Exploring BaNa Hills, Vietnam’s French Medieval Fantasy Town

Exploring BaNa Hills is one of the most visually exciting and confusing parts of traveling through Vietnam.

I went exploring BaNa Hills from Hoi An. I hadn’t heard about it before. But while I was in Hoi An, a few backpackers told me about this lovely French medieval-esque mountain town that I simply had to explore.

Read: Top 7 Things to do in Hoi An

I googled some of the pictures and they looked simply stunning. It did fit the description. It truly was a little French town in Vietnam. The architecture, the music, the performances, so very European.

However, what really confused me was just how white it was. All the waiters in the restaurants, the people working on the rides, and the performers… all white. I mean, I get it, it’s designed in a European theme. But sheesh, did they also have a White Only policy?

Anyway, regardless of that, I really enjoyed exploring BaNa Hills for a day.

In this article, I’ll give you a detailed overview of this little French fantasia. If you want to read about my musings on the sheer whiteness of it all, you can skip to the last part — BaNa So White.

ba na hills vietnam
The Ba Na Hills French Village skyline.

How to get to BaNa Hills

Taking a Tour

The easiest way of exploring BaNa Hills is via a Private BaNa Hills Full Day Tour. It will cost you $75 (Approx. ₹4,806).

However, that will include the cost of transportation, the cable cars, and a lavish buffet in the best restaurant.

The only problem is that you’ll be on a clock the whole time. As such, you’ll have to explore everything quick so that you can get back to the rendezvous spot in time.

ba na hills vietnam
Taking the cable cars to the French Village.

Going Solo

You can also go exploring BaNa Hills on your own as well. But it will cost you almost the same as the group tour.

You’ll have to first get to the city of DaNang. From there, you can get a roundtrip taxi which will cost you approximately ₫ 600,000 ($26 | ₹1,700).

The entrance fee, including the cable cars, is ₫ 650,000 (Approx. $28 | ₹1,850).

If you decide to enter the Wax Museum while you’re there, that will cost you extra. The Wax Museum price is ₫ 100,000 (Approx. $4.50 | ₹300).

As for the food, if you get the same buffet as the one offered in the tour, you’ll have to pay ₫ 200,000 (Approx. $9 | ₹600).

ba na hills vietnam
The skyline as seen from the cable cars.

What (and Where) to Eat in BaNa Hills

There are plenty of food stalls all around BaNa Hills. They offer everything from waffles, hot dogs, and Bahn Mi, to lavish buffet spreads.

I recommend eating at Arapang Restaurant. They serve a lavish buffet that never ends and includes everything you could possibly ask for. The cost of the buffet is ₫ 200,000 (Approx. $9 | ₹600).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What to See and Do in BaNa Hills

The Botanical Gardens

The first stop from the cable cars will be the botanical gardens. This is an incredibly stunning location, full of a colorful range of exotic flowers and orchids. You can also wander around the buildings in the area to check out some of the Buddha statues, wine cellars, etc.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The French Village

After the Botanical Gardens, the French Village is the next stopover. It’s pretty crowded all the time. Over 10,000 tourist set out exploring BaNa Hills every day, and all at about the same time.

All of the buildings here are designed in a French colonial style. However, what you realize soon is that BaNa Hills is less a town and more of a theme park. They have festival-like street vendors and food stalls all around the premises all year round. They have live music playing all the time. And there’s a horde of tourists everywhere.

The French Village isn’t very large. You can pretty much explore all of it in 30 minutes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Fantasy Park

While exploring BaNa Hills, one of the central attractions to check out is the Fantasy Park.

It’s kind of like an amusement park that goes three floors down. There are gaming arcades and massage parlors on the lower floors. There’s a roller coaster next to the building, and there’s also a wax museum you can check out.

Again, one of the most stunning aspects of the Fantasy Park is the architecture. It’s designed in an elliptic TimBurton-esque style that’s really cool.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Best Time to Visit BaNa Hills

The best time for exploring BaNa Hills is probably during the “Bestival Festival.” It’s a beer-drinking festival that goes on from the 1st of August to the 3rd of September.

Other than the beer drinking, the festival also sees a lot of street performances, held every 30 minutes. I got to witness one which started off as a Star Wars inspired skit, followed by a pop medley.

bestival festival at ba na hills vietnam
“Bestival” time.

However, since this is a festival during peak Summer, it’s also the busiest time.

If you would rather explore BaNa Hills in (relative) solitude, and don’t care for the festivities, go during the winters.

Where to Stay in BaNa Hills

If you want to explore BaNa Hills in solitude and quiet, you’d have to stay overnight. Most people here come with the tours, which finishes at around 5 or 6 in the evening.

So the ideal means of exploring BaNa Hills is to stay here overnight. Unfortunately, BaNa Hills doesn’t have any hostels or cheap hotels. As such, you’ll have to choose between one of several expensive luxury hotels.

The best luxury hotel in BaNa Hills is Mercure Danang French Village. It’s centrally located, has some great views of the town, and is designed in a manner that goes along with the French medieval vibe of the whole town. They also have a fitness center and barbecue facilities.

You can check out the latest rates at the Mercure Danang French Village