Tam Dao turns ghost town over coronavirus fears

By Ngoc Thanh   February 23, 2020 | 04:00 pm GMT+7
Popular resort town Tam Dao wears a haunted look now, courtesy of it being located in Vinh Phuc Province, Vietnam’s novel coronavirus hub.
Tam Dao, or ‘three islands’ in Vietnamese, located 90 kilometers southeast of Hanoi, is a hill town in Vinh Phuc Province, northern Vietnam. It is considered a mini version of Da Lat, a resort town in the Central Highlands, thanks to its cool climate all year round with average temperatures of 20-22 degrees Celsius and clouds hanging over it.However, since Vinh Phuc was hit hardest by Covid-19 epidemic, with 11 infection cases reported in the northern province alone, prompting authorities to lock down Son Loi Commune, considered Vietnams epidemic epicenter, starting from February 13.A big fall in the number of tourists flocking to the usually-crowded town in recent days turned Tam Dao in an oasis of desertedness and quietness and never has this situation lasted long like this. 

Tam Dao, or ‘three islands’ in Vietnamese, located 90 kilometers southeast of Hanoi, is a highly popular hill resort in Vinh Phuc Province, northern Vietnam. It is considered a mini version of Da Lat, the nation’s premier hill resort in the Central Highlands, with cool climate all year round (average temperatures of 20-22 degrees Celsius).

However, since Vinh Phuc was the hardest hit locality by the Covid-19 epidemic, with 11 of the total 16 infections recorded nationwide, people from other parts of the country have been giving it a wide berth.

Authorities locked down the province’s Son Loi Commune on February 13. Tam Dao is just 10 km from the commune in Binh Xuyen District, where eight locals were infected. Seven of them have since been discharged from the hospital. But the province’s epidemic status and its proximity to the locked-down commune has seen a steep plunge in the number of tourists flocking to the town, turning Tam Dao into an eerily quiet place with a haunted look.

There were no people walking around the central square of the town at 8:20 a.m. Friday.Tam Dao has been almost a cliché in travel guidebooks for weekend escapes ever since the French discovered the area in late 19th century. Hanoians too have begun to go there in large numbers to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. In recent years, Tam Dao is always crowded during the weekends due to its distinctive cool weather like in Da Lat, a famous holiday paradise on Vietnams tourism map. 

At 8.20 a.m. last Friday, not a single person was seen in the town’s central square.

This is a far cry from a town touted regularly as a great weekend escape for capital city residents even since the French established it as a resort site late in the 19th century.

The entrance of Tam Dao tourist resort town was engulfed by clouds and fogs. A banner hung high between the two trees, reminded everyone to be hygienic, and wash hands usually to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic. Tam Dao is about 10 km far from Son Loi Commune of Binh Xuyen District where eight locals have been infected with novel coronavirus. Seven of them have been discharged from the hospital. However, the epidemic heavily affected on tourism business.

The entrance to Tam Dao is cloaked in clouds, fog and mystery. A banner strung between the two trees reminds everyone to be hygienic, and wash hands frequently as a safety measure against the novel coronavirus. 

Hotels, hostels and accomodation services in Tam Dao also take heavy toll from the Covid-19 epidemic.Major streets in the town were always busy with locals and tourists whether it was rainy or sunny. Currently, from morning to evening, there are few sparse tourists. Most of locals stay at home to avoid crowded places for fears of being infected with the virus. 

Hotels, hostels and other accommodation providers have no guests to cater to.

Major streets in the town, always bustling with locals and tourists irrespective of weather conditions, are empty. Most locals are also staying at home. 

The old stone church, a usually-crowded tourist destination and a iconic symbol of the town, is left deserted and had no tourists dropping by. In February 2019, Tam Dao welcomed more than 26,000 visitors. But 20 first days of February this year, the town welcomes about 1,500 guests.

The old stone church, an iconic destination usually teeming with people, is also deserted, like the rest of the town.

In February 2019, Tam Dao welcomed more than 26,000 visitors. But in the first 20 days of February this year, the town welcomed nearly 1,500 guests. 

A streetside food shop in the town is left empty, even having no any customers even it was 7 p.m., the peak hour of the day.  Tam Dao is usually only deserted from the afternoon of Lunar New Years Eve and the first day of lunar new year. Never have we witnessed the desolate so long like this, said Ms. Hoai, owner of the shop. 

A street-side eatery in the town is left empty at around 7 p.m., a peak hour.  

"Tam Dao is usually only deserted from the afternoon of Lunar New Year's Eve and the first day of the New Year. Never have we witnessed such prolonged desolation," said Hoai, owner of the eatery.

[Caption]aaTam Dao tourist area currently has 125 accommodation establishments, including 50 hotels, 27 homestays and 48 guesthouses, with a total of nearly 2,400 rooms. Most of the hotels currently put signs, saying Available rooms, with staff struggling to find customers. This time and summer are the busiest travel season when the hotels here are the most crowded. If guests come without a reservation a week ago, there will be no accommodation. Now, accomodation facilities discounted to VND300,000 for two people but also did not have guests any more , said Nguyen Van Truong, a hotel staff.

Downtown Tam Dao has 125 accommodation establishments - 50 hotels, 27 homestay facilities and 48 guesthouses, with a total of nearly 2,400 rooms.

"This time and summer are the busiest season when the hotels here are mostly full. If guests come without a reservation made a week earlier, they will not find any place to stay. Now, we are offering rates of just VND300,000 ($13) a day for two people, but we still do not get any guests," said Nguyen Van Truong, a hotel employee.

At this time, in Tam Dao, wild peach blossoms still lurks in the white mist. But the gloomy picture has covered the entire cool resort town, with tourism businesses hit hardest. Today Tam Dao teems with villas, hotels and even luxury resorts. The number of tourists coming here for the weekend has been growing. Sometimes when you take a walk around the town’s winding roads, you can hear the sounds of people singing karaoke.Vietnam has so far recorded 16 cases of novel coronavirus infection, of whom 15 have recovered.The global death toll has climbed to 2,360, mostly in mainland China, and confirmed infections topped 77,672. Nearly 20,900 of those have recovered.

Wild peach blossoms, a local attraction, are still blooming in the mist. But the atmosphere is one of gloom. Sometimes, walking along the town’s winding roads, the silence is broken by the the sounds of people singing karaoke inside their homes.

Vietnam has so far recorded 16 novel coronavirus infections, of whom 15 have recovered.

The global death toll of the Covid-19 outbreak has reached more than 2,400 and infections topped over 78,000, mainly in China.

 
 
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