What I did know from talking to the locals is it's located in the Ba Na Hills in Danang. I was told I should see Danang (and Hoi An) anyway so from Hue I decided to get a hotel for Saturday night in Danang. To get myself there I booked a "limo" from my hotel in Hue to Danang. Limo was really a van full of travelling young women but for $160K dong it wasn't bad as long as I closed my eyes and went to sleep as to not think about it too hard. From the outside, my limo looked fine but that inside was another story. I climbed over the young women in the van to take the last seat in the back corner, trying not to trip over poorly laid floor carpet. Glancing up I noticed the roof had been repaired with plexiglass to prevent water leakage. I would watch the water behind the plexiglass like a framed dynamic sand picture at a shopping mall kiosk. Mesmerized I hoped it would hold out until I got the heck out of there. Luckily it did. Next time I'll take a Grab.
The driver drove fast and the suspension on the van, I mean limo, was so shot I felt like I was in a bouncy house. I did manage to doze off and awoke to a dead stop, thinking I was there. Nope, I was in traffic in a tunnel with no exit in site. Great, this is how it ends... dumb group of women traveling in a van taking us into some shady dark tunnel. Just as I told myself my $40 USD a night hotel wouldn't have sold me out like that we started moving. Phew, close call! Again I close my eyes hoping the woman in the seat in front of me is wearing a mask while she is coughing non stop. Loud phlegmy coughs fade away as I drift off to sleep.
I was next jolted awake by the stop of the van and grind of it being put into park. We must be at the city center as I realized he has hastily pulled into the back of a shopping complex. He opens the back to get our luggage while giving me a stern stink eye as I haven't paid him yet. He passed out the baggage and I handed him my cash, thankful to have made it safe.
From city center Danang my next $40 USD a night hotel was .8 miles away so I made the walk through the busy city, maneuvering through sidewalks of people going about their business. Washing dishes, parking motorbikes, people eating, people drinking... so many people. At the hotel I was greeted by a very helpful front desk woman asking what brought me to Vietnam. After small talk about my work I cut to the chase about this bridge. "Oh, you want to see the bridge" she said as if I just turned on a switch making her understand my existence standing in front of her. I told her I was hearing so many different stories about where it is and I'm not great about direction anyway so I need help. She again looked confused and blurted out "how are you going to get there?" quizzing me again, solo female traveler with just my backpack that was so off putting a few minutes ago. I told her I haven't gotten that far yet.... I pulled out my phone and asked if what I thought it was is correct as I also heard rumors it was so new it isn't even on google yet.
She took a look and said "yes, that's it." Finally, an answer I thought... before I could say another word she went into a spiel I'm sure she recited thousands of times. Here's what I learned.
- The bridge is located inside a park called Sunworld, about 50 minutes from Danang. To get there I took a Grab (the Uber of Asia), it was about 303,000 VND from my hotel.
- Sunworld entrance tickets for foreigners is 700,000 VND. You can get tickets in advance or at the ticket office in the park. I got mine at arrival and all was fine but it is cash only (no credit cards). When looking at the main entrance in the center, it's over towards the left side.
- To get to the bridge you will take a 20 minute cable car ride. The ride holds 2 Guinness World Records. One for the length of the cable and another for the biggest difference in elevation from beginning to end. I'm terrified of heights but the view is beautiful. There are barf bags in the car if needed! I did ok but found the beginning of the ride to be the scariest as it's a bit of a jolt. I closed my eyes at that part and felt much better about it.
- The park is up in the hills which has fog roll in every morning. My hotel helper advised the best view is at 9am but she warned it is very crowded so don't go too late after 9. I am not a fan of crowds so I arrived a little after they opened at 7am and there was no line. I did see fog come and go during my visit (it was foggy when I arrived but cleared up when I left a little after 9). When I left after 9 the lines were very long; wall to wall people. Both coming and going I had a cable car to myself. On the way out most cars were empty and the bridge was full of couples getting wedding photos. On my way back most cars were full and the bridge was crowded with selfie taking people so many it was difficult to maneuver through the crowds.
- My final tip from the hotel was the warning "the pictures online look much better than the pictures you will get". I nodded understanding that I won't be seeing an empty bridge from a far away angle like I saw online. She continued "those photos are taken from up high when park was closed". I nodded and thanked her for all her advice.
When all said and done, I'm glad I took the journey to the bridge. The park is beautiful, with reproductions of many styles of architecture. I loved seeing the view from the top of the hills and the gardens in the park. The park got very crowded and was filled with so many people taking selfies or getting their photos taken in front of every display, every statue, every flower bed, every building. I'm a fast walker so was a little stressful navigating through people with their selfie sticks getting pics every few feet.
The bridge itself was created to draw more tourists in and it worked. The place was crazy busy! Before getting there I asked my local coworkers about it and all heard about it but haven't made the trip. They all are interested and want to go but just haven't made it yet. It was a haul to get there, took some planning for transportation but not terrible. There just wasn't a lot of mass transit routes there that I had found. The Grab was fine for me on the way out, but was difficult to get a Grab to get back to city of Danang.
My final thoughts; was it worth it? Yes, the hills and park and gardens make it a sight to see. The hands part of the bridge, upon closer inspection, is just painted concrete so close up it's not as impressive as those far away shots. I personally prefer history and natural beauty so a spray painted concrete hand was a little sad up close. The view and engineering of it was definitely impressive. The hills themselves and cable car ride make this a definite add to anyone's itinerary. Below are some photos of my journey.