In central Vietnam lies a beautiful and ornate city named Hue. With its traditional Citadel comprised of beautiful architecture bathed in artistic craftsmanship, which is reflected in the Royal Tombs and Thien Mu Pagoda.
But, there are also the modern-age ruins which offer an alternative to those which are encompassed by the city dripping in historical value. Welcome to a sight that looks like Post-apocalyptic Vietnam.
Gargantuan concrete building carved in the shape of a Dragon
I had heard rumors of a post-apocalyptic scene roughly 8 km outside of the city and after talking to my two traveling companions, decided it was worth the journey to see. We put the idea to several people sharing our dorm in the tourist area of central Hue, and six of us mounted our motorbikes to begin our ride to the entrance of the park.
Upon researching the water-park I discovered it had closed down in 2004 for reasons unknown to me, and that there were tales of the aquarium tanks – still full of water – that still housed crocodiles left behind!
Our Adventurous Journey
The ride took around 20 minutes and our satnav escorted us to the entrance successfully. As we pulled up to the derelict gateway, a sign read Ho T uy T en after the letters a, h, and I decided to abandon the place similar to the customers and staff. At the gateway also sat a man on a plastic chair beside a barrier, charging entrance to the park albeit a clear illegitimate scheme.
There is a way to gain entry to the park without the admission fee however. Keen to add a little extra excitement and exploration in to our adventure we decided to explore the surrounding roads to discover this somewhat secret passageway.
We discovered that there is indeed an entrance through a field on the east-side of the lake. Accessible by way of turning right at the fork in the road (where the official entrance is down the road to the left), and then taking the first left.
Maps say the road is a dead end, but in reality, the road gives way to a dirt track leading through field and into the park. There are no barriers, fences or signs to say you cannot do this (if you’re concerned).
Descending a small hill onto the lakeside, we first discovered a small performance amphitheater with a pool inside – now green and dark with algae and vegetation. We spent some time here inspecting the rooms and seating areas. All the while being stared upon by the cows grazing outside the fenced arena.
The structure had various rooms displaying a tonne of graffiti – some artistic, some not – and you can definitely tell where the kitchen used to be as well as the toilets – not such a pleasant discovery.
The next structure which drew our attention was further around the lake, following the path on our bikes. We came across a small child’s area inclusive of a water-play-area along with slides, fountains (long since broken), and larger spiral slides which finished in a larger pool of dark green, stagnant water.
Scaling the larger slides from the bottom to the top was pretty fun. The view at the top certainly gives the impression of nature taking over what was once hers.
The abandoned children’s pool
Nature taking-over the creations of man
A short ride through the treeline then took us to the main attraction; a giant concrete building carved in the form of a dragon! Within the dragon sat a dark, damp aquarium littered with the shattered glass of the water tanks, used previously to house a variety of sea-life.
This eerily quiet and unnerving place is the rumored home of the crocodiles (ill leave you to discover the truth for yourself), and as at this point I was alone – the others had progressed without me as I had ridden my bike around the dragon a few times – I decided I best catch up with the others.
Exit from the over-grown aquarium
I found my friends at the top of a stairwell (designed to convey the inside of the dragons carkus) and looking out high above the lake as they stood within the mouth of the inanimate mythical beast. The view from here is spectacular and you can really spend some time taking it in.
Descending through the dark skeleton of the Dragon
We made it in to the mouth of the beast!
This little excursion for the day is definitely recommended as it gives a surreal feeling and a look into what the future our planet could look like. Providing great prompts for your imagination to run away with itself, as well as a sense of bewilderment and curiosity.
The current lack of a crowd also makes you feel as if you could be amongst the first people to wander into this mysterious place, often only known through word of mouth.
Jack Graves is a keen, enthusiastic traveler who enjoys discovering places and experiences a little different than the norm. He aims to provide entertaining and inspiring stories as well as informative advice in order to encourage people to take-on their own adventures which always encompass the experiences-of-a-lifetime.
If you are an adventurous soul in the mood to travel off the beaten path, check out our top 40 exotic places to visit in the world. These 40 unique or unusual places have made it to the top of our adventure travel destinations list.
Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
Also known as Boka, this marvelous bay attracts numerous travelers with its emerald waters and picturesque mountains.
