The Da Lat Plateau is located in southeastern Vietnam and internationally acclaimed for its biodiversity. Bird Life International has identified the region as one of five extensive bird areas in Vietnam for its variety of birds especially rare and threatened species. The city of Da Lat lies in the center of the plateau and is perhaps the most unique city of central Vietnam, unfortunately underrated by foreign tourists. The city is also known as the “City of Flowers” or the “City of Artists.” It’s most common title is “City of Eternal Spring” due to its refreshing climate.
Although locals enjoyed the fauna and flora of the area for centuries, foreigners first discovered the Plateau in 1893 when microbiologist Alexandre Yersin traveled to the region as part of a French expedition. The members of the expedition convinced the French governor general of what is today Vietnam, to build a mountain resort in the plateau. In 1907 the first hotel was completed. The construction was orchestrated by renowned architect and archaeologist Ernest Hébrard. Another interesting site is the Bao Dai Palace built in 1937 in the middle of a forest just 2.5 kilometers from Da Lat city. It is in the art deco style built for King Bao Dai, the last feudal king of Vietnam.
Modern Life and the City of Eternal Spring
Today the city of Da Lat is a popular honeymoon destination for Vietnamese couples due to its beautiful scenery and excellent climate. The climate reaches an average high of 23° Celsius (73°F) and low of 14° Celsius (57°F) and is thus called the “City of Eternal Spring.” The city has a mix of French and Vietnamese architecture and draws visitors for its historical as well as natural landmarks. The plateau is one of the richest agricultural regions in Vietnam, providing locals with an array of vegetation. Other attractions in the area are the Truc Lam Monestary, King Bao Dai’s Summer Palace, the Crazy House hotel, the Linh Phuoc Pagoda, Prenn and Elephant Waterfalls, the Central and Night Market, the Lam Dong Museum, Da Lat University, and the Valley of Love, among many other interesting sights.
Habitat and Biodiversity
Da Lat Plateau has a rich biodiversity, especially in regards to its bird species. The tropical mountain evergreen forest is home to such birds as the crested argus (pictured, the short-tailed babbler, the black hooded laughing thrush, and the yellow billed nuthatch. The pine forest in the region is home of the Vietnamese greenfinch. The different altitudes in the plateau allow for such diversity in species. In the northeast of the plateau is the Bidoup Núi Bà National Park which is home to thirty-six species of small mammals. These include the tree shrews, the round leaf bats, and porcupines. The flower gardens in the area showcase the variety of flora and are open to the public.
Environmental Threats and Territorial Disputes
Unfortunately, the cultivation techniques of farmers have affected the growth and quality of the evergreen forests in the plateau, and as such is having a harmful effect on the various habitats within these forests. Logging is another issue that is decreasing forest production and preventing regeneration of trees. Six of the native bird species are threatened with extinction, while the Pale-capped pigeon is also a vulnerable species. The government instituted a resettlement program for people to settle in the region, and this also contributes to the ecological degradation in the plateau.