Sitting in the common area of my hostel, a fellow backpacker told me of an abandoned water park on the edge of town, the provincial Vietnamese city Hue. My interest piqued. I immediately knew what I would be doing the following day and an hour later I had a scooter organised and was planning the trip.
The water park is also known by its Vietnamese name as Ho Thuy Tien.
An earlier article by the Huffington Post wrote that directions to the park were secretly passed from backpacker to backpacker scribbled on crumbled napkins. As poetic as this is, I found it easier to get directions from Google Maps.
It took about twenty minutes to navigate the eight kilometre stretch between the tourist district and to the water park through Vietnamese traffic by scooter. But if you follow Google’s directions, then they will take you to the back entrance rather than the main gate. This is good and bad as by going through the back entrance you miss the creepy entrance gate to the park, but you also avoid the “admissions officer”. It seemed to me that a lot of travellers went in the back way, as there were at least a dozen scooters parked here. Maybe if you travel with a taxi or Uber then you will be dropped off at the main entrance.
Arriving at the front entrance, then you may encounter a “guard” which you need to pay off to get admitted to the park. Reading on trip advisor most people were paying 10k dong each, however chatting to another traveller they had to pay 20k as they didn’t have the correct change. Some travellers reported just walking straight by him, as this was all “unofficial”, to put it politely, and he has no power to stop you since you’re both trespassing. I would have paid if he approached me, as it is cheap regardless. However, come with the correct change, as I’m certain he won’t be able to break your 100k notes.
The park was commissioned for a cool $3m USD by the Hue Tourism office in the early 2000’s to attract visitors. Before it was completely built the park started to accept admissions, the park was never fully constructed. Presumably the business started to run in to financial troubles and struggled to make the park viable. Several years later, the project was abandoned. Fast forward to today, and in an unexpected turn of events, the park is attracting more visitors now than it ever had. Spread by word of mouth through backpackers, Hue has become an essential destination of Vietnam for thrill seekers and adventure hunters. It certainly has been one of the highlights of my tour of Vietnam. There is a certain sense of adventure that one gets when unlawfully exploring derelict buildings.
The Empty Amphitheatre
Eerily sitting at the back of the park is the empty amphitheatre. Once it entertained a crowd of hundreds, now its seats are empty and the applause long gone.
The Water Slides
In the centre of the park are three waterslides. Come here on the right day, and you can see Vietnamese kids riding their skateboards and BMX bikes down the slides. Occasionally travellers will risk walking up the dilapidated structures.
The Dragon Aquarium
Slowly disintegrating is the main drawcard of the park; an enormous dragon aquarium situated in the centre of a fetid man made lake. Just a few years ago crocodiles could be found in the aquarium’s tanks, kept alive by visiting backpackers. Yet now the tanks are empty, the glass shattered by youthful graffiti artists.
Thanks for reading, I thoroughly enjoyed my time visiting the abandoned water park. I would recommend it to anyone travelling through the area.