Posted at h in
Located in Ho Chi Minh City, Suoi Tien is Vietnam’s wacky Buddhist wonderland. It’s Vietnam’s weirdest amusement park and maybe the strangest in all of Asia. Suoi Tien is one of the coolest, most unusual, and most unique things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.
There are lots of rides and roller coasters, but the massive spectacles and displays make Suoi Tien special. The entrance fee to this sprawling theme park is less than $5 USD. And Suoi Tien is located only 40 minutes from the main tourist area of Ho Chi Minh City.
Superficial Fun and Deep Cultural Heritage
Suoi Tien mixes the superficial fun of an amusement park with the deep cultural heritage of Vietnam. In the spectacular and surreal mash-up of Suoi Tien, you’ll find:
- Frivolous Roller Coasters, Carnival Games, and Junk Food
- Serious Monuments to Ancient Vietnamese History
- Tacky Harry Potter and Disney Knock-off Attractions
- Inspiring and Original Buddhist Works of Art
- Gaudy Haunted Houses and Waterparks
- Real Functioning Buddhist Temples
- Mini Ziplines
- Giant Mythological Creatures
Suoi Tien may not make sense to us westerners, but it wasn’t designed for us. Suoi Tien was made by the Vietnamese for the Vietnamese. That’s the best thing about this theme park. It’s not the Vietnamese putting on a show for foreigners, appealing foreign tastes.
Suoi Tien is the Vietnamese putting on a show for other Vietnamese, appealing to Vietnamese tastes. The park is hugely popular. Millions of Vietnamese visit Suoi Tien every year. And that’s why it’s a cool lesson on contemporary Vietnamese culture, as well as a good time.
Best of all, you can enjoy some fantastic spectacles alongside locals. We try to give you a taste of its uniqueness in our photos. We leave out most the typical amusement park stuff. In our photos, we focus on the cultural and spiritual
In our photos, we focus on the cultural and spiritual spectacles but remember that all the temples and monuments are in the setting of a raucous amusement park.
Massive Buddha Sculpture
This Avalokiteshvara Buddha is 118 feet tall high, 59 feet wide. The statue has 15 faces and dozens of hands, symbolically posed. It is a very dramatic Buddhist monument, but there is a serene Bodhisativa atop the statue. He looks tiny up there but is almost 7 feet tall.
The Avalokiteshvara is sitting on the mythological Golden Turtle God of Vietnamese folklore.
The Golden Turtle God plays a decisive role in Vietnam’s founding myths. The Turtle God came from heaven and gave Vietnam’s founders a magical sword that won them victory over their enemies.
This solemn Buddha is on the other side of the massive sculpture.
Suoi Tien is an Amusement Park
Quick reminder. Suoi Tien also has typical rides and games in addition to awesome monuments of Buddhist and Vietnamese heritage.
Golden Unicorn Plaza
Suoi Tien features many massive statues of mythological creatures. The Golden Unicorns are some of the best. Yes, these huge golden creatures are the “unicorns” to the Vietnamese.
The plaza is designed to be a fun meeting place. The prime seats are right on and under the Golden Unicorns.
These fountains are fun to play in, on hot Vietnamese days. There also many shade trees and pretty statues to enjoy while relaxing.
At the other end of the plaza is a Maitreya Buddha on a gold boat. That space is often used for concerts and dance performances.
Dragon Head Temple
Long Hoa Thien Bao Pagoda is largest and most impressive temple at Suoi Tien. It is a functioning temple where park visitors come to pray, light incense, and sometimes chant.
The gate to the temple is as elaborate, beautiful, and symbolic as anything inside.
The temple grounds are full gorgeous Buddhist art that serve a spiritual purpose.
The temple is vast. There are 3 large altars, 2 small ones, and numerous relics. The ceiling is a large dome painted to look like the heavens.
Dozens of statues fill the temple, including several monks with interesting poses and facial expressions. The view looking out the dragon mouth was very cool, especially the way the tip of the tongue comes up.
The Zodiac Palace was beautiful and eerie. The 12 animals of the Asian zodiac are arranged in a big circle. We couldn’t resist getting pics of ourselves on our representative animals.
Vanessa was born in the year of the Tiger. Steve was born in the year of the Rat.
3 of the coolest looking statues were the dragon, monkey, and pig.
This Bodhisattva Buddha monument is 89 feet tall, including the globe and stand. The Buddha alone is 40 feet tall and weighs 628 tons. It is made of pure white granite.
The reverent yet carnivalesque atmosphere is clear in these photos. The white building is the hokey snow castle.
Massive Mythological Creatures of Vietnam
The dragon is the central figure of Vietnamese mythology. There are several around Suoi Tien. This is the largest. It’s 400 meters long which represents the 4000-year history of Vietnam.
This dragon winds around the park. You can see the green scaly body in many other photos here. At the dragon’s tail, there are eggs representing the prosperous future of Vietnam.
The Turtle-Dragon houses large haunted house ride. The Turtle-Dragon lake is a hub for other activities: rope bridge, zipline, and swan paddle boats.
The Vietnamese unicorn is very different from the western version.
Figures of Ancient Vietnamese History and Legends
Giong was a historical figure from 1700BC! In the legend, Giong was a deaf and lame child of 3 when he learned that there were foreign invaders. He magically transformed into a grown man and fought off the invaders. Afterward, Giong refused fortune and fame. Instead, he went up to Soc Son Moutain and rode off to heaven on his iron horse.
This is one of Vietnam’s oldest and most cherished legends. The village of Phu Dong was the ancient birthplace of Saint Giong. It still exists today and holds an annual festival for Saint Giong around May.
The Trung sister’s defended Vietnam from invaders around 40AD. They ruled for about 3 years, but have been fundamental figures of national pride for almost 2000 years.
This functioning temple celebrates the ancient Hung Kings and ancestral rice farming culture of Vietnam that dates back 4000 years.
These ancestors are ancient but extremely popular with today’s Vietnamese. The Hung Kings temple has a steady stream of visitors lighting incense, praying, and taking selfies.
The walls and ceiling are lined with ornate carvings depicting scenes of the ancient ancestors.
Other Buddhist Monuments and Decorations
There are literally hundreds of Buddhist statues, iconography, symbols all over the park. Some are minor exhibits, but most are simply decorations that create a very unique and interesting ambiance for an amusement park.
These are just a few examples.
Even at the very entrance, the “mascots” of this theme park are famous Buddhist saints and ancient teachers.
Oh yeah, and there’s a big waterpark with an ancient emperor’s head carved on huge mountain.
Suoi Tien is fun and amazing. In additional to all the other marvelous things to see, you can watch kids pray and light incense at altar, then run off to eat cotton candy and ride a mechanical dragon.
You can see how much the Vietnamese revere their 4000-year-old spiritual heritage. AND you can see that they don’t mind if that heritage is used for financial gain and superficial fun.
Suoi Tien is not an “authentic” experience like the ancient temples of Hue, but it is a window on the contemporary culture of this fascinating country.
120 Hanoi Highway
Tan Phu Ward
District 9, HCMC
Would you like to visit Suoi Tien, if you visit Ho Chi Minh City? Which attractions interest you?