On a recent trip to the central highlands of Vietnam, I decided to trek to Lang Biang Mountain – the highest peak in Dalat. It is an underrated scenic spot and not as touristy as Sapa in the north, which makes it more appealing to me. The temperate climate in Dalat adds comfort to the climb making it less exhausting.
Lang Biang Mountain is not difficult to find. It is only about 12 km from the city center of Dalat so there are many options to get there. I took the public bus which only cost 10,000 VND (50 cents) and brought me right in the base of the park.
After getting off the bus, I went straight to the gate to pay an entrance fee for 20,000 VND ($1). From there, I was greeted by some pushy Vietnamese photographers trying to take me photos with their painted, zebra-looking ponies for a fee. There are also jeeps waiting to bring visitors to the peak for 40,000 VND ($2) but it needs at least 6 passengers before it leaves.
But of course, I did not take the jeep as my real intention was to hike. It was quite nauseating though to see the jeeps zoom by every minute to and from the peak. But so far that was the only irksome experience on this trip.
The road going up is paved which can be good or bad depending on your taste. The ascent, though not too strenuous, is very steep and requires stamina. As I climbed uphill, I had to rest from time to time to catch my breath, sip a drink and, most of all, to enjoy the scenery.
The first half of the trail is surrounded by towering pine trees. The ambiance kinda reminds me of a place called Baguio in my home country. The cool weather and the panoramic view were perfect for someone like me who works in Saigon where it is extremely hot all day! Since I wasn’t in a hurry, I seized the time and breathed in the relaxing smell of the pines and enjoyed the great view.
There came a point when I had to make a choice whether to continue walking along the paved road or take the road less “driven” by. Apparently, there are two peaks that you can head on to: the Lang Biang peak and the Radar Base where all the jeeps go. I chose to take the Lang Biang trail but I had to pay an extra 20,000 VND in another checkpoint.
The second half of the journey was different. This time, the comfy road was gone and I was on a dirt track! The loud speeding jeeps were gone too so I had more peace in the latter part of the journey.
It felt so much better except that I started to worry because I didn’t see any hikers along the trail. I’m not really a pro hiker so I started to panic a bit. It wasn’t like in the Philippines where I get to meet people along the way anytime of the day! I mean, what if something happened to me and no one saw me? Talk about paranoia!
After a while, I finally saw Lang Biang peak from a distance through the foliage! I kept following the trail until it led me to a steeper and muddier path. Luckily there are wooden boards built into the trail for an easier climb although it could still get very slippery! I continued the ascent into the thicker part of the forest and climbed over fallen trees and what not. I reached the top drenched in sweat.
The summit was not that bad. Unfortunately it started to get foggy so I didn’t enjoy much of the view from the top. A few minutes later, I started to hear people coming. Eventually the summit became packed with local and foreign tourists alike. Some groups came with a tour guide and others stayed at the peak for a picnic. I would say that it was a fairly challenging hike for beginners but absolutely doable and fun!
What would you add to these? Lets hear them in the comments!