A Mountainous Wonderland
Tam Dao is a small town perched on top of a lush mountain just a stone’s throw away from Hanoi. The first thing you will notice is its uniqueness compared to other tourist destinations in Vietnam. Wandering its beautiful streets, you will find yourself lost in a dreamy ancient town that feels somewhat reminiscent of a European city!
Where is Tam Dao located?
Tam Dao is in the mountainous province of Vinh Phuc, about 74 km from Hanoi. The town is quite small with streets just wide enough for a car or two motorbikes going in opposite directions.
Houses, hotels, restaurants… they’re all built on steep slopes. The terrain here has almost no flat area. This makes for a pleasant and unique architectural experience as buildings and infrastructure have been developed to compensate for these slopey landscapes.
What is the Best Transportation To, From and Inside Tam Dao?
The best means of transport are motorbikes or private cars. Note: the area from Hanoi to Vinh Yen remains flat, and then from Vinh Yen to Tam Dao town there is a steady incline. So be sure your bike is up for the challenge!!
If traveling by bus, you actually need to take 3 bus trips: Bus number 58 or 07 to Me Linh Plaza. From Me Linh Plaza, take bus number 01 (bus Vinh Phuc) to Vinh Yen bus station, once there you can take bus number 07 to Tam Dao.
You can also look online for private minivans for more convenient options.
Where Can You Stay in Tam Dao?
Tam Dao town is very small, and walkable from one end to another. I recommend staying at least one night in Tam Dao. It’s just enough time to roam the night market and make your way to all the tourist attractions in and around the city.
In Tam Dao, there are countless choices for travelers from motels, hotels and homestays. Although the town is small, there are ample options for accommodation food and amenities. During peak season the Hotel prices here go up about 25%. During weekdays, the lowest room price is about 300k, and on holidays, the lowest price is about 400k.
For those who intend to go and return during the day, Tam Dao has hotels that provide hourly rates; Price starts from 200k.
The Top 6 Places to Visit in Tam Dao Town
1. The Central Area
The central area is the most beautiful place in Tam Dao thanks to the beautifully designed hotels, restaurants, and shops which cascade into the central valley. These buildings were designed according to European architectural standards creating a unique, quaint and romantic space. If you only get a small chance to explore Tam Dao, nothing beats walking around it’s streets and admiring these beautiful buildings! Just go on a day your feeling photogenic!
2. The Night Market Area.
The night market area connects with the central area. This is the place where many restaurants, restaurants, and specialties are sold. This area both during the day and at night is a bustling, crowded hive of activity.
Especially at night, when the temperature is low, visitors are more and more attracted by the fiery red charcoal stoves with the aroma of barbecue. The stalls displaying colorful and eye-catching baked goods are adjacent to each other for visitors to choose from.
In particular, dishes such as grilled chicken, grilled fish, and grilled chayote sprouts are dishes you cannot miss! You will also see some wild animals (Vietnamese Hedgehogs) on display however I do not recommend you try!
3. The Ancient Church
The church in Tam Dao is built of stone and is of ancient and serene beauty. On Tet holiday, this place is always crowded with tourists. From the old church, one has a sweeping view down the center of town with vistas far away of overlapping hills and mountains. This is truly a rewarding place!
4.Thac Bac (Silver) Waterfall
The Thac Bac Waterfall is a prominent natural tourist destination in Tam Dao, but compared to many other waterfalls in Vietnam, I do not rate this one too highly. Fortunately, the Thac Bac Waterfall area is free to enter. Just know that to reach the waterfall, it is necessary to climb down many stairs. The journey up and down is enough to make you crazy unless you like a good hike!
My favorite spot along the Silver waterfall trail was not actually the waterfall itself, but trying and buying the specialty sweets and apparel (priced at a mere 39k) from dedicated merchants along the way. If you intend to buy one of the specialty sweets as gifts, or buy beanies or scarves, you should buy them at this location. The price is much cheaper here than buying at the main markets. I only know as I bought my goods at the central market, and could have saved myself some pretty pennies! ^^
5. Lady Chua Thuong Ngan Temple (Go for the shrooms)
This is the main temple in Tam Dao. It is definitely the largest there. Lady Chua Thuong Ngan temple is located on a small mountain. On the way to the temple, visitors will find many stalls selling herbal products at quite reasonable prices. In particular, this place also sells Cordyceps (a highly nutritious fungi), at extremely cheap prices compared to the market.
Not far from the main entrace to the temple is the Cordyceps Research Institute. I highly recommend you buy this healing mushroom here! The price is oh so reasonable, and if you’re interested in anti-aging, enhanced performance, or even the ability to reduce tumors or treat diabetes then this amazing fungus is worth trying for yourself or gifting to a loved one! Many of its healing powers have been backed by science, so feel free to do your own research to learn about its amazing medicinal properties before or after purchasing!
The way to the green temple with the shady bamboo rows
Regarding the architecture of Ba Chua Thuong Ngan temple in particular, its not something I completely appreciate. For the best temple, see below the Tay Thien Temple which is not too far from Tam Dao town. It is a great place to admire some stunning architecture and get a little bit spiritual if you wish!
6. Funky Cafes In The Clouds
In addition to the above-mentioned places, if you’re seeking a heavenly perspective among caffeinated aromas, there are some really great cafe options in Tam Dao. Join in the spirit of Vietnamese Cafe culture, these places are almost always filled with young people! Enjoy the scenery and spaces and do as the locals do… by snapping some vanity shots just for fun! You’re Instagram followers will be rewarded!
2 Additional Places to Visit Nearby (Must do!)
Tam Dao National Park – Vietnam Bear Rescue Center
The central area is about 10km from Tam Dao town, right at the foot of the mountain heading towards the town. So it is suitable to visit after or before visiting Tam Dao.
This is a well-deserved place to visit , but you need to arrange your schedule as it is only open on certain days of the year. Before visiting, visitors need to contact the center management and make an appointment. The tour is free of charge.
Sdt: (+84) 2113539279
Tay Thien Buddhist Temple
Tay Thien is 13 km from Vietnam Bear rescue center, 23 km from Tam Dao town. The most reasonable itinerary is visiting Tam Dao first, sleeping there for one night, then during the next morning, leaving town, and visiting the Bear rescue center. Once you’ve made the most of this enchanting experience go and visit Tay Thien Temple. At the end of the day, you can return to Hanoi feeling like you’ve seen all best bits.
This is a holy place that reminds me of some temples you would see in Thailand or Nepal. There are two prominent attractions: Truc Lam Tay Thien Zen Monastery, and the Great Stupa of Tay Thien Mandala.
Mandala Great Stupa
Getting to Truc Lam Zen Monastery, visitors need to buy an electric bus and cable car ticket. The Tay Thien Mandala Great Stupa, however, is right at the entry gate, and is a stunning construction, full of wonder and magic!
Tam Dao town is not a well-known tourist destination in Vietnam, but in my opinion, this place will give visitors a lovely, romantic experience. I recommend you prioritize these three locations in your travels: The Tam Dao town – The Vietnam Bear Rescue Center – and the Tay Thien Temple. Seeing these will make your experience more colorful and worthwhile. Have a happy and safe trip! And don’t forget to keep the landscape clean and beautiful. 😉