Modern theme parks in Vietnam stick to tradition
A new generation of theme parks are not just focusing on entertainment, they are also showcasing traditional Vietnamese values.
When April arrives in the Hoang LienSon mountain range in Vietnam’s far north, the slopes are covered inazalea flowers of all colors - white, purple, yellow, red andpink - blooming together, stretching all the way to the peak of Fansipan, known as the roof of Indochina (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia).
This native species is deservedly the star of its own show, the Azalea Festival, which will be held annually at Sun World Fansipan Legend, a tourism complex created by Sun Group, the premier developer of luxury tourism and entertainment projects in Vietnam.
At the Azalea Festival, tourists can learn more about the cultural traditions of the ethnic minority communities who live in the northern highlands, like the Red Dzao and Hmong.
These indigenous tribes have their own ritualistic dances, folk games and traditional forms of music that are vividly depicted at the Sun World Fansipan Legend complex. Visitors, therefore, have a chance todiscover more about the local way of life before they take the cable car to Fansipan’s peak, or tour the environs of Sa Pa Town in the Muong Hoa Funicular.
July visitors to Sa Pa can partake of the vibrant atmosphere of the Northwestern Cultural Space and Culinary Festival. At the complex’s food court, they can taste dozens of traditional dishes includngthang co, a hearty stew made with horse meat. If that sounds a bit intense, you can snack on a Sapa-style sausage or grilled pork. These dishes can be enjoyed with a small glass ofruou, a special liquor made from rice and herbs.
A festival organized by Sun World Fansipan Legend in Sapa.
Visitors can also try their hand at cooking banh chung (a square, savoury sticky rice cake) that is an important, much-loved traditional dish usually cooked together by the family for Tet, the Lunar New Year festival.
They can also try to grind rice flour to make a sticky rice dumpling - a customof the H’mong during their own New Year Festival.
Then there are distinctive wedding rituals the Red Dao people enact on Saturdays and Sundays during the festival. But whatever day you visit, there are always many activities that showcase the fascinating traditions of the ethnic minority communities.
Recognizing that Sa Pa is a gateway town, not just to the geographic wonders of northwestern Vietnam, but also the myriad of distinctive cultures in the region, Sun World Fansipan Legend strives to be a window into the life of communities who have lived around Fansipan since the days of yore.
Sun World Fansipan Legend’s approach to hosting traditional festivals and showcasing the local culture has been lauded by many industry observers. This serves the dual purpose of promoting tourism and helping preserve local traditional culture at a time of rapid modernization.
Danang flies the flag for tradition
Meanwhile, in central Vietnam, Sun World Dananghas also been proactive in showcasing local traditions through the hosting of regular cultural events like the Lantern Festival, Tet Holiday Festival and Spring Flower Festival.
The showcasing of traditional values assumes greater importance in a rapidly modernizing city like Da Nang.
Sun World Danang Wonders celebrates Mid-Autumn Festival.
While many visitorswill wish to visit Sun World Danang Wondersand Asia Park to ride the Sun Wheel (one of the five highest ferris wheels in the world), the Monorail (the most modern monorail system in Vietnam), or Queen Cobra (the largest hang glider ridein Vietnam), the complex also seeks to celebrate traditional festivals that will take local tourists back to their childhood and introduce age-old Vietnamese traditions to foreign guests.
From downtown Da Nang, tourists can go to Sun World Ba Na Hills, which is a phenomenal tribute to French culture. It was, after all, the French who first developed Ba Na as a ‘retreat’. Visitors today will be fascinated by the Debay Wine Cellar, first constructed in a deep tunnel in 1923. The wine cellar runs 100m deep and is always kept at an ideal temperature between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius. Outside, you can admire areplica French village of such proportions that you are transported to France. Besides, Sun World Ba Na hosts festivals throughout the year, not just to celebrate Vietnamese culture but also many other global traditions.
Striking a balance
Part of the challenges faced by each Sun World complex in Vietnam is to strike a balance between featuring traditional features and maintaining contemporary touches. At the Sun World Ha Long Complex in the northeast of Vietnam, visitors can enjoy exhilarating rides and some of the world’s top gaming systems, but they can also experience many Vietnamesetraditions.
For example, during Tet, they can enjoy a wonderful flower festival, play folk games, try their hand at writing parallel sentencesor browse for something to read on special ‘book streets’, a typical Tet activity in Vietnam.
Tourists try to make Vietnamesesticky rice cake in Sun World Ba Na Hills during Tet holiday.
Thus far, the Sun World complexes have successfully blended modern entertainment facilities with traditional festivals in some of the country’s most beautiful and popular destinations.