Ho Thuy Tien Abandoned Waterpark in Hue

Ho Thuy Tien once sparkling, now decaying

You may ask yourself why people visit abandoned places. Ho Thuy Tien lake hosts an abandoned waterpark which has become an alternative tourist attraction in Hue. 

We would all question why you would abandon somewhere. The peculiarity and mystery these places hold, intrigue us. What has happened on this property?

Well, the answer in the case of Ho Thuy Tien waterpark is bankruptcy. Not so apocalyptic after all, is it?

This park was opened in 2003 although its construction was not even finished, and it had cost an astronomic 3 million dollars to build. Later, in 2011 the park closed for bankruptcy. Were there not enough visitors? Was the park too expensive to run? Or the entrance too expensive for Vietnam? The answer is most likely yes to all of these questions.

Ho Thuy Tien waterpark just outside of Hue procures urban exploration sensations. It has mystery and amazing photogenic character that does not disappoint. Enough to guarantee you with a fun outing but may deceive those searching for urbex adrenalin.

Dragon Island

The park is built around the dragon tower forming an island in the center of Ho Thuy Tien lake. This is where you will come across the most explorers. Inside you will find a building in decomposition. My favorite room was the aquarium right at the bottom. Although the top offers an amazing view over the whole park.

Ho Thuy Tien Dragon
Ho Thuy Tien’s Dragon

Magical Events

The amphitheater seemed like the most preserved spot. In fact, we had to climb over a fence to enter. Find yourself the best seat to imagine what those shows were once like.

The Thrillrider

You will also find a room with a simulator, the “Thrillrider” which you can climb into! However, I have to say I did get a bit of adrenaline from the simulator as it is holding open thanks to a stick. Be careful you do not bump it. You may stay trapped in Ho Thuy Tien waterpark forever.

The Thrillrider

How to get there?

Ho Thuy Tien waterpark is located roughly 7 km out of Hue.

To get there you can:

  • Rent a bicycle or a scooter
  • Take a taxi or a motorbike taxi
My cheerful motorbike taxi driver

How to get in?

There is a guard at the main entrance gate. When we arrived there, the guard denied our entrance. Our motorbike taxi driver did the negotiation and asked us to pay an admission fee. I suspect they split the money between the two of them, but I was just happy to enter. Because word out the park was closed to the public.

Consequently, the guard may require you tip him to let you through. Although, I  did meet a few people that said they were denied entrance even though they had tried to tip the guard.  Therefore, you should be prepared to be refused admission.

Apparently, you can enter the park at a few different points. As a result, it may be worth investigating further to see if there is another place you can enter.

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Xieng Khuan : With our thoughts we make the world – Buddha

Xieng Khuan – Buddha park

Buddha Park counts around 200 concrete Buddhist and Hindu Buddha sculptures.  Xieng Khuan Buddha Park is located on the outskirts of Vientiane, some 25 km away from the capital city, just off the Thai border.

Although I have heard mixed appreciations about this park, we really enjoyed it. I would not say this was the most amazing place I visited in Laos. It was, however, a very mysterious and intriguing collection of sculptures which was worthwhile the visit. The ride to get there was very interesting and the park is peaceful and can be visited at any pace.  Although I would recommend making it a half day trip.

You should spend at least one hour and more to fully enjoy the wisdom this park has to offer. Each statue deserves to be seen and interpreted.

Buddhism is very important in the South of Asia. Gigantic Buddha sculptures decorate and protect sacred places and temples. This collection of sculptures is quite an alternative representation of Buddhas, very different from what I was able to see elsewhere.

We rented our scooters from our hostel. It took us almost one hour to ride to the park on the scooters although it is only 25kms away. For the reason that the road from the friendship bridge to the park is is a dirt road full of potholes, chickens crossing the road and an infinity of other rural obstacles. Furthermore, along the whole way, the Laotians were very busy working on the road, their houses, their fields…

This is my driver and friend equipped with our rented scooter and identic pink helmet.

