The historic city of Hue in Vietnam has the perfect ‘unofficial must see’ backpacker hotspot, in the form of a creepy post apocalyptic abandoned water park. Do you feel like you need to break away from the typical touristy sites in Vietnam for an adventure?
Visiting the abandoned water park in Hue was an urban exploring adventure that we just couldn’t miss. Our research left us giddy with anticipation about ‘breaking in’ to a rundown water park. Would we make it past the guards? Adrenaline begins to kick in. Will we get turned away?! Of course, we made it in!
In this guide we will explain how to get there, how we gained access, plus what you can expect once you’re inside. Was it worth the anxiety? Or was it all just a myth blown out of proportion? Read on to find out!
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What’s the Story?
Back in 2004, the Hue Tourism Company opened a family water park around Ho Thuy Tien Lake, just South of downtown Hue. The water park cost a whopping US$ 3 million and was supposed to attract hordes of tourists to the region. But that was not to be the case. Following just 2 years of laughter and enjoyment, the park was closed under a cloak of mystery.
Imagine a water park packed full of revelers, kids running riot and adults running even more riotously. Now imagine that everyone inside the park vanished all at once, as though park would imminently face a nuclear meltdown like Chernobyl. If dictionaries had a picture for each description, the once bustling water park in Hue would be the perfect picture for entry: ‘Abandoned’.
Tourists visited for years after the closure, unobstructed by guards. But back then it truly was ‘off the beaten path’ and its location was a thing of fairy tales. Real adventurers would have to source the secret from other travelers over a beer.
In 2013, there was rumor of an eco-tourism redevelopment project, but that never came to light. Why? Nobody seems to know, but there is talk about the site being cursed. Legends have turned the abandoned park into a tourism hot spot for more intrepid backpackers.
As bloggers began to flood the internet with information, the site has lost a part of its intrigue. But on the contrary, that same information has made the water park more accessible to us all. Now, the entrance is ‘guarded’ for health & safety reasons. However, there are other ways to gain entry to Hue abandoned water park…
What Can You Expect to Find Inside Hue Abandoned Water Park?
At the heart of Ho Thuy Tien lake stands the centerpiece and focal point of the water park. A three story high brightly colored dragon statue, contained an aquarium and observation platform. The aquarium surrounding its interior was once home to manta rays and sharks. Another animal residing in tanks was the crocodile, but more on that later.
From the outside, it’s easy to understand why this mysterious dragon was the main attraction of the water park. We were impressed by its intricately colorful design and how it could only be accessed by a number of narrow bridges.
Inside, you need to be careful as you explore the belly of the dragon. Most of the glass from the aquarium has shattered into sharp and jagged pieces, covering the lower levels in potential for serious foot injuries. Flip flops are not recommended!
Take some time to explore each of the three levels. The entire interior is plastered with graffiti from the last 15 years. Another danger to be aware of is swarms of hornets. We couldn’t believe how many were hanging around inside the dragon when we visited, much to our dismay. We’re not the biggest fans of hornets!
Be sure to climb the spiral staircase. On the top floor, you will discover the dragons mouth doubles as its observation deck. A very nice touch. Can you imagine excited families looking out over the lake at this thriving part of the city? Now transport yourself back to today and take in what this place has now become. Deserted and forsaken.
In Vietnamese Culture, the dragon is a symbol of power and nobility. How sadly ironic a tale this is.
The Water Slides
Our personal favorite part of the complex were the empty desolate water slides. It’s the easiest place to conjure up images of how this water park would have once been a playground for children, sliding down and splashing into the water below. Today, the whole place has transformed into a playground of rubble, fit only for adventurous travelers seeking excitement.
Surprisingly, many of the water slides are still in excellent condition. Okay maybe not aesthetically, but structurally they were sound enough to walk on during our visit. We were fortunate enough to have a clear sunny day, resulting in perfect reflections of brightly colored slides in the brown murky water below.
All areas in the park are accessible, including the start and end of the slides. Try walking (carefully!) along some of the open slides. We say open because we saw one daredevil attempt to crawl through one of the tube slides. A minute later he re-emerged looking like he’d just had a shower. Daredevil … or not the sharpest tool in the box. We’ll let you decide!
Search the whole area and you will find a mushroom shaped waterfall once used for cooling off as well as some smaller children’s slides. You’re also likely to see discarded beer cans, cigarette butts and snack packets littered among the large pools of grimy water. Interestingly, there are no overpoweringly bad smells around the abandoned water park complex.
The water slides can be found to the West of the lake as you read a map. Once you enter at the North East of the lake, head clockwise, past the dragon and you will eventually find the water slides.
On the North shore of the lake you will find an old amphitheater that once would have housed animal shows. The 2,500 seats gives you an indication as to the size of the former show area.
Vegetation is severely overgrown around the amphitheater and the lush green grass is perfect for cows and water buffalo to find a snack. We wonder if they had to bribe a guard to get in?! The seating area inside the amphitheater overlooks the entire lake. In the distance, you can just about see the dragon standing tall.
We’re not exactly sure how this car was related to a water park. Perhaps it had jets of water inside that would periodically project at the 2 seats from behind? Or maybe it was a dry area, just for fun!
Either way, what was the first thing you thought about the car? Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, right?! It looks like plagiarism at its finest to us!! You can find the car on the South East corner of the lake, not far from the dragon bridges.
Where is the Abandoned Water Park in Hue?
When we visited Hue and heard about an abandoned water park we were intrigued. Once it transpired that it required an illicit entrance, we were hooked!
Our research led us to believe that the location of the water park was cloaked in mystery. We would have to ask around on the grape vine in the secluded underworld of backpackers traveling through Vietnam… until we went on google maps and found it immediately. Adrenaline rush over. Dreams crushed.
