PICTURES: family entertainment in Vietnam

Am I obsessed with theme parks? I was recently on the west coast of Vietnam – near the border of Cambodia – for a two-day bike trip from Rach Gia to Ha Tien and for some strange reason I kept seeing family entertainment everywhere: in city squares, on parking lots behind supermarkets, in recreation areas.

There’s plenty on offer in both Rach Gia and Ha Tien – kids carousels, swings and even a roller skating rink – and it’s a real cultural treat to see families and teenagers having fun as night falls.

Teenagers having fun on a swing outside Citimart in Rach Gia

Teenagers having fun on a swing outside Citimart in Rach Gia

Vintage kids swing in the centre of Ha Tien

Vintage kids swing in the centre of Ha Tien

Fun-looking roller skating rink in Ha Tien

Fun-looking roller skating rink in Ha Tien

Kids ball pool in Mui Nai recreation park

Kids ball pool in Mui Nai recreation park

Just outside of Ha Tien is a recreation area by the sea for locals (and a few tourists) to go on weekends and holidays. Lots of small cafes and restaurants line up by the water and at the end of the stretch visitors can buy for VND50,000 (US$2.5) a ticket to go on a Wiegand Alpine Coaster up to the top of a small mountain, enjoy the view and get a thrilling ride down. My friend and I tried and we had a blast!

Going up

Going up

... and down!

… and down!

Although not yet on the international radar for our theme parks and attractions industry, Vietnam is a country where recreation has been anchored in people’s life for a long time. The colonial heritage provides cities with a planning allowing for city squares and parks, which are ideal for recreation. Then, starting in the 1970’s the regime has developed some khu dulich (places of leisure) for all families to have fun. And now the new Vietnamese ‘lords’ (i.e. tycoons) are bringing new entertainment to the growing middle class, of which Royal City in Hanoi is a great example.

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