If you’re traveling through Southeast Asia for an extended period of time, are a backpacker looking for a different kind of experience, or a photographer wanting something different to photograph then you might be interested in Vietnam’s abandoned water park. It’s not your typical vacation destination but if you’re up for an adventure that involves sneaking past guards or bribing them to let you in then keep reading to find out what you need to know to visit Vietnam’s abandoned water park.
Where is Vietnam’s abandoned water park?
Ho Thuy Tien Water Park, the official name of Vietnam’s abandoned water park, is located in Hue Vietnam. You might not have heard of Hue (pronounced Hu-way) before (I hadn’t) but Hue is located in central Vietnam and was once the imperial capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945. Hue was the political, cultural, and religious center of Vietnam for nearly 150 years.
The water park sits about 8km outside of Hue and has become Instagram famous. Maybe you’ve seen photos of the massive concrete dragon in a lake. In Vietnam, the dragon holds a significant cultural and spiritual importance. It’s mainly associated with imperial power and royalty in Vietnam signifying the emporer’s authority and strength and is used widely throughout the country in art and architecture.
ADDRESS: CH5H+5CG, hồ Tiên, Thủy, Thủy Bằng, Hương Thủy, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
The abandoned water park might look far away but it’s located just 8 km outside of Hue.
About Ho Thuy Tien Water Park
Hue Vietnam was already a tourist destination because of it’s significance in Vietnam’s history, but in 2001 the city decided to spend around $3,000,000 to build the water park. In 2004, before the water park was even halfway finished, Ho Thuy Tien Water Park opened. Why they decided to open before being completed is not really known. The best possible guess is that the expense to build it become more than they thought and they needed to start recouping their money.
The park was pretty popular when it first opened but it suddenly closed down after just a few months of being open. In 2006 an investment company took over with plans to reopen the water park and branding it as an eco-tourism complex but there wasn’t enough business to keep it open and Ho Thuy Tien was once again shut down in 2011.
In 2014 the city of Hue made another attempt to revive the park but lack of funds led the once promising water park destination to finally close permanently and the government reclaimed the land and closed it off due to safety concerns.
Why did they close the water park?
There are a lot of rumors about why Ho Thuy Tien Water Park shut down. The most obvious is that they just ran out of money. However, locals say the now abandoned water park was built on a burial ground. The rumor is that the gravesites were moved to another location and because of that, the place is cursed. I’m not sure if that is true or not but if it is, I can see their point.
It’s probably more likely that it just cost too much money, they opened it too soon, and wasn’t profitable. Walking through the grounds of the park you don’t really see much to do so that is a very likely possibility.
Why do people visit Ho Thuy Tien?
There’s something about doing something or going to a place that is forbidden. I mean, that story goes all the way back to Adam and Eve! We are drawn to do things that are supposed to be off limits. It’s something different from our normal vacation activities and it’s kind of a cool experience. And of course there’s FOMO. How can you not do it if you’re already there?? There’s only so many temples you can see over and over and over again before you need a change. Going to someplace abandoned is a little exciting, maybe a little dangerous (who knows?) and a really good story to tell everyone back home!
How to get into Vietnam’s abandoned water park
Once upon a time Ho Thuy Tien was not all that well known except to local residents and maybe other Vietnamese citizens. But once it shut down, there wasn’t a reason to think about it. A backpacker might have heard about it while passing through and then they passed the information along to others and so on. Suddenly, Vietnam’s abandonded water park wasn’t much of a secret anymore. The abandoned water park has even been covered in Vogue, The HuffPost, and the New York Post.
There are two ways to get into Ho Thuy Tien: sneak in or bribe the guard to let you in.
Sneaking into Ho Thuy Tien
If you’ve researched Vietnam’s abandoned water park even just a little bit, you’ve probably heard that you have to sneak in through a hole in a fence. That’s not completely true. It’s also not completely false. There are people who have snuck in through other openings, both through a fence or through other hidden entrances. We were totally prepared to do that exact thing. Whatever it took to get inside, we were going to do it.
People have tried to get in through the main entrance which has a chain across the entry, nothing that you couldn’t just step right over. Sometimes there’s a guard there and the guard will tell people that they can’t enter, that it’s too dangerous. This is where people then turn to alternative methods of sneaking in through a hole in a fence somewhere on the opposite side of the park.
Bribing the guard to get into Ho Thuy Tien
Some people have been let in to Vietnam’s abandoned water park by paying a small fee to the guard. The guard might tell you “no, it’s too dangerous”, you beg them to let you in, show them some money, and that’s it. Suddenly, it’s not all that dangerous! Others have tried to pay their way in only to be turned away. The guard wasn’t going to budge and they had to find another way in: through the fence. IF you do need to bribe the guard, it won’t take much money. Somewhere between 10,000-20,000 VND, or less than $1.00.
No one really knows for sure if the guard is an official government worker or just a local looking to make a few dollars. Either way, paying a small amount of money is worth it.
How WE got into Ho Thuy Tien Water Park
Our story isn’t as exciting as sneaking around and finding a hole in the fence to get in. We mentioned to our hotel front desk that we wanted to go there and she arranged for a driver to take us there. Boring, I know. Our driver said we would have to pay money to the guard though. We pulled up to the front entrance and there wasn’t a guard in sight. We gave the entrance fee to our driver and we walked in. He said he would wait for us while we explored.
