Problems in Instagram culture: Golden Bridge, Da Nang, Vietnam

After a 40-minute ride on a bumpy, rented motorbike (a.k.a. scooter) we arrived at what we thought would be a mountain pass up to the Golden Bridge.

That wasn’t the case. Read the full post to hear why the Golden Bridge outside Da Nang, Vietnam didn’t meet my expectations.

Just in case you’re short on time, here’s everything you need to know to see the bridge:

  • Map your transportation to “Sun World Ba Na Hills“, an amusement park about 45-minutes outside of Da Nang (or 1 hour from Hoi An). Google Maps may tell you it will take 1.5-2 hours to get there, but that’s not accurate.
  • You can get there on a rented motorbike. It’s the cheapest option, but it isn’t the most comfortable since you will be traveling at relatively high speeds for at 45-minutes. The route is not hilly or mountainous like you might assume from the
  • Pay the 675,000 VND entrance fee. Check your currency’s exchange rate here. The bridge is within the Sun World Ba Na Hills amusement park, so there is no way around this. If you’re traveling on a budget, consider eating ahead of time and carrying a water bottle into the park to save money. Backpacks are allowed inside.
  • Ride to the bridge via cable car, included in your entrance fee. Staff can help you find the most direct route.
  • Get there early. The park opens at 7:00 a.m., so arrive there by then if you don’t want other tourists in the background of all your photos.

How to access the Golden Bridge

(and how not to do it)

I hadn’t done much research before arriving. I just plugged “Golden Bridge” into Google Maps and assumed things would work out.

After a 45-minute ride on a rented motorbike (Only $5 per day for a nicer one that could carry both my partner and I), we reached a massive parking lot where we could go no further. We felt confused and even a little tricked. We asked the workers around us how to get to the Golden Bridge and they pointed at a huge amusement park entrance.

We made our way to the ticket counter where we asked one more time if this was the only way we could access the Golden Bridge. She said yes. I thought about asking my partner Ethan if he wanted to leave, but we had already spent so much time driving there. I reluctantly got out my credit card.

Ticket cost for Sun World Ba Na Hills

We paid 675,000 VND (about $30 USD) each for entrance to Sun World. Check the current price here.

Losing $30 in the entrance fee is far from my worst foolish travel budget mistake, but I felt especially dumb for this. The whole time, I kicked myself for not doing my research.

View from the cable car system used to access the Golden Bridge. The bridge is located within Sun World Ba Na Hills, a Vietnamese theme park. You must pay admission to visit the bridge.
View from the cable car system used to access the Golden Bridge. The bridge is located within Sun World Ba Na Hills, a Vietnamese theme park. You must pay admission to visit the bridge.

Accessing Golden Bridge by cable car

Once you get into the park, you need to ride a cable car up to the bridge which is honestly a lot of fun. Sun World Ba Na Hills is known for its record-breaking cable car system, so you’ll arrive at bridge in no time if you show up early in the morning. We experienced no lines and we had the car to ourselves.

Avoiding crowds at Golden Bridge

Thankfully, a local guide told us to arrive very early so that the bridge would not be completely swamped with tourists. Unfortunately, I hadn’t learned it would be within an amusement park.

We arrived at the bridge at about 8:00 a.m. There were quite a few people then, but nothing compared to the crowds that would show up later. We were visiting in February between the low and high tourism seasons, so if you want to visit during high season, you should try to arrive even earlier.

The bridge really was phenomenal. It’s at least just as beautiful as it looks in the pictures. It was still covered in fog at that time, which honestly made it look better than if the skies had been clear.

Aggressive photographers at the Golden Bridge

The worst part about the experience, though, was that there were three different couples getting their wedding photos taken that morning. Ethan and I kept trying to take a few photos ourselves, but the photographers pushed us out of the way.

My expectations vs. reality shot at the Golden Bridge outside Da Nang, Vietnam. Read on to learn how I feel this location has been tarnished by its internet popularity.

I understand that wedding photos are way more important than selfies, but, in my opinion, everyone had paid for their entry ticket and should have the same access to the bridge.

Of course, it’s also my fault for not doing my research. I naively expected a publicly accessible bridge spanning some road in the middle of nowhere outside Da Nang. It’s not Sun World’s fault that my assumptions didn’t match reality.

Golden Bridge photo with people in background.
It’s not a perfect photo of the Golden Bridge, but it’s mine. Read how Instagram culture effects tourist locations like the famous bridge outside Da Nang, Vietnam.

