Tam Thanh Mural Village: The Painted Village
Imagine a quiet coastal fishing village, completely transformed by artists, who have worked their magic on the sides of 100 actual residential homes. This is the remarkable story of the Tam Thanh Mural Village in Quang Nam Province. Once similar to many other coastal villages in the area, it is now firmly making its mark on the tourist map for day trips of Hoi An.
In the summer of 2016, Tam Thanh was selected by a Korean-Vietnamese joint project called “Art For A Better Community.” The village was chosen to be their blank canvas. Inspired by the success of mural villages in Korea. The project set out to make Tam Thanh the first painted village of its kind in Vietnam.
The project was a success, and the village has been brought to life by the paintings. The entire town now a breathtaking walk-through gallery just waiting to be explored. The murals that adorn it capture the life and soul of the village, from young children playing, to fishermen in the ocean. Mixed in are a good number of fantasy pieces offering great backdrops for photos.
Hidden gives you the background to the creation of the magnificent Tam Thanh mural village. Providing the best ways to get there, and a couple of options if you find that you have extra time in the area.
Why Paint the Tam Thanh Mural Village?
The joint project consisted of five Korean artists and seven Vietnamese artists, along with local volunteers. They aimed to help show the Vietnamese that art could be available in everyday life—whatever one’s place in life. The venture initially spanned over the course of about three weeks and involved washing and then painting around 100 residents’ homes with colourful murals.
The effect of the stunning artworks combined with the density and proximity of the houses in the village is encapsulating. One of the real highlights being the incredibly realistic portraits of local residents who are still currently living in their decorated homes.
The Social Impact of the Art
The art painted around the town has had not only a visual but a social impact too. The village itself was chosen not only due to the location of the houses but to help with economic development opportunities in Tam Thanh. Tourists are now visiting the once quiet village of Tam Thanh, to see the impressive murals. This, in turn, creates more income for the locals making it a successful ‘art for a cause’ project.
For example, an entrepreneurial resident that owned a small local coffee shop invested in a 9,000,000 VND (390 USD) sugarcane press one week before the murals were completed. With the increase in tourism, they have now expanded. So now there are a couple of spots to try this cooling drink at a refreshingly local price of 5,000 VND (.20c USD).
Walking through the single street of the Tam Thanh mural village, it’s not uncommon to find locals selling refreshments and handmade goods. At one particular house, a tailor and his family are painted in incredible detail on the exterior wall. The family has started selling tote bags here, decorated by their young daughter.
The family’s asking price for the tote bags was 100,000 VND (4 USD). If you’re looking for a way to support the village’s economy, this is it. Since there’s no middleman here, it ensures your money goes straight to the community.
Since the completion of the mural project in Tam Thanh village, two other villages in the province have now been painted. The new mural villages were created with different artists this time. They draw on local Vietnamese talent to raise social awareness of issues in each community. Tam Hai Island was redecorated to bring to light the serious issue they face with their trash. Mainly due to a lack of garbage treatment plants in the area. Another village at An Binh Island was painted to raise awareness among locals and tourists of the importance of environmental protection.
How to get to Tam Thanh Mural Village from Hoi An
Tam Thanh is located roughly 45 kilometres south of Hoi An or 12 kilometres east of Tam Ky. It lies on a strip of land caught between the sea and the Truong Giang River. It’s possible to reach the village by taxi, private car, any bus, or even an organised tour. If you have your own transport, it would be easiest, by far, to drive yourself.
It’s possible to take a metered taxi from Hoi An to the mural village one-way for around 530,000 VND to 660,000 VND (23 USD to 29 USD). However, considering the distance to the village, most drivers would be happy to wait for you and negotiate a flat fee instead. When you are dropped off, take the number of the taxi or private car you came in as a back-up. Arrange a meeting point and time.
This is a remote area. There are no Grab cars, or motorbikes to rent and local taxis can be hard to come by. Work out a “wait and return” deal—any Hoi An hotel or guesthouse will be happy to help you arrange this.
There is a bus that will take you a good chunk of the way to the village. But since this option is time-consuming, involves multiple changes and still some taxi rides (it’s a bit tricky), we tried it and would advise against it!
There are a number of roads to mix and match that gets you to the painted village. We’ve narrowed it down to just two options for you. First, make your way to the eastern side of the impressive Hoi An to Cua Dai Bridge. This is the beginning of both routes.
Watch your fuel levels! Leaving Hoi An on a full tank is a reasonable precaution as there’s no petrol available until the painted village. You may be able to find a local shop along Route #2, but don’t rely on this.
Once you cross the bridge, heading south, continue to Duong 129/Duong Ven Bien. Stay on that road for 33 kilometres. On the plus side, this road has low traffic levels, no lights, no trucks or buses. This makes it a great direct route to reach the village. However, it’s a sterile drive with not much of interest but for graveyards on either side. You’ll eventually reach a junction at Road 608.
Turning right at this junction takes you to the town of Tam Ky, while the left will bring you in the direction of the Tam Thanh mural village. Stay on Road 608 where it curves twice before reaching a bridge. Cross the bridge, and you’ll reach Thanh Nien Road. Finally, turn right to arrive at the village. This route will take roughly an hour. We recommend parking where you see other bikes parked but use your best judgement. As a reference, it is around 5,000 VND (.20 USD) to park a motorcycle.
