Two lifesize hands ancient and moist from the hills’ dampness hold the curved bridge against the flat panoramic horizon views beyond. Even before I booked my Vietnam tickets, friends insisted on visiting these hills. And I did! Here goes my Ba Na Hills Review.
Ba Na Hills lies on the west side of Da Nang away from the shores. Unlike the biggest Metropolis city of Saigon or the capital of Vietnam (Hanoi), this place was more laid back and purely popular among tourists.
So we put on our helmets one bright morning and off we went. Never having looked up on Ba Na Hills before, the whole trip was a surprise. Was it a trek up to that magnificent bridge? We didn’t know. But as we went, some things were impressive, and others – not so much. But having visited it already, consider this a Ba Na Hills Guide as well as Ba Na Hills Review.
Ba Na Hills Review: Is it worth Visiting?
To experience the Golden Bridge, the Alpine Coaster at the peak, the renovated French alleys, and the breathtaking views – It is definitely worth it. Even more so if you’re traveling with kids. The only way to get to Ba Na Hills is via the cable car and that itself is an attraction. It is one of the longest non-stop cable cars in the world.
After 10 minutes inside, we still couldn’t catch sight of the hills. It’s a total of 17 minutes ride with mesmerizing views of the forests below and a bird’s eye view of the horizon of the city far away sitting by the shore.
As the cable car neared the hills, the picture became clear – the Ba Na Hill Station is a SunWorld theme park with roller-coasters, ever-lively street shows, 3D theatre, and Flying Swing. My friend and I glanced at each other.
We didn’t expect to end up in an amusement park in Vietnam but we got excited. After all, one can get a theme park anywhere else out there. Nevertheless, the little boy in me returned to life as we stepped into the vacation paradise of Ba Na Hills.
Before getting on the ever-lasting cable car, the tickets cost us ₫ 900,000 (36.63 USD) per person at the entrance. Now I realize online tickets are cheaper and include facilities like a shuttle bus from Da Nang.
Our trusted partner Headout.com offers tickets at 35.51 USD (almost the same) but inclusive of a buffet meal and shuttle bus from Da Nang! Hurry and grab your Ba Na Hills tickets today.
Things to Know Before Visiting Ba Na Hills
Before packing that little bag, here are some things to know before getting to Ba Na Hills.
When to Visit Ba Na Hills?
The best time to visit Ba Na Hill Station is the late afternoon on weekdays. Though the park is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., the evenings are more magical with the light works flickering on the peaks. As dusk fell, we left early not fully experiencing the evening and we regretted it.
Is Ba Na Hills a day trip? Yes, half-day or one-day trips are best for Ba Na Hills! Visit on weekdays to save time. Weekends get crowded with locals. We visited late morning with the mist magical as wisps of air touched our heads. But as dusk neared, the shining fairy lights were something else. For photo enthusiasts, I recommend the evenings for Instagrammable shots.
How much time do you need at Ba Na Hills? Unless you’re traveling with kids or keen on all rides, half a day (approx. 6 hours) is sufficient to get around the park. Though there were plenty of things to see and shows to experience, most were kids’ attractions that didn’t interest us.
What to Pack and Wear for Ba Na Hills
As it is no more than a 1-day trip, pack no more than a small bag for essentials. We carried a single bag between the two of us. Food and water are allowed inside and I highly recommend taking a water bottle. Water isn’t free inside and only plastic bottles are available.
There are plenty of food options but none are budget-friendly. For a day trip you’re bound to get hungry so pack some snacks if needed. Without much choice, we spent a considerable amount on lunch. Hence that buffet lunch comes in handy when you book the tickets online.
For bodywear, it isn’t that cold at the hilltop, and getting a jacket is optional. T-shirts and shorts should do fine. Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking a lot here. And don’t forget your camera!
How to Get to Ba Na Hills?
From Da Nang, the best way is via a shuttle bus. Ba Na Hills is 22km away (a 45-minute trip) from Da Nang and these buses are usually private buses charging between 100, 000 VND to 150,000 VND for a one-way trip. However, most offer round-trips between 190,000 VND to 250,000 VND.
But shuttle buses are comfortable when you’re a solo traveler or you charter the whole bus for your group. For families, private taxi charters always stand popular. It even costs you less. Use Grab (an app like Uber popular in Southeast Asia) or Klook to book cheap fares and avoid the bargain hustle.
Offline booking gets expensive. I recommend using Klook.com to book a round-trip for the low prices. Here are my best picks for round trips for Ba Na Hills from Da Nang and Hoi An.
*The third option offers a direct transfer from Hoi An to Ba Na Hills.
