Nestled in the hills west of Da Nang City, a walk with giants awaits. Rising out of the lush greenery, massive stone hands cradle a gleaming curved walkway, making the Golden Bridge one of Vietnam's most spectacular destinations.
Perched on a mountain top in the Sun World Ba Na Hills amusement park, this remarkable pedestrian bridge is only accessible by cable car.
The impressive structure sits among the clouds at 4,639 feet above sea level, with stunning views of the surrounding forest and mountains. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the East Sea.
About the Golden Bridge
The most striking aspect of the Golden Bridge is the pair of giant stone hands. Their weathered, mossy look gives the impression of age.
But the Cau Vang, which translates to “Gold Bridge,” is not an ancient ruin. It was built in 2018 as a $2 billion effort to lure more tourists to Central Vietnam.
The investment paid off as the bridge is now one of the most popular destinations in Central Vietnam, with thousands walking across it every day.
In 2017 before the bridge was built, more than 2.7 million people visited the Ba Na Hills resort complex. By 2019, traffic skyrocketed to five million visitors. It's easy to see why.
With the verdant mountains as a backdrop, the colossal hands grasping golden railings make for swoon-worthy Instagram images.
There's an ethereal feel to the giant hands supporting the bridge; the careful pose evokes a godlike feeling. The mountain mist that pours through the site adds to the divine, mystical aura.
The lead architect, Vu Viet Anh of TA Landscape Architecture, said the bridge's design was intended to “invoke the sensation of walking along a thread stretching through the hands of God.”
The curved pathway, with its gold-plated rails, emulates the shape of a golden silk strip cradled in the hands of a giant.
At nearly 500 feet long, visitors can walk up and down the unique structure, admiring the gleaming curves, massive stone appendages, and breathtaking views.
On a sunny day with clear skies, the bridge provides miles of beautiful vistas. (Look on Instagram for incredible sunset pictures.)
Our morning visit was plagued with cloudy weather and fog, which turned into a plus. Shrouded in mist, the bridge took on a mysterious feel.
Watching the fog roll in and seeing elements of the structure disappear was fascinating. Just as quickly, the fog would lift, and we could see the bridge again in all its architectural glory.
The bridge's popularity makes it challenging to capture photos without other tourists. Taking the first cable car of the day is the best option for avoiding the crowds.
Pro Tip: Hotel guests can visit Vietnam's Golden Bridge one hour earlier than anyone else, which is the only way to capture those empty, the-bridge-all-to-ourselves images. It'll make early morning photos easier if you're willing to spend a night on top of Ba Na Hills.
A little patience helped us snag photos of our party without strangers. Walking to the far end of the bridge first is also a smart approach.
Start with pictures of the second hand instead of getting trapped behind tourists capturing the hand nearest the bridge entrance.
Two additional platforms off the bridge provide great photo opportunities with the bridge in the background.
One is near the far end of the bridge, and the other is the last opportunity to capture the bridge before heading into Marseille Station.
The Cable Car
Prepare for an epic cable car ride to reach the Golden Bridge. At 19,032 feet, it holds the Guinness World Record for the world's longest nonstop, single-track cable car.
The Doppelmayr cable car ride takes about 20 minutes and provides breathtaking views as you climb higher and higher.
Each car seats up to eight people and provides a smooth ride up the mountain. Our group was amazed by the excellent views and the increasing elevation.
While I'm not a big fan of heights, I enjoyed the ride, taking in the mountain scenery and the cars sailing past us.
Sun World boasts six cable car routes, with new ones under construction. The cable car system can move 10,000 guests per hour.
Gliding upwards, you can surveil the surrounding topography and observe the other rail lines and the continuing construction. The amusement park and resort continue to expand as they look to draw in more tourists.
As you draw near the top, you capture your first sightings of the Golden Bridge, a profile shot that hints at what's to come.
Mercure French Village
The Golden Bridge in Vietnam was built to bring more traffic to Sun World. It's a fantastic site to see, worthy of your time.
What's strange is its placement in an amusement park. It's challenging to explain the site well, but it struck us as a faux Disneyland resort.
The central feature is a French village, with cobblestone streets and buildings aged to look like old French architecture, including a cathedral.
A love letter to the French is strange, considering 100 years of colonial rule. The village appears to be a big hit with the locals; many of Sun World's visitors are Vietnamese nationals.
Several hotels, squares, and more than 20 restaurants are mixed into this imitation European setting.
But why would a quaint French village have Japanese and Thai food? They are, of course, catering to a theme park crowd.
In addition to the French village, there's also an indoor amusement park and outdoor roller coasters. (We highly recommend avoiding the indoor amusements; they were loud and obnoxious.)
Wine Cellar and Gardens
The Debay wine cellar is a redeeming venture on the way to the village. Built in 1923, it speaks to the age of the Ba Na Hills site and takes visitors underground to see where the wine was stored. Note, the wine cellar is not included on all entrance tickets.
While the village is unnecessary, the Le Jardin D'Amour Gardens was a pleasant surprise.
Its nine flower gardens feature an assortment of beautiful blossoms and giant floral statues. We admired the cultivated grounds and a fun, oversized Peacock statue.
The spiritual aspect of the park, with pagodas, temples, and Japanese gardens, was also a welcome sight. A massive Buddha statue was a lovely delight and a peaceful way to end our time at the top of the mountain.
Sun World also offers several other tourist attractions we didn't visit, including a wax museum, waterfall, a funicular, Fantasy Park, and the Lunar Castle, accessible by the other rail stations.
Additional facilities, shopping, dining, theater, and hotels are planned for future years.
How To Get There
Getting to Sun World
Once you've reached Da Nang or nearby Hoi An, travelers can hire a driver, rent a motorbike, or schedule transportation via shuttle bus or group tour. A trip from either city will take 40 minutes to one hour.
Using the Grab app (Vietnam's version of Uber) or renting a motorbike can run anywhere from 500,000 to 900,000 VND (about $21-38).
For us, a Golden Bridge tour was the most convenient option and comparable in price.
We recommend spending a half-day at the Golden Bridge in Vietnam, focusing solely on the giant hand bridge.
Spending time at Marble Mountain or visiting Da Nang and Hoi An are better usages of your time than walking the faux French village.
Cable Car Directions
Once you arrive at Sun World, walk through the Time Gate and head for Hoi An Station.
You'll walk through architecture and grounds reminiscent of Hue imperial palace and the ancient city of Hoi An, including a memory garden.
The cable car from this station will take you to Marseille Station, where the Golden Bridge is located.
Visitors wishing to see the French village can then take a second cable car from the nearby Bordeaux Station to the Louvre Station.
Sun World and the Golden Bridge are open seven days a week, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The best time to arrive is when the park gates open.
Getting an early start is especially important during the peak tourist season, which coincides with the dry season from February to July. These are the best months to visit.
During the rainy season in Central Vietnam, which runs from September to December, fewer people may be at the Golden Bridge than in the peak season, but you're more likely to get wet.
Tickets start at 750,000 VND for children and 900,000 VND for adults (about $32 and $38 in 2023).