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Offering stellar views of blue sea and rainforest, the Golden Bridge in Da Nang is one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist attractions.
The 150m-long (490ft-long) Golden Bridge is cradled by two huge stone hands that jut from the hillside like ruins from an ancient empire. Yet, there’s nothing old about them: they were constructed alongside the bridge in 2018, and helped make this monumental visitor attraction an immediate social media sensation.
The landmark, however, is only a small part of a hilltop resort that’s one of the strangest places in Vietnam. Here, you’ll find a record-breaking cable car, a wacky French-themed quarter, rollercoaster rides, pagodas, a wax museum and over a million tulips.
The Golden Bridge is situated 25km (15.5mi) west of Da Nang in the Bà Nà Hills’ Sun World Amusement Park, and links the resort’s huge cable car system with its gardens. For many visitors, the cable car is one of the highlights of the journey here. It runs for 5,801m (19,032ft), making it the longest in the world, and the views are tremendous – heading up here feels like a proper voyage of discovery, despite the queues when it’s busy.
The hands that apparently support the bridge are made of fibreglass and wire mesh, and are purely cosmetic. The Golden Bridge itself is made of gold-painted steel, and arcs out from the hillside, saving visitors a steep walk down a dip in the hill, and offering photo ops aplenty. As you stroll along it, you can check out wooded peaks, stretches of rainforest, the theme park’s gardens and the city and sea far below.
It’s incredibly popular, so come early – the resort opens at 7am – for a quieter experience. You can get here via a taxi or a tour from Da Nang, or stay overnight at the resort hotel. The weather is unpredictable, and it might be warm and sunny or misty on top, but conditions change fairly quickly.
The Bà Nà Hills have been a retreat for over a century; French colonists built a hill station here in 1919 to get away from the sea-level heat, which makes the resort’s replica French town – with its manicured gardens, Renaissance-style statues, cathedral and shop-lined alleyways – almost make sense. There are some genuine ruins of the old settlement under another cable car, which takes you up from the Golden Bridge to the rest of the resort.
Elsewhere, there’s an alpine rollercoaster, an indoor amusement arcade, a funicular railway, cinemas, a theatre, a climbing wall, extensive gardens and several bars and restaurants. You can ride the cable cars and – if you’re a guest at the on-site Mercure French Village hotel – swim in a pool that shows movies in the evening
Most visitors just come for the day, and guests get the run of things at night. There’s a wider – and cheaper – selection of food and accommodation in Da Nang, though.
Da Nang is one of Vietnam’s finest cities. It’s developing fast, but hasn’t lost its charm, and is a great place to stay. You can pack a lot – including the Golden Bridge – into a two-day itinerary, but staying for longer gives you the chance to take in its beaches, temples, bridges (yes, there’s more than one) and food (the local mì quang noodles are a famous snack, and there are specialist foodie tours, too) at an easy pace.
Cruises up the Han River, visits to the temple- and cave-packed Marble Mountains and scooter rides into the hills are alternative ways to amuse yourself once you’ve got that iconic selfie atop the Golden Bridge.