Heaven Is a Waterslide

By Annie Carrol


Photo by Annie M.V. Nguyen

Suoi Tien, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is the first and only Buddhist amusement park in the world. For around $2.40, you can experience Buddhist philosophy in ride form. Nirvana is represented by giant waterslides emerging from the beards of 12-story-high faces, each plunging into swimming pools decorated with dragons. The deceptively named Unicorn Palace, a cavernous corridor filled with severed heads and high-pitched screams, represents the Buddhist version of hell.

Suoi Tien has recently undergone a multibillion-dollar expansion, lifting the place to surreal, technicolored heights. The park emphasizes nature in its most bizarre form. Want to feed slabs of meat to 1,500 crocodiles? Go right ahead. If that’s not quite savage enough, take a zip-line ride over the crocodile lagoon and into a bat cave. Or perhaps a leisurely jaunt in a swan-shaped boat along the gloriously artificial beach is more your speed. Whatever your fancy, be it daring or not, the Vietnamese seem to have taken the idea of the amusement park and fed it LSD for, like, a gazillion years.

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