Short Guide To Tam Sơn, Vietnam

QT – YOUR GATEAWAY TO HA GIANG & CAO BANG
Serine Helland

Whether you’re taking 3-4 or more days on the Ha Giang loop, Tam Sơn’s certainly worth considering to include in your travel plans. The stunning surrounding area is part of the attraction too. Especially beautiful is the already popular heaven’s gate, which overlooks Tam Sơn.

What to do in and around Tam Sơn, Vietnam

  • Stop at heaven’s gate! You’ll inevitably drive past, either on your way in or out of the city (depending on which route you take). There’s a little café and souvenir shop where you can support the locals by buying some of their handmade clothes or accessories. There are usually a lot of bikes parked outside, so the spot is hard to miss. This is a must-do stop on the way, as it offers the first taste of the exceptional outlooks over the mountains in Ha Giang. On your way, you’ll also see Fairy Bosom, just another spectacular view point!
guide tam son vietnam heaven's gate
Viewpoint from Heaven’s Gate
  • Visit a traditional herbal bath house. At this herbal bath house in Tam Sơn, they offer a herbal bath session and a local ginger honey tea on arrival. For only 80k you can melt away any stress or tension. I’d recommend doing this towards the end of the trip, as a way to rejuvenate and refresh. The weather was cold at the time we did this, and believe me it was the best thing we could have done! Well worth a visit!
  • Go to the Thác Nai Nam Dam waterfall, just a trek away from Nam Dam village. The trek will take about 20-30 minutes, with the last few hundred meters down a forest. At the bottom you’ll find the waterfall, where you can enjoy a break from the days of driving to the calming sound of running water. And maybe even a bath if you’re brave! But be careful, the stones are slippery and the water is very cold. 
guide tam son vietnam waterfall
Thác Nai Nam Dam waterfall
  • Visit the Lung khuy cave! It isn’t too difficult to find, a smooth road just off the main road leads you there. You’ll have to park your bike and trek around 15-30 minutes. It costs a reasonable 50k each to enter the cave. It’s very impressive and worth the effort. Whether you’re a geologist or just appreciate natural wonder, you can have a marvelous time here! If you go when it’s quiet, you can have it all to yourself, which is a pretty special feeling. 

Where to stay in Tam Sơn, Vietnam

Just a few kilometers from town, there are small roads which lead to a tremendous ethnic village called Nam Dam. Here you can experience a genuine homestay.

We stayed at Ly Quoc Tang homestay, and we were welcomed with open arms, hugs and handshakes. We enjoyed a family meal and had great conversations with other guests. Ly Quoc Tang‘s owners are an older couple who belong to the Dao ethnic people. This place was truly charming in every aspect… We were so glad to spend a night here! And at only 80k for the night, it was one of the most affordable, comfortable and peaceful places we had encountered.

And if you stay here, make sure you make it for dinner or lunch, as the lady here, who goes by Mrs. Ly, is known as the best cook in Nam Dam village. She’ll make a rice meal with all sorts of delicious side dishes for you, such as crispy spring rolls, potatoes in tomato sauce, and even buffalo if you’re lucky. And this place also offer herbal footbaths! Truly worth a visit.

guide tam son vietnam ly quoc tang homestay
Mrs. Ly is preparing some delicious lunch for us at Ly Quoc Tang homestay.

Where to eat in Tam Sơn, Vietnam

  • Hoan hoa. Having visited it three times, it has to be my top recommended one. It’s around midway along the main strip, on the left if heading towards Dong Van or on the right if heading back to Ha Giang. Each time we’ve been waved in by the warmest smile in Tam Son. The owner and cook has an infectious character and genuine warmth. Her name is Hoan hoa. It’s reasonably priced and the family often gives fruit, snacks or whatever they have that day as a thank you for visiting. They always have fun music playing and it has a light hearted atmosphere. We laughed and danced our way out the last time we left. Hospitality for real! 
  • If you’d like a steaming hot bowl of phở while in Tam Sơn, we’d recommend both Restaurant Cơm suất Thương Thương, or Thánh Linh Restaurant. Here you can find traditional Vietnamese noodle soups with pork, chicken or beef. Both restaurants also offer a variety of vegetarian options. Their staff is always super friendly; they welcome you to Tam son and shake your hand after a meal. Both restaurants are close to each other along the main strip of the town.
guide tam son vietnam where to eat
Noodle soup at Thánh Linh Restaurant.
  • If you’d like a warm cup of coffee after lunch, we highly recommend Puc-Phic House, also located along the main strip. This café is new, and its walls are filled with street art, which gives the place a cool vibe. They offer everything from matcha milk tea to smoothies, and is probably the only place in Tam Sơn where you can get your hands on an actual espresso. Puc-Phic House is a great place to stop for a little recharge along the way. 

How to get to Tam Sơn, Vietnam

When you’re driving from Ha Giang, you simply get on the QL4C road, which goes through Ha Giang city, and follow that up north. This road also goes through Tam Sơn, so it’s very straightforward. It’ll take you somewhere between 1,5-2,5 hours to get there. It’ll depend on your speed, the traffic and the condition of the road, which is usually pretty good. About half way to Tam Sơn there’s a little town with a market, where you can do a pit stop for a coffee or buy some local spices or fruits. It should be around here.

Interested in more short guides to the towns and villages along the Ha Giang loop? Don’t miss our Short guide to Du Già, our Short guide to Ha Giang and our Short guide to Dong Van.

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Our Writer

Serine Helland / Student
Norway

Serine is a 22-year-old Norwegian girl, based in Copenhagen. She studied International Politics and Cultural Encounters and is interested in learning about people from different countries by spending extended time in each place she visits. Serine spent 3 months in Vietnam in 2019.

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