The Biggest Chicken in Vietnam – A Quick Look at Dalat’s Chicken Village
Chicken Village is an oddball attraction in Dalat, Vietnam. Home to a 15 ft. (4.5m) tall chicken statue, Chicken Village is Unimpressive, yet weirdly memorable.
Chicken Village is about 10 miles (16km) outside Dalat city center. Also known as Lat Village or Lanh Dinh An, it’s home to some of Dalat’s ethnic minority groups.
We hoped to meet some locals here and glimpse their way of life because that’s how the travel literature sells the visit. But no such luck.
You’re more likely to meet the residents outside their village at the major attractions of Dalat (where they sell their goods). The most famous part of the village is the big chicken statue and the story behind it.
We don’t recommend going out of your way to see Chicken Village. There are too many better things to do around Dalat. We wanted to share it as one of those zany places that stick in your mind, despite being relatively mediocre and meaningless.
If you’re on a countryside tour of Dalat, and your guide mentions seeing Chicken Village, it’s worth a few minutes at most.
The images of Chicken Village are both amusing and somewhat haunting for us. We only spent about 15 minutes in Chicken Village. We thought it was OK, but we didn’t especially like it.
Nevertheless, it remains some of our strongest visual memories of Dalat. Isn’t it funny how memory works? We saw and did so much in Dalat. Why would these few insignificant moments with a big chicken statue stand out in our minds? We don’t really know.
A 15 ft. (4.5m) tall chicken statue would be weird anywhere. But in this very poor village, the big chicken is radically out of place. It’s downright surreal.
The village is like a ghost town. The roads are just dirt. The homes are quite humble (even by Vietnamese standards).
The general mood is pretty somber. And then there’s this huge, festive chicken towering above the village. It’s like finding a clown juggling in a cemetery.
It’s hard not to smile at this massive chicken statue, but in the context of this bleak village, you can’t help looking over your shoulder in the next moment. Then, you look back to the larger-than-life chicken, smile again, and scratch your head. It was a mildly fun experience, but also creepy.
Mix in the beauty of the surrounding mountains, and the visit to Chicken Village takes on an aspect of haunting beauty too. The contrasts are so stark between the statue, the village, and the gorgeous natural scenery. Maybe that’s part of why it was so memorable.
The Story Behind Chicken Village
The story behind the statue is also pretty weird but gives some historical and cultural insight into the tribe that traditionally lived here. It involves the sad fate of two star-crossed lovers.
In the old days of this farming village, a bride’s family had to pay a hefty dowry to the groom’s family. Chickens were the preferred dowry, the bigger the better. If a bride couldn’t pay a dowry or couldn’t pay much, she’d have no husband or a bad one, and be destined for a sad, lonely life.
In the legend of the statue, a young man and woman were madly in love, but the poor bride had no dowry. Determined, she went into the forest to capture a “wild chicken” big enough to pay her groom’s family. (We didn’t know wild chickens existed.)
Weeks went by, and she never returned. Fearing she was hurt, her groom entered the forest in search of his love. Then he disappeared too. So sad.
The elders of the village then realized the error of the dowry system. They erected a huge, wooden chicken so that no other brides would have to go into the dangerous forest seeking a dowry. The whole village could share in the chicken statue as a symbolic dowry.
People could marry who they loved, without economic concerns. That old wooden statue was replaced by the current, concrete statue long ago. This centuries-old story is odd, but surprisingly progressive and modern too.
Again, we’re not necessarily recommending a visit to Chicken Village. We don’t even think of it as a good attraction, but Chicken Village has somehow worked its way into our memories of Dalat.
When we think of Dalat, there are iconic images that come to mind: the mountainscapes, the waterfalls, the temples, and the gardens. AND the stark image of that huge chicken. Go figure.
Getting to Chicken Village
The most common way to visit is on a tour of the countryside surrounding Dalat. Your tour guide may pitch a side trip to Chicken Village. The pitch is usually for the wacky statue and a visit to an “ethnic minority” village.
Don’t come expecting to see many locals or an interesting slice of life. The big chicken is pretty much all there is. If this doesn’t appeal to you ask your guide to skip it.
But if you’re a traveler who likes oddball experiences, you might enjoy Chicken Village.
Do you have any similar travel experiences? What places get stuck in your memory even though you didn’t have any strong like or dislike for them at the time?
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