We were at Ho Thuy Tien Water Park in December 2022 smack in the middle of the rainy season. It wasn’t cold but the rain was relentless making the place seem even more eerie. We walked through the front entrance and down the path. For about 5 minutes we couldn’t see much. There were trees along the path and overgrown grass and bushes everywhere. We finally started to see an opening in front of us. We came upon a cement statue of a head. We looked left and right, walked around a bit through the mud and grass and didn’t see the dragon anywhere.
We had two choices: go left or go right. We picked the left and walked down a brick pathway for about 10 minutes and we FINALLY saw the dragon through the trees. AND, we saw a guard. He started to tell us (in Vietnamese) what I assume was that we had to leave. He pointed towards the way we had walked in shaking his head no. I quickly got my phone out and opened the Google Translate App and told him that we gave our money to our driver at the front entrance. That’s all it took! He shook his head yes and said “ohhhhh, okay” and he turned and left.
There is this car that you can get in and take photos with it. It’s really hard to see the connection between this car and the rest of the water park. Sometimes things don’t make sense. The car sits right off to the side of the dragon.
How to get to Ho Thuy Tien Water Park
Vietnam’s abandoned water park is just 8km, or 5 miles from Hue. It’s a short 15 minute drive. You can arrive by taxi, scooter, or bicycle. The benefit of having someone drive you there is that they know exactly where the water park is. However, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find if you choose to do it on your own. It’s a little more adventurous that way too!
If you do decide to take a scooter or bicycle (which you can drive into the park), make sure you either have your eyes on your transportation at all times or lock it up. There have been thefts in the past and that’s probably the last thing you want to deal with.
To get to the main entrance of Ho Thuy Tien Water Park, you will want to take Khải Định Road South until you reach Thủy Tiên Road. You’ll turn right on that road and it will lead to the entrance of the water park. The red dots on the map below shows the two roads you’ll take to get there.
What is there to see at the water park?
There really isn’t much to see at Ho Thuy Tien. You’ll find some brick paths, overgrown bushes, grass, weeds, a big lake, and maybe some cows grazing. There are some waterslides and a pool with stagnant water – I wouldn’t walk through it. There are also a few random statues/sculptures, an outdoor stadium/amphitheater, and of course the main attraction: The 3-story Dragon.
The waterslides that lead to the kid’s pool have grafitti and mold all over them. I’m not so sure how sturdy they are so I wouldn’t test it out.
The outdoor stadium that once held up to 2500 people (looks smaller than that so who knows) where I assume they had some kind of show.
Everything in the park is far away from each other so you’ll have to walk a bit to get to each sight. It’s very easy to see why the place closed. There isn’t much there. Here’s a map of the locations of the main entrance, water slides, stadium, and the dragon.
Vietnam’s Abandoned Water Park Dragon
From the main entrance path we ended up going down another path to the left which led us to the dragon, and where we ran into the guard. Besides all the grafitti, the dragon looks even cooler in person than it does in photos. I hate that it has grafitti all over it because it really is a nice piece of art!
We took a few photos outside and then went in to have a look around.
Inside the dragon at Vietnam’s abandoned water park
Inside we found a lot of grafitti, broken glass, pieces of broken off cement, and various other pieces of debris. There used to be aquariums inside with fish and even crocodiles. For some reason when the place shut down they didn’t even bother to take the crocodiles with them. Someone ended up releasing them and they roamed the grounds. It was reported to PETA and authorities stepped in and found them a new home.
Once inside we started to climb the stairs to make our way up to the top. The inside of the stairs is designed to look like the rib cage of the dragon. One final spiral staircase takes you to the very top and to the mouth of the dragon.
At the top you have a great view of the park which would obviously be better if it wasn’t raining.
While we were there we saw three people running around and hiding behind trees and bushes. They ended up running towards the dragon and coming upstairs. They had snuck in through the fence and were being chased by the guard and had been hiding.
We took some pictures of us at the top. You can really see how large the dragon at Vietnam’s abandoned water park is with us up there.
We came back down and walked around the whole dragon taking a few more pictures before leaving. All in all I would say it was a very successful adventure!
If you’re planning a trip to Vietnam, check out our article on the Perfect 2 week Vietnam Itinerary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it illegal to enter Vietnam’s abandoned water park?
No, it’s not illegal. You just have to find a way. You won’t go to jail or get a ticket.
Are there crocodiles there?
Nope. Unless Peta missed one or someone brought one in and released it. But we didn’t see any and there isn’t supposed to be any there.
What should I bring with me to Ho Thuy Tien Water Park?
You’ll want to bring some cash for the bribe and something to drink, especially if you’re visiting during spring and summer. You’ll also want some sturdy shoes because you’ll be walking and climbing and there is broken glass.
Why was the water park abandoned?
There isn’t one good answer to this question. The abandoned water park was opened before the whole place was completed and then business just dropped off.
What is the best way to get to Ho Thuy Tien Water Park?
Either by car or scooter. The water park is located about 8km outside of Hue Vietnam so it will take you about 15 minutes to get there.
Will I go to jail if I enter the abandoned water park?
As far as I know nobody has gone to jail. The worst thing that will happen is the guard will make you leave. It’s very well known that people enter.
How much money should I bring to get into the water park?
I would bring some small bills of Vietnamese Dong. 10,000 and 20,000 notes. It shouldn’t cost more than 20,000 VND per person. Just keep your bribe money separate from the rest of your money so the guard doesn’t know how much you have.
What is the closest city to Ho Thuy Tien Water Park
The city of Hue is just 8 km away and is the closest city to Vietnam’s abandoned water park.
How long should I plan to spend at the abandoned water park?
It really depends on what you want to see. The water park is large and if you want to explore the entire place then plan on spending at least 2 hours there.