Thursday, 8 December 2016

Adventures at a abandoned water park in Huế, Vietnam

Well, suddenly it’s the end of 2016 and I’ve been back from Palau for over two years already (crazy i know!). I have thought many times of updating the blog and letting everyone know how I settled back in to big city life but I've been busy :o  I will say that everything has been going great and I'm loving being home. Also I apologise for the badly formatted page, but blogspot have done nothing in the past two years to make formatting and aligning photos any easier or less frustrating.

Right, onto the adventures:

Recently, the wife and I had a 2 week holiday in Vietnam. Before we left, while searching my googles to see what cool stuff we could do I came across an abandoned water park (Hồ Thuỷ Tiên) outside of Huế. For my stalkers or those with amazing memories you may remember this post. Given that I never got to properly see Nara Dreamland (sadly currently being demolished) I had to make the effort to go to Ho Thuy Tien while in the area.

After stops in Saigon and Hanoi, the wife and I travelled down to Hue for 2 nights. Almost primarily so I could visit the Ho Thuy Tien. So one very hot and humid Sunday afternoon in mid-November I hired a scooter to ride the 8k’s or so out to the park. Despite a lot of cycling, I’ve never ridden a motorbike or scooter before, let alone riding one in a country with crazy traffic like Vietnam. Luckily being a Sunday arvo and being in Hue (and not Saigon or Hanoi) it wasn’t too busy. After some early nerves I quickly got the hang of it and actually enjoyed the ride out (and back).

Aided by my trusty phone and a 3G pocket wifi device I managed to find my way out of town and onto one of the not so major roads towards the park. After reading a few other blogs I was aware there was a front and back entrance to the park. The reports were that locals manned the front entrance and requested a fee to enter. Originally I had intended to go via said front entrance as the drive looked more straight forward, but I somehow ended up on the roads that headed towards the back of the park so I ran with it.

The ride was shorter and on smaller roads than I had expected, so I flew past the odd turn here or there as they all came up very quick. The last part of the ride was on small dirt/gravel roads through what I can only describe as the countryside. A few locals seemed to have puzzled looks when some crazy white guy rode past waving at them. 

Soon enough I popped out onto a small flat plateau where an older man was leading a bull across, the track appeared to go no further. I had the sudden thought that maybe Google Maps & the GPS were completely wrong or I'd badly gotten off course. I waved to the man with the bull and he nodded (seemingly unsurprised by my presence). Another quick check of the map showed that I was actually quite close to the back entrance. When I looked up again I suddenly spotted the top of the grandstand for the small arena just over the back of the plateau, it could be no more than 50 metres away. 

The park was much closer, easier to locate and quicker to get to than expected. The pocket wifi did help  to run live maps/GPS however! 

I rode down the little dirt track to the rear entrance to the park and parked the bike near a small arched bridge leading to the back of the grandstand. Immediately I ran into a group of 5 or so Vietnamese teens taking photos on the bridge and generally messing around on their scooters. They were friendly enough when I said hello and soon moved on to another section in the park. I bumped into another group of kids underneath the stand and followed them into the arena where there were more people again. Clearly this wasn’t going to be the solo exploration session I had anticipated. The arena was interesting and made for a couple of good photos (IMHO) but I soon left the kids to it as I was eager to investigate the rest of the park. Outside I ran into even more kids and two other had a quick chat to two other foreigners also on their first Urbex mission.

Heading over to a small  building on the other side of the stand I came across one of those hydraulic space ship rides which seemed a very odd addition to what was supposed to be a water park. Like the ride out to the park, the park itself was starting to feel a little smaller than I had expected.

A downed tree prevented me from riding around a dirt track around the west of the lake so I went back over the bridge and took my bike down a path on the east of the lake. As I neared the famous Dragon building centrepiece of the park I came across a makeshift parking area with around 50 bikes. The park was getting more popular by the second! 

After parking and again saying hello to a family selling drinks under a tarp, I was a little dismayed at just how many people I could see crawling all over various parts of the Dragon building. I was a little disappointed for two reason, the amount of people there seemed to sap some of the ambiance that an abandoned location would normally have, and, the amount of people would also pose issues for an amateur photograph such as myself who prefers to not have random people ruining the mood of my shots.

After being patient and waiting for various people to move off the little bridge that runs to the Dragon building, a couple of young girls clearly were trying to pose and wanted their photo taken. This ended up happening a few times in the park. Maybe I looked like a professional photography with my big camera. Little do they know!

The Dragon building itself was quite interesting with a few different sets of stairs and sections to investigate. Again lots of good photo opportunities here but a little dark in some places. 

The Dragon was also by far the most popular place in the park, kids were everywhere! All were friendly (or shy) and I even had a nice chat to a young fella studying medicine at Hue University. The volume of people did make photography a little challenging but I made the most of it.

Once I had my fill of photos in and around the Dragon I headed to the west of the to find the water slides. A young family were hanging out on the bridge on far side of the Dragon, a mum played with a young child while a couple of guys fished in the lake. 

A few minutes walking and I soon found the slides, it was becoming very obvious why the park failed. The slides weren’t very impressive, even for young kids it wasn’t much. Again the slides and pool area had a number of local kids messing around. 

Another burst of amateur photography and I noticed that it was starting to get dark a bit earlier than I expected. While I love taking photos at sunset due to the soft light I didn't want to be riding back to Hue at night. I made a reasonably hasty visit to an small old brick building in the woods, took a few more last shots of the Dragon building, and returned to my trust steed.

On a whim I decided to leave by the front entrance and take the more straight forward way back into Hue rather than the windy local roads I took on the way in. I rode past the guys manning the front gate, who barely even looked up as I zipped past.

Seemingly within minutes I was back in Hue and negotiating through some busy traffic back and a couple of crazy intersections before arriving back at our hotel.

It was time for a well-deserved shower and a beer!

Despite the amount of people at the park I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and was happy to find it all easier than I expected it to be. I’d highly recommend a visit if you are in Hue, however, a weekday might be the go if you want a less crowded experience.

Photobombed by a bull!

An odd inclusion in a water park
The girls who desperately wanted their photo taken

Two guys fishing in the lake

More posers!

A few of the kids heading home for the day


  1. You wouldn't catch me in this hole in a wall place if you had been sent to Nam in 1962. I don't forget or forgive.

  2. Great blog!!

    I also have a blog, and I'm trying to get visit from every country. I would really like to get a visit from Palau

    If you can, please come back and visit mine:

    Pablo from Argentina