Da Lat’s Xuan Huong Lake: Then and Now

I apologize in advance, my first blog is going to be more of a rant. But I just had to. 😦

Just a couple of years ago, my father returned to Vietnam to visit our relatives, and while there he took a trip up to Đà Lạt, the “City of Flowers”. Đà Lạt’s namesake is the acronym of the Latin phrase ‘Dat Aliis Laetitiam Aliis Temperiem’ which means “Giving Pleasure to Some, Freshness to Others,” used on Đà Lạt’s official emblem during the French colonial days.

Pleasure? Freshness? Not so much anymore… at least not at Xuân Hương Lake.

I can’t say I know every detail of the story, but from some research and my father’s accounts, Xuân Hương Lake is no longer a lake, just a bare stretch of dry land with a road for vehicles to cross through, where the beautiful lake once existed. Some photos for proof…

The first three photos are of Xuân Hương Lake before April of 1975 (we all know the significance of that date, so please don’t try to offend me by leaving negative comments about it because I will simply delete them). As you can see, it was beyond beautiful.

The next two photos were taken in April of 2007 by my father on his visit. It’s still a very nice lake, not as clean as it used to look, but even the gaudy imitation Eiffel Tower nearby doesn’t make it look too bad yet. My father liked the lakeside cafés, and I agree, they look really pretty. 🙂

The last bunch of photos were shot over a span of 3 months, from January to March 2010, as workers start building the road across the lake (I realize the dates may be off, but these are the details I have received). Draining the poor lake… paving out a road… the now ugly, parched land… sigh.

Apparently the lake is drained for cleaning every 10-12 years, but from the looks of it, are they really just cleaning it? Not likely… And just think about how all this affects the environment, takes away from the beauty of our homeland, and even hurts the livelihoods of the locals. Lakeside cafés, gone. Fishing, gone. Even tourism would be hurt. I mean, how romantic and attractive is that dirt road, really? It’s hideous. But at least now people can ride their motorbikes across it, right? 😀 Uh, no… What kind of ridiculous thinking is that… And what kind of government would allow such stupidity? (It’s a rhetorical question! Because we allll know the answer…).

Um, are they idiots? Haven’t they ever heard of something called a BRIDGE? I guess they’re too cheap and ignorant for that. I am really curious as to what the road’s going to be used for that they had to go that far instead of just building a bridge.

My father has many fond memories of that area, because he went to university there. He said the lake was dazzling and that there used to be fish in there the size of an adult human (I know he’s exaggerating but just use your imagination). Da Lat University now has so many students that they have to run classes practically 24 hours a day to accommodate them all. Why is money being used to build fugly roads across perfectly nice lakes rather than building more universities and facilities in Da Lat to accommodate the increasing amount of people wanting an education? God knows.

Edit 25/03/2010: My friend and senior reminded me that the area of Xuan Huong Lake in Dalat is part of Vietnam’s Central Highlands, where Vietnam’s bauxite mining issue is taking place. (Thanks, Ray!) To learn more about bauxite and the awful effects the mining is having on Vietnam’s environment and overall wellness, please visit the following link and help us Save Tay Nguyen:


From yet another blogger’s post I have read concerning this topic, the mining of Xuan Huong Lake may have begun as early as 2007, only a few months after my father’s visit. But whatever the date may have been, the fact is that beautiful Xuan Huong is forever destroyed for no good reason.

Also, the photos are not mine and belong to their respective owners. Many thanks to them, and thanks to my father for the information and e-mails.


2 thoughts on “Da Lat’s Xuan Huong Lake: Then and Now

  1. Emilie,
    I just read your comment on my site regarding the lake (my site is inundated w/ spam commenters, so yours was lost in the bunch and i didn’t approve it ’til now). Just found your site and these pictures. What an unbelievable difference and what blatant carelessness. Good to find that it’s written about, though, if nothing else.

  2. It’s amazing how beautiful the place was before April 30. It probably wasn’t being maintained very well afterwards, but it did look nice until a few months ago. Holy cow, look at the damage since January for the sake of a road. Da Lat is the capital of the Lam Dong province (one of the two major bauxite mining provinces in Viet Nam. The other province is to the northwest; Dak Nong).

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