With over 4,000 years of history and long-lasting culture, Vietnam experiences a great diversity of deep-rooted traditions and customs.
With Halloween approaching, Booking.com lists seven places across Vietnam that tell the tales of the country’s history, along with suggestions on activities to explore and discover local attractions! Promising mythology, culture and all things eerie, this selection of destinations offers something for every type of Halloween celebration.
Cac Co Cave – Quoc Oai, Hanoi
Thay Pagoda is located at the foot of Sai mountain in Quoc Oai district, and was the place of pilgrimage of monk Tu Dao Hanh, a famous monk of the Ly Nhan Tong Dynasty (1072-1127). After Tu Dao Hanh passed away in the Sai mountain’s cave, it is believed that he reincarnated as Ly Than Tong, the fifth king of the Ly family.
The destination is also known for the pool of human skeletons inside Cac Co Cave, high up on the mountain. According to folklore, these skeletons are the warriors who fought against the Han Dynasty in the early 1st century, who failed to escape the cave; together with skeletons of an army under a 14th-century feudal official, Lu Gia. Discussions about the skeletons’ origin have been going on, together with spiritual tales told by both locals and tourists.
Visitors can also experience a more modern side of Quoc Oai that is ideal for a family relaxation at Baara Land Cultural & Entertainment Complex. For travelers on a spiritual journey, you can explore the Perfume Pagoda Day Tour, 55 kilometers from Thay Pagoda.
Hoa Lo Prison Relic – Hanoi
In the end of the 19th century, to deal with increasing riots from Vietnamese patriots, the French colonialists strengthened the repressive apparatus through an enhanced police force, a completed court system and a system for imprisonment. Hoa Lo prison, one of the largest French colonial prisons in Indochina, was built under this occasion.
Ranked as one of the top five scariest destinations in Southeast Asia by CNN in 2014, Hoa Lo remains a popular attraction for visitors in Hanoi until today. With all the imprisoning and torture artifacts displayed, tourists still shiver every time they enter the Cachot room – an extremely dark and cramped space, the guillotine, while listening to the tour guide detailing horrific historical stories that took place in the past, right at the place, amid the overall dark, gloomy atmosphere of this prison.
When exploring Hanoi, one might as well try a Guided Street Food Tour to experience the great local cuisine; or join a Full-day City Tour to discover Hanoi’s must-see attractions.
Thuy Tien Waterpark – Hue
Thuy Tien waterpark was built in the early 2000s, spanning across a vast area of 20 hectares. By 2004, it officially went into operation and welcomed tourists, just to close after 6 months and has been abandoned since then. With all the deteriorated facilities covered in mosses and having been abandoned for nearly two decades, Thuy Tien waterpark possesses a particular dark, mysterious look that has been featured on several international media publications. The long-abandoned aquarium, water puppet area, theater, despite all rumors and local tales surrounding the waterpark, have become a must-visit location for daring explorers.
By July 2022, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has decided to re-invest and build Thuy Tien waterpark into a public park. This Halloween might be the last for all the remnants of the old, gloomy park.
Along one’s visit to the Imperial city of Vietnam, you can explore Hue with a Full-day Guided City Tour with Lunch, or join a Cooking Class on Boat to experience the essence of the city’s cuisine.
Prenn Pass haunted house – Da Lat
The dreamy and breezy atmosphere of Da Lat is a great escape for those living in metropolitan areas. The city, however, is also known for many mysterious stories that are associated with certain places, one of which is the story surrounding the Prenn Pass villa.
Famously a party house which belonged to a French general in the war time, there were several rumors about the villa. The most popular one is about a girl who was invited to the general’s party but never came back, only to find that her body had been hidden within the precincts of this villa. In 2018, the villa was sold to a tourism company and renovated to be an attraction for curious visitors. Having been transformed into a public attraction, the villa, however, is equipped with several altars and close as soon as the sun goes down.
The spine-chilling experience of visiting a famous haunted house might not be for everyone, and Da Lat still has a lot to offer. You can visit Puppy Farm Experience to play with rare dog breeds, or indulge yourself at the Vinh Tien Winery.
Con Dao Prison – Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province
Con Dao is deemed a tragic island, where ‘the number of the dead exceeds that of those alive’. Built by French colonists in 1862, Con Dao Prison was the site where political prisoners were detained and tortured during the French colonial regime. Nowadays, it is open for visitors as a special national historical site where people can visit relics and learn about the heroic history of Vietnamese patriots who used to be imprisoned.
Holding the tales of a heroic yet sorrowful history, Con Dao by itself is serene and possesses the pristine beauty like nowhere else. Tourists can visit Ngoc Island nearby, a place of untouched nature and sate seafood freshly caught from the water.
The Hui family mansion – Ho Chi Minh City
In the early 20th century, Huáng Wéng Húa (1845 – 1901), a Chinese-Vietnamese man, was one of the the richest businessmen in Sai Gon of his time. Huang (Hui) had 3 sons and one beautiful daughter who unfortunately had leprosy and had to be detained with no social contact from anyone whatsoever. The girl soon passed away, an event that marked the beginning of a chain of strange events at the Hui mansion. Locals have reported to hear cries from the mansion at night, or have even seen the ghost of the girl. The mansion of the Hui family has been renovated and has been repurposed to be Ho Chi Minh City’s Museum of Art. Up to this day, however, the museum’s watchmen and visitors have reported strange happenings still happening in the location.
Visitors can continue the march on historical and cultural exploration when in Sai Gon via a Small-Group Tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels, or go on the Cyclo Tour with Puppet Show and Dinner Cruise to experience Ho Chi Minh City at night.
Ba Chuc Tomb – An Giang
Ba Chuc Tomb is located in Ba Chuc district, An Giang province, Vietnam, bordered by Cambodia. This is the place where the Ba Chuc massacre took place. During the southwestern border war, the genocide Pol Pot attacked Ba Chuc commune, burning houses, looting properties, and killing over 3,100 innocent people, including women and children, during 11 days of encroachment (April 18 – 29, 1977). Only 3 people survived this disaster, and in 1979, Ba Chuc tomb was built to mark the crimes of the Pol Pot genocide.
The tomb consists of two parts: the ossuary housing the skulls and bones of more than 1,100 victims divided by age group and the memorial room displaying the massacre pictures and the weapons used by the slaughters such as knives, bayonets, etc. The bottom of the walls behind the memorial room is still dark with the blood of the stain. You can feel the cold atmosphere when standing on the ground where thousands of innocent people were slaughtered.
To the south of An Giang lies Can Tho, where tourists can book a private tour and discover Can Tho’s floating market, one of the most unique market types in the world.