At any amusement park run by the “big two” – Disney or Universal Studios – you can be whisked away to a picturesque fairytale castle, or live out scenes from your favourite movies. But what if what you really want is to ride through the depths of hell and then go alligator fishing? Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park, located on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, is a mammoth of a theme park that delights and baffles in equal measure. Read on for our eight reasons not to miss out!
1) The entire park is Buddhist-themed
Suoi Tien is the world’s first (and, as yet, only!) Buddhist-themed amusement park. As well as rollercoasters, parades and a water park, the resort is also chock-full of Buddhist temples and statues, reflecting this important part of Vietnamese history.
2) It’s colourful…VERY colourful
In an obvious but well-deserved comparison, the park has been described as “Disneyland on acid” and “Disneyland gone mad”. Bright colours, neon and gold abound. In place of Mickey and friends, Suoi Tien has a team of mascots with mythical origins: a dragon, a unicorn, a tortoise and a phoenix. Do they give autographs, though…?
3) It’s huge – but not in the way you might expect
At over 100 hectares, the park is much too big to see in one day. It doesn’t beat the major American theme parks in terms of land mass, but inside Suoi Tien, everything – from park mascots to the Buddha’s hands – is built on a colossal scale.
4) An amazing salt-water pool
Inside the resort is Tien Dong Beach, an artificial beach and water park…
5) … watched over by a giant creepy head
Specifically, the giant creepy head of Hung King. Because carving his likeness out of (presumably fake) rock is the best way to pay homage to the emperor. But where’s the rest of his body…?
6) Alligator fishing
It’s not uncommon for theme parks in the West to have a petting zoo, where visitors can cuddle up to rabbits, or feed snacks to domesticated animals. At Suoi Tien, however, you don’t feed the chickens – you feed chicken to alligators as bait. There are 1,500 alligators in the pond, so presumably they’re not too hard to catch.
If you prefer your thrills to come with less direct animal-taunting, you could always get on the “Midair Bicycle” ride and pedal in the air above the alligators instead.
7) A ride depicting the 18 Gates of Hell
One of Suoi Tien’s top attractions is a dark ride through Buddhist hell, featuring blood-curdling screams and repenting sinners. Even more amazingly, someone decided that this masterpiece of an idea should be called “Unicorn Palace”. Next door is the “Bat cave with innumerable bats”, which sounds even more hellish.
8) It has hammocks
Once you’re weary of teasing captive animals, it might be time for a rest. If this were Disney or Universal, you’d have to share your bench with a life-size cartoon character put there for a photo op. But here the rest areas are just that – designed for you to take a proper rest! Rent a hammock for an hour and reflect on the extraordinary and terrifying things you saw today. Don’t have nightmares…
▼ Dragons abound, as does gold.
▼ The attention to detail is impressive, too. But what happened to that horse in the top right?
▼ Your annual quota of creepy model people, all in one place!