Vietnam’s most popular amusement park with travelers seems to be one that has been abandoned. Once teeming with life, all that is left now is a set of broken attractions with overgrown vines, rust and graffiti on them, as well as murky, algae infested waters. If you’re ever in Hue, rent yourself a motorbike, head down south for a few miles through country roads, and you will arrive at this post-apocalyptic dreamworld.
Ho Thuy Tien lies just five miles outside Huong Thuy town in Hue, by the Thuy Tien Lake. This abandoned water park hidden in the jungle has now become popular with the odd backpacker who is enamored with the idea of exploring something off the beaten track, and of course, the rumors of crocodiles who once lived there.
The ambitious plan for the park was to create something for the whole family, with amusement rides, water slides, pools, aquariums, performances, souvenir shops and restaurants, using a hefty budget of three million USD. In 2004, despite not being complete, the park opened to the public and didn’t make the splash that was hoped for.
Upon entering, visitors are greeted by the guardian of the park, an intimidating three-storey, full-bodied dragon perched on a spaceship-type aquarium. Its coils are wrapped in a protective manner around the domed structure that is now covered in rust, peeling paint and graffiti.
The dragon’s scaly body forms a staircase, and visitors can walk up to a spectacular viewing area and take in the stunning view of the Thuy Tien Lake from behind its teeth.
If you look down, all you will see is your reflection on the murky water below. Inside the aquarium, the tanks still have water, but the fish are long gone.
The amphitheater with hundreds of seats was where entertaining performances were to be held. What remains now resembles something straight out of a horror film. As you walk around, you can imagine some sort of disaster striking while a show is being held and everyone running out in a panic, dropping their takeaway cups of soda and bags of popcorn.
The rest of the park is no different. The cracked water slides are fun to walk through and are accessible by a set of stairs built around changing rooms.
While you walk around, it’s too easy to picture a creature waiting to lurch at you from behind the palm fronds, or a Velociraptor parting tangled weeds with its claws and hissing at you with a forked tongue.
Take it easy as you walk around, and do not rush for two reasons: there are a lot of interesting things to take in, and you can prevent yourself from getting injured by paying closer attention to cracks and branches.
Until recently, Ho Thuy Tien was also home to three crocodiles, who were fed by locals or the occasional visitor, but have now been removed from the park and reinstated in a wildlife rescue park.
It’s not so hard to imagine what Ho Thuy Tien could have been—a lively park full of laughter and active kids with parents running after them, splashes from water slides and applause from performances floating through the air. But unfortunately, the reality isn’t so, and it doesn’t look like it will change any time soon. The future of the park remains uncertain, and for now, just take it in as it is, and enjoy exploring something that is far different from your usual temple or museum.
To get to Ho Thuy Tien, write down “Công viên nước Hồ Thuỷ Tiên” on a piece of paper, and show it to a taxi driver. If you are driving alone, follow the map linked below. Once you arrive, you will have to pay a measly entrance fee of 10,000 VND (0.44 USD) to the security guard at the park.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.