I went recently to Hanoi and having not been in a while I decided to go check out the ‘new’ developments in the city. The one locals seem to be the most excited about is Royal City: an integrated city with mega mall, schools and hundreds of apartments developed by Vincom Group. I was warned the thing is huge but I still could not believe what I saw!
Having lived in Vietnam for 3 years and seen a fair bit of malls, this one is a whole new category with two huge basements of endless restaurants, retail and entertainment. Residents of Royal City and the emerging upper middle class in Hanoi can enjoy all in one place a mega Cineplex, an ice rink, a massive FEC, a copy of KidZania, a bowling alley and Hanoi’s first indoor water park. The developer seems to be after tourists as well; he’s reproduced a ‘traditional’ night market inside the mall with street vendors, etc. As a result, when I asked my hotel concierge what attractions he recommended, he asked me if I had been to Royal City. Funny for a city that has so many heritage sites to visit!
Let’s look at some of the leisure & entertainment offer. KizCity is a very obvious copy of KidZania with the same plane coming out of the building, airline check-in counters, etc. But the prices and the service are not the same. When I asked my friend in Hanoi she said she heard there were a few accidents with kids hurting themselves because of the facilities not completely safe (nails, etc). This really was not necessary. I am sure the developer could have thought of something more adapted to the market and better executed. But he chose the easy way.
Vinpearl Water Park on the other hand is of much better quality and I can easily say it is the No1 family attraction in Hanoi. With slides from Proslide and 3 zones (extreme, kids and swimming), it covers 24,000sqm in basement 2 of the mega mall. The overall look and feel from the entrance in the mall to the changing rooms and the decors inside reminds me of Korean attractions. Think Lotte World a la Vietnamese! Entrance ticket is 170,000VND (8USD), which is the price of 2 cinema tickets.
On the day of my visit – a Thursday – the water park was almost empty until 12pm when the first few patrons arrived. They were mostly middle-aged people and young people, probably students. Outside of weekends and public holidays these would be the obvious groups to go after (in addition to tourists when the park gets more popular) and the offering is well adapted. The extreme area has some good slides that can be done solo or in groups of 2 or 4, which is ideal for groups of teenagers or young adults. The middle-aged groups liked it too; I even got invited a few times to fill in gaps in 4-people rafts and we had a blast! For them the swimming area is also very attractive with the longest swimming pool in Hanoi and a couple of whirlpools to relax. Very zen.
I would rate the water park quite high for the variety of offering and the very nice staff. But I am not sure about the safety. The ground is very slippery and I personally fell quite badly on some steps as I was exiting one of the slides.