If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track things to see in Vietnam, look no further. Tugged away in the hills of Hue and surrounded by forest and jungle-like flora, lies a destination that might once have been an young child’s dream come true: a full blown waterpark, completely deserted and taken over by time and nature. It features a three-story dragon statue which can be entered, an amphitheater, several aquariums, a space simulator and several waterslides. It’s post-apocalyptic, like you’re walking on a set of The Walking Dead.
The abandoned waterpark, better known to locals as Ho Thuy Tien, is located just 8km outside of the city of Hue in Vietnam and adjacent to the Thuy Tien Lake. It has been featured as one of the most impressive abandoned amusement parks around the globe, and anyone who spent some time in the waterpark will know why. It’s eerie, apocalyptic and both a little frightening and exciting. Until recently it was even the home of three crocodiles (don’t worry, they’re gone now).
Although once a place nearly impossible to find, the park has now become quite a popular destination for backpackers and travellers passing through Hue. Word has spread quickly and during my visit there were a few backpackers who were just as eager as me to go back into time and explore this hidden gem in Vietnam.
Why was Ho Thuy Tien closed and abandoned?
The waterpark was opened in 2004 and construction allegedly cost a staggering $3 million dollars. Construction at the time of opening was only half completed. Due to reasons unknown, the park was closed just a few years after it’s opening, unintentionally creating this little piece of forgotten paradise. Attempts have been made to reopen this park, dating back to as recent as 2013, but none of the attempts have been successful so far.
How to get to Hue’s abandoned waterpark
There’s no opening hours or official address for Hue’s water park. It’s not included in town tours and it’s not being listed by tour operators from the city. And although the location of the abandoned waterpark has become well-known to backpackers through word-of-mouth and travel blogs, getting inside the park can still be a bit of a challenge.
Up until recently, there were three crocodiles living amongst the filth and debris of the swimming pools. Some travellers even have stories on feeding them. Not too long ago, backpackers have sent letters to PETA and the WWF to ask about the state of the crocodiles in Ho Thuy Tien. The crocodiles have since been moved to a wildlife park in Northern Vietnam and are no longer a threat to the visitors of Ho Thuy Tien.
There’s likely to be a couple of self-appointed ‘guards’ at the official entrance gate, who will tell you the park is closed and visitors are not allowed to go inside. They seem to be keen on taking bribes, as they just seem to be a couple of locals who found a creative way to spend their day and earn a little something on the side. You can either choose to state a number and pay them, or try and find the hidden entrance. People seem to be paying anything in between 10,000 VND and 70,000 VND (between $0,40 and $3 dollars) to get in through the gate.
The alternative way to enter the park is to back up from the entrance a little, park your scooter or motorbike in the woods surrounding the water park and proceed on foot. The walk should only take about 15 minutes and the start of path can be found here:
This is where you leave (and lock) your transport. Walk through the woods towards you next waypoint, a small T-junction on the other side of the hill, find it’s coordinates here. Go south on the junction, into the woods. There may be a few trees, logs or bushes blocking the path but this is where you need to go. Follow the path for about 5 minutes until you hit an intersection with a bigger path, here. Go left here and follow the path all the way to the end, where your view should be something like this:
Exploring the Ho Thuy Tien abandoned waterpark
You’re now inside the park and you can start exploring. You may run into a few locals on motorbikes who will ask you for an entrance ticket (?) or just plain money. It’s up to you whether or not you’re paying them but just keep in mind that they sometimes do take foreigners back to the entrance. It’s best to try and avoid them all together.
Start at the impressive dragon statue and find your way upstairs into the mouth of the dragon, where you can get a nice view of the lake and its surrounding forest. When you’re done at the dragon statue, it’s safest to cross to the other side of the Thuy Tien Lake and walk your way around the lake: it’s where most of the park’s attractions are located and you have the least chance of getting seen by the ‘guards’. You will first run into a series of swimming pools and water slides, before making your way along the lake to the amphitheatre.
Like many abandoned places, there’s no such thing as safety regulation so keep in mind that some structures are not safe to enter or climb. Entering the park is completely at your own risk. With that being said I hope you enjoy the ride. If you're keen on seeing more photo's from this amazing locations, be sure to check out my photo collection of Ho Thuy Tien.