Tam Dao Town in Vinh Phuc Province, situated some 80 km from Hanoi, is a must-see destination for visitors to the country’s north.
Tam Dao – The highlight of the northern tourism
During summer Tam Dao has added appeal with its fresh cool air, mist and romantic sceneries. Visitors can experience four seasons in a single day.
They can expect to have their worries eased as they explore this romantic place with the sounds and melodies of mountains and streams and birds singing away in the forest.
They have a myriad of choices for lodging with many motels and hotels available at reasonable prices.
About Tam Dao
Located in Vinh Phuc Province around 70km northwest of Hanoi, Tam Dao Town is a quaint mountain gem. Only accessible by a single road, the town sits at the end of a ribbon of automotive perfection which snakes and climbs around acres of lush green valleys.
The journey is half the reason to make the trip, so expect the 90-minute travel time by motorbike to be increased by frequent stops to take clichéd photos of your vehicle with a dramatic background.
The initial section of the journey just outside Hanoi features a series of small villages, where the children riding their bicycles to school, point and shout greetings at the rare sight of a two-wheeled Tay.
Linking these villages together are vast stretches of almost unused highway, where it’s not uncommon to be the only person around. Depending on when you go, you may not see another vehicle for 10 minutes or more.
The second part of the journey is the reason you need to bring a good camera. Once you clear Tam Dao Golf Course, the road leading towards the town starts to climb. As you edge around each new corner of that delicious mountain road, a whole new view unpacks itself, with Mother Nature adamant on filling up your Instagram account.
Eventually, the forest begins to swallow up the road, and rows of tall trees create a canopy, which covers large swathes of the tarmac. The effect is both dramatic and serene.
Tam Dao Town was established in 1907, and contains various relics and buildings left behind by French colonialists.
One of the most beautiful is the old church, built by the French in 1937. Most of the surrounding buildings have long succumbed to their war wounds, but the surviving church, with its impressive stone tower, is worth a visit and provides a clear view of the town below.
Dotted around the town are various villas, some painted in bizarre colours, which helps to enhance the unique character of this peaceful mountainous retreat. Many of the houses are adjacent to small plots of land, where local people grow their own food in those pristine mountain conditions.
Aside from visiting the cultural sites, Tam Dao is also home to a number of regional specialities. The freshness of the chayote here, or su su, is unlike anything served in Hanoi. Usually stir-fried with garlic, it’s perfect on the side of some plump mountain chicken.
Most of the meat in Tam Dao is free-range and organic; if boiled chicken isn’t your cup of tea, you can find restaurants serving a whole lon man (wild pig), with an 8kg pig setting you back around VND2.5 million.
Located close to the centre of the town is Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall). Found at the bottom of a steep stone stairway, the waterfall emerges from the thick vegetation and resembles a shard of glistening silver, thrust into the rocky pool below.
Tam Dao is more popular with domestic tourists, who are inclined to visit on weekends or during spring and summer. Visiting outside of these times almost guarantees you will have the waterfall to yourself, allowing for a peaceful moment in which you can sit and zone out for a while, taking in the crisp fresh air.
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