The shore is spotted with beautiful medieval towns, such as Perast, where you can stop for a meal and interact with locals.
The lost city of Petra, which rises out of the cliff between the Red and the Dead Seas, still holds many secrets.
It has several tombs and carved structures, which spread across its sandy landscape. The big blockbuster “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” was filmed here.
The enchanting Gozo Island is a part of the Maltese archipelago. It is one of the top diving destinations in the Mediterranean region. Gozo also boasts of mystical backwaters, historic forts, and amazing panoramas.
Great Blue Hole, Belize
This submarine sinkhole is present on every diver’s bucket list. Even if you are not a diving enthusiast, it is still worth visiting for a breathtaking view.
Amer Fort, India
Because of its majestic structure and architecture, Amer Fort is a prime example of Mughal and Hindu cultural influences.
The fort is constructed of red sandstone and white marble. It consists of courtyards, palaces, halls, and gardens.
The razor sharp vertical rocks provide a truly magnificent view. It is surprising that wildlife can even exist in this place.
You can hike around the bizarre pinnacles of limestones and observe different kinds of birds and lemurs.
This place has no roads, and the only way to get to the Nepalese village is through a series of footpaths. On the way, you can admire the views of Mount Makalu, the world’s fifth-tallest peak.
Pisco Elqui Valley, Chile
Surrounded by fabulous Andean mountains, this village has perfect weather all year round. It is wonderful to camp here and gaze at the stars in the night sky.
This region offers caves, clefts, pinnacles and pointed rock formations, known as “fairy chimneys.” Numerous volcanic eruptions formed a surreal moonscape. This area is Turkey’s most visually striking region.
Con Dao, Vietnam
The Islands of Con Dao offers fascinating hiking and exploring opportunities, as well as empty coastal roads, deserted beaches, and a chance for observing the wildlife.
Con Dao National Park, which protects Vietnam’s most important sea turtle nesting grounds, occupies most of the area.
The Cook Islands
There is a popular opinion that the Cook Islands are the best-kept secret in the Pacific Ocean. The 15 islands boast perfect climate and exotic beauty all-year-round.
Isle of Skye, Scotland
The misty Cuillin Hills offer stunning sceneries, beautiful hikes, and spectacular photo opportunities. From the Isle of Skye, you can enjoy these beautiful rolling hills.
Mount Rainier, Washington
This is one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. On a clear day, you can watch the mountain from many points in the area.
However, for a more up-close experience, you can walk through the alpine fields, hike the massive glaciers and see waterfalls cascading around nearly every bend.
Mount Roraima, Venezuela
This place serves as the natural border between Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana. It is a truly extraordinary natural geologic formation. The area inspired Conan Doyle’s “Lost World” and “Avatar.”
Cano Cristales, Colombia
Called the “Liquid Rainbow,” this Colombian wonder is a must-visit place if you travel to South America. It is probably the most beautiful river in the world.
The best time to visit is from July to November. During these months, the river is full of colors: green, blue, black and red.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
It is the world’s largest salt flat, and it is utterly breathtaking, especially after a rain when they create a mirror effect. In the center, the salt is about 10 meters thick.
It is a scenic natural wonder, which consists of sedimentary rock and water flowing from two distinct mineral springs.
This destination is full of picturesque sand dunes, surrounded by clay pans. The most surreal attraction in the region is the Deadvlei, where the dead acacia trees contrast the white shiny salty floor of the pan.
Would you like to stand at the “Hell’s Door”? Derweze is a giant illuminated hole, rich in natural gas, in the middle of the Karakum Desert. The crater has existed for over 40 years now, and the flames have been burning ever since. There is no plans to put this fire off.
Icehotel, Jukkasjarvi, Sweden
Are you afraid of the cold weather? Jukkasjarvi lies approximately 124 miles above the Arctic Circle and hosts the Icehotel, though only during the winter months.
The hotel is almost entirely made of ice, including beds. There is also a church, a hall, and a bar, where glasses are carved from ice.
Great Sand Dunes, Colorado
This destination offers the most exotic hike in the United States. These unique landforms are the tallest dunes in the country and rise to over 700 feet in height. However, if you hike up to the top, you will get the reward of panoramic views of endless dunes.
