Vietnam holiday-makers find paradise close-by
The always traffic-clogged Lang-Hoa Lac expressway in the west of Ha Noi has become more crowded than ever, especially during holidays and at the weekend as day-trippers drive out single-file to explore the newly-opened Bao Son Paradise Park in An Khanh Commune, Hoai Duc District.
The park, the biggest entertainment and tourism complex in the north, opened to the public in early September, helping to quench local
Many visitors are interested in observing craftsmen making various traditional craft products.
people’s thirst for entertainment and relaxation.
The 20ha entertainment and tourism complex was built at a total cost of US$50 million by the Bao Son Investment and Construction Group.
The park opens up a new world for local visitors with a blend of both traditional and modern features. It consists of four main areas: traditional craft villages of Viet Nam, the ancient quarters of Ha Noi, a culinary section and an eco-tourism area.
The ancient quarter draws tourists looking to explore daily activities of Hanoians from the 20th century.
The 5,000sq.m ancient quarter section features the daily activities of Hanoians during the early years of the 20 century. There are more than 20 old-style attached houses with roof tiles. Each house resembles a shop that sells various things such as clothing, watches, art works and beverages, displaying the lifestyles and business practices of old-school Hanoians.
The traditional craft village section, covering 10,000sq.m, features replicas of the 15 most well-known craft villages of Viet Nam, including Phu Lang pottery village, Van Phuc silk village and villages specialising in
The 30,000sq.m multifunctional complex offers both modern and traditional performances.
making craft products such as lacquer paintings and rattan products. It reflects not only their craft methods but also their local setting and background.
Houses in these craft villages are mostly of the late 19th and early 20th century vintage with banyan trees, wells and communal houses.
Both the above mentioned areas will be staffed by locals dressed in costume which begs the question: why would local (or even foreign) tourists drive to a theme park replica when the real deal is available without the price of admission?
Perhaps for the redundant 5,000sq.m culinary section which offers visitors a wide range of choice from traditional Vietnamese dishes to Asian and European dishes. It features 31 food stores selling traditional specialities of all regions throughout the country such as pho (noodle), cha ca Ha Noi (Ha Noi-style grilled fish) and banh tom (crisp shrimp pastry), all of which can be found on street corners the length and breadth of the nation.
Perhaps the largest area of the park is the eco-tourism area which features an ocean world of more than 2,000 species of fish from different continents, including sharks, sea-calves and skates alongside various types of cuphorbia.
It also consists of a royal garden which boasts around 500 varieties of rare and precious orchids of Viet Nam and Southeast Asia and a museum displaying a large cross-section of butterflies and flowers from different countries around the world.
This Vietnamese version of Disneyland also hopes to attract both local and foreign tourists, particularly kids through its many games in the entertainment section, including a Ferris wheel, a discovery spacecraft area, a swimming pool and a 3D cinema.
It also features a 30,000-sq.m modern and multifunctional complex for public performances with a large stage and a viewing area for more than 7,000 people.
Once fully operational, the park desperately wishes to welcome 10,000 local and foreign visitors each day. If the great American showman P. T Barnum is to be believed, the park should do fine.
"The park, about 12km from the heart of Ha Noi, offers diverse entertainment services suitable for all ages," said Trinh Hoang Nam from Ha Noi.
However, Nam said, prices for each service are quite expensive, ranging between VND20,000-30,000 ($1.2-1.8) each person, making it hard for low-income households to afford.
Nevertheless, it is not difficult to imagine a family living in the old quarter, packing themselves into a tin can after a long hard day of work and study, driving through horrendous traffic just so they can relax in a replica of where they just left.
"The staff is very friendly and hospitable but is not professional enough," Nam added.
The park has yet to be completed so it still lacks "green" space for visitors to take a rest in. The distance between sections is quite far so it needs to create "stop-over" places for tourists along roads leading to different entertainment sections, said Phan Thi Mai, 57, in Thanh Xuan District.
"The complex is a great place for the kids to play. However, the designs of some facilities at the park are not attractive to the little visitors. From the outside, the 3D cinema and the game centre for the kids look like a town-hall or a meeting room. More lively paintings or characters should be built or painted outside these facilities to make them more attractive," said Le Hoai Thu, 30, in Cau Giay District.
Le Viet Trung, assistant director of Bao Son corporation’s foreign department, said construction of the remaining facilities is scheduled for completion by early 2009 and services will be gradually improved to meet people’s growing demands for entertainment and relaxation.
"The park is expected to satisfy a wide range of visitors as it features both traditional and modern diversions," Trung said.
Since its opening, the park has welcomed between 500-1,000 visitors each day. During the national holiday (September 2), it hosted more than 30,000 visitors.
(Source: Dan Tri, TTXVN, URL:http://english.vietnamnet.vn/travel/2008/09/806284/)
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