Tam Dao (Tam Đảo), a small mountainous town of Vinh Phu province, is favored by many young locals. At 1000m (3000ft) high, Tam Dao has a cool weather throughout the year like Da Lat and Sapa. In addition, the 70km (44miles) from Hanoi has made it an attractive place for Hanoi people on weekends and holidays.
Attractions in Tam Dao
1. Van pagoda (Chùa Vân), whose full name is Tam Dao Tinh Vien Van Son, was built in 2009. Located 9km (5miles) aways from Tam Dao town, on the route from Hanoi to Tam Dao, the pagoda has very beautiful view. You can also stay overnight here.
2. Telecommunication tower, 93m (270ft) high, is located on the peak of Thien Nhi mountain – 1400m (4600ft) high. Way up to the mountain is quite hard but romantic with many kinds of flower: Orchid, Cuc quy and many other wild flowers.
3. Silver waterfall (Thác Bạc), 50m (165ft) high, is the most beautiful waterfall in Tam Dao. To get to the fall, from Tam Dao town, you have to go along a trail, down to a deep valley. In the end, you will see the waterfall hiding in the mountain.
4. Rung Rinh peak (đỉnh Rùng Rình) is an ideal destination for adventurers. The nature is fairy-like with a lot of gigantic trees covered in orchids and moss, birds singing all day and majestic mountains. Furthermore, you can see Tam Dao-2, the remain of what used to be a French resort nearly a century ago.
5. Tam Dao ancient church was built in 1937 by the French. This is one of many architectures built by the French, most of which were destroyed during the war. This church is the only structure that remains intact. This is a very interesting site with nice overall view of Tam Dao nature.
6. Public pool is located halfway up the mountain, very romantic. The water is very clean. You should bath at noon or early afternoon to avoid the cold in the morning and evening ($2.5/ticket). The pool is picked as relaxing place by many tourists.
7. Sky Gate (Cổng Trời) where you get to know a Tam Đảo behind the cloud – my favorite view.
8. Thuong Ngan princess temple (Đền bà chúa Thượng Ngàn) has many things to see. When arriving at the garden statues, I was very surprised by the statues of Buddha, Bodhisattva, Arhat hiding in the mist.
Hotels and motels in Tam Dao
1. Popular motel, you can contact Mr. Thai (Principal of Tam Dao secondary school) +8498.2475.367 or Mrs. Thuc (sister of Mr. Thai) +8498.7280.863, they will help you enthusiastically.
2. Tu Phuong motel is located on the highest point, has panoramic vision of the town, large rooms, clean food, good price. Tu and Phuong are the name of the enthusiastic host couple. Foreign tourists travel in big group would love this motel. You can contact +8498.933.9458
3. Minh Nguyet motel in region 1 – Tam Dao town. Tel: +84211.824.163 or +84904.138.333 or +84988.120.192
4. Anh Duong motel on a hillside, clean and large room (from $10 – $15), cheap and clean food (you can book meals here). The motel also has large yard for campfire (about 50 people). Contact Mrs. Duyen +84211.3824.225
5. Tam Dao Belvedere Resort is the best resort in Tam Dao in my view. The resort is located quite far away from the town (about 3km or 2 miles), close to Silver waterfall and Tam Dao national park, ideal for honeymoon or resting. Rates range from $70 to $250. Add: region 2 – Tam Dao town, tel +84211.3824.149 or office in Hanoi: +844.6281.4060
Famous specialties of Tam Dao
1. Chayote (Su su) is the most famous specialty of Tam Dao. They cover a large area on mountainsides, houses front, and on both sides of road. Chayote can be cooked into many dishes: chayote stir fried with beef or garlic, chayote fruit can be boiled and eaten with sesame or fish sauce, etc.
2. Hill chicken is fed with non-commercial food so the meat is thick and particularly flavourful.
3. Man pig (lợn mán) is similar to hill chicken, fed with human leftover and other natural food. If you travel in big group, about 10 people, you can order one pig from 6-8kg (13-17.5lb) with price about $15/kg. It will be cooked into so many different dishes. They can also organize a campfire party for your group.
Foods in Tam Dao is quite expensive so you should carry some fast foods for snack. Doing so you will save a considerable sum.
Bring a hair dryer and mini iron because Tam Dao’s weather is usually very wet, especially when having mist.
Prepare your medicines. I walked around the town and saw only one small pharmacy.