there. The cascade is 350m from National Hwy 20 on a path that first passes through a forest of pines and then continues steeply down the hill into a rainforset. The ather good thing is the wildlife-lots of squirrels, Birds and butterflies. This may have much to do with the fact that hunting is prohibited in the area, so the creatures are less crared of humans.

To get to Datanla Falls, Turn off Naitonal Hwy20, about 200m past the turn off, to Quang Trung Reservoir. There is a second entrance to the falls several hundred metres further down the road.

Lat Village

Pop: 6,000

The nine hamlets of Lat village, whose name is pronounced “lak: by the base of Lang Bian Mountain. The inhabitants of five of the hamlets are of the Lat ethnic group the residents of the other four are members of the Chill, Ma and Koho tribes, each of which speaks a different dialect.

Traditionally, Lat houses are built on piles with rough plank walls and a thatched roof. The people of Lat village eke out a living growing rice, coffee, black beans and sweet potatoes; the villages have 300 hectares of land and produce one rice crop per year. Many residents of Lat have been economically forcedinto producing charcoal. a lowly task often performed by Montagnards. Before 1975, many men from Lat worked with the Americans, as did Montagnards else-where in the central highlands.

Classes in the village’s primary and secondary schools, successors of the Ecole Franco-Koho estableshed in Dalat in 1948, are conducted in Vietnamese rather than tribal languages. Lat has one Catholic and one protestant church. A koho-languae Bible ( Sra Goh) was published by Protestants in 1971; a Lat language Bible, prepared by Catholics, appeared a year later. Both Montagnard dialects, which are quite similar are written in a Latin based script.

To visit the village, you may need to obtain a permit inquire at Dalat Travel ( Tel: 822125 Fax: 828330, email: ttdhhd@hcm.vnn.vn, 7 D 3 thang 2 str.). If you’ve alrady booked a day tour the permit can be arranged by the tour operator. There are no restaurants in Lat, just a few food stalls.

To get to Lat from Dalat, head north on Xo Viet Nghe Tinh str. At Trung Lam Hamlet there is a fork in the road marked by a street sign. Continue straight on (Northwest) rather than to the left (which leads to Suoi Vang, the Golden stream, 14km away). By bicycle the 12km trip from Dalat to Lat takes about 40minutes, on Foot, It;s a two –hour walk.

Lang Bian Mountain.

Lang Bian Mountain ( Also called Lam Vien Mountain) has five volcanic peaks ranging in altitude from 2100m to 2400m. Of the two highest peaks, the eastern one is known to locals by the woman’s name K’lang; The western one bears a man’s name, k’biang. The upper reaches of the mountain are forested. Only half a century ago, the verdant foothills of Lang Bian Mountain, now defoliated, sheltered wild oxen, deer, boars, elephants, rhinoceroses and tigers.

The hike up to the top of Lang Bian Mountain, from whre the views are truly spectacular, takes three to four hours from Lat village, the Path begins due north of Lat and is easily recognisable as a red gash in the green mountainside.

You do not need a permit to visit Lang Bian Mountain, though taking a guide along will certainly make the trip more intersting. Consider contacting Dalat Holidays ( See the earlier Dalat Section) to see what outdoor programmes they are offering to Lang Bian.

Ankroet Falls & Lakes

The two Ankroet Lakes were created as part of a hydroelectric project. The waterfall, Thac Ankroet, is about 15m hight, The Angkroet Lakes are 18km northwest of Dalat in an area inhabited by hill tribes.

Chicken Village

This village has become very popular with travellers because it’s conveniently situated on the Dalat-Nha Trang highway, 17km from Dalat.

This village is home to the Koho minority, who, to a certain extent, have been assimilated into Vietnamese society. For example, most no longer live in stilt houses and they wear Vietnemese style clothing. Nevertheless, they have a lifestyle all of their own and it could be worth a stopover if you’re heading to Nha Trang anyway.

This place takes its name from a huge concrete statue of a chicken, which sits squarely in the centre of the village. We questined the villagers extensively to learn the history behind this unusual statue and were surprised to find that most had no idea or else refused to discuss when the statur was built or why. It certainly has no religious significance to the villagers. Finally we heard this story from a local woman:

When a couple gét marred here, it’s the bride’s family who must pay for the engagement ring and wedding party. Her family is also supposed to present the groom’s family with a gift. We had a sad case many years ago where the man’s family demanded a special gift. a checken with nine figers. No one had ever seen such a checken, but there were rumours that these could be found in the mountains. So the girl went to the mountains to search for one. Unfortunately, her effort was in vain and she died in the wilderness. The villagers were stricken with grief by this senseless tragedy and the girl was made into a hero.There was fighting in this area during the war and after liberation the government wanted to give the locals some sort of gift. The villagers asked if they could commemorate the brave young girl was made into a hero.

There was fighting in the this area during the war and after liberation the government wanted to give the locals some sort of gift. The villagers asked if they could commemorate the brave young girl who died for love. The government officials were touched by this tragic story and complied with the wishes of the villagers. So the concrete chicken was built.

The story does sound a bit far fetched and one local man had a somewhat different tale to tell. He claims that after the communist victory in 1975, the villagers retreated to the woods and adopted nomadic slash and burn agriculture because of attempes to enforce farm collectivisation. Many of the men went into the ligal timber harvesting, which did quite a bit of damage to the region’s forests.

The government then granted them severall redeeming concessions to entice them to relocate to their permanent village site. After they returned, the government thought of building some sort of memoriap, possibly a statue of Ho Chi Minh. It was finally decided that the huge concrete chicken would be most appropriate because it would commemorate the hard working peasants. After all, what better way to symbolise the chicken farmers than to buils a statue of a chicken?

The residents of Chicken village are extremely poor, but we were surprised to find no beggars there at all. This is particularly remarkable given the large number of tourist who stop here. We’d like to suggest that you do not give sweets or money to the children – if you want to help the villagers, there are a couple of shops where you can buy simple things like drinks, discuits and such. There arealso beautiful wearings for sale near the highway.

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