Guests staying at Capri by Fraser, Ho Chi Minh City / Vietnam can pay a visit to the world’s first water park devoted to Buddhism. A 45-minute drive away, Suoi Tien – “the fairy stream” – takes the South-east Asian animistic form of Buddhism as inspiration for its striking sights and entertainments, including evocative illustrations of Vietnamese legends such as Au Co (mythical “mother” of Vietnam) or the two gods Son Tinh and Thuy Tinh, whose battling brings the monsoon.
Visitors are welcomed by a giant golden dragon as the first of many striking visions, including neon Buddhas, a lake with a statue of a turtle supporting the world, and various atmospheric “temples”.
But perhaps the most talked-about spot is the Palace of Unicorns. Contrary to its name, the pitch-black attraction is really a vision of hell. Think fierce animals, bodies boiling in pots and bloody mannequins suddenly lunging at you, all to a soundtrack of shrieks and howls!
Back out in the light, regain calm by wandering the avenues lined with giant faux elephant tusk pillars, or marvel at a pool with a soaring backdrop depicting giant Buddhist sages – with water slides emerging from their beards! Children can go riding in boats shaped like turtles, though definitely not in the waters of the Crocodile Kingdom – a pond containing over 1,000 live crocodiles that visitors can feed with raw meat attached to fishing poles.
Where: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Admission: Park entry at 60,000VND (US$3) for children, 120,00 VND (US$6) for adults. Individual attractions priced separately from 10,000 VND to 100,000 VND (US$0.50 – 5). Opens daily 8am – 5.30pm.
Far from the typical sit-back-and-relax (or scream!) amusement park, visitors to the four Diggerland sites around England can join in the action by driving the parks’ distinctive “rides”.
Rides here have been created by transforming heavy construction vehicles like dump trucks, loaders and excavators into fun rides for both young and old. Unsurprisingly, the parks are the brainchild of one of the UK’s largest excavation companies, which saw a great opportunity to transform working equipment into distinctive fun back in 2000. In fact, it’s been so well-received that another park was opened in the United States 14 years later.
Expect unique rides like the Spindizzy, which has been fashioned from the scooping buckets of a giant excavator and will take up to eight passengers for the spin of their lives. To really get interactive, visitors get to drive dump trucks, operate a six-tonne digger or have a go on a Monster JCB 3X. In the summer, you can watch JCB racing, while the Kent edition will see a brand-new ride, Armageddon, added to the lineup soon.
All the UK Diggerland sites – in Yorkshire, Devon, Durham and Kent – are also conveniently located close to a Frasers property. Choose from Malmaison Leeds, Hotel du Vin Exeter, Hotel du Vin Newcastle or Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells respectively, all under a 35-minute drive from the theme park. So crunch some gears in a digger, then relax in luxury for the night.
Where: Devon, Durham, Kent and Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Admission: Tickets from £19.95 (US$25). Opening dates and hours vary with season.