Much has been written about the failure of Hong Kong Disneyland to connect with its visitors. Shark's fin or no shark's fin? Questionable fung shui. Too few visitors. Then too many. But there are other Asian theme parks that connect culturally with guests and produce smiles instead of headlines. One is Suoi Tien, 20km northeast of Ho Chi Minh City. Its attractions are decidedly un-Disney in their make-up, but their appeal is unmistakeable. At the Kingdom of Crocodiles attraction I went 'crocodile fishing'. For 15 US cents I rented a bamboo pole with a lump of raw meat tied to a string at one end, which I dangled over a group of hungry crocodiles. They snapped. I pulled it away. They snapped again. I pulled it away again, until inevitably they won - and ate. Thankfully, I kept my fingers. Crocodile fishing may not be politically correct in some countries, but based on the excited crowd I was part of, it's a hit in Vietnam. About the same size as Hong Kong Disneyland, Suoi Tien's appeal lies in offering attractions that are culturally unique to Vietnam - such as the enormous public swimming pool called Tien Dong Beach. Around it are mythical hills and palaces, a mist-spewing dragon and, dominating the pool, park and surrounding area, a mountainous likeness of King Lac Long Quan (below), the mythological founder of the Vietnamese people, and his wife, Au Co. This Asian version of Mount Rushmore is also a log-flume ride: I took a yellow raft and slipped and slid through the emperor's head until I emerged wet and happy from a giant fish's mouth (above). My Vietnamese history and cultural lessons didn't end there, however. I came across a giant statue of the Trung sisters, riding elephants on their way to defeat the Chinese in the first century AD. At the Phoenix Palace I visited the 12 levels of hell, a local version of theme-park ride Pirates of the Caribbean showing the pirates after they'd passed to the 'other side'. I descended into a dungeon, where I saw someone sawn in half and put back together again; a torture victim being eaten alive by a hairy monster; and a body squeezed into a large wooden basin and pummelled like a bunch of grapes being turned into wine. Fancying a change of scenery I tried the Palace of Heaven nearby. The re-creation of an emperor's court had it all: a stern emperor and officials; beautiful ladies- in-waiting, and in one tableau mannequins dressed as ghost princesses swinging angelically from wires. The Vietnamese theme in most attractions was more evident in Hue, the ancient capital, where I attacked the citadel after emerging from a hidden tunnel into the fortress. Done fighting, I turned to the park's roller-coaster, Ferris wheel, paddle boats, aquarium, small zoo and bonsai forest - and then to the tent with the freaks exhibit. Among the wonders preserved in alcohol were Siamese pigs; a two-headed calf; a calf with six legs; and a chicken with an over-long neck. Everywhere there were crowds and long queues - and lots of happy faces. Like Hong Kong Disneyland, Suoi Tien is a favourite of out-of-towners, and I found many of them at the Heavenly Palace near the end of my visit. I've never been a fan of dressing up in costumes and having my photograph taken, but at this Hue-meets-Vegas-meets-Orlando attraction I couldn't resist. So for a few minutes I wore the headgear and robes of a Vietnamese emperor and had my picture snapped as I sat on a mock throne. I didn't feel much like royalty, but I did leave with some rich memories. In that, other theme parks might perceive a lesson. For more information go to www.suoitien.com.vn .