“Tam Ky really is a city of dreams.” That was my first impression of the capital city of the central province of Quang Nam, and I am sure many other visitors have experienced the same feeling.
|A corner of the Tam Thanh Community Art Village in Tam Ky City. Photo laodong.vn|
“I recommend a visit during April, when the sưa flowers bloom,” said Hoai Thu, a Tam Ky citizen and guide for tourists. “The city becomes much more romantic with every street corner decorated with the yellow flowers.”
This time of year, thousands of sưa trees bloom along the river banks. The slightest breeze sends them waving back and forth, making the river look like a glistening carpet of flowers.
The city held its annual Sưa Flower Blossom Festival in early April at 500-year-old Huong Tra Village on the banks of the Tam Ky River in Hoa Huong Commnune. Walking through the village feels like a dream with the colour and unusual fragrance of the flowers all around.
“It is not an exaggeration to say the city is a land of dreams and romance,” said Hoang Hai Son, a tourist from Hanoi. “It is not easy to find the words to describe the scene and fragrance along the river wharf, a peaceful and silent place.”
Son said the scent seems to make pedestrians and drivers slow down and relax.
“They speak more gently and laugh more freely because they know they are in a place of natural romance,” he said.
The city is about an hour by car from the ancient town of Hoi An in central Vietnam. It is known for its culture, history and nature.
|Sua flowers blooming in Huong Tra Commune, Tam Ky City. Photo quangnamtourism.com.vn|
The dreamy city sits on three rivers – Tam Ky, Truong Giang and Ban Thach – and two lakes – Phu Ninh and Song Dam.
As the sun starts to set over the Dam River, the chirping of birds and the sight of floating fishing boats make for a sense of peace.
Hoang Tu Nam, a visitor from the northern province of Hung Yen, said the local craft villages along the rivers are worth visiting. He said that unlike in some other areas of Quang Nam, the people here are gentle, generous and unlikely to get angry.
“They often laugh while patiently explaining their lives and crafts to visitors,” said the tourist.
While many tourists opt to rent motorbikes to explore the area, one can also rent a bicycle to slow down and enjoy the countryside and its unique communities.
The area is home to several places that are famous for tourists such as Tam Thanh Mural Village, the Tam Thanh beaches, Tam Hai Island, Chien Dan Cham Tower and the statue of the Vietnamese Heroic Mother.
The mural village is operated by the commune and the UNESCO office in Hanoi. The goal of the project is to promote tourism, art and cultural exchange between tourists and the local community. Each wall in the small village is covered by a striking, unique piece of art.
The local market just a kilometre away is a great place to enjoy a lunch or dinner of local specialities like mỳ Quảng (Quang noodle), Tam Ky chicken rice and baked rolls.
“Besides its well-known public artwork, Tam Thanh is also famed for untouched beaches and beautiful natural shorelines,” wrote tourism blogger Huong Nguyen on baolau.com. “You can spend the noon or early afternoon to relax by the untouched beach, as getting around within this time of the day could be tough due to hot and humid weather.”
"As the sun eases, head towards Tam Hai Island, which is about 40km in the South of Tam Thanh. You’d need to cross the sea by ferry in order to get to Tam Hai Village," Huong suggested in the blog post.
Chien Dan Cham Tower should be at the top of the list for history buffs.
"The tower has three large stupas, but only the central one is quite intact and still retains the shape of a stupa with the body and a floor above,” wrote the blogger. “The remaining two stupas, the South Tower and the North Tower, have completely lost their upper floors, leaving only the tower.”
The Vietnamese Heroic Mother Monument is designed based on heroic mother Nguyen Thi Thu. It is built on an area of 15ha on Cam Mountain, the city’s Tam Phu Commune.
Located just two kilometres from the city centre and three from Tam Thanh beach, thousands of tourists flock to the massive monument each year to pay tribute to the heroic mother.
Another relic worth visiting in the city is Ky Anh Tunnel – the third largest tunnel from the resistance war against the US after Cu Chi and Vinh Moc tunnels.
“This national relic is an important site for historical tourism as it helps visitors learn about history, reflecting the will and creative spirit of freedom of the people in the city of Tam Ky and Quang Nam Province,” said Thu, the local guide.
Mai Phuong Nam