HELIO CENTER $$
If you’ve got kids and half a day to spare, Da Nang’s Helio Center is definitely worth a visit. But don’t expect a massive Disneyland. Based on the American FEC model (Family Entertainment Center), Helio is essentially a smaller, inside affair aimed at providing a safe and fun environment for the whole family.
If it’s not too hot, raining or flooding, start outside with the discovery play garden, children’s motorbike and automobile driving school, bumper boats or, if you’re hungry, a restaurant village.
Inside, Helio has two floors of amusements including: an ice-skating rink, go-Kart racing, rollercoaster rides, duck-pin bowling (like ten-pin bowling but smaller balls with no holes), 150 arcade games, karaoke rooms, a Ballocity Play room (think thousands of foam balls hurtling at you) and a food court featuring 5 different world cuisines, as well as bakery and coffee shops.
There’s much to do but the stand out for me, by far, was ‘Helio Kids’. Designed to send imaginative play off the Richter scale, this simulated, real-life environment play-zone will keep littlies entertained for hours. Check out its mini-supermarket that has everything you would find in an original, including supermarket trolleys and omnipresent aerial TV over the checkout.
For those wanting to cook up a feast – or eat a feast – send them next door to the ‘Nha Hang’ (restaurant) or for those wanting to play Mum and Dad, there’s a mini-kitchen in a mini-play house. Then there’s a dress up room, a painting room, water play, building blocks and train sets.
If you have children under 6 years old do not miss this – and definitely bring your camera. I found myself very entertained during my time there.
The best way to get to the Helio Center from Hoi An is by taxi. Around 450,000 – 500,000 dong ($US 25) return.
While all the signs at Helio are in Vietnamese, the staff has good English. Upon entering, head to the main reception desk and all will be explained.
Price guide: Rides and activities are around 30,000 with arcade games around 5 -10,000 VND.