Visiting the abandoned water park in Hue is unlike any experience we’ve ever had. As soon as we heard about it, we were intrigued, thinking it would be a glimpse into a post-apocalyptic world (all the post-apocalypse films have a deserted theme park in them after all!).
It didn’t disappoint. It’s one of those unusual places that is a lot more popular because it was deserted than it ever would have been if it was open to the public.
So if you want to do something a little different to the usual temples, museums and beaches on your trip then hire a motorbike and head to one of the more unique places to see in Vietnam: Ho Thuy Tien.
The Abandoned Water Park in Hue - Ho Thuy Tien
Rumour has it that Ho Thuy Tien opened in 2004 after almost $3 million being spent to build. It supposedly closed not so long after opening and was left in the same condition.
When you see what’s there, you’ll understand why it wasn’t very successful! The site is really big, walking between the few things to do that were on offer would have taken quite a while, especially in the heat and humidity. We used our scooter to get round, and were definitely grateful to have it!
Despite being a big site, there are relatively few attractions to explore. The park is built around a small lake with a giant dragon on top of a small aquarium, a swimming pool and a few water slides.
It is hardly the place that was going to drum up too much excitement. Ironically, it probably has more visitors now than it ever would have done as a fully functioning water park.
It is hardly a secret place. Not only were there quite a few people who had “snuck” in, but there was a motorcycle tour group there as well! It’s also marked on Google Maps!
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The Dragon at Ho Thuy Tien
The main highlight of the abandoned Ho Thuy Tien is the giant dragon. It is built on a pier on the southern side of the lake and dominates the area. It’s clear that this was going to be the focal point of the park.
To get in you walk along a boardwalk and enter the building through the dragons claw. Once here, you’ll walk through a shark’s mouth (confusing isn’t it?!) and enter a small walkway. Then you head inside.
The base of the dragon is made up of a bizarre aquarium. I say it’s bizarre because 1) I don’t get the dragon - aquarium combination and 2) it is tiny. There were a few tanks, a minute underwater walkway and that was it. I’ve seen more impressive aquariums in hotels and Ho Thuy Tien was anticipating charging people to see it. There is a lot of broken glass in this area so watch your feet, flip flops probably aren’t a good call here.
To get to the top of the dragon’s head you climb several heavily graffitied staircases before you appear in the dragon’s mouth and can look out on the lake. Before going, we were told there was a security guard who would stalk you and follow you around.
He was totally friendly and after the extent of our English and Vietnamese was exhausted we sealed the friendship by becoming facebook friends! : )
The aquarium and dragon isn’t in the best shape now. There’s a lot of graffiti and the place is beginning to fall apart. Sadly we’ve heard this has only begun happening since it got more popular, why do people seek places out only to vandalise them?
Other things to see
Apart from the dragon, there’s not much else of interest. There’s a swimming pool and stand (this was going to be for shows I assume) and some pretty underwhelming slides.
Whilst driving around you’ll see some cows that have adopted the park and a small group of locals who have set up a food and drink stand. Whether it’s up the top of a mountain, in the middle of a temple or even at a forbidden abandoned water park, the Vietnamese will always find a way to sell you a cold drink!
We also saw a large tour of backpackers in the park, all on motorbike and led by someone who knew the place! We don’t know where this tour goes from, but if you want to see the park but are a little anxious about doing it on your own, then hunt out the hostel that sells a tour here!
How to get in to the Abandoned Water Park
Unlike others, we didn’t find it particularly hard to get into Ho Thuy Tien. After driving up, we met a security guard who did the opening line of “Sorry, closed”. We then did the usual point at the park and say “how much?”.
Quite quickly we were told 50k - 2 people and motorbike. We’ve read that some people pay 20k, others more, but it varies depending on who you meet. Sometimes we’ve heard no actually means no too! There was a couple behind us who were clearly hoping to get in for free! But we thought that giving a little money to a local wasn’t the worst thing to do.
The benefit was that by going in the front we could take our motorbike in rather than walking. The guard also guided us back out and was super friendly.
If the guards are not being so obliging, we’ve read about a gap in the fence. It doesn’t sound like the easiest of ideas, but having come all this way we wouldn’t blame you!
Getting to the Abandoned Water Park
Getting to the abandoned water park is straightforward as it is actually marked on google maps! The park is just over 8km outside the centre of Hue, but is tucked down a small rural road and completely unmarked (well, obviously).
This is a place you ideally want a motorbike for. The park is relatively big and you can use your motorbike to drive around (another reason why this place is cool and surreal)!
You’ll drive on paths for the majority of the time that are a little bumpy and pretty narrow. However, after driving on the main roads with lorries trying to run you over, you’ll be grateful to be in a much quieter spot.
It is pretty easy to get lost, so cache your google maps for the location. We took a wrong turn a couple of times and would never have found it without google maps.
Whilst you can get around on foot, it would take quite a while to explore the place. You’ll also have to put up with other people going around on motorbikes and buzzing past you.
Where to stay in Hue
Hotel La Perle
Hue has quite a lot of good accommodation options and Hotel La Perle is a great choice. The rooms here were pretty cheap, so we treated ourselves to a King Room (which was still under $20 USD per night!).
The hotel is immaculately clean and offers comfortable, big beds on a really quiet street. It also has some nice touches such as free fruit all day and a decent breakfast included in the price. It’s great value and a perfect retreat after a day exploring. As with all the hotels we’ve visited this time in Vietnam the staff are so friendly.
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