A Slip-N-Slide With Siddhartha


It’s not all fun and games at Suoi Tien Cultural Theme Park in Ho Chi Minh City, “the world’s first Buddhist waterslide park”:

You would think that a theme park attraction called the Palace of Unicorns would be a charming fantasy world. You’d be wrong. Located within Suoi Tien Cultural Theme Park in Ho Chi Minh City, the Palace of Unicorns is a graphic depiction of Buddhist hell. But the sight of torture and violence being inflicted on drug addicts, gamblers, and adulterers is just one small part of Suoi Tien’s diverse and colorful offerings.

Located next to a garbage dump, the amusement park, which opened in 1995, is full of huge sculpted dragons, tortoises, phoenixes, and Buddhas. Employees dressed as golden monkeys scamper around the grounds, tasked with creating mischief.

Suoi Tien is specifically devoted to the Southeast Asian animistic form of Buddhism, so “instead of Mickey and Daffy, Suoi Tien has chosen the Dragon, Unicorn, Tortoise, and Phoenix as its sacred animals.” As for what you’re seeing above?

Perhaps the strangest and most unnerving feature of the enormous park is the crocodile kingdom. A pond with over 1,500 live crocodiles, visitors are invited to feed them with raw meat attached to fishing poles.

The whole thing is quite impressive and constructed on a huge scale. Although, the lax safety controls -acres of wet, slippery concrete, low hanging stalactites in the cavern water slides, and the bay of crocodiles- remind you that you are not in Disneyland anymore.

(Photo by Mike Fernwood)