Xuan Huong Lake, Vietnam

Lake Locations:

Vietnam -

Also known as:  Grand Lake

Nestled in the South Central Highlands of Vietnam, Xuan Huong Lake is just beginning to be known as a tourism location to most of the world. Called Grand Lac by the French Colonial overseers of the area, Xuan Huong Lake was created originally by the placement of two dams across a branch of the Cam Ly River. The two dams, constructed in 1919 and 1923, created two small lakes. A major storm destroyed both dams in 1932, and the current lake was created by building a single dam downstream. Located at 4,851 feet above sea-level, the larger lake was renamed Xuan Huong Lake in 1954 in honor of a famous 19th century Vietnamese poetess. Formerly home to many indigenous peoples of the Lat minority, today the lake forms the centerpiece of the city of Da Lat.

Xuan Huong Lake is tranquil, its glass-like surface reflecting the pines and greenery along the shoreline. A five-mile pathway around the lake provides for scenic walks among the gardens and parks. The year-round climate is temperate and offers a refreshing change from the humid coastal areas. A number of tourist-attracting features add a quaint atmosphere of early French holiday destinations. Swan-shaped pedal boats and small rowboats can be rented at the shore for paddling the 79-acre lake. Many small shops and cafes catering to visitors can be found around the lake’s perimeter. Old holiday villas can be seen in the hills around the lake. The province of Lamdong holds many cultural events on Xuan Huong Lake, and national cycling race routes sometimes circle the waters.

Da Lat is less sophisticated than many world travelers expect. Many of the buildings are quite old in the Art deco style and sometimes in poor condition. Likewise, descriptions of the lake often serve to confuse. Some tourism reports state that the lake has over 1,200 surface acres, but the actual size appears to be between 60-100 acres with a three-mile shoreline. The French began to develop the Da Lat area around 1900 as a retreat from the steaming coastal areas, although their full plans never came to fruition. Europe’s wealthy world traveling class often came to Da Lat early in the 20th century to stay in the many resort hotels and guest houses in the area. At least one large palatial hotel built during the French heyday still exists to welcome visitors.

Da Lat holds several old temples and a well-attended marketplace where a stunning variety of local fruits, vegetables and flowers can be purchased, along with a large number of cheaper souvenir trinkets and locally produced goods. The city has a well-respected 18-hole golf course originally designed for Emperor Bao Dai. One of the most curious of buildings in Da Lat is Hang Nga Guesthouse, more widely known as the “Crazy House”, a fanciful guest house created by a well-known female Vietnamese architect. Found in many Vietnam tourism guidebooks, the “Crazy House” still rents 10 rooms decorated in fanciful, natural style.

Known as the Gateway to the Central Highlands, the area around Da Lat and Xuan Huong Lake provides a perfect agricultural climate for vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbages along with extensive flower gardens. Three large ornamental gardens open to the public are located along Xuan Huong Lake. Complete with walking paths and scenic overlooks, the parks are popular spots for walking and cycling. The gardens have a reputation as a location for romance, with strolling couples and the lovelorn sharing the pathways. Da Lat is a noted honeymoon location; several guest houses of varying opulence and in a wide price range are found in the area. The city is low-key, with few night spots staying open late.

Those with a desire to experience the misty valleys of the Central Highlands will find the surrounding hills scenic and filled with pathways. Non-walkers may enjoy a trip on the scenic Da Lat-Thap Cham Railway, a 4.3-mile restored portion of a formerly busy local railway. The original railway suffered little damage during the Vietnam War but after being occupied by North Vietnam, the railroad was cannibalized for parts to repair the more commercial, heavily damaged North-South Railway. The tour to Trui Mat Village leaves from the historic railway station in Da Lat. Da Lat escaped most of the ravages of war in the past century, sustaining damage only during the Tet Offensive. The older French buildings thus remain intact as do most area geological features. Plans are in the works to restore more of the former local railway in the future.

Several tours featuring portions of the notorious Ho Chi Minh Trail travel through the area, often with an overnight stop at Da Lat. Beside the usual tour bus travel, physically fit visitors can take advantage of guided cycling tours of several days’ duration. One tour popular with history buffs interested in the areas torn by war is the Ho Chi Minh Trail by Motorbike Tour of two weeks’ duration. This tour is not for the faint of heart and best suited to those familiar with motorbike riding, as portions of the original muddy trail are utilized as shortcuts. Many tours can be customized to meet particular needs, and both bicycles and motorbikes can be rented in the larger cities.

For those familiar only with the larger cities of Vietnam such as Ho Chi Minh City, Da Lat and Xuan Huong Lake will be a complete change of pace. Come to where the Vietnamese people honeymoon and vacation for your next holiday. Relax and enjoy the cooling mountain breezes and misty mornings near the scenic lake. It will change your view of Vietnam forever.

*Statistical references differ considerably in the size of the lake. We have used the official figures from Lamdong Province.

Things to do at Xuan Huong Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Biking

Xuan Huong Lake Photo Gallery

Xuan Huong Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Surface Area: 79 acres

Shoreline Length: 3 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 4,851 feet

Average Depth: 5 feet

Completion Year: 1935

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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