Tam Dao National Park was designated in 1996 and covers much of the area around the town. With a Chinese etymology, Tam Dao means ‘Three Islands’, and the three summits of Tam Dao Mountain, all about 1400m in height, are sometimes visible to the northeast of the hill station, floating like islands in the mist.
There are at least 64 mammal species (including langurs) and 239 bird species in the park, but you’ll need a good local guide and have to be prepared to do some hiking to find them. Illegal hunting remains a big problem.
Hikes vary from the 30-minute return to the waterfall to day treks taking in bamboo forest and primary tropical forest. A guide, essential for the longer hikes, can be hired from 400,000d; ask at the Mela Hotel (0211-382 4321).