Visitors to Da Lat have been infuriated after they were forced to pay for tickets in order to access one of the most popular newly-emerged must-visit places in the tourist city, which was previously free for everyone.
Located on the Lam Vien Plateau in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, Da Lat is famous for its year-round cool and refreshing climate.
Tourists often come to the city to enjoy the pleasant atmosphere, a variety of flower species, delicious dishes and specialties, or just to become one with nature.
Situated approximately 18.5 kilometers northwest of the city’s downtown area, the ‘Cay Thong Co Don’ (Lonely Pine Tree) has emerged as one of the most favorite natural attractions in Da Lat, especially for visitors who look for some adventures and a perfect photo opportunity.
The destination earns its name from a big pine tree that stands in solitude in the middle of an empty grass field just by the bank of ‘Suoi Vang’ (Yellow Stream) Lake, which is part of the magnificent Golden Valley.
This is also a great place for visitors to set up their camps and spend the night.
However, it is not easy to access the area as visitors are required to complete a nearly-one-hour drive before taking a forest trail to the destination.
The place had always been accessible without any entrance fee until the 2019 Lunar New Year (February 5), when the management of the Bidoup – Nui Ba National Park, in coordination with LAAN Company, started selling tickets to visitors.
All trails leading to the famous pine tree have since been blocked, with a new trail opened along with a ticket booth at the beginning of the path.
Adults have to pay VND40,000 (US$1.72) for a ticket, while children are given a 50-percent discount, which has upset a lot of tourists.
After buying the tickets, visitors are provided with specialized vehicles that take them to the location.
The transportation is not always necessary as many travel to the valley by motorbike and car.
“This is unacceptable,” said Van Dinh Khoi, a tourist from Ho Chi Minh City. “They can sell tickets, but they have to provide us with some decent services.”
Tran Dinh Trong, another visitor, concurred with Khoi, adding that the park managers should have focused on ensuring the safety and public hygiene of the area when they decided to charge entrance fees.
A representative from the Bidoup – Nui Ba National Park management board confirmed that the Lonely Pine Tree is located within the park, adding that a share of 20 percent of ticket revenue will be used for such services as camping, food, and drinks.
Meanwhile, the People’s Committee in Lac Duong District in Lam Dong Province stressed that the ticket sale is against regulations, as the site is situated within the Dankia- Suoi Vang tourist area, which is managed by the district administration.
The Lac Duong People’s Committee has reported the case to the provincial administration for further decisions.