Last but not least, renting a vehicle is another great option! It isn’t ideal but we rented out a scooter for just 130,000 VND, fueled it up and we were off! For the two of us, it was far cheaper than even the shuttle bus. However, it got troublesome when it began to rain. But that’s another story :)
Ba Na Hills Review: Accommodation
Most affordable accommodations are available in the city of Da Nang. However, another option is staying at Ba Na Hills (Nui Chua mountain) as well. The only accommodation available is the Mercure Da Nang French Village Ba Na Hills.
It’s a 4-star hotel modernized in the 19th-century European-style buildings. These are multiple buildings across the hills. For the French Village ambiance, the pricing is reasonable considering the recreational facilities like the pool, gym, and complimentary breakfast.
I recommend our trusted partner Booking.com to reserve your stay in advance with no upfront costs. Hurry and book your Ba Na Hills stay today.
The Ba Na Hills Guide
One main reason to write this Ba Na Hills guide is that we simply missed out on some spots on Ba Na Hills. For starters, the guide map is confusing, all buildings look alike, and the hill station is remarkably large.
Ba Na Hills Guide: Google Maps isn’t handy here, leaving out the brochure map they provide you. We didn’t mind as we were to explore all corners. Still, as I write this – I find places we never touched. So here are all the places in order as you stroll the hillstation:
Roam the French Village
The cable car from Ba Na Hill SunWorld entrance takes you to the total right end of the peak. It’s good as it lets you cover the place from one point. The first stop is the whole set of French architecture hotels that stand in a semi-circle.
Hotel De Lyon, Hotel De Bordeaux, and Hotel De Toulouse are some names you’ll see at the entrances. And yes, as mentioned earlier – people can stay in these rooms! So as you stroll, you’ll see people flocking in and out of the ‘French’ restaurants and hotel lobbies with an actual French gothic colonial touch.
The restaurants are of course both a mix of local and European cuisines. With the moist air, stoned pavements, and Gothic architecture – it comes close to experiencing a world far away (I’m still hesitant to mention French, I’ve not been there yet).
Watch the Beer Plaza Shows
Ba Na Hills review: Don’t flutter away with the French Village! The Beer Plaza is again close to the cable car point. Here you’ll see a lot of carnival games. The Flying Swings make up a big part of this area.
The Beer Plaza is another eatery with beer (duh!). Unlike the French structure, this is an elliptical glass dome with two entrances. Right outside the plaza is where festivals take place on the square.
When I visited classic jazz music filled the air and when I peeked over the crowds, a fantastic show was in view. Three magnificent-looking professional couples danced Salsa on their toes! The elegant attires, flawless movements, and the joy on their faces were simply magical.
But we were too excited for the Flying Swings so we pushed through quickly to get our seats. Don’t judge.
Take Pictures at the King Helios Waterfall
Right next to the Beer Plaza is the ‘Sun God Waterfall’ or the King Helios waterfall. This is a more recent addition by the SunWorld Group to the theme park. The Golden Chariot and Horses seem surreal but it was designed by an Italian family-owned business – read the whole story.
When the skies are clear, the golden statues gleam with elegance. The shining nature is something to ponder – not to mention, it’s a picturesque spot. On either side of the waterfall of statues are stairs leading to an elevated garden.
This was our first mistake. We didn’t bother to glance behind this show that was in place (the dance was worth it though) and then got lost in the cracks of the French Village.
Saint-Denis Church and Eternal Square
Moving from the Helios waterfall and through the village, you’ll end up in a more open space. The first thing to notice is the enormous golden globe at the center of the Eternal Square
With letters engraved on it, it reminded me of Universal Studios in Singapore. Keep in mind the square continues further down and opens into Convergence Square. The sides of the squares are lined with lively cafes, fast-food chains, and a large food court.
If you’re lucky, you’ll experience another life-size festival at the center here. This is the main hub to access the Fantasy Park, Alpine Coasters, Little Tokyo and Thai Market restaurant, and Magic Well Train station.
Fantasy Park Ba Na Hills
The first thing to come across on the Eternal square is the Fantasy Park. It’s an indoor park with a variety of indoor rides like the Drop Tower, 5D theatre, Skiver Pilot, and Jurassic Park.
As for this Ba Na Hills review aspect – Kiddos are sure to enjoy this place as most rides aren’t ideal for adults. The only ride we gave a shot was the 5D theatre (yes, not even Haunted House!) and we didn’t find it all great. Moreover, the typical wait queues are longer here.
The park is amazing when you’re new to amusement parks, but nothing new if you’ve been to other amusement parks.
Visit the Wax Museum
The Ba Na Hills Wax Museum, part of the Fantasy Park building, also happens to be the biggest in Vietnam! However, it costs 100,000 VND extra to explore.
Some figures on display are David Beckham, Rowan Atkinson, Micheal Jackson, and Leonardo DiCaprio. It houses almost 50 figures here and being nationwide famous – it’s quite something to visit. Again, we didn’t have the budget to visit hence making for another regret.
Ride the Alpine Coaster(s)
At first glance at the map, you’ll see that the spot of roller coaster pathways is entangled like a bad hair day. There are two alpine coaster lanes with different entrances.
Both don’t differ much from one another and are included on the admission ticket. So pick the one with a shorter queue. With the lengthy curvy stretch and speed control totally in our hands, it makes for the biggest queues!
Even picking the shorter queue, we waited 20 minutes amidst excited local families. I almost learned Vietnamese as we tried making conversation with a family behind. Anyway, the Alpine coaster is worth the wait – I loved the bit of power control as I zoomed down with jerky curves.
- Our trusted partner Headout.com offers tickets at 35.51 USD (almost the same) AND inclusive of a buffet meal and shuttle bus from Da Nang! Hurry and grab your Ba Na Hills tickets today.
Dance at Eclipse Square
Another square with dance festivals is the Eclipse Square. I impulsively realized why it was called an eclipse. The view changes from an ancient French Village to a floating Greek mythology structure with a pointed glass dome at the center.
From the top, it seemed like an emerald eye. As we got down to it, everything was picturesque as we walked. There was fusion music and the queen-costumed ladies danced slowly letting all the kids follow their movements. It was a paradise of sorts. Even we began dancing at some point – it was like La La Land!
Stroll the Moon Castle
After the Eclipse Square, we passed the Lava Castle and Rose Tower to the Moon Castle. The 360 views with a vast garden, pavement, and a grand fountain with nothing but the sky as the backdrop made it something of a fairytale.
Opposite to it stood the imposing statue of Atlas holding up the Lava Castle – yes that’s where we came from. It was simply surreal.
Ba Na Hills review: The main shows that run here are the Flying Airship Theatre and a much larger 4D movie theatre. While the shows were great, I found the exterior more wondrous.
Board the Funicular Train
From the Moon Castle’s Dragon Cave Station, board the small red train back to Magic Well Station. This is back to the Convergence Square from where you can board the closest cable car to the last of the attractions (the Golden Bridge).
Walking back is also an option but the little red train creaking slowly by the quiet forest end of the peaks is a sweet change amidst all the pompous.
The other is a Funicular Train which also happens to be Vietnam’s first mountain climbing train. So don’t miss it out! For this, get on the cable car from the Eternal Square next to the Fantasy Park entrance. It takes you to the final part of Ba Na Hills (where the Golden Bridge lies).
Tour the Debay Wine Cellar
From the Funicular train, you’ll land at Ga Le Jardin from D’amour Station. Head right from the station to find the Debay Wine Cellar. This was supposed to be my favorite of Ba Na Hills but I missed it just by a minute!
It closes at 5 pm so make sure to visit it early. Built-in 1923, this French wine cellar is a deep tunnel inside the peak where the cool temperature is ideal to preserve wine. Thus French wine along with other precious wines were preserved for the French colonists’ vacation days.
How’s that for a dip into history in a theme park?
Explore the Linh Ung Pagoda and its Gardens
Moving further are varieties of gardens colorfully spread out as you head to the Ling Ung Pagoda and the Shyakamuni Buddha – the Mandarin Garden, Mysterious Garden, and the Dream Stream Garden.
From the Linh Ung Pagoda temple, the horizon from the 1.5 km altitude overlooked the Da Nang city and its shores beyond. The Buddha here also happens to be the must-visit Buddha Statue among the few in Da Nang. Apart from the destination, the breeze here boasted itself on being the most peaceful side of Ba Na Hills.
We walked here in the evening as the lights began to flicker on, and god did it feel like heaven, the perfect ending to the day!
Finally, the Golden Bridge!
The moment we’ve all been waiting for, the Golden Bridge! Walk back from the Linh Ung Pagoda past the Ga Le Jardin Station to the bridge.
Regardless of the time, the Golden Bridge is ever crowded – it’s an international sensation after all. The whole view from afar doesn’t look that great apart from a few specific angles, but treading on it was something.
The panoramic landscape from here, enormous fingers emerging from beneath on either side of the bridge, and the moist air make up for all that tiring walk through the hills.
This also is the last stop on Ba Na Hills. As you head to the cable car, you’ll find yourself making your way through a market of Golden Bridge gifts and souvenir shops.
The cable car was again quiet on the way down – we were exhausted. I looked over at Da Nang, the Ba Na Hills golf course below, and smiled. The trip was perfect for a one-time go. That ends this Ba Na Hills review – until next time :)