Da Lat, Vietnam
Coordinates: 11 56 N 108 25 E
Population: 122,400 (2000 est.)
People have long been singing the praises of The City of Light, but for those lacking the ways or means to easily reach the famously beautiful stretch of the Seine, I’d like to pose an alternative: Little Paris. Better known as Da Lat (or Dalat), this city in Vietnam’s south-central Highlands took shape in the early twentieth century and remains one of the most Gallic-appearing urban areas in the country. Surrounded by evergreen forests and dotted with French mansions and hilltop villas, Da Lat boasts cable cars and a red and white Eiffel Tower replica too. Its temperate climate, scenic central lake, along with nearby waterfalls helped to protect it from the devastation wreaked by the Vietnam war, and continue to make it a favorite destination for vacationers and honeymooners today.
Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.