Instagram culture lesson at Golden Bridge

I think that the moral of this story is not to go out chasing those perfect, Instagramable spots. Compared to the photos, they are relatively underwhelming. In this case, the bridge was really short and didn’t serve much of a functional purpose.

When it comes to Instagram culture, I think many users are aware of the issues. The truth is, the person in those idealized photographs probably had to wait and wait to get the perfect shot or, worse, had to push other people out of the way to make it happen.

Like I said, it’s not that the Golden Bridge isn’t beautiful. It’s absolutely gorgeous, especially when you arrive early and it’s still shrouded with fog. And it’s not Sun World’s fault either. I’m sure even Sun World did not expect the bridge to go as viral as it did.

Chasing “likes” over experiences

This is an issue with people and the way they portray travel destinations on social media. Those stunning photos with thousands of likes, more often than not, are extremely misleading. And, as travel bloggers, when we share them, it can lead others to visit those same destinations and feel disappointed.

In my case, I saw a gorgeous bridge, learned it could be found in Vietnam, and went 40-minutes out of my way to see it. If I had not been so influenced by others’ images, I could have spent an entire half-day exploring other sights in Da Nang or Hoi An (and there are so many I didn’t have the time to see during my 4-night stay).

Okay, so is the Golden Bridge outside Da Nang worth it?

If I could go back and relive that day, would I visit the Golden Bridge again? Honestly, my answer is no. I personally have no interest in amusement parks, so spending so much time and money to see one bridge didn’t feel meaningful to me. For those who actually would enjoy spending a full day at the amusement park after getting their bridge photo, I say go for it!

Lessons learned

I don’t blame anyone for our less-than-positive experience. After all, no one tricked us. We tricked ourselves. We pursued a look we wanted to achieve instead of a real place. I just don’t care for that kind of travel. If that’s your style, though, I can respect that. I believe that you can make memories while you’re making the perfect photo, I just prefer not to spend my time that way.

Help spread the truth so people can make informed travel decisions. Pin it:

If I could go back and relive that day, would I visit the Golden Bridge again? Here's the truth.
If I could go back and relive that day, would I visit the Golden Bridge again? Here's the truth.
View from the cable car system used to access the Golden Bridge. The bridge is located within Sun World Ba Na Hills, a Vietnamese theme park. You must pay admission to visit the bridge.

10 thoughts on “Problems in Instagram culture: Golden Bridge, Da Nang, Vietnam

  1. Such a refreshing read – loved your honesty! I got o Vietnam in April so admittedly, I am still intrigued to “see it for myself” I will definately take your tips onboard and I am also a fan of amusement parks so hope this makes it more worthwhile!

  2. Thank you for your honest review! One of my colleagues also had the same problem as you did. She arrived very early for the bridge but still was pushed away by an impolite wedding photoshoot crew. Her experience was totally ruined! What you have shared here is really useful to those who plan to visit the bridge.

  3. Thank you for your honesty! We’ve been to a few instafamous places as well, where there were crowds of tourists with cameras, not the best experience; but even worse is being pushed away by photographer, that was very rude of him. I’m so glad there are still less accessible places on this planet! By the way, I love Vietnam!

  4. OMG I had no idea this is part of an amusement park. I definitely thought it was a real bridge. I had a similar experience in Tulum, Mexico. I went because of Instagram and left thoroughly let down in a variety of ways.

  5. Honestly this is the reason why I hate Instagram! I would much rather see the real deal of a place- including all the tourists or crowds (and what it looks like with natural light), but that’s not what we see on Instagram, and that’s why I don’t use it for planning trips. I think it’s amazing as a place to share art, but not reality.

    I had a kind of similar experience at the Grand Canyon in Thailand (but the entry fee was lower :P). I thought I found a hidden place for swimming based on the pictures but it was mostly a crowded Instagram spot (I still would recommend this one though because it looks cool, just some pictures are really misleading)

  6. Yeah, I think I’m done with Instagram spots for a while for this exact reason. It’s crazy!

  7. Sometimes you need to simply remove Instagram from the equation and just enjoy the whole experience for what it is; most of the pictures on Instagram relating to Da Nang that you see are just the same old basic travel photos that everybody else has taken or full blown THOTtery/attention seeking anyway. Very few people ever seem to get interesting photos of anything around the area that is in any way different or unusual, making Instagram a total borefest at times.

Share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.