Viet Nam News
ĐÀ LẠT — A lonely pine tree on a hillside in the Central Highlands province of Lâm Đồng that become a tourist hotspot is no longer free to visit, a change that has drawn criticism from tourists and locals alike.
At the beginning of the Lunar New Year, the managing board of Bidoup-Núi Bà National Park, in co-ordination with LAAN Company, set up a ticket booth to charge people who want to get close to the famous tree in Lát Commune, Lạc Dương District.
The tree is located by Đan Ka-Suối Vàng Lake. From the tree, tourists can see the magnificent Lang Biang Mountain and look down on the lake below.
Tourists are now charged VNĐ40,000 (US$1.70) per adult and VNĐ20,000 per child. They will take cars provided by the park management board up the 2km forest path from the ticket booth to the tree.
According to Lạc Dương District Police, many vehicles transferring tourists from the ticket booth to the tree do not meet safety standards.
“This is an eco tour to explore the wild nature but risks are high,” said Nguyễn Văn Hưng, a local tour guide. “Ticket sellers should provide guides to tourists or support them when required. They sell tickets but don’t provide any guides. If there is an accident, who will rescue the tourists?”
According to Nguyễn Lương Minh, deputy director of the park, the area around the pine tree belongs to the Đan Kia-Đà Lạt National Tourism Site, which is managed by the Bidoup-Núi Bà National Park.
“Tourists flocking to the tree have left rubbish and various unlicensed food stalls, and many people provide transport services at high prices,” Minh said.
The park’s management board set up the ticket booth and started providing the car service at a reasonable price to protect the environment at the site and contribute to the State budget.
Sử Thanh Hoài, chairman of Lạc Dương District, said the Bidoup-Núi Bà National Park does not have the capacity to provide tours. On January 23, 2019, district authorities asked the park to stop tourism activities in the district, including tours to the tree.
“Local authorities welcome organisations and individuals that want to invest in tourism activities,” he said. “But they should follow regulations on safety for tourists. Services should be worth the money tourists pay.”
The lonely pine tree is a popular destination in the province, located 15km from Đà Lạt’s city centre. After being discovered by photographers in 2014, many tourists have flocked to the site to camp and take photos. A movie titled Đời Cho Ta Bao Lần Đôi Mươi (We Just Have a Young Age) by director Lee Văn Anh was shot at the site and screened in July 2017. — VNS