Looking for places to visit in Vietnam? Ditch the well-trodden tourist spots and head for some of the more unusual sights with our quick guide.
Vietnam’s one spectacular place to visit, that’s for sure. With incredible food, beautiful scenery and some fantastic attractions, this country’s got it where it counts. Once you’ve acclimatised, chances are you’ll be itching to get below the surface of the local culture to find the less touristic side of Vietnam. There’s more to this richly diverse country than conical hats and bubble tea, after all. So for the nomad in ‘nam, we’ve compiled five unusual destinations to add to your itinerary.
1. Thuy Tien water park, Hue
Looking distinctly post-apocalyptic and up until recently home to a trio of live crocodiles, the Thuy Tien water park is an awesomely unique place to spend the day. Built in 2004 and costing a whopping $3 million, this megapark was designed to ensure a full day of entertainment for mum, dad and the kids. In an unwise show of impatience however, the park was opened far before it was fully completed and it wasn’t long before the park was closed for good. You won’t find any restaurants or gift shops open these days, but visiting is just as fun as it would have been, if not more so. Pay a small fee to the lone security guard and enjoy unfettered access to the whole park, with the abandoned pools, slides and other attractions all yours for the viewing.
2. Crazy House, Da Lat
Da Lat’s Crazy House might be the wackiest guesthouse on the planet. Where else can you sleep through the night with a model kangaroo’s glowing red eyes watching over you? With mad sculptures and insane designs in every room, this guesthouse is definitely worth a gander. It’s a building that flummoxes and fascinates and furnishes its guests with many questions. Questions that you may be lucky enough to get answered, as the Crazy House creator lives on site and is often found talking to visitors wanting to know more about the building.
3. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Communist countries seem to have a thing about putting their revered leader’s bodies to rest in glass cases so that future generations can ogle at their embalmed bodies, and Vietnam’s no different. As with Mao, Stalin and Lenin, Ho Chi Minh’s embalmed body is put on display within a grand mausoleum in the city he gave his name to. Peacefully snoozing the eternal snooze in a glass case, Ho’s body draws massive crowds so expect a long queue!
4. The Fairy Stream, Mui Ne
The Fairy Stream near the town of Mui Ne doubles up as a walkway as well as river. As it’s only ankle deep, you can paddle down the river with ease, letting the waters guide you through bamboo forests, boulders and dunes while the cool water below soothes your feet. At times this scenic waterway resembles a miniature grand canyon as the stream cuts through golden rocks and sand in a way that makes you feel as though you’re in Arizona, not Vietnam.
5. Hell Cave, Da Nang
Buddhist hell is a scary place, as this literal hell hole within the Marble Mountains of Vietnam makes abundantly clear. Just outside Da Nang, this bizarre cave invites guests to walk from cavern to cavern taking in terrifying depictions of hell and suffering that are sure to make you think twice about sinning. Tunnels and caverns contain haunting models of ravenous crocs, devils and frightening demons. Don’t worry though, it’s not all doom and gloom. After visitors have braved hell, the atmosphere picks up as hell gives way to heaven: a divine area of the cave at the top of the mountain where the light from outside shines through cracks in the cave walls.
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