Night market stop

On the way back from the park, we came across a pleasant night market on the right-hand side of the road. I am not quite sure about which village it was based in, but you should be able to spot the market if you pay attention driving back to Vientiane.

How to get there

  • Rent a scooter (If you can drive one and be aware that the roads are not the best quality)
  • Take the public bus
  • Day tours leave from the tourist office and hostels every day
  • Take a taxi

It could be worth visiting the park on your way to Laos or to Thailand, being that Xieng Khuan is located 6 km away from the border crossing. You should be able to negotiate a stop at the Buddha Park in your trip from or to the border.

 

 

Hang En cave Expedition

There is no better way to bring out the adventure in you than going on such an expedition. Hang En is the third largest cave in the world. It is part of the same cave system as Son Doong, the first biggest. Enough to bring your adrenaline right up.

You will notice that most cave names begin with Hang. This is because Hang is a cave in Vietnamese.

The Adventure Begins

Another early start awaits to begin the adventure. This being so we first drive through Phong Na Khe Bang National Park. The beginning of the trail will lead us to a 6-hour trek to Hang En. I am working hard not to think about the leeches we are told we may encounter on our way. Here we go, heading out into the unknown, crossing rivers and trekking through the Vietnamese jungle in the breathtaking scenery of limestone mountains and green tropical jungle. 

We stopped at the minority village of Ban Doong for our lunch break on the way. On a full stomach we went back into the rivers and the jungle again on our exhausting hike in particularly unpleasant humid weather.

Hang En Cave

This is all forgotten by the time we get there because nothing beats that feeling of arriving. When you enter the cave and pause for a moment to admire our unbelievable campsite, laid out on a white sand beach inside the cave with a natural blue water pool. 

Hang En natural pool

We all chose our tents, checked ourselves for leeches and off we went for a swim in this incredible pool inside of our home for the night.

By the time everyone was almost fully recovered from our day of hiking, Oxalis team had prepared an amazing meal. It was a feast you would not expect to be served in a cave in the middle of nowhere.

After our memorable meal, the dinner table turned into a game table. Our guides made us all play games and then brought out the cards and taught us a Vietnamese card game along with other games.

It was such a lovely evening because everyone was together, around the table, playing, exchanging, drinking rice wine (a.k.a happy water) and laughing all evening. Enjoying our unusual experience of camping in a cave, in the middle of nature.

Deeper into the cave

The next morning, the adventure really begins! After a scrumptious breakfast, equipped with our helmets and headlamps we head deeper inside of the cave. We climbed to the top of the big room we had spent our night in, in order to reach an entrance to a different room. Then, we moved deeper, to inspect the 300 million-year-old fossils. We found a place for our cave group picture moment before switching our headlights off to find that it is pitch black. Not one ray of light to be seen anywhere, to my surprise knowing that both cave openings are so grand.

 

Dancing in Hang En!

And you can only question how lucky you are to enjoy a mindblowing wonder of nature without thousands of tourists in sight. Instead, we are 8 adventurers enjoying every moment of these discoveries. 

The caves in Vietnam are beautiful. But most of them are wired with lights, paved with paths and are full of litter.

Hang En gives you the impression that you have discovered a wonderful place where no one has ever been before. And this is a privileged feeling that I would imagine all travelers are seeking.

It was by far my most incredible experience and the most amazing spot in Vietnam. And I will always remember that time I camped in a cave, completely cut off from the outside world!

Oxalis team porters and adventurers

Oxalis Tour Operator

To visit this impressive cave you will have to go on a tour. There is no way of doing it yourself without a guide. Oxalis is the only tour operator with authorization to offer tours to Hang en cave. The hike is a total of 22km and 4km of caving.

The tour was a total of VND 7 500 000, the equivalent of close to $300 which seems, at first, quite a startling price for Vietnam. The government allows is a limited number of people to visit Hang En per year. When you see the professionalisms of the team and more staff than guests including the guides, porters, chefs, bus driver… All of our included meals were amazing. All that food along with your bags are carried through the jungle on the back of Oxalis team members which justifies the price which may seem very high.

Explore more. There is matcha more to life!