Once you cross the bridge, heading south, continue to Duong 129/Duong Ven Bien. Stay on that road for 12 kilometres. Then, turn left on Road 613 where you’ll continue on 1.5 kilometres until you reach Thanh Nien Road. Lastly, turn right for the 23-kilometre drive to the painted village. For the majority of the trip, taking Thanh Nien road will bring you through a much more local side of the area.
You’ll pass houses, businesses and ornate graves that also occupy the Duong Ven Bien road. The trade-off with this alternate route is that the road is smaller and is in a condition that requires a lower speed. This route will take roughly half an hour longer than Route #1 so you’re looking at a drive time of approx. 1.5 hours.
There are only a few companies offering organised tours to the painted village. As its popularity grows this will likely change. They are half-day tours and some even offer a couple of noteworthy stops along the way to the village. We’ve listed a couple of options below.
Hoi An Food Tour includes a stop at the Heroic Mother Statue and provides a guide that will take you around Tam Thanh’s mural village.
Price: Adult 340,000 VND (15 USD). Children 6 to 10-years-old 180,000 VND (8 USD). Free for children under 5
Business hours: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Sunday
Duration: 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
How to book: Book in person at their office or through their website – Address: 567 Hai Ba Tung
Southeast Asia Backpacker tour includes a visit to the Chien Dan Cham Tower, Ky Anh Guerrilla Warfare Tunnel Complex, and the Vietnamese Heroic Mother Statue. All before reaching the star of the day—Tam Thanh’s mural village.
Price: 340,000 VND (15 USD). Extra 140,000 VND (6 USD) for pickup from Da Nang
Duration: 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
How to book: Book through their online booking system on their website
Moving around the village will prove no harder than a leisurely stroll. The main road through is well paved, and the small alleys that branch off are much the same. The only element that may make a leisurely stroll difficult would be the time of day that you choose to go. In hot weather try to avoid arriving when the sun is at its peak. Come either in the early morning or the late afternoon.
For drinks, snacks, and other food, there are a number of sugarcane stands and a couple of local convenience stores lining the road. There are also a few local cafés if you’re looking to sit down, rest your legs and escape the sun. If you’re after a larger meal, there are many restaurants two kilometres south of Jack Trans Beach House. A two-bedroom villa which has accommodation right on the beach. If you have chosen the self-drive route and are in need of petrol, there are local pumps dotted along the main street of the painted village.
What Else is in the Area?
Since you’ve taken the time to drive out to the area of Tam Thanh, there are a couple of other attractions we recommend going to if you have the time.
Tam Thanh Beach
The southern end of Tam Thanh consists of a market, a couple of shops, restaurants and a beach. During the day, the area is tranquil and uneventful, but in the early evening, it comes alive.
So as the heat of the sun begins to subside, the local tourists and residents of Tam Thanh flock here to cool off. This area of Tam Thanh Beach is kept clean and well-manicured by the local beach chair providers. Lounge chairs are available at a small price. Refreshments and local snacks are available for purchase chairside. The beach is fully equipped with a net and lifeguard stands for your safety. It’s not uncommon to see groups of aspiring karaoke singers bring their speakers to the beach. So get ready for some very local entertainment.
Vietnamese Heroic Mother Statue
Located 7.7 kilometres inland from the mural village is the Vietnamese Heroic Mother Statue. The biggest heroic mother statue in Vietnam. Designed by artist Dinh Gia Thang and executed by architect Nguyen Luan, at a total cost of over 20 million USD. The structure pays tribute to the many mothers who lost their children and grandchildren in national liberation.
The granite statue stands 18 metres high and 120 metres wide at its base. It resembles the image of the heroic mother Nguyen Thi Thu. Nguyen Thi Thu had a number of children and grandchildren who died over the course of two wars. She also hid many soldiers and guerillas in five secret tunnels situated in the garden of her house.
At the entrance leading to the monument are eight pillars. They are sculpted with images of heroic mothers from across the country as well as young female volunteers. Also on the grounds is a small exhibition space with images and artefacts of the noble mother. A visit to the monument is free. It costs you 5,000 VND (.20 USD) for parking. It’s not a long stop, so it can easily be added into your day.
Hidden Hoi An’s Thoughts:
Tam Thanh’s painted village was the first of its kind in Vietnam. Above all, a day trip here provides a great mix of local life and art all in one comfortable visit. It is not only physically beautiful, but the thought behind it is enticing as well. For instance, the murals have lifted, what could have been, a poor struggling village into a bright tourist attraction with a feel-good factor. So the residents directly benefit from the town’s rejuvenation. Therefore they delight in having you visit.
However, the village is gaining popularity and is on the teetering point of becoming a well-known tourist attraction for travellers to the area. There are likely to be more villages soon as the murals expand as a canvas for expressing issues of social awareness. Therefore the fear would be to lose the community and local feel of this small stretch of road to an influx of tourists. However that being said, now is the perfect time to visit. The village remains quaint, and the quality and creativity of the murals are well worth appreciating.
So if you’re after an escape from the hustle and bustle of Hoi An, come for a day trip out here. Visit the village, and support the local people. In addition, if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the refreshing sea and local life all-in-one, then end your day at the beach in Tam Thanh and make a day of it.
Map: Route from Hoi An to Tam Thanh Mural Village