Bach Ma National Park History
According to Vietnamese tradition, the Bach Ma ridge got its name (“white horse”) from the white cloud which continually caps its peak. The area first attracted the attention of conservationists in 1925 when a plan to create a national park protecting the Edward’s pheasant was submitted to the French colonial authorities.
On 29 July 1932, the summit plateau was selected by the French chief engineer Girard to become a hill station for the colonial administration of Hue . In the following years, a village including 139 villas and hotels was created, which soon became known as the Dalat of Central Vietnam.
After the French left Vietnam in 1954, the hill resort was soon forgotten and the remains of some of these buildings are now being smothered by the returning jungle. The South Vietnamese government designated the Bach Ma – Hai Van National Park in 1962 but the conservation initiatives did not last very long. The Vietnam War saw heavy fighting in the park as the summit was used as an advanced helicopter base by the US Military.
The American troops took advantage of the view from Bach Ma summit across the coastline and attempted to control the area between Hue and Da Nang. Evidence of this period remains in the form of unexploded ordinance and some hills still have not fully recovered from the spraying of defoliants.
After the reunification in 1976, several projects intended to develop fruit tree and vegetable plantations in the mountains but due to the harsh weather conditions these attempts failed consecutively. Eventually, Bach Ma summit and a surrounding area of 22,031 ha were given the protected status it deserves when Bach Ma National Park was created in 1991.
What to do?
Bach Ma National Park offers a variety of infrastructure facilities for tourists ranging from the visitor centre over marked nature trails to a range of guesthouses. It’s best experienced by hiking some of the trails near the summit; as much time as possible should be spent on the mountain’s trails, which provide the best opportunity to see the wildlife, hear the birds, and smell the flowers.
The park boasts eight well -maintained trails and most of the trailheads are along the road to the summit. Bring plenty of water along your trip, use lots of insect and leech repellent and be sure to check yourselves for leeches after every your hike. And please never forget to bring a raincoat along.