It’s 2020, the mystique of a secret place that you can only attain from other backpackers over a beer is gone. The park is on google maps!
It’s unfortunate for those seeking ‘off the beaten path’ urban exploration adventures. But it’s also great for those who don’t care for having to find out where it is by asking around. Time is precious after all!
Hue’s abandoned water park is 8km due South of downtown.
Walk, Cycle or Motorbike?
You need to cover 8km there and back, which is a 10 mile roundtrip. We saw people walking, cycling and more commonly, on motorbike. Personally, we cycled.
Every chance we get to explore actively, we take it.
If you’re not a confident moped driver, hop on a bicycle because the traffic can be crazy in Hue. However, if you’ve been through the baptism of fire driving around Vietnam by moped, you’ll be fine as it’s not even close to the chaos of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh! You can pick up a motorbike in the tourist area of town (around Chu Van An – night walking street) for around 100,000 Dong (US$ 4). Many hostels/hotels in town will provide free use of bicycles.
How to Get Into Hue Abandoned Water Park
On to the most important part of all, how do you get inside?! You don’t need to walk up any scary dark staircases to get in, the photo above is the interior of the dragon!
Your first option is to try the front gate. There will be a ‘guard’ sat on the gate who is very concerned about your well being. In order to bypass his dedication to your health and safety, a small fee of around 10,000 VND may get you in. Money talks in Vietnam.
However. And this is a big however. It appears as though the guards are being even more stringent than they once were. Therefore, in order to avoid the main entrance, you will need to enter via another route.
Have a look on Tripadvisor comments here to see the latest attempts.
And this is where it got a little strange for us.
We hung back to observe at first and could see the guard refusing people at the gate. So, we cut through a forest which opened up onto a new road to the North West. A young local guy on a moped was parked alone and he said “are you trying to get in the park?” We ignored it at first thinking it was another scam.
The Back Way
But shortly after, another big group on bicycles appeared and began talking to him, so we decided to join the conversation. He said for 10,000 VND each he would get us in, with no bother from guards. His uncle was ‘the guard’ and his mothers garden backed onto the park!
Before we knew it, there were maybe 10-12 tourists following this guy on his moped. The atmosphere among our group was tense, like everyone knew they were being naughty, dragging up memories of getting sent out of class at school. We followed him all the way back to the main road and into the park the correct way.
Follow along with the photos below as we will show you the way to get in.
As you approach the turn off to the main entrance, there is another right turn (as depicted above) around 30-50 meters before the main entrance turning. Look for the green sign and take that turn.
Take another right turn keeping a pond to your right hand side. Next, take a left when you see another green sign saying 150m to park entrance.
A long narrow dusty lane full of pot holes and residential houses (including our ‘guides’ mothers house!!) will follow. Eventually that will lead you to a clearing and suddenly the huge lake will be right in front of you.
Everyone in our big group began to relax when they realized this wasn’t some sort of group robbery! Our ‘guide’ was actually genuine and looked after us as we entered. He told us to lock our bicycles up every time we left them to explore or the ‘guards’ would take them and demand payment to get them back.
Another questionable man was creeping around as we entered, demanding we all paid him too. He was getting a bit pushy but our ‘guide’ stepped in. They had some words. The questionable man walked away disgruntled. However, we did see him hanging around later checking out all the bicycles.
Moral of the story: Lock up your bicycles kids.
So the route in a nut shell, when you arrive is to take the right turn where you see the first green sign in the photo, and follow the remaining green signs. As a hint, the numbers on the signs should get smaller as you get closer.
Our Interactive Map below shows the exact route you need to take to get in the same way we did. Hopefully, nothing has changed since we visited and this route works for you!
If you recently visited, please let us know in the comments of any changes so we can keep this up to date for other readers.
Are There Any Crocs?!
You’ll be glad to hear the answer is no! Not anymore. However, there were crocodiles here in the parks aquarium when it was in operation. Following the parks closure, the resident crocodiles were abandoned, just like the park.
It was a few years before anyone saw sense and reported the crocodiles to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Fortunately, the animals were moved to a wildlife park further North. So, you don’t need to worry about standing close to the edge of the lake!
Tips For Your Visit to Hue Abandoned Water Park
- Be persistent if the guard won’t let you in. Try another entrance and pay someone if you have to, it won’t be much.
- Wear robust footwear. The shattered glass inside the dragon is lethal, plus who knows what else is lurking around in an abandoned complex.
- Take plenty of water! Although you’re not off on an expedition, you’re still in Vietnam and its unrelenting humidity will take its toll.
- Don’t let anyone take your moped or bicycle. Lock it up if you leave it but better yet, keep it with you.
- Save the route in our map to your phone before you leave WiFi. It would be easy to get lost on the way in Hue!
- Be careful walking around the water slides, they felt safe enough when we visited but would definitely be dangerous when wet.
And that’s a wrap on the Hue Abandoned Water Park, Vietnams relic of an unfulfilled dream.
We hope our post helps you get in and enjoy your visit!
Remember, it’s not illegal to go inside, it’s just frowned upon. Plenty of other people will be in the park the same day you visit. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! But we will end by saying, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Please let us know if you have any questions, comments or information on better ways of getting inside!
How much have you budgeted for your Vietnam trip? Take a look at our 1 month Vietnam expense report to get an idea of how much you will spend.
And finally, be sure to read our top 30 key things to know about Vietnam before you visit.
Trivia: When was Hue the Imperial Capital of Vietnam?
1802 – 1945
In 1802, Hue was founded as the capital of Vietnam by Gia Long – the first King of the Nguyen Dynasty.
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