Diptyque Tam Dao fragrance review

Diptyque Tam Dao perfume label

Diptyque launched Tam Dao in 2003, and I assume the fragrance was named for the Vietnamese hill station north of Hanoi. Tam Dao was established as a resort town during French colonial rule; the town is now inside of Tam Dao National Park and is a popular weekend tourist destination. Diptyque's Tam Dao fragrance was created by perfumer Daniel Moliere, and the notes include rosewood, cypress, ambergris, and sandalwood.

Like many sandalwood-heavy fragrances, Tam Dao gets off to a bit of a rocky start. The top notes smell like a burst of cedar with an unpleasant, almost acrid undertone which I can’t quite pin down. It is close to gasoline, but not quite. It settles quickly to a creamy sandalwood with a distinctly resinous edge. The cypress lends an aromatic, slightly evergreen bite in the early stages, but it is still a very soft fragrance, with little to temper the dry woods.

Tam Dao smells like the rough, unfinished interior of a very old carved box made of precious wood. It is a restrained, almost serene fragrance, and its simplicity gives it a meditative cast; it is the perfect fragrance to wear when you want something soothing and uncomplicated. It is perfection by itself, but its simplicity also lends itself to layering, and it works nicely to intensify the wood notes in Philosykos or to add a woody base to simple florals. It is a unisex scent, and can be worn in any season.

Tam Dao is an Eau de Toilette, and the lasting power is admittedly less than spectacular. Still, nothing else quite replaces it, so why quibble? And I love Diptyque's simple art deco packaging, and I appreciate that the company does not, like some, discontinue half their product line every other year. To my knowledge, actually, they have never discontinued any of their personal fragrances — but please correct me if I am wrong.1

Last year Diptyque phased out their 100 ml splash bottles, and for a brief time you could purchase them directly from Diptyque at 50% off. Unfortunately, it is otherwise hard to find a discount price on their products. On the other hand, they are not as expensive as some other niche lines: a 50 ml bottle runs $58.

For purchasing information, see the listing for Diptyque under Perfume Houses.

1. Update: since this writing they've discontinued several fragrances; luckily Tam Dao is still in production.


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21 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    That is generally what I spray on at the end of an obnoxious day, to calm me down.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Same here, T. It is almost, but not quite, as effective as a stiff drink.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love this fragrance. I think the sandalwood oil in this helps both T and you calm down.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hi N, I found one you like!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I love Tam Dao. I find on my skin it's a sharp and dry sandalwood. The lasting power on it is amazing. I can easily apply very little in the morning and by night it's still there. That's saying a lot as I have the world's driest skin and fragrance never lasts on me!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Lucky you! On a good day I might get 3-4 hours, and I don't think my skin is particularly dry.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sadly Tam Dao was never available in a splash formulation, and therefore wasn't part of the 50% off miracle — otherwise I might have bought 3 or 4 bottles of it at once =) A gorgeous, gorgeous scent — beautiful, serene, green, ethereal and relaxing!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good point, it was the first thing I asked when I called Diptyque Boston last year during the sale. I did manage to score a bottle of Oyedo.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I freaking LOVE this fragrance. I always have a bottle of this and whilst i don't wear it every day i usually get comments on the days that i do. It's not overpowering and i find that it suits me the best on a really hot, sunny summers day

  10. Anonymous says:

    It is so lovely. I need to get a new bottle & see if it has changed…with the current shortage of sandalwood, assume it has been reformulated to some extent.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Really? I didn't know that. I'd be curious to hear what you make of it – whether it has been re-formulated

  12. Anonymous says:

    I still have 1/2 a bottle so might be awhile, but I'll check it out eventually!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am in love with this fragrance. I just received it last night from Aedes. I can't quit smelling my arm. I tend to lean towards anything with Sandalwood or more “earthy” smells. In the beginning the Cypress is too strong for me but within 5 minutes it melts into the Sandalwood that I love. I recently also got Etro's Sandalo. I love this on in a different way, but only stays on my skin for maybe 90 minutes. Any other Sandalwood options that last a while on the skin? I ove both creamy ones and clean ones.

  14. Anonymous says:

    You might try 10 Corso Como, if you haven't already.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Great idea! Sounds wonderful, except for the “fart”! I will still pu this one on my next order. thanks.

  16. Dorothy says:

    Does anybody else get any menthol out of this? It’s reminding me a little of Vicks Vape-o-rub. Oddly enough, not in a bad way.

    • Robin says:

      I call it gasoline, but Vicks is probably about the same thing.

  17. mjr says:

    Robin, I love re-visiting your old reviews. To me the acrid opening of Tam Dao smells of turpentine, and has virtually the same affect as the real thing: “oof..unpleasant…but not unbearable..and hey, wait, maybe even somewhat interesting!”

    • Robin says:

      Ha, I know what you mean! Last time I smelled a new bottle, thought the opening was a bit smoother — either I’ve just gotten so used to it, or they’ve toned it down a notch.

  18. Marsha says:

    I just tried this, and I like it. A lot. But my first impression was… Snickers bar! Peanut and chocolate! For me that’s good.

    • Robin says:

      Glad that’s what it smells like for you then :-)

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