Legendary Lang Biang

In June 2015, at the 27th Session of the International Coordinating Council  of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program (ICC-MAB) held in Paris, the Lang Biang Natural Reserve in Vietnam’s Central Highlands Lam Dong Province has been recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Lang Biang Reserve has retained its values of bio-diversity on a global scale, with the natural scenery mixed in harmony with local cultural features. It has contributed to forming and developing Da Lat to become a city of tourism and an international research centre on tropical forest.

Vietnam’s “Romeo & Juliet” love story
Visiting Da Lat, we were told by the ethnic K’ho people who are living in the Central Highlands Lam Dong Province about the legend of Lang Biang Mountain. The legend goes that Lang, a son of the Lat tribe’s chief, fell in love with Biang, a daughter of the Chil tribe’s chief. Because they were from different tribes, they were not allowed to become husband and wife. The couple decided to die together to show their love for each other, and their opposition to the tough traditional ritual.

After their death, the two fathers were so regretful that they decided to reunite different tribes, including the Lat, Chil and Sre into the K’ho group. The high mountain in the upper La Ngu hamlet, where the young couple died, was named Lang Biang in memory of their loyal love.

The local people said the legend is considered a Vietnamese love story similar to that of Romeo and Juliet, and after listening to it we decided to go to the top of Lang Biang Mountain that now belongs to UNESCO’s biosphere reserve network.

A sea of clouds at sunset seen from Lang Biang Mountain at the height of 2,169m. Photo: VNP’s file

The city of Da Lat seen from the height of 1,950m. Photo: Tat Son/VNP

Climbing Lang Biang Mountain

Dưới chân núi Lang Biang là một thung lũng khá lớn, gọi là thung lũng Trăm Năm, được thiết kế như một khu du lịch sinh thái. Tại đây, du khách có thể cắm trại qua đêm, quây quần bên ánh lửa với ché rượu cần, thưởng thức những giai điệu Tây Nguyên và nhạc cụ cổ truyền của bà con dân tộc Lạch.
There is a broad valley at the foot of Lang Biang Mountain called Tram Nam (A hundred years), which is designed as an eco-tourist park. Visitors can camp overnight, drink can wine by the campfire, and enjoy traditional songs of the Central Highlands performed by Lach ethnic people.

We searched for information on tours to Lang Biang Mountain from the Internet and found that there are more than 50 travel companies who offer prices from 199,000 to 500,000 VND (roughly 9.5 to 24 dollars) per person. We took the package price of 500,000 VND for our trip which included transport, lunch, site visit tickets, and a tour guide.

From Da Lat, the bus went about 12km and stopped at the foot of Lang Biang Mountain. That’s the place where we started our trip to the three mountains that belong to Lang Biang global biosphere reserve. We had to hike a total of about 14km.

Of the three mountains, the two that were the most challenging stand at an altitude of 1,950m high and 2,169m high. To reach the 1,950m-high mountain, we had to trek along a narrow path in the pine forests from which we could see Dan Kia Lake with its clear water.

Almost at the top of that mountain, we turned right to hike along another path for about two hours in a primitive jungle towards the 2,169m mountain. Each step the cold of the jungle is absorbed deeper into our body. The higher we climbed, the narrower the path became. There were some obstacles on the way such as dried wood, large rocks, climbing plants and sinuous curves.

Going through primitive forests to climb Lang Biang Mountain. Photo: VNP’s file

Tourists using a small truck on the way to Lang Biang Mountain. Photo: VNP’s file

Foreign tourists share beautiful photos captured at the peak. Photo: VNP’s file

Tourists have lunch on the way to climb Lang Biang Mountain. Photo: VNP’s file

Camping at the peak to behold the early morning landscape of Da Lat and Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park.
Photo: VNP’s file

The happiness of tourists at the peak of Lang Biang Mountain. Photo: VNP’s file

We reached the 2,169m mountain in late afternoon and could see with our own eyes “a banquet of a sunset” with a sea of clouds floating around the peak. From the top of Lang Biang Mountain, we could see a panoramic view of Da Lat, like a water-color painting with Dan Kia Lake and Golden Stream like a silky ribbon in the vast, green forests and mountains.

Lang Biang, an international research centre on tropical forests
Lang Biang Biosphere Reserve comprises a vast primitive jungle with the Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park at its core, which is classified as one of Vietnam’s four bio-diversity centres. Scientists have classified 153 species of animals and plants listed in Vietnam’s Red Book in 2007, and 154 species in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list in 2010. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also says that the reserve is among the Number-One zones for preservation (coded SA3 zone) in its program to protect the fauna living in Vietnam’s southern Truong Son Range.

According to results conducted by experts, the Lang Biang Natural Reserve has 62 rare species
of fauna and flora, including 29 species listed in the red list of Vietnam and IUCN. Photo: VNP’s file

The Lang Biang Natural Reserve draws much attention from experts because it is the home of
Thong hai la de (Pinus krempfii), an old species in Vietnam. Photo: Ha Huu Net

The Lang Biang Natural Reserve has a floral system with 153 species listed in Vietnam’s Red Book (2007)
and 154 species in the IUCN Red List (2010). Photo: VNP’s file

The Lang Biang Natural Reserve is regarded as one of the five endemic bird areas in Indochina and
one of 221 endemic bird areas in the world by Birdlife International (a non-governmental organisation
that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity).The Lang Biang Natural Reserve
has 7 out of 13 species of bird endemic in Vietnam, including grey-crowned crocias. Photo: Ha Huu Net

The langur at the Lang Biang Natural Reserve. Photo: Ha Huu Net

Lang Biang is home to a natural ecological system which provides a sustainable living income for the local people through the Vietnamese government’s program to pay for forest environmental services. There are more than 8,000 local households benefiting from this program through their contribution to protecting and preserving the reserve’s ecological values.

Lang Biang UNESCO-recognised Biosphere Reserve will work as a firm foundation for Lam Dong Province’s sustainable development through the exploitation of the combined values of the ecological services with a focus on developing tourism and related services. This will contribute to building and developing Da Lat to become a centre for tourism, training and scientific research on tropical forests.

Lang Biang is Vietnam’s 9th UNESCO-recognised Biosphere Reserve. The other eight reserves include Can Gio Mangrove Biosphere Reserve, Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve, Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve, the Red River Delta Biosphere Reserve, Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve, Western Nghe An Biosphere Reserve, Ca Mau Cape Biosphere Reserve, and Cu Lao Cham Biosphere Reserve.

Story: Quang Minh & Ha Huu Net
Photos: Ha Huu Net & VNP’s Files