High up in the highlands

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Get to the top of Lang Biang Mountain for a different Da Lat experience

A paraglider enjoys the views of the majestic Lang Biang Mountain

There are times that the Lang Biang Mountain and its environment, home to a legend of tragic love, present a fairy tale setting.

Considered the rooftop of Da Lat, Lang Biang is at its most impressive in December. The pine forests are greener, fresher, and when it drizzles at this time of the year, the scenery and the feelings it evokes is overwhelmingly romantic.

But contrary to the sad legend associated with it, many people have said that reaching the top of the mountain and being part of the vast wilderness is an exhilarating feeling.

The experience is very different from a typical visit to Da Lat, which has expected attractions like flowers and souvenir shops selling the same handicraft products, or even sleepy horses and houses on stilts with not much inside.

Lang Biang's tourism development journey started in 1993, and it has been popular with people wanting to get in touch with nature. It has also become a destination for camping and hiking, and for tours that include biological research and studies of ethnic culture.

The place is home to many villages of ethnic groups and there are tours designed for tourists to observe their daily life and other activities.

The biodiversity on the highland is almost undisturbed. Primeval forests cover 971 hectares, and are home to several species listed in Vietnam's Red Book including langurs and rare pine species.

Scientists have also found more than 300 types of orchids in Lang Biang, besides ginseng and other precious herbs.

Lang Biang was named a national heritage in 2001.

Beautiful pine forests line the roads leading to the mountain. Photos: Hoa Phuong Do

The mountain is located around 12 kilometers from the town center. Tourists can travel along Phan Dinh Phung Street, then turn right into Xo Viet Nghe Tinh, and Danika to reach the foot of Lang Biang.

A zigzag path of six kilometers takes people to the top that is more than 2000m above sea level.

They are 32 off-road vehicles with experienced drivers from the Da Lat Tourism Company that will take visitors up. Other vehicles are banned as the mountainous path is dangerous.

Each round trip on the six-seat jeeps costs VND40,000 (US$2) per person.

Some young people choose to explore the mountain on foot, so they will not miss much of the scenery as the vegetation changes constantly at different heights.

At the top, a panoramic view of the town, streams and valleys presents Da Lat in a very different light.

Atop the mountain are the statues of the legendary couple that the mountain and its adjoining stream are associated with - K'lang and his wife H'biang.

The legend tells a love story just like Romeo and Juliet's. They were luckier as they got married, but had to live far away from the mountain foot to avoid their rival families.

They loved each other but their union was not blessed by their respective tribes so they began living away from their people, moving up them mountain from the valley. One day, H'biang, of the Chil ethnic group, fell sick and her husband returned to the village asking for help. They shot poisoned arrows at him, but the wife shielded him and died. The ensuing tears of K'lang, who cried himself to death, formed the Da Nhim stream.

The youths' death struck remorse among their fathers and they came together as the current K'ho ethnic group. The couple were buried on the top of the mountain where they lived together.

Increasing tourism has given rise to calls for better facilities at the top, where one can only spend 30 minutes now. Most people are okay with it. There is no water or power supply at the top, but there are a few shops selling coats and handicraft souvenirs without price tags. A few ethnic minority residents sell their fabric here, but this does not happen regularly.

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