Published on Tuesday, 16 January 2018 11:45
Written by Michael Tatarski. Photos by Michael Tatarski.
Just south of Hue sits the Ho Thuy Tien Waterpark. Once a sign of aspirational middle-class family entertainment, it now sits abandoned, creating an eerie, graffiti-splashed destination in its own right.
While some websites claim that Ho Thuy Tien is difficult to find, supposedly requiring secret codes and whispered coordinates, it is actually listed on Google Maps. My taxi driver knew exactly where it was, so finding it was no grand adventure.
A security guard posted at the gate takes a VND10,000 entry fee per person, and then you’re in.
According to Atlas Obscura, the park opened in 2004 and cost US$3 million to build. Alas, money quickly ran dry and the property has now sat unused for years. The site even asserts that the crocodiles which filled Ho Thuy Tien’s aquarium were left to roam the park after it was closed, though they have since been removed.
Wandering around the grounds, it’s not hard to see why things went south. The attractions are well spread out around a lake — maybe a bit too well spread out — so walking from the sculpture garden near the entrance to the striking three-story dragon aquarium centerpiece takes at least 10 minutes.
Getting to the three rusted water slides takes another 10 minutes, and then reaching the ghostly amphitheater where shows would have been held requires 15 minutes on a muddy path.
The rewards were worth it though. Hue’s relentlessly dreary weather adds the perfect atmosphere to the park’s sad, long-unused and repeatedly tagged attractions. A lazy river filled with dirty water and tree branches meanders around an equally dirty pool. The whole setting looks like it was lifted directly from a Jurassic Park sequel. The name “Thuy Tien” means daffodils, but in its current condition, the park might as well be called the Moss Waterpark.
It’s actually quite a beautiful space, with thick stands of pine trees filling the rolling terrain in between the dragon and the slides. I guess one way to preserve a forest in Vietnam, even an artificial one, is to leave it inside an abandoned theme park.
Nobody knows what the future holds for Ho Thuy Tien, though it has been more successful as an abandoned draw than it was as an actual waterpark. Perhaps it can simply remain a mournful reminder of grand ambitions gone awry, much like Hue’s royal tombs and Imperial Palace.
Tour the Thuy Tien Waterpark’s abandoned attractions below:
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