In Ho Chi Minh City lies a magnificent water-filled theme park that rivals Tokyo Disneyland yet remains mostly unknown to foreigners. Suoi Tien, which means “fairy stream”, is a Buddhist-themed amusement complex which showcases the history, folklore and religion of the country. Local legends such as Au Co, Lac Long Quan and the Battle of Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh (The Mountain God and the River God) are impressively showcased in the surrounding art. For mascots, the Suoi Tien chose the dragon, unicorn, tortoise and phoenix, and these sacred animals appear repeatedly throughout the motif. Even the staff gets in the act: dressed in golden monkey suits, they take pictures of visitors and create all sorts of mischief.
Here are some of the fascinating things you can experience in Suoi Tien:
- Tien Dong Beach – an artificial beach featuring an enormous waterfall, overseen by a giant head of an emperor.
- Waterslide - an enormous swimming pool is found at the center of the park, fed by two hundred-meter long waterslides with the ends shaped like elaborate dragons.Â 12 Sageâ€™s heads decorate the sides of the pool, while colorful flowering trees spray mist into the air.
- A giant dragon head that contains a neon-lighted statue of Buddha.
- Several tortoise and dragon-shaped pavilions in lakes dotted with swan boats.
- Crocodile Farm â€“ Donâ€™t expect to quietly feed ducks here. A thousand crocodiles reside here, and visitors are invited to dangle raw meat using bamboo poles to feed them.
- Unicorn Palace – a pleasant-sounding section which unexpectedly descends into a freezing, scream-filled chamber, displaying the torments which await sinners in Buddhist hell. There are specific punishments for drug addicts, gamblers and adulterers.
- 4D Cinema Complex â€“ the first of itâ€™s kind in Vietnam, this ride/theater will allow the audience to experience a new level of movie-viewing.
- Open-Air Museum â€“ a 3,000-square meter museum that displays artifacts from Vietnamâ€™s history and culture. The museum recently displayed 30 pieces of Buddha relics and a jade Buddha statue from the Van Phat Quang Dai Tong Lam pagoda, for the benefit of the viewing public.
It will take visitors more than a day to experience the entirety of Suoi Tien, but for those with plenty of time, the rest of Ho Chi Minh City has plenty to offer for the family. Bink Quoi Tourist Village is one such destination, an activity center on the banks of the Saigon River. River cruises, boat rides, water puppet shows and cultural performances are just some of the things to do in this place. There is also the Golden Dragon Puppet Theater in Tao Dan Park, which features an unique performing art originally presented in the rural villages in the Red River Delta. The spectator chairs all face a shallow pool, where puppet shows are performed above the water surface while being accompanied byÂ live musical instrument renditions and singing. The wooden puppets are controlled by rods running under the water, which gives the illusion of free movement. The theme of these puppet plays center around village life, folklore and mythical creatures.
To get to Suoi Tien, take a 20-minute taxi ride from downtown Ho Chi Minh City to District 9. The best time to visit is during the dry season between December to April, when a dip in the pool is essential to take away the summer heat. If you can ignore the garbage dump next to it, and want to learn more about Vietnamese culture while being entertained, then this water slide park is a perfect place to bring your family.