Three Summits and three experiences
Tam Dao recreation area is about two hours from Ha Noi, if you are traveling
by car. Tam Dao consists of three hills (the name refers to three summits)
and it has been for a long time a very popular visiting target for Hanoians.
Although the hills are lower than 1 000 km, the climate differs considerably
from that of Ha Noi close to the sea level. Especially during the hot summer
season many are dreaming of a cool sunday trip and the new five day week
might give more actions for this area.
It is said that one can feel all four seasons in the summer. In the
morning the crisp of spring, during the day the heat of the summer, in
the evening the cool of fall and at night time you better have good bed
sheets to avoid cold.
We visited here first time in April 1998. After one and half hours
drive in the direction of Bai Bang one gets to the base of the summits.
As Tam Dao is the official tourist center, you have to buy also tickets
(4 USD, 2 foreigners and car) and then you start to climb upwards.
We found the scenery very familiar from the serpentines in the Canary Island
As we did know anything about the accomodation level, we decided to opt
for a day trip. And noted very quickly that the Spanish accommodation standards
are still a good twenty years ahead (although you should never say precise
predictions in Asia). In 1998 there were mostly hostals and/or hotels for
local tourists. So we decided just to look around and try to make something
interesting. After short sightseeing we found ourselves on the base of
interesting steps that would eventually lead us to the summit and TV tower.
And we had no idea that the trip would tike a long time. We had made
a significantly longer climb at Perfume Mountains, but there the climb
was alternated with downhill and steady sections. And with our luck
it started to rain slightly and the stone steps became slippery. And the
main problem was that the goal was unknown.
After about half an hour Sini said on a larger pit stop (right picture
above) that it is enough. She has had constant problems with sweating in
Viet Nam and now the humid, moist air seemed not to provide enough oxygen
After a half year we tried again. The weather was better and we believed
that we could reach the top. But it was easier said than done. After some
breaks the goal seemed to be unreachable and we decided to turn back. Just
before turning, we asked a couple going upward, how long it is still to
go. They could not tell either. And you have to believe, how disappointed
we were as we met them again at the base and they said that we were would
have had to climb merely 100 meters to reach the top.
However, we had grown a good appetite and we decided to find somewhere
to eat. And we found ourselves in a typical Vietnamese restaurant called
Huong Son (Perfume Mountain). With the assistance of Jari's Vietnamese,
the hostess took us in prime climbing condition all the way to 4th floor.
We were assuming that they had there a roof restaurant with a breath taking
view, but she had assumed that we wanted their best room. Though surely
a quite room, but we were only hungry, this time. And got a healthy laughter
Sini had merely something to drink and although Jari made it clear that
he only wanted to order for one, they brought anyway food for two. So there
was plenty to eat. The hotel was kept by a family with grand parents (maybe
slightly older than us), parents (20+) and a little girl. It was a modest
place, but offered a good meal and soon we very ready to start for home.
But we had no choice than to start our ascent that
this time took us all the way. We had many breaks and we found that the
couple on the previous time was right and it was really 100 meters to the
summit from we had the last rest. We were greeted first by an iron gate
and then we found a restaurant and many huge antennas. Don't know how they
have been brougt there, because you would need a helicopter to do that.
At least is what we were thinking.
But going back was a adventure with a big A. Slippery
steps and descending all the time made feet like jelly. And luckily we
came down hand in hand as now and then either of us were going to fall.
On the way we met also wood choppers (probably illegal), or their wood
loads. You have to understand that these wooden loads weigh 35- 50 kg (around
100 lb) and they will be delivered by small women close to 10 km down to
the village on the base of the summits.
We having only to carry ourselves looked at this
task without any envy. But we made safely down and headed to have
some lunch at Huong Son. And this time we did not inspect the upstairs
rooms but ordered some food. And although Jari made it more than clear
that we need one portion, they doubled it (with adding another full plate)
and the invoice was still for one. So Jari had a long lunch and Sini of
course assisted a little.
Well, the third time we went for the summit in
March 2000. But already on our way to Tam Dao it started to rain. So far
all the pictures on this page are from that trip, so do not (ladies) think
that we use all the time same clothes.
But our satisfaction of the successful climb was
On our way down from Tam Dao, we had to stop for
a good while as there was road work and we were not allowed to drive on
the soft asphalt. We were of course not glad and Jari went to find an alternative
route. As he is not yet used to the Vietnamese traffic (no objections to
anything), car did have some difficulties to follow.
So, in all the Tam Dao is worth of its name as we
had to make three trips to the summit and it is not likely that we will
go there for a fourth time,
Last modified 1 January, 2005
Please send comments and suggestions on this home page to