Continuing our central Vietnam journey, here are the other places we visited before heading north.
Ba Na Hills
6:15 AM pick up by our driver that Thuy had been in contact with. He was the one who picked her up from the airport. She got good vibes from him so she got his number in case we wanted a private driver. He was also the one who helped us figure out what to do yesterday.
Between both locals and travelers, he said we were his happiest customers in the past six years. Most people are not usually so cheerful. They have a saying among business owners, “if the first customer is happy, the rest of the day will be happy.” 😁
We asked him where we could get banh mi for breakfast. He took us to a roasted pork banh mi cart on the side of the road. It was goooood! The bread was so crispy! It even came with a toothpick!
We arrived at the cable carts to Ba Na Hills around 7:30 AM. A little after they opened so there were barely anyone else around. We got our own cable car! We tried to wave at people coming the other directions but they all looked like they were employees just making their rounds. #nowavebacks 🙋♀️ We did get one lady who was very enthusiastic when she waved back. Totally made our day! Happiness spreads. 😊
The cable car ride took about 20 minutes. Very peaceful ride up to the top with the view and temple music they were playing.
We thought we would be there early for the Golden Bridge, hand bridge, but that doesn’t open until 10 AM so we wandered around the park.
We were at the foot of one of the Buddha statues when Thuy noticed a sad beetle on it’s back. She was looking for something to help flip it over when a tour group came towards us. A little girl from the group tried to step on it!! Thuy and I both screamed! 😱 Not out of fear of the beetle but fear of her killing it. The group laughed. A little boy came over next to try to step on it. This time Thuy and I both calmly told him not to step on it. After the tour left, Thuy used the park brochure to help flip it over. Could not stop laughing at what just happened as we were walking away. 😂
My favorite part of the park was Thuong Lac Nga Tinh. It is this temple with an unbelievable view looking out into the hills. The flags gently waving in the breeze and the calm temple music that was playing made it that much more peaceful. There were also dogs wandering around minding their own business.
As we were still wandering, I saw carts coasting down the side of one of the hills across from us. 🎢 I wanted to go on! It was the Alpine coaster. So much fun! Try to wait a couple of seconds before going after the person ahead of you go. The girl in front of us kept breaking so we had to slow down often.
Made our way back to the main cable cars around 12:30 PM to check out the Golden Bridge. It was jam packed! So uncomfortable. Couldn't even walk properly. Didn’t even bother going across the whole bridge. Tip: Get to the Golden Bridge at 10 AM sharp if you want to avoid the crowd!
Ba Na Hills park will take at minimum two hours to explore. Even if you are just continually wandering and not waiting in line for anything. Give it at least a half day so you're not rushing. You're bound to find somewhere you really like.
My Son Sanctuary
About a 45 minutes car ride from Ba Na Hills.
It was around 1 PM by the time we got to My Son. Crazy hot out. The sanctuary was much smaller and much emptier than we both expected. Probably because people knew to avoid the afternoon sun. 🥵 It was 150,000 VND per person - you get a cool ticket with your picture on it. Was it worth the visit? If it is along the way somewhere, yes. Otherwise, I would not go out of my way to visit.
Our driver misheard something Thuy said about My Son and thought she asked if he had visited the U.S. He said he couldn’t afford it. 😔 This quickly reminded me how fortunate Thuy and I are to have been born and raised in the U.S. Everything in Vietnam was so cheap to us. Especially the food. Even after looking for one of the cheaper flights from the U.S., I would consider the flight expensive so I could only imagine what it feels like for them looking at flight prices that are $1115 USD. Not just that but this was a reminder of how lucky we are to have been born in a time where we are technologically able to travel more efficiently. 🙏
Thap Xa Loi and Chua Linh Ung
Thap Xa Loi and Chua Linh Ung are walking distance of each other. Didn’t stay too long at either because we wanted to get to Marble Mountain before it got dark. It is worth a quick visit if you’re in the area.
Asked a random taxi driver at Chua Linh Ung how much it was to get us to Marble Mountain. He gave us a reasonable price so we hopped in the taxi. Got dropped off at one of the two Marble Mountain entrances. Paid 15,000 VND per person to get in.
We went to find the Huyen Khong Cave which reminded me that I don’t like dark caves. I was about to quit at the entrance of a cave when Thuy forced me in. I’m glad she did! I thought it was going to be a deep cave but the temple part came quickly.
We were talking to a guide that was showing other people around when he told us about the lookout at the highest point of Marble Mountain with 300 steps to get to the top. We thought we were following his directions but we came to a dead end. Four other people came and had the same dilemma as us. We went back out and found another path. The view at the top was nice. It didn't feel like 300 steps so it was worth it.
We made our way back down Marble Mountain and was trying to get to the other gate to meet our driver but it was closed. The guards at the gate we entered at were also gone. They leave after a certain time but they don’t close anything so you could come for a free visit at this time if you wanted.
Between these places and Hoi An, that made up our trip in Central Vietnam. Up next: ear infections, Pokemon cards and typhoon warnings aka Hanoi, Sa Pa, Ha Long Bay 🐌🏞🚢