Da Nang, Vietnam ~ Sun World, Ba Na Hills
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
Some of these links are affiliate links, which mean at no additional cost to you, if you purchase anything from them I earn a commission.
If you haven't read about our first day in the Da Nang area and the wonderful cultural experiences we had, please check it out here!
The second day of touring we visited the Linh Ung Pagoda, the beach road, Marble Mountains, and Ba Na Hills - Sun World. But first, Hieu (our tour guide) shared one of his favorite eccentric local coffee houses to start the day with some Vietnamese Egg Coffee. My husband loves his coffee and he and Hieu really connected over that. He told us stories about growing up in a coffee village in the mountains and how much his culture and generation love their coffee. That's why most of the coffee shops have very uncomfortable, small chairs that are more like stools to sit on. That way people won't stay too long because their backs will start to hurt sitting on those chairs!
After our coffee, we went up to #LinhUngPagoda which has the tallest Lady Buddah statue in Vietnam. It stands 67m tall and the grounds were quite beautiful. My husband and the tour guide had to carry the stroller down quite a few steps but we managed to get there and see it. There was a beautiful view of Da Nang and the bay as well from this lookout, and even wild monkeys. But to be honest, it was very hot and really bright so we took our pictures and carried on.
From there we drove south along the beach enjoying the views of white sand and resorts until we came to the village of sculptors at the foot of the Marble Mountains. Now the #MarbleMountain is beautiful and full of historical significance but not for the faint of heart. There is an elevator up 60m to the first cave in the mountain but it’s all hiking from there. Originally the villagers harvested their marble from the mountains though they import it now in order to preserve the mountain. As the caves were developed local monks built a series of pagodas and shrines into the caves. Some of the structures are hundreds of years old and both beautiful and ornate. Unfortunately, the monks intentionally made all the steps uneven as you climb between caves because it’s supposed make you work harder, focus more, and appreciate the journey. Yet, with toddlers in the carriers, and ensuring the older 2 kids didn't fall, my husband and I were sweating and winded by the time we made it to the largest cave in the middle of the mountain. If you’re up for the hiking challenge it’s worth it. However there are plenty of other caves and pagodas to see without making the trek to the largest cave. There are many little shops in the area if you desire to purchase some hand carved statues.
We stopped for lunch at a family restaurant where we tried way too much local food and again our kids ate only rice. We were running low on baby food for our infant, so the tour guide was kind enough to swing us by a supermarket so I could pick up more baby food before driving out to Ba Na Hills. A side note about baby food - as much as you don't want to fill your suitcase with baby food, it is the best option when traveling in Asia. Even in Thailand there are only a handful of pre-made packaged baby purees, so I brought what I thought would be enough. However, I realized I would need more and in the supermarket I went to in Da Nang there were even fewer options (think like 8 different foods to choose from). I do however always travel with baby refillable food pouches and silicone mouth pieces. Because chances are you will at least find plain yogurt or applesauce at hotel breakfasts, and I use them daily at home as well. If you're traveling in Europe or America, you could easily just pick up baby food on the go when you need it, but in this part of the world it is best to pack what you need. At home I always make baby purees, but that doesn't exactly travel well!
Now, #BaNaHills is situated in the Trường Sơn Mountains west of Da Nang. It was originally founded in 1919 by French colonists and was more recently developed into the hotel resort and amusement park that is currently at the top. It’s beautiful and made to look like Renaissance France but it’s all less than 10 years old. To get to the top you ride one of the longest cable cars in world. The system is 16,500 feet (over 5 km) and sets the world record for the longest non-stop cable car. It is a magical ride over bamboo forests as you rise up through the clouds into the cool mountain air. There are several sets of cable cars once you're at the first station, and we appreciated having a guide who knew where to take us to get to the #Goldenbridge .
We were blessed with a fairly clear day and thanks to Covid-19 there weren’t that many tourist so we had the famous Golden Bridge almost all to ourselves.
From there we went to the amusement park (called Fantasy Park) and had some fun but we were quite limited in what we could do since most of the rides have height requirements so only our oldest could actually ride any of them. Even our toddler was prevented from going into the more fun indoor playground. For school age kids though, it really could be a good day of fun on rides, shows, and arcade games as there are 3 floors of activities.
As you walk out of the Fantasy park you find yourself stepping into a French village. The replica buildings, cobblestone paths, churches and restaurants were truly something to behold. There are also a few hotels should you chose to book a night up there. It is much larger than you'd imagine, and more to see than you'd expect, including beautiful gardens full of flowers. We watched the sunset from the top and then took the long cable-car ride back down and tried to hold it all together as our children faded as quickly as the light did.
We were all exhausted and were so glad that our final day in Da Nang was so low key. We had no tours, no activities planned, just relaxing at the Novotel Hotel, naps for the younger 2, and an evening stroll on the beach.