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Iconic Da Lat College Closes Doors to Tourists Indefinitely

A well-traveled tourist attraction in Da Lat recently closed its doors to visitors due to insufficient resources.

Last week on April 11, the management board of the Pedagogical College of Da Lat announced that starting from April 12, the campus would no longer welcome tourists, reports Tuoi Tre. The move is to improve orderliness and hygiene of the decades-old college. School officials didn’t elaborate on when or if it would be open again to visitors but confirmed that academic activities will continue as usual.

Da Lat’s Pedagogical College is one of Vietnam’s most picturesque sites. Designed by French artchitect Paul Moncet, the campus started accepting students in 1927 as Lycée de Dalat, a secondary school for children of French colonists and Indochinese elites, including Bao Dai and Norodom Sihanouk. The institute is perhaps best known by the name Lycée Yersin, retitled in 1953 to honor Doctor Alexandre Yersin. The main structure stands on a tree-lined plateau overlooking Xuan Huong Lake and the Da Lat Train Station, with roof tiles and red bricks imported from Europe.

Now, the college is a recognized national-level relic and popular tourist attraction in Lam Dong Province, especially to young travelers. This degree of popularity, however, is ironically a bane to the school’s maintenance and teaching operations.

An unnamed college official explained to Tuoi Tre that the tourist ban is necessary because the board doesn’t have the facilities and manpower needed to maintain it as a tourist site. “Having many visitors is welcomed, but the school’s facilities, hygiene [maintenance] and security forces are only suitable for a small academic institution according to the law,” the official said in Vietnamese. “Every year, we receive over 70,000 tourists, putting a strain on the college’s operational budget.”

Despite the substantial amount of tourist attention, travelers don’t contribute to the school financially as it doesn’t have any tourism service or charge any entrance fee apart from parking. Guests also litter, urinate on campus and vandalize school facilities, in addition to making noises during class time.

Apart from tourist-caused problems, college buildings have also deteriorated greatly over the years, Tuoi Tre reports. In 1976, Lam Dong established a teaching college in the buildings, whose rooms — apart from serving training activities — were converted into living quarters for staff and dormitories for boarding students. It wasn’t recognized as an official architectural relic then, so residents could liberally make alternations to their assigned areas, furthering its internal damage.

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[Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY]


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