If you’ve heard anything about Vietnam of late, it’s probably that the country is on the verge of easing restrictions on foreign ownership of real estate. Word is the new law will go into effect as soon as July.
If the idea of finally being able to purchase property in Vietnam excites you, but you’re just not sure what area might be the best fit, have a look at these photos taken by Instagram users who have recently visited Dalat.
We think they nicely sum up what’s so great about the city we proudly call home …
As one of Vietnam’s premier agricultural regions, Dalat is renowned for its produce. PHOTO BY @davidlt
Dalat is home to Vietnam’s oldest railway station, a popular tourist attraction for its unique Art Deco design. PHOTO BY @hugocarlton
At a mile above sea level, Dalat is synonymous with blue-sky days, especially between November and April. PHOTO BY @yukihua_1012
Dalat’s charm is underscored by its bevy of beautiful lakes. PHOTO BY @xuvi96
Dalat has an abundance of waterfalls, most of which are spectacular. PHOTO BY @imhaimy
The beautiful par-4 10th hole at historic Dalat Palace Golf Club.
One of the great advantages of living at La Vallee de Dalat — especially if you are a golfer like me! — is the proximity to historic Dalat Palace Golf Club which has been around for almost a century and is still one of the great golf venues in Asia, if not the world.
Located on the other side of Xuan Huong Lake, about two miles from La Vallee de Dalat, the course offers an uninterrupted string of inventive, demanding holes that twists and undulates through a landscape of bougainvillea, red salvia, impatiens, mimosa and hydrangeas.
In other words, it’s both challenging and beautiful — a combination of traits most courses claim to possess but few actually do.
“I’m not sure there’s a prettier setting for golf than Dalat,” said former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman back in 2007. “The greens are as good as I’ve ever putted. They’re as good as you’re ever going to find. They sit well, like greens of the classic courses.”
Dalat Palace Golf Club is Vietnam's oldest course, and arguably still its best.
As December approaches, and wild sunflowers begin to bloom all around Dalat, and crisp, blue-sky days become the norm, those of us who live in the City of Eternal Spring can't help but feel just how lucky we are.
No matter the time of year, Dalat is delightful. But during these next three or four months, it's downright magical. From December through March, the lure of the outdoors is as strong as the smell of pine needles.
One of my favorite things to do when it's like this is take a stroll around Xuan Huong Lake, right in the center of town. Along the 5-kilometer loop, you'll see old cathedrals, cozy cafes, kids fishing and couples cuddling.
You'll also undoubtedly notice golfers and their caddies walking the tree-lined fairways of Dalat Palace Golf Club, Vietnam's oldest course (and arguably still its best).
Anyone with even the slightest appreciation for golf will forever remember a round at Dalat Palace. It’s got an aura about it that’s simply hard to describe.
The gates to purchasing property in Vietnam -- such as a villa at La Vallee de Dalat -- could be opening for foreigners soon.
If you’re tapped in to hot-button issues in Vietnam, then you probably already know that there’s been a lot of speculation lately about how and when the current home ownership laws may change with respect to foreigners.
As it currently stands, a foreigner qualifies to purchase an apartment or single-family home if he or she is:
1) Married to a Vietnamese resident;
2) Works for a foreign-invested, non-real-estate-related company operating in Vietnam that needs to house its employees;
3) An individual who invests directly in Vietnam or occupies a management position in Vietnam;
4) A recipient of medals or a certificate of merit from Vietnam's president or government for contributions to the country; or
5) Someone who works in socioeconomic fields, holds at least a bachelor's degree, and possesses special knowledge and skills that Vietnam needs.
For Le Ngoc Khanh Tam, golf has a lot to do with why there is no place she would rather live than Dalat.
From Kapalua in Hawaii to Cape Kidnappers
in New Zealand, Le Ngoc Khanh Tam has played golf all around the world.
But ask La Vallee de Dalat's developer where she most enjoys playing and she doesn't have to look far.
"For me, it's Dalat Palace Golf Club," she recently told Vietnam Golf magazine. "I like to tell people that once you tee off there, you will forever think about it when you play elsewhere."
The full interview with the avid golfer — she plays almost every day! — will appear in the August 2013 issue. In the meantime, here's a glimpse of what else Tam had to say …
Q: You were born in Dalat. Why do you still love it so much?
A: Growing up in Dalat, I’ve always loved the cool, fresh air, the pine trees, the flowers everywhere, the lakes, the views, and the fresh food. I’ve especially loved the changes in climate, with it often being sunny in the morning and then rainy later in the day, leaving a delightfully fresh smell in the air. Read more…
A walk around French-built Dalat reveals a mountain town that is still one of the most romantic destinations in Asia.
I took a long walk a few weeks ago. I started at Du Parc Hotel, ventured across the street and through the legendary Dalat Palace
, then circled all the way around majestic Xuan Huong Lake.
At one stage, the old golf course — its lush fairways slightly obscured by a fence line draped in vibrant bougainvillea — was directly to my right.
At another point, I passed through the shadow of the post office’s Eiffel Tower-style transmitter and looked across the boulevard at another grand landmark — the towering Cathedral.
The stroll probably took a couple of hours. But I was in no hurry. The sun was out, the sky was blue, the air was crisp and clean, and the staff at Cafe de la Poste was still setting up for breakfast by the time I finished.
I've probably walked that particular route a dozen times. I never tire of it. Each time, I'm struck by the architecture. The ample sidewalk space. The hilly and romantic nature of the town and its surroundings. And I’m reminded of why the French were drawn to this piece of Vietnam real estate as well.
The funny thing is it took them some time to figure that out. At least according to Barbara Crossette, whose research on the origins of Dalat is documented in her book, The Great Hill Stations of Asia.
Aline Ho (left) and Nguyen Dinh Quan studied Dalat's architecture before developing La Vallee de Dalat's masterplan.
What do you get when you combine interior design specialist Aline Ho and entrepreneurial architect Nguyen Dinh Quan?
The answer is Asiatique, a Saigon-based design firm that conceived the look and feel of some of Vietnam's most attractive properties, including La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc, Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang and, of course, La Vallee de Dalat.
Earlier this month, I sat down with the dynamic duo and gathered their thoughts about houses in Vietnam, what drew them to La Vallee de Dalat, who has inspired them over the years, what impression they'd like for potential buyers to leave with, and more. The transcript of that interview follows …
Before we truly get started, tell us about your backgrounds.
Aline: I was born in Vietnam but lived in France for 12 years. I got my start in the business in 1993, with a restaurant project in Hong Kong, under the tutelage of a designer in New York. Subconsciously, I was always inspired by French design and culture. But I always wanted to come back here, to Vietnam, and do what I could to promote Vietnam as a country. People come to me because I have that mix. It helps lot — spending time abroad, and then coming here. You see things in a different way. Our firm specializes in interior design, but obviously, with Quan, we do architecture as well.
A brochure from the 1940s illustrated a Dalat development that would include villas "evoking Alps mountain chalets."
As the first of the villas at La Vallee de Dalat nears its debut, we're reminded of another day in Dalat when a developer unveiled plans for an upscale villa community over these piney hills.
It was during World War II, and the project was known as Cite Decoux (Decoux City), in honor of the Vichy Governor-General, Jean Decoux.
Back then, Dalat was the summer capital of French Indochina, a federation of three Vietnamese regions, as well as Cambodia, Laos and a small portion of China.
The colons came to Dalat then for the same reasons so many tourists come today: to escape the heat and humidity of Southeast Asia’s lower elevations, and to revel in the airy nature of a place now commonly referred to as the ‘City of Eternal Spring.’