Dai Nam Zoo, Binh Duong Vietnam

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Hi and welcome to another part of my trip to Dai Nam, a sprawling tourist complex in Binh Duong Province and the pride of Vietnam – being one of it’s first and largest theme parks. The dry park was a bit of a disappointment and we didn’t go to the man made beach, but we did drop by the zoo for an hour before heading back to Ho Chi Minh City.

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At the entrance, we are greeted by cartoonish figures of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. My horse looks more like a cow donkey hybrid, but points for trying, ja?

We rented one of the small tourist buggies which took us around the smallish zoo and stopped where we wanted to take pix.

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Small animals section. Here are some porcupines. Some of the enclosures looked unkempt, and there were ‘extra’ wildlife scurrying around… by that I mean huge ass rats scampering across the rocks.

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A sad looking wildebeest (?)

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We spent a lot of time looking at these white and black gibbons. They looked really fluffy and energetic, swinging left and right while some visitors tried to give them food (even though there were signs clearly saying that you shouldn’t). There was a mamma gibbon with a baby clinging to her belly… so cute!!! But my camera didn’t manage to capture the pictures.

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Inter-species besties

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The white tiger enclosure. They really acted like big cats… ones that can kill you and eat you, but still cats all the same.

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Dedicated journalists at work.

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Another shared house arrangement which seemed like they were getting along fine – a couple of black dogs and a big cat. Apparently the sign said they had been living together since the dogs were puppies and the tiger was a cub.

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Baloo so chill

Overall I’d say the zoo was the best part of our visit to Dai Nam. Although some of the enclosures weren’t well kept, the animals appeared fine and there were quite a number of things to see, like the white tigers, lions, hippos, etc.

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We missed exploring the Historical area where they have all the big structures and temples. But other than that, I don’t think Dai Nam was worth our two hour ride from HCMC.

 

Dai Nam Theme Park, Vietnam

After a night of intense souvenir shopping at Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City and with our luggage firmly loaded with bags of jackfruit chips, Vietnamese coffee and other trinkets, we continued our exploration of Vietnam! An early morning rise and shine was in order since we had to do some travelling by bus. But first: Buffet breakfast!

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In Malaysia, we don’t get to eat pork bacon at hotels because all establishments have to be Halal.Here in HCMC, I went nuts over the bacon strips, fried eggs fresh from the skillet done sunny side up, grilled tomatoes and pastries.

We stayed at New World Hotel Saigon, a posh place. It has a small casino next door catering to tourists. Vietnamese citizens are not allowed to gamble.

Had a big room all to myself with a king sized bed and like 15 channels to choose from. I felt much more comfy in HCMC than in Hanoi. It was too… quiet there. Here I could hear the thumping of the bass from at least five different clubs + the honking of vehicles, which slowly lulled me to sleep.

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Pork everything and chocolate pancakes. Artery clogging goodness.

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We then hopped on a bus to our next destination, Dai Nam Theme Park, which was a good two hour ride from the city. On the way there, we took in the sights of Ho Chi Minh City. So many bikes!

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Đại Nam Văn Hiến is a tourist complex and theme park in Binh Duong Province. We were there on a weekday and the place was kind of dead. Most visitors were locals. The complex was huge, divided into several sections such as a ‘historical area’ where they had faux temples and statues of deities, a dry theme park, a wet theme park with the largest artificial sea in S/E Asia. We didn’t go in because the entry price was expensive. There is also a mini zoo in the area.

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Visitors can rent tandem/single bicycles, but we decided to get some exercise after pigging it out at the buffet.

But the attractions were spaced so far apart, we finally decided to just go around in one of the free shuttle trains.

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Large, elaborate structures showcasing mythical (?) figures. The signs were all in Vietnamese and the staff spoke little to no English, so we didn’t know what most of these buildings were. Visitors have to purchase tickets before going in each attraction.

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SAM_2222-tileOne of the ‘wet’ rides.  It looked really fun, but we hadn’t brought a change of  clothes. And since we were writing for work, we stood at the balcony right opposite this ride to grab a pic of it coming down. The splash was HUGE and we had to dodge it just in time or risk being completely soaked.

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Go-karting circuit

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Dai Nam’s theme park area was a bit of a disappointment because of the lack of signages and lack of staff who could communicate basic English. The rides were small and were few and far between. Perhaps the beach (which it is more famous for) would be a better bet, so skip the dry park altogether and just go there. The zoo was a slight redeeming point. We didn’t get to see the temple area, but I heard that it’s nice there. But for me, I don’t think it was worth the long trip from and back to HCMC – you’re better off just exploring other places nearby.

DAI NAM THEME PARK 

QL 13, Hiệp An, tp. Thủ Dầu Một, Bình Dương, Vietnam
Entry: 100,000VND *Adults
Opening hours: 8am – 6pm
Getting There 
Ben Thanh Bus Station Bus no. 616 (VND 25,000/pax)