I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I saw it on Instagram first. Vietnam’s famous Golden Bridge, located in Sun World Ba Na Hills. I knew I had to make it there someday and see this unique architectural marvel in person. To truly soak it in, stand in its grandeur, and be reminded yet again of how big the world is and all it has to offer.
I could see myself there, but planning this day trip from Hoi An was anything but pleasant. Most travel posts weren’t relevant for my specific situation, and I didn’t see any advice tailored to the experience I was trying to create.
So, I’m writing this guide to share my own experience at Sun World Ba Na Hills. Hopefully it’s the guide you need, because it’s definitely the guide I needed and didn’t have!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase any of the products or services from the links below, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I love!
What is Sun World?
Although many refer to this park as Ba Na Hills, it’s actually a single location of Sun World.
Sun World is a chain of amusement parks throughout Vietnam, with locations in Phu Quoc, Da Nang, Lao Cai, and Ha Long, among others.
Each location has different offerings, from water parks to one of the most famous bridges in the world.
Today, we’re focusing on Sun World Ba Na Hills, the park’s location near Da Nang and Hoi An. In this park, there is plenty to see within a day and beyond! There’s even a hotel inside the park if you want to stay overnight.
Vietnam’s Famous Golden Bridge
Sun World wouldn’t have been on my radar if it weren’t for the famous Golden Bridge in the photo below. I’d seen it on social media and other travel articles, and I love a truly unique place. It didn’t take much convincing!
Of course, this is the most visited area of the park and one where most tourists stop for photos. I recommend to circle back to the bridge on your way out of the park — it was empty when I did that, and it felt even more magical!
Also, don’t miss the view of mountains in the distance. Stacked layer by layer, the range is almost as appealing as the view of the bridge itself.
Other Things to See and Do at Sun World Ba Na Hills
To my surprise, there are many things to see and do at Sun World Ba Na Hills that have nothing to do with the Golden Bridge.
This is almost as impressive as the Golden Bridge, and one of the most authentic French village imitations I’ve ever seen. There’s even a cathedral inside that is every bit as realistic as one in Europe!
You can get a drink at Starbucks and kick back with views of this adorable area when you need a break from seeing the park. There are also many dining options, but none I saw were suitable for vegans. I was glad I brought a banh mi and ate it before entering the park!
It was like I traveled 10 years back in time, to middle school arcades and the county fair. In the arcade area of Sun World Ba Na Hills, you can ride bumper cars, soar in the swings, and play arcade games until you drop!
My personal favorite is the dragon sculpture with a disco ball in its mouth. You’re guaranteed not to find that anywhere else!
Not long after exploring the Golden Bridge, I wandered through the winding pathways of the park and ended up at a temple with a large Buddha statue. Along the way, there are dragon statues, gardens, and a gateway with a view of the mountains below. There are also stairs that lead down to a viewpoint of the mountain range in front of the Buddha.
For stunning views and some pristine photos, this is a wonderful place to stop!
I lucked out by visiting the park during its flower festival, which I didn’t even know about before! You name it — they had it. Tulips of every vibrant color, delicate roses, plum petaled beauties, and flowers whose names I’ve never heard of.
For a flower fanatic like me, this was a little slice of heaven in the middle of Vietnam.
How to Buy Tickets
Under normal circumstances, the easiest way to buy tickets to Sun World would be on their website. It’s easy and straightforward; there’s even a red “Buy Ticket” button on their homepage.
I read online that this is the way to go usually, since the line at the ticket counter gets loooong.
But, as I’ve mentioned in the rest of my Southeast Asia series, I was in Vietnam under opposite-of-normal circumstances.
So, I bought mine in person at the ticket counter. The staff member was so sweet, and I waited less than two minutes to get my ticket. You can pay with an international credit card, if you wish. If you’re visiting in a slower season or don’t anticipate a long line, buying your tickets in-person is also simple!
Group tour that includes tickets
This will cost the most, since group tours include a guide, bottled water, a buffet lunch, and roundtrip transport. I personally don’t see why you would need a guide to visit an amusement park, but that’s up to you! You can find a tour like this on Klook or GetYourGuide.
How to Visit Sun World Ba Na Hills from Hoi An
This is where the logistics turned to mush. Don’t worry — I have a recommendation for you, and here are all your options:
Taxi or Grab from Hoi An
If you want a more private experience, then just hail a Grab in the app from Hoi An. Locals are familiar with Sun World and know travelers will visit. This will be the most expensive option, though.
Local bus to Da Nang + Taxi or Grab to Sun World Ba Na Hills
The second DIY option is to take the local yellow bus from Hoi An to Da Nang, then hail your taxi or Grab there to save some money. I hesitate to do this, though, because the local bus may not be the most reliable or time-saving method.
Group tour from Hoi An
As I mentioned above, there is many a group tour bound for Sun World Ba Na Hills that starts in Hoi An. I didn’t choose one because I didn’t feel like I needed a guide to visit an amusement park, and I can rarely eat buffets. (Thanks, allergies!) But, if a tour sounds like your jam, you can find many in a vast price range.
Group transport from Hoi An and back
One of the most unique aspects of this day trip I took in Hoi An is just how customizable I could make it. As a more independent traveler, this is what I most enjoy about any adventure.
You can book a group tour, but just the transport part. You’ll only pay for the transit, which is a fraction of the cost and super affordable! In your confirmation email, you’ll receive the address in Hoi An where you should meet the group, what time to be there, and that’s all you have to worry about.
Once you’re at the park, you’ll part ways with the group and explore the place on your own. Just make sure you confirm with the guide what time you need to meet them to go back to Hoi An.
What I Recommend:
Group roundtrip transport from Hoi An, then DIY the rest.
My greatest concern with booking the transport-only portion of a group tour was being on their schedule. Sure, I would get to see the park solo, without paying for a buffet lunch I couldn’t eat and all the extras I didn’t want. But, I didn’t know if I would feel rushed by their time frame.
Thankfully, this was no problem at all! I had plenty of time to explore the park, play around in the arcade, and relax. For the price, flexibility, and foregone headache of arranging transportation, book your transport with a group tour and go it alone for the rest of the day.
You are welcome to bring your own food, but the ticket worker told me I couldn’t take it inside the park. Eat it in the seating area before entry. I will note, however, that no one asked me if I had food or checked my bag when I walked in. In theory, I could have gotten in with my banh mi and eaten it inside, but it was fine to eat it outside.
• • •
This was my last day in Southeast Asia before heading home early due to the coronavirus. And as I walked through winding pathways, admired gardens, and stood on a bridge I’d only seen in photos, I had no idea this was the end (for now).
I’d already visited Thailand, Cambodia, and south Vietnam. I wanted to travel northbound towards Hanoi, then take a flight to Laos, cross the border into northern Thailand and finish the loop back where it started: bustling Bangkok.
The best any of us can do in 2020 is mourn what we missed, get inspired for the future, and feel grateful in those moments after months of going without. I know it feels so far right now — but we’ve all come farther than we think.
From my quarantine spot to yours, I hope your days are as bright as you are. We could all use a little pick-me-up!