How to Visit Ho Thuy Tien: Abandoned Waterpark in Vietnam

Last Updated on October 27, 2023

I first heard about how to visit Ho Thuy Tien, an abandoned water park near Hue, Vietnam, from another backpacker.

I first heard about how to visit Ho Thuy Tien, an abandoned water park near Hue, Vietnam, from another backpacker.

Ho Thuy Tien is spread out around a big lake. Since closing in the early 2000s, the park has been slowly swallowed back up by the jungle, and the structures, rides, and waterslides are in disrepair. 

Sitting in a cramped dorm room in Hoi An, Vietnam, he told my partner and I that we had to go. The park was in Hue, a small city a couple of hours north of where we were, and my partner and I were headed there next. We were intrigued. 

When we arrived in Hue a few days later, a visit to this old, abandoned water park was at the top of our to do list. Read on to learn how to visit Ho Thuy Tien, what to see there, and tips for visiting this abandoned waterpark in Vietnam.

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How to visit Ho Thuy Tien, known as the dragon lake, near Hue Vietnam
The dragon aquarium on Ho Thuy Tien lake.

History of Ho Thuy Tien Waterpark

Though it was never actually completed, it’s said that Ho Thuy Tien waterpark did open to the public briefly in 2004. 

Three million USD were put into the waterpark by Hue tourism before its funding was cut. Allegedly, the half-finished park flopped, and so it was shut. 

In the years that followed, the abandoned waterpark got onto the radar of tourists. Travelers were curious about the abandoned site, and found it exciting to explore the eerie, empty park. 

Tourists told each other about the park, and to find it, they would share a coordinates pin on Google Maps. 

This is how Ho Thuy Tien evolved into an attraction quite different from the original goal. Rather than a busy family waterpark, it became an abandoned site for urban explorers. 

The old kids pool in Ho Thuy Tien park.
The old kids pool in Ho Thuy Tien park.

Exploring Ho Thuy Tien, the Dragon Waterpark

One rainy morning in Hue, my partner and I set out to visit the waterpark. We rented a scooter for the day, and picked up some ponchos to keep us dry. The drive to Ho Thuy Tien waterpark was an easy 25 minutes with only one wrong turn and one road block (cows).

The entrance to the park was clearly marked with what would have been gates, if the park had been completed and gone into operation. A Vietnamese man, who looked like a security guard, was standing by the gate, beside his motorbike, collecting small entrance fees. 

We paid the man and drove into Ho Thuy Tien towards the focal point of the park: Ho Thuy Tien lake. Surrounded the lake are abandoned attractions and rides, and of course, the jungle. As we drove alongside the lake, the iconic Ho Thuy Tien dragon came into view. 

The building shaped like a dragon was meant to be an aquarium on the inside. But today the aquarium is just an eerie dragon-lord, whose crumbling facade is incredibly fitting as it oversees the Ho Thuy Tien lake. This dragon is why the park is sometimes called the “Dragon Waterpark.”

As we approached the dragon we saw a bride and groom and a team of photographers. While exploring the abandoned waterpark the evidence of other visitors was everywhere. Locals come to picnic, to share beers, to swim, and yes, to shoot wedding photos. 

We wandered inside the dragon building, and found that all the aquariums inside were smashed. It didn’t take long to find the staircase that brings you up to a lookout point over the lake. The lookout point is actually inside the mouth of the dragon structure!

After exploring the dragon, we followed the waterpark paths around the entire lake. Along the way we came across a structure that holds three adult water slides. Near there is an old kids pool with mini slides. 

We also came across a massive amphitheater with tons of seating in grandstands. This theater would have been used for water shows or other performances. The last building we stumbled on was an unfinished villa, which may have been accommodation for visitors. 

Aside from these main sites, we came across imaginative structures and statues scattered all throughout the park. 

The view of the lake from the top of the dragon structure on Ho Thuy Tien lake.
The view from the top of the dragon structure on Ho Thuy Tien lake.

How to Visit Ho Thuy Tien Waterpark

Ho Thuy Tien waterpark is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) outside of Hue, Vietnam. It’s about a 25 minute drive that can be done by car or by scooter. The park is located between the tombs of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh, and it’s accessible via a quick detour off the main road.

How to visit Ho Thuy Tien by taxi?

The abandoned waterpark is now quite well known, and so most taxi drivers in Hue will be happy to take you there. You can hire a taxi to bring you to the park and back, or combine a visit to Ho Thuy Tien with stops at other landmarks in and around Hue. 

How to visit Ho Thuy Tien by scooter?

It’s possible to rent a scooter for the day to visit Ho Thuy Tien. If using your own transport, follow the directions on Google Maps, or whichever map app you use. The roads from Hue to Ho Thuy Tien are paved and well marked, and the entrance into the park is clearly marked, too. It’s wise to download offline maps for this excursion, this way you’re able to navigate in the off-chance that your mobile data doesn’t work well. 

How long should you spend at Ho Thuy Tien?

Ho Thuy Tien abandoned waterpark is spread out all around the lake. Plan to spend at least 45 minutes in the park. This will give you enough time to explore inside the famous dragon. If you’d like to explore more of the park, plan to spend 2 to 3 hours.

Waterslides surrounded by jungle in the abandoned waterpark Ho Thuy Tien
Waterslides surrounded by jungle in the abandoned waterpark Ho Thuy Tien

Tips for Visiting Ho Thuy Tien

Now that you know how to visit Ho Thuy Tien, it’s time for some tips!

Head to Ho Thuy Tien early

While a visit to this park is definitely still an off-beat activity to do while in Hue, the park is well known to both locals and visitors, and so it can get busy. If you are keen on taking some post-apocalyptic photos at Ho Thuy Tien waterpark, you’ll want to head to the park early so that you beat the crowds. 

Download offline maps

Download offline maps for your visit to Ho Thuy Tien so that you can navigate without WiFi or service. Ho Thuy Tien is outside of Hue city, and so mobile data may not be as reliable as it is inside Hue. Offline maps can be downloaded through the settings in Google Maps and Apple Maps. Waze also has great offline map functionality!

Pack food and water

There is no food for sale in the waterpark, and so it’s a good idea to bring lunch, some snacks, and water. Once you combine transport time plus time spent exploring the park, this excursion will easily last a few hours. Best to be prepared should you get hungry!

Wear good footwear

Wear proper shoes! Because much of the paths through Ho Thuy Tien are overgrown, wearing good shoes will protect your feet from the jungle as well as rubbish that’s been left behind in the park. You might also want to do some climbing, so good grip is a must!

Old paths through Ho Thuy Tien park, surrounded by palm trees and jungle
Old paths through Ho Thuy Tien park

Bring cash for the day

You will need to pay the attendant at the park gate a small fee to enter. When we visited Ho Thuy Tien, the fee was 10,000 VND. It’s been a few years, so the fee may now be higher. 

Explore at your own risk 

We felt totally safe exploring Ho Thuy Tien, but it is important to take some precautions. Since the park is in disrepair, there is no way of knowing how sound the old structures are. 

There’s also glass broken inside many of the structures, and rubbish strewn around some parts of the park. Always be cautious when climbing the structures and watch where you step to avoid glass.

Pack in and pack out 

How to visit Ho Thuy Tien responsibly? Be sure to pack in and pack out. While exploring the park, make sure that any garbage or waste you create is brought back to your home base and disposed of properly. This includes organic matter like banana peels.

Gate of the Citadel in Hue, Vietnam, on a sunny day with blue skies
Gate of the Citadel in Hue, Vietnam

Where to Stay in Hue, Vietnam

You now know how to visit Ho Thuy Tien – but where should you stay that’s near this abandoned waterpark? 

The best place to stay is in the city of Hue, which is just 25 minutes away from the park. Hue is known as the “Imperial City” because there you’ll find palaces that housed the Vietnamese imperial family, as well as shrines and gardens. There is plenty to see in this beautiful city!

Below are three highly rated hotels in Hue, that range in price. 

La Vela Hue Hotel

La Vela Hue Hotel is a 5-star hotel that offers room service, a beautiful pool, a 24 hour front desk, airport transfers, a kids club, WiFi, and luggage storage.  

Rooms have ensuite bathrooms, a desk, flat-screen TV, linens, towels, and air conditioning. Some of the rooms even have a balcony. La Vela Hue Hotel is new and modern, and lots of the reviews cite how accommodating, friendly, and helpful the staff are. 

Jade Scene Hotel

Jade Scene Hotel has free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool, bar, 24 hour front desk, airport transfers, room service, and free WiFi. A buffet breakfast is available every morning at the property.

At the hotel all rooms include air conditioning, a desk, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, linens, towels, and a terrace with a city view. All guest rooms at the Jade Scene Hotel include a wardrobe and a kettle.

Hotel La Perle

Hotel La Perle offers eco-friendly accommodation that runs off of solar energy. The hotel also has a 24 hour front desk, currency exchange, an in-house restaurant, free WiFi, airport transfers, bike hire, and shuttle services. 

Every room at this hotel has an ensuite bathroom, is air conditioned, and is fitted with a TV with cable channels. Reviews of Hotel La Perle cite how friendly the staff is, how great the hotel breakfast is, and that there are eco-friendly initiatives present throughout the hotel. 

Wandering the overgrown pathways through Ho Thuy Tien
Wandering the overgrown pathways through Ho Thuy Tien

Final Thoughts on How to Visit Ho Thuy Tien

Exploring Ho Thuy Tien wasn’t the alternative, off-the-beaten track experience that we had assumed it would be. These days, it’s a well-known spot amongst both tourists and locals. But this doesn’t make it any less interesting to visit!  

If you’re looking for something unique to do near Hue, Vietnam, this is it. The abandoned waterpark is exciting to explore, just to see what you’ll stumble upon. And, it’s a great spot to take some eerie, post-apocalyptic photos!

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