From the moment it was first unveiled in 2018, Golden Bridge in Central Vietnam became a global phenomenon and internet sensation and, five years on, this singular landmark continues to draw visitors from far and wide to the city of Danang.
When people first see Golden Bridge, they are always amazed. There is an otherworldly magnificence to the sky-high walkway, which looks like something that might have been dreamed up for a fantasy film. Adding to the mystique, the giant, God-like hands that appear out of the mountainside to cup the bridge are weathered, as if they were constructed by an ancient civilisation yet Golden Bridge is just five years old.
The magical beauty of the Golden Bridge in the sunrise. Credit: Tran Tuan Viet
Opening to the public in 2018, the bridge instantly took the internet by storm. The world’s press was equally awestruck at the time and, five years later, many prestigious publications continue to laud this ingenious structure: “Gazing upon the iconic Golden Bridge, cupped by two massive weathered hands you realize that Danang’s transformational story from a nondescript tropical beach retreat to a vibrant tourist magnet is the stuff of legends,” wrote Travel+Leisure in an article published at the end of July 2023.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the bridge has put Danang on the map for hundreds of millions of tourists across Asia and beyond. Indeed, Danang is now synonymous with Golden Bridge (called ‘Cau Vang’ in Vietnamese), and is one of the best known symbols in Vietnam, along with Ha Long Bay. Some might even go as far as saying it’s one of the world’s most iconic man made wonders.
REACH NEW HEIGHTS
Suspended almost 1,400 meters above sea level, the bridge combines eight sections and stretches for over 150 meters in the Truong Son mountains, which overlook the East Sea and the coastal city of Danang. The bridge was first created to construct a ‘pathway’ that connected the Marseille Station to the Garden of Eden and the Le Jardin D’Amour (The Garden of Love) at Sun World Ba Na Hills. Set against the lush greenery of nature, and often shrouded in a misty air, when you look at the bridge from a distance it’s as if two giant hands are pulling a golden thread from the mountainside.
The first visitors to Golden Bridge in 2018 were stunned to discover such a marvelous architectural creation in Central Vietnam. Jason Goh, a Malaysian travel blogger, skyrocketed to fame overnight after sharing a photo of the bridge on Instagram. The image swept across the internet with thousands of fan-pages and travel websites reposting it. Even after five years, this photo remains widely shared among travel enthusiasts. Jason, now boasting over 80,000 followers, has still pinned the image he snapped at the top of his profile, as an unforgettable milestone in his life.
Sun World Ba Na Hills has welcomed visitors from 54 countries and territories around the world
Even after five years, the bridge has remained a cultural phenomenon. A Google search of the keywords “Golden Bridge Ba Na Hills” produces nearly 90 million results in just 0.7 seconds and the Vietnamese key words “Cầu Vàng” draw 152 million results in only 0.63 seconds. There are over 419,000 videos showcasing the Golden Bridge across numerous news reports, websites, forums and social media networks worldwide, including many of the world’s leading news agencies such as AFP, Reuters, BBC, CNN, Time, and The Guardian.
The Guardian, one of the UK’s most popular newspapers, voted the Golden Bridge as one of the World’s 10 Most Striking Pedestrian Bridges. The Huffington Post in the US described it as the ‘coolest bridge ever’, while the Independent in the UK hailed it as one of the Top 10 Most Incredible Bridges in the World. Additionally, the Daily Mail in the UK listed the Golden Bridge as one of the New Wonders of the World in March, 2021.
Two renowned online magazines, Bored Panda and Unilad, both likened the bridge to a real-life setting from the blockbuster movie “The Lord of the Rings.” In 2022, this cinematic charm was translated into reality. Global audiences watching the Netflix series “The Sandman” were thrilled to discover a scene that perfectly captured the intricate details of Golden Bridge. Ian Markiewicz, the head of visual supervision for the film, officially confirmed Golden Bridge inspired the design of the bridge featured in the movie. He also shared his personal admiration for the bridge’s hyper-realistic material and how it was portrayed on a grand scale, blending elements of the natural world with human creativity. Within Vietnam, many netizens have continually expressed great pride about the bridge, which was entirely designed and developed by Vietnamese people, and captured the world’s imagination.
ELEVATING VIETNAM AS A DESTINATION
Since opening in 2018, Golden Bridge has exceeded its role as a celestial pathway in a mountainous realm. The bridge is now one of Vietnam’s most recognizable landmarks and a global icon that has elevated Danang as a ‘must-visit’ destination.
A representative from Sun World Ba Na Hills revealed that Sun World Ba Na Hills has welcomed visitors from 54 countries and territories around the world. Within three months of the bridge opening, Danang welcomed four new international flight routes. In the 2018-2019 period, as reported by several local travel agencies, for every three international tourists who booked tours, two expressed a specific interest in visiting Golden Bridge at Ba Na Hills. Notably, the number of international flights to Danang surged in 2018 and 2019. Additionally, the volume of international visitors to Danang in 2019 also surged by 22.5% compared to the same period in 2018, reaching a total of over 3.522 million arrivals.
Sun World Ba Na Hills above the clouds. Credit: Nguyen Van Minh
In 2016 and 2017, prior to the launch of the Golden Bridge, Sun World Ba Na Hills welcomed over 2 million visitors. However, this number soared to nearly 4 million in 2018, showcasing an impressive growth rate of 31%. In 2019, the growth rate stabilized at 22%, with approximately 5 million visitors. These figures clearly demonstrate the powerful appeal of the bridge.
Of all the international travelers flocking to Danang, South Korean visitors have been leading the way, accounting for more than 30% of the total international arrivals at Ba Na Hills in 2018 and 2019. Following closely were tourists from Thailand, China, Taiwan and India. European tourists have also been visiting in growing numbers. Adrian Scholer, an Italian tourist, visited the Golden Bridge with his girlfriend in August 2018 and shared his thoughts: “Even though my country has many magnificent architectural structures, Golden Bridge managed to arouse unique and strong emotions within me. When I first saw its images on YouTube, I was absolutely astonished, as I believed such a breathtaking landmark could only exist in fantasy movies. Yet, here we are, faced with this very real and truly spectacular scenery!”
Cho Il-sang, a South Korean traveler, revealed that Sun World Ba Na Hills has become a renowned Instagram spot in his homeland. He remarked, “The Golden Bridge is immensely impressive. Visiting Vietnam, we absolutely couldn’t pass up the opportunity to witness this remarkable feat of architecture.”
After five years, Golden Bridge has remained a cultural phenomenon.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, the allure of Golden Bridge has been instrumental in helping tourism in Danang and Vietnam bounce back. In July 2023, Luxebook magazine from India acclaimed the bridge as one of the world’s most iconic bridges, sharing the spotlight with well-known bridges in the United States, France and Australia. The bridges featured on this list are all recognised for their architectural genius and intricate design. They are also hailed as national symbols within their country and lauded around the world over by tourists and travel writers. Indeed, they also inspire people to book tickets and visit the destination. Indeed, Golden Bridge was showcased in a two-page travel feature in a special edition of Australia’s Escape magazine published in July.
Now in its sixth year, Golden Bridge has been a huge draw for Danang as the coastal city seeks to recover from the pandemic period. In total, during the first half of 2023, the overall number of visitors to Danang is estimated to have exceeded 3.5 million, representing a significant surge of 116.6% compared to the same period in 2022. There were 930,000 international visitors, an impressive 11.3-fold increase year on year. Undoubtedly many will have been inspired to visit because they have seen Golden Bridge online and wish to experience the thrill of walking across a pathway that looks like it is being held aloft by the hands of a god.