Dean’s Blue Hole, Bahamas
The name “blue hole” comes from the bright blue color, which you can see from above the hole. Dean’s Blue Hole is the deepest in the world. Its depth is around 600 feet.
Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, Maldives
The restaurant is located 16 feet below sea level. The sides and the roof are made of clear glass, which allows guests to observe the sea life, while they dine.
Pamukkale Thermal Pools, Turkey
Multiple natural hot springs cascade down and fill these thermal pools with water. The place is not just great for relaxation, but also offers a breathtaking view. So, don’t forget your camera!
Aleutian Islands, Alaska
The Aleutian Islands are not a destination for beach-lovers and sunbathing enthusiasts. This is a place for exploring nature, and it is a real paradise for adventure lovers!
One of the most remote places in Alaska, these islands boast of abundant wildlife, harsh climate, stormy seas, and active volcanoes. While there are a few settlements on larger islands, you’ll probably still meet more animals than people here.
Arashimaya Bamboo Forest, Japan
This place is just filled with famous tombs and temples. Close to the “Moon Crossing Bridge,” the forest is definitely worth exploring.
Tanzania is one of the best places to go on a safari. It is also home to Mount Kilimanjaro. Make sure to visit the Tarangire National Park, one of the last undiscovered jewels of Africa.
There are very few people in the world who haven’t heard of this place. Now abandoned, the city of Pripyat once housed thousands of families. The families of the plant workers were forced to leave after the 1986 disaster.
There are numerous striking photos of the ghost town on the Internet. Besides the crumbling houses and rusty machinery, there is a new side of the city.
In 30 years, Pripyat has been overtaken by lush greenery and transformed into a forest. The area is open for tours nowadays, though only with authorized guides. It is almost entirely radiation-safe.
Castle Stalker, Scotland
Castle Stalker is one of the most intriguing tourist spots in Scotland. The strange mountainous setting and historical design make the destination very attractive to travelers.
Today, Castle Stalker remains under private ownership, but visitors can visit during the summer season. Even though it may be difficult to get to the island, the area is definitely worth visiting.
Road to Tusheti, Georgia
Tusheti is a region in northeast Georgia, located at 5,413-14,740 ft above sea level. Such altitudes gave rise to captivating scenery. Because Tusheti is on the northern slopes of the Caucasian Mountains, it is challenging to arrive there.
The road to Tusheti is one of the most dangerous roads in the world. It lies on mountain slopes and goes up 9,842 ft over the gorges of Tusheti. So, if you are up for a little adrenaline rush, you should take a drive up to this road.
Holy Meteora, Greece
Although most tourists visit Greece in search of the sea and beach relaxation, somewhere above 400 meters lies an unforgettable sightseeing opportunity.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Meteora, is situated on a 60-million-year-old rock formation. In Greek, Meteora means “suspended in the air,” a fitting name for this destination. Even if you are not into pilgrimage sites, hiking to the Meteora would be an unforgettable travel experience.
As an easier plan, you can take a bus or a rental car up to the top, and enjoy the spectacular sunset from the specially designed viewing point.
When you hear Peru, you probably immediately think of Machu Picchu. However, not many people know about the breathtaking natural setting of Vinicunca. It is a haven for hikers, although you should be in good physical condition, as the trek is rather challenging.
Getting to the location takes at least six days depending on your speed, but it is totally worth it! Each of the mountain peaks in this area is covered in wide lines of pastel blue, intense red, green, pink and yellow.
Thanks to the bright coloration they are known as the Rainbow mountains.
Lake Kaindy, Kazakhstan
Being almost a century old, the deep blue Lake Kaindy is not easy to find in the Kungey Alatau Mountains. Even though getting there is not easy, it is certainly worth visiting. When you arrive at the lake, you will see dozens of dark brown trunks rising from the water.
Also, the color of the water varies from glimmering blue to alpine green. These features make the place a genuinely surreal wonder hidden in the deep forests.
When you arrive at Alberobello, a small town in Southern Italy, and see the long series of small dimensional houses, you will surely think you are in a fairytale hobbit’s world.
Looking rather fragile, Trulli (specifically-built tiny roundhouses), is surprisingly over five centuries old. Locals, as well as tourists, still live there.
Nyaung Ohak, Myanmar
Another fairytale destination lies right next to Lake Inle in Myanmar. It is an impressive series of history sightseeing objectives, which won’t leave anyone indifferent.
Nyaung Ohak offers a unique combination of history, complex architecture, and nature, and it is surely worth the effort.
Uluru Waterfalls, Australia
The Uluru rock formation is over 600 million years old, which makes it one of the oldest in the world. Due to the climate conditions of the region, it only rains a few times during the year.
However, those who are lucky to visit after the rain, are amazed by the beauty of the water show. The large quantities of water run from the top of the rock, creating an illusion of numerous small waterfalls.
Also, the wet rocks change their color and turn from gray into various shades of red, dark red, and brown.
Whenever we think about traveling around the globe, the first thing that comes to our mind is the expenses involved (unless we are so filthy rich that money doesn’t concern us).
We make a budget, and most commonly find the trip we want to take totally outside the circle of what we can afford. We wonder what would be the cheapest destinations according to our budget.
The Art of Travel recognizes this, and therefore we bring you the top 5 cheapest destinations around the world so that you may travel without worrying for your pocket while enjoying the beauty of the place in full.
The first on our list of cheapest destinations, a country is known to everyone as the home of the infamous Angkor Wat, Cambodia has lately become a popular tourist destination. Being a country with rich ancient heritage, there are so many places you cannot just say no to.
All of this comes at the cheapest cost that one can imagine. You can find a bed for as low as $1. Most of the hotels offer free Wi-Fi facilities to the customers.
Yet, nothing steals attention more than the Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entry ticket is mere $13 for one day or $26 for three days.We advise the three days one as the temples are so vast in number that it is hard to see them all in one day, after all, you wouldn’t want to miss any bit of the beautiful ancient architecture.
The food is just amazing around Cambodia, and of course, everything is cheaper than you can imagine.
Vietnam is the second number in this list of cheapest destinations, with its various points of interest unaltered along the ages, and the expenses as little as they can be. All expenses of the day, including boarding, lodging, and food can cost as little as $5. What cheaper costs can you expect?
Vietnam is full of green natural places untouched by urbanization, and some will even make your jaws drop. When in Vietnam, don’t forget to try out Pho, one of the most famous Vietnamese dishes. Coolest tourist destinations include the city of Hue, various world heritage sites such as Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, Hội An, and Mỹ Sơn.
You can also visit the Ha Long Bay which is another UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With all these heritage places at such low costs, who could say no to that?
Being a country rich in culture, traditions, and its religions, you would think that a trip to India would surely take a toll on your pocket. However, it is not the case, as India is on the third among the cheapest destinations.
India offers a lot of variety in not only the tourist places it offers but also the amount one needs to spend on the living. You can travel luxuriously in the first class AC trains, or hire taxis to places you want to visit; it still wouldn’t cost you much. You can get off at as low as $20 per day, or maybe even less if you plan to follow the footsteps of a common Indian person.
With 29 states, and each state rich in culture and tourist places, it is wise to plan what all you want to see in India, as it is impossible to cover all of it in one go (unless you are planning a very long stay here). The geography has a vast gradient, from the Himalayas in the north to the coastal regions of the south.
You can visit the symbol of love, Taj Mahal, or the place where Buddhism was born, Bodh Gaya. The food varies per state, as each state has its own palate of the traditional dishes and recipes that would just make your mouth water.
Thailand offers a multitude of beaches, exquisite cuisines, beach resorts, amazing religious places, and Bangkok, all of these at the lowest prices. Thailand has remained a popular backpacking destination among the crowds, and the primary reason for this is the incredibly low cost it charges for the super awesome services it offers.
You can spend a night watching the water waving on the beach from the window of your beach hut, or stuff yourself up with the traditional Thai food, and all of it would still cost negligible! So pack your bags and leave now.This earns Thailand the fourth place in The Art of Travel ‘List of Cheapest Destinations’.
Everyone is familiar with the place of the Great Pyramids, and the home of the Sphinx. But did you know that Egypt is also one of the cheapest places you can travel to?
You don’t need to double check your bank balance to visit this amazing archaeological country, with the grandest of wonders ever created and the richest of museums. The Valley of the Kings is one of the most amazing places you would ever see in your life, and it comes with the cheapest accommodation as well as great food at negligible prices!