The Castle in the Sky in Ba Na Hills

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I have said it before and I will say it again…Vietnam is full of natural wonders and incredible displays of humanity’s presence. What I love so much about Vietnam is that it is the kind of place where the people are kind and the landscapes are beautiful. Finding places that encapsulate both ideals is not always an easy thing to do (especially on a budget).

It takes roughly an hour and thirty minutes to get from Da Nang to the hills. You can take a tour bus if you like, which may slow the trip down an additional half hour. We had a scooter for our time in Vietnam, so we just rode up to the hills ourselves. Scooter or vehicle parking is relatively cheap, and so is the entry price. Here’s the thing – it might cost a little more than you pay for most other experiences in Da Nang to do this, but it is entirely worth the money. Every cent of it.

The history behind this castle in the sky is quite interesting. During the French colonization, the Ba Na station was the vacation destination of choice for many of the French living in Da Nang at the time. When the French lost the Battle of Diem Bien Phu to the communist forces in 1954, the structures they had built at Ba Na were abandoned. The Vietnamese built them back again and now this stunning area is a hot tourist attraction near the Vietnamese coastline – especially since the construction of the Golden Bridge finished and social media made it an Insta-famous location a few months ago.

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Sadly we were there while the now-Insta-famous Golden Bridge was being built, so we saw it when it was going up but we left Vietnam to go to Thailand before it was finished (no big deal…just a good excuse to go back, right?). If you go to Ba Na Hills now, the social media travel staple is quite stunning to see, from what I saw of its construction when we were there and on social media once it was completed. It stands at 1,400 metres above sea level, and the views over the mountains of Vietnam are incredible.

The cable car system that takes you up to the park has stunning views, including a waterfall and views of the mountains from thousands of metres above sea level (when we went it was raining on the ground, so most of the pictures you see here are at the top, above cloud level, and we did not get to see much of the view on the way up ourselves, unfortunately). It also holds multiple Guinness World Records, including the longest cable car in the world (it stretches 5,801 metres, or 19,042 feet), and the highest cable car in the world (it elevates 1,368 metres, or 4,488 feet). The system was built to the European standards and as such is incredibly strong and good quality.

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You can even stay at the French villa resort on the peak of the mountain, and on a clear night you will be greeted by the twinkling lights of far-down Da Nang. The whole park features flower gardens, some ruins of the French colonisation era, the fantasy park (where all the rides and arcade games are), several great restaurants, a 27-metre-high Buddha statue, temples, and rides on the Funicular (a Swiss-style train that you can take to both the flower gardens and the Buddha statue).

Even though we went on a rainy day, once we burst through the clouds at the top of the mountain, that view was unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. And there is nothing more magical than wandering through temples literally at a castle in the sky and being above the clouds. With the rain bucketing down on Da Nang during our ride up, being literally above the weather on Earth was something else entirely.

As I mentioned, you can take a tour bus but if you are comfortable enough to ride a scooter, I honestly would recommend doing it that way. Not only is your day cheaper because you do not pay the fee to get there and back (we only paid the admission price and small scooter parking fee), but experiencing Southeast Asia from a scooter is the best way to see it all. I love being immersed in the experience the whole time. When you are in a car, you are kind of separated from it all, but being on a scooter puts you in amongst the fresh air. The best way to see Vietnam is from a scooter…without a doubt.

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