High up in the Ba Na Hills in Vietnam, a bridge is causing quite a stir!
The newly opened Golden Bridge seems to float above the clouds suspended by a pair of giant stone hands that reach out from the leafy hillside. Stretching for 150 metres, the golden pedestrian bridge is lined with purple chrysanthemums. This unique walkway in the sky has been designed to make visitors feel as if they are on a shimmering strip of gold held up by the hands of God.
But this is not all that is strange on the misty mountain top!
This novel piece of architecture is part of a magical French-themed kingdom containing a fantastical funpark, surreal sculptures, ornate gardens and labyrinths.
In the early 20th century, this was a thriving French hill station and mountaintop retreat. Sadly it fell into ruin after the revolution against colonial rule in 1945. Only a few crumbling remnants of the original villas remain.
Now, instead of a sedan chair, a cable car whisks you to the top in about 20 minutes. And this is not just any cable car. The Ba Na cable car system is the proud holder of two Guinness World Records. It is the world’s longest single cable car system (5801 metres) and has the world’s highest gap between its departure and arrival station (1,292 metres). The spectacular journey takes you through the mist, over ancient rainforests, waterfalls and rolling hills.
In the old French Village, new buildings have been made to look old. And if you don’t look too closely at the concrete exteriors, it’s easy to forget you’re in Vietnam. Especially as the temperature is usually a few degrees lower. In the town square sits a grand fountain and an imposing replica of the Notre Dame Cathedral complete with stained glass windows and wooden pews. Venture off down the cobblestone streets and you’ll come across medieval style houses adorned with towers and turrets. Mardi Gras dancers, living statues and magicians entertain you at every turn.
Underneath the French village, a cavernous concrete amusement complex contains the Dinosaur Park, a 29-metre-high Free Fall Tower, and numerous video games to keep children entertained for hours. Outside, thrill seekers can get an adrenaline rush on the Alpine Coaster, a downhill luge. Then there’s the slightly creepy Wax Statue Museum. It’s not quite Madam Tussauds – but still a fun experience.
When you start to forget you’re in Asia, glance up at the colossal, 27-metre-tall white seated Buddha. Or visit some of the spiritual landmarks such as the zen-like Tombstone Temple, Linh Ung Pagoda, and the Linh Chua Linh Tu Temple, said be the embodiment of ying and yang.
If the foggy and fairy-like atmosphere all becomes a little too much, find solace among the oak-wood wine tanks in the underground Wine Cellar. It was dug deep in the Ba Na Mountain in 1923 and is one of the only remaining landmarks from the old days.