Mountainous province puts safety, environment ahead of tourist dollar

By Di Vy   May 22, 2019 | 06:12 pm GMT+7

Authorities in Lai Chau Province are cracking down on unregulated mountain tourism citing safety and environmental concerns.

At 3,049 meters, Putaleng is the second highest peak in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Nam Chay

At 3,049 meters, Putaleng is the second highest peak in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Nam Chay

In a recent statement, the people's committee of Tam Duong District said tour operators can no longer take customers up Putaleng, Ngu Chi Son and Ta Lien mountains and other adventurous locations without obtaining permits and fulfilling certain conditions.

A source from the district's Office of Culture and Information, said that existing tours have aroused concerns about safety and environmental impacts. 

"Many tour groups use water from the only clean source available to residents in Ta Leng Commune and leave trash on the road up the mountain. This affects the lives of the people here and the environment.

"We will not allow unauthorized tourism activities in the area," the source said, declining to be named.

Putaleng, located in Ta Leng Commune, northern Lai Chau Province, is the second highest peak in Vietnam at a height of 3,049 meters. At 3,143 metres, Fansipan in the neighboring province of Lao Cai is the country's highest peak.

Ta Lien and Ngu Chi Son are situated between Lai Chau and Lao Cai provinces. While the former is 2,996 meters high, the latter, which has five peaks pointing like fingers to the sky, is 2,800 meters high.

Putaleng is one of the most popular mountains in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Le Duy Hung 

Putaleng is one of the most popular mountains in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Le Duy Hung 

Manh Chien, a mountain climber, said after Fansipan, Putaleng and Ta Lien are the most popular because of their primary forests.

"That the authorities are getting stricter sounds right to me. Visitors are mostly unorganized groups who hire local porters to lead the way. If problems arise, things could get very dangerous."

But the flip side of the restrictions is that locals’ incomes could be hit. Since the northwestern region has only one crop a year, people go to the forest to plant cardamom. Many work as porters to earn an extra income.

Travel companies are not amused either.

"The announcement should have clearly stated the conditions and registration procedures for organizing tours," one organizer who plans tours to Putaleng said.

 
 
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