An Open Letter to the Vietnamese Tourism Board

Dear Vietnamese Tourism Board,

Let me first say thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to visit your country. I have found the experience deeply rewarding. Vietnam has a great deal in the way of quality food, entertainment, and natural beauty. Most recently, I visited Datanla Falls outside of Dalat. Though I loved the natural scenery, there were a few things that would like to offer for your consideration as you open more natural spaces to visitors in the future. I am speaking specifically of admission prices, activities, and accessibility within the park.

The admission price to Datanla Falls was very low at 10,000 Dong, about $0.50 US. With such a low barrier to entry, this price allows more people to enjoy the park. Unfortunately, inside the park, there was a section that was only accessible with another ticket purchase of 30,000 Dong, which gave the visitor a pass to the elevator down the falls and a gondola ride back to the beginning of one section of the walking path. This scheme of pricing is frustrating to visitors, who assume that the admission fee at the beginning allows you to visit the entire space. I suggest increasing the admission price in the beginning to cover the costs of whatever services you offer inside the park so that visitors are not left feeling cheated.

Datanla Falls is a lovely natural space, so it was puzzling to notice that inside the park, you had built a rollercoaster for visitors to ride. The ride itself was fairly quiet, but those who were on it shrieked and laughed for the entire length of the track, reminding me that I was in fact surrounded by people, not isolated as I wanted to be in such a natural area. I also think that having a gondola ride inside the park is unnecessary and detracts from the experience of being in nature. Furthermore, the elevator down to the bottom of the waterfall is a nice thing to have for the purpose of increasing accessibility for those with disabilities, but there should also be an option of walking down a path to explore it on your own. Finally, please eliminate the speakers and the classical music playing throughout the park. Though it is pleasant enough, it made the area feel more like a theme park than the beautiful natural wonder that it is. Visitors come to the park to be in nature and want to have the chance to walk around in a beautiful area, making an elevator, gondola ride and musical soundtrack unwanted and unnecessary.

I would encourage you as you open more national parks and set aside more land for conservation to remember that being in nature is an activity in and of itself; it does not need to be supplemented with gimmicky rides and extra costs. If maintaining the natural environment requires increasing admission prices, I suggest that you do that instead of violating the natural environment.

Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions, or if you want to hear more about my visit to Datanla Falls. I really enjoyed the park and took a number of pictures there. Please enjoy them by visiting my Flickr page. Again, thanks, and keep up the good work you are doing to preserve Vietnam’s legacy for future generations of visitors.

Danielle Strollo, California, USA

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