The Happiest Place in Vietnam

Nothing puts you in the mood to celebrate the 4th of July more than eating grilled meats, riding thrilling roller coasters, and mingling among throngs of people in swimsuits. At least, that was our reasoning when we decided to celebrate Independence Day at Vinpearl Land in Nha Trang, Vietnam.

When we told fellow travelers we were headed to ‘Nam, many people advised us to not mention that we were from America. But we’ve been honest about our nationality throughout our time in the country, and every local we’ve met has treated us with nothing but kindness, despite our countries’ dark history together.

Being out of the country for the 4th felt surreal as we watched friends back home putting up pics on social media of them rocking red, white, and blue bikinis and sharing firework videos. We commemorated the holiday in our own way, and I’m glad we got to experience an international theme park. Vinpearl Land is situated on its own island near the sprawling Vinpearl Resort, which will cost you a pretty penny to stay at. However, a day pass for the park cost just over $20 a person, making it an affordable way to spend the day in Nha Trang.

Getting to Vinpearl Land is not for the faint of heart, as you have to ride a cable car high above the ocean to access the theme park. In general, Asia seems to follow a “Safety seventh” mindset, so it was a little nerve-wracking hearing the clicking and clacking of our tiny compartment as it cruised toward our destination.

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Vinpearl Land is one part nautical theme, one part Disney ripoff, and even stole some elements of the Harry Potter themepark (oh and there was a big statue of the penguins from Madagascar, too). Here’s us in front of one of the park’s Disney-esque castles.

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We started off the day in true ‘Merican fashion, by stuffing our faces with $3 cheeseburgers.

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Even though I was confused by hearing songs from Pocahontas, The Tiki Room, and Frozen throughout the park, all my skepticism was washed away by this epic mermaid performance we saw at the Vinpearl aquarium. My five-year-old self was crying tears of joy and my 25-year-old self was seriously reconsidering future career paths.

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There’s also a pretty sweet shark enclosure that’s similar to the one at Seaworld in San Diego. Step on the moving sidewalk and cruise through as predators circle menacingly overhead.

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One of our first stops of the day was hitting the water park. There were tons of slides and lots of locals cooling off from the July heat.

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The rest of the day was spent goofing around and taking in as many attractions as we could manage.

We got to sit in the front of the park’s biggest roller coaster and screamed our heads off.

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Here we are getting ready to see a nonsensical 4D movie that involved a talking fish-turned-mermaid, evil crabs, and a magic pearl-wielding troll.

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The carousel had more to offer than standard horses, with Tay riding a giraffe and me taking a spin on a panda.

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We were too big to ride this hang glider ride together so I pedaled alongside this adorable Vietnamese girl who was afraid to look at me but thrilled to be cruising at top speed. Might I add she had no problem with me doing all the pedaling, even though she thought I was a monster.

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There were also mythical-seeming Asian-inspired sculptures throughout the park, and we might never know the reasoning behind them, but they did make for some great photo opps.

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Did I mention there was a massive arcade where all games were completely free with entry!? Yeeeeeeeeeeep. Tay dominated several shooting games before I dragged him back into the light of day.

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And to enter the arcade you have to bypass a scantily clad, golden mermaid. Cue the oohs and aahs.

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Hands down the coolest part of the day was riding the alpine coaster. Essentially a two-person tropical bobsled, the ride hauls you up 540 meters and lets you speed down a track that overlooks the entire theme park and the ocean, with a hand brake to use at your discretion (we didn’t use the brake once, oops). We did this attraction last and waited two hours in line to do it, but it was so, so worth it to experience the rush that came along with zipping down the track.

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Overall, our day at Vinpearl Land was spectacular and there were a lot of cute sea-themed features like this dolphin water fountain that had us pausing to take notice.

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And these garbage-eating penguins.

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The signage on this McDonald’s-inspired burger joint had us pretty baffled but their fries smelled good…I guess you win some, you lose some.

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Although we didn’t celebrate the 4th of July in the traditional sense, we still had fun in Vietnam and didn’t die on any of the shoddily made attractions. Hurrah!

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