“ Address: Hon Tre Island / Nha Trang / Vietnam / Tel: +84 58 3 590 611 „
Vinpearl land is an upmarket Vietnamese tourist brand who opened their flagship resort on Hon Tre island, just across the bay from Nha Trang, on Vietnam's central south coast area. You can see their logo, Hollywood sign style, from the beach in the heart of the town. Vinpearl land offers a luxury hotel and spa resort, but it is also a day trip for locals and tourists alike as it offers a theme park. I understand that the hotel is all inclusive and starts from about US$165 per night. Facilities include a spa, tennis court, swimming pools and golf. To be honest I wasn't initially interested in wandering around a theme park, but my other half was keen to try the cable car across.
You can get boat transfers to the island or you can travel on the world's longest sea-crossing cable car. It is over 3km in length, and you travel in little 8-seater compartments. The car slows down for you to step in and gradually increases speed until you are over the sea. It takes 7-12 minutes each way. The speed is adjusted to suit wind conditions, which normally pick up in the afternoons. Certainly our return crossing was a few minutes longer than the one we took in the morning, but was still very smooth and we didn't swing about as I had feared. There are 48 cars traversing the route and I would think it is more interesting (and quicker) than the ferry. We got a taxi to the terminus, which was on the edge of Nha Trang town, and the driver stopped for us to get tickets in a local shop. The cost was VND 320,000 (approx £10.50 or US$16.50), expensive for a cable car, but that includes admission to the park.
We arrived in the park, in the Outdoor Games section, quite early, and there were not many people around. The Outdoor Games area is like a fairground with lots of rides. It's quite a bit smaller than the major European parks and has a mix of kiddie rides (riding on model animals type merry-go-rounds), classics like the bigger horse merry-go-rounds and the swing ones (I don't think the Vietnamese get the opportunity to go on rides very often, they were screaming like they were being murdered on the swing carousel) and more adventurous ones. When I say adventurous, I am using the term relatively. There is a swinging pirate ship, similar to rides we have at home, but it doesn't go upside down; a rollercoaster that would have been cutting edge in Western parks about 30 years ago, and one other ride, the Evolution, that looked the only one that would content a regular Western theme park goer with its twisting and flinging. All the rides are free, and likely to appeal to younger family members more than adults. Although the park is open to 9pm in the week (10pm at weekends) the rides are not open all the time during the day. This makes sense, as sometimes they would be operating with just two or three people on them. Outside each ride is a sign depicting the times, usually for half an hour every hour or so, so you just need to plan your route around the park to avoid waiting times, but as it is a small park, with no more than a dozen rides, this won't be too hard. I think they are open more in the evenings, when the temperature is cooler.
Adjacent to the Outdoor Park was an indoor one. It was a lot cooler in here (and darker) and had arcade type games, a bucking bronco and dodgems as well as a 4D cinema. I assume you pay for the arcade games, I didn't check as I had no real interest in them. We were intrigued as to what a 4D movie was, so joined the queue. Again this was free. The movie we saw was called 'Under the Sea' or something similar and only lasted about 5-6 minutes. If you have been on one of those simulator rides, it is very similar to that but larger. We filed into a room and sat on the fixed seats and were handed 3D glasses. The idea is that we were on a vessel under the sea, so the seating, bucked underneath us at the appropriate moments giving us the impression that we were diving under the sea and dodging sea monsters. In addition at certain moments we got sprayed with water or had blasts of air to indicate the sensations we may have felt in a 'real' situation. It was a good bit of fun and children loved it. If you are with them expect to be made to see all the three or four movies they offer. There are two screens and they show a movie every 15 minutes or so.
As you move around the area away from the rides section, you walk through the Shopping Mall, this is all proper branded shops selling clothes, fashion accessories, sporting goods and top end gifts. There was a small café near here where we stopped for a cold drink in the shade. All around the park are Fast Food areas selling burgers and hot dogs with one noodle option. There were prices at a fixed rate of VND20,000 (65p or US$1), excluding drinks. I didn't see any vegetarian options. The stalls seemed to have plenty of seating around them, were clean and tidy and well-staffed. We opted to go to the Food Village for a proper meal. There seemed to be only two restaurants and a bar in the food village area, which was by the cable car area but on a lower level, and I think the menu was the same for both (although one claimed to be a seafood restaurant, and the other traditional Vietnamese) . My other half ordered mackerel porridge because he wondered what it was. It was actually a large, think, glutinous soup with healthy chunks of mackerel in it. I ordered a vegetarian stir fried dish with rice. There is a full drink and cocktail menu also. The prices were not expensive compared to what you would expect, it wasn't the cheapest meal we had in Vietnam, but it was probably only a dollar or two more than we would have paid on the mainland. The food portions were generous and cooked well, and the staff smiling and helpful (if not entirely confident with their English).
Between the shopping mall and water park is the Underwater World aquarium. This is apparently the largest indoor aquarium in Vietnam. It is divided into climate zones, and is well laid out though it seems some smaller fish got massive tanks, yet larger ones got a smaller tank and it seemed not much room. They didn't move much and I am not sure if that is because there wasn't much room or because they were more sedate fish anyway. There isn't a great deal of info about the fish, although each species has a card with a picture and its name on in Vietnamese and English (apparently the English translation for Clown Fish is Nemo Fish which amused us). There is also a moving walkway you can stand on and travel around some sections with the fish swimming over your head. The walkway moved really slowly, so you can just walk it if you wish. I took lots of photos here (use the Aquarium setting on your camera if you have one) and really enjoyed it, in spite of my initial concern regarding the tank sizes at a couple of earlier exhibits. I believe it is open all day and into the evening. The map showed a dolphin show, but we could find nothing about that when we got here.
One place we didn't really visit was the Water Park - it is only open during the day but looked quite impressive. As well as its own beach, and some smaller kiddie pools and family areas, there are lots of water slides and tunnels, and looked a lot more exciting than the theme park. Definitely a place for any water park fan and great for kids of all ages. Vinpearl Land also has an Event Hall and amphitheatre and recently hosted Miss Vietnam 2010. There is also a pagoda on the island, but I believe it is a purpose built one
Access to the island for non overnight guests is by ferry or cable car. The area is very modern, landscaped and well-maintained. However, whilst paths are wide and there were a lot of steps as the island is a hill. From the Food Village to the Cable Car, for example, there are escalators, but mostly you will find you have to go up and down a lot of steps. This could be a difficult if you have a pushchair with you, so you may need to re-think your route to try and use the escalators. The park area would also not be easy for wheelchair users. Overall we found the park to be well laid out and clean, although we did visit at an off-peak time. Whilst it is not the most exciting theme park you will ever visit, it is a good place for kids and families, and definitely worth the day trip from Nha Trang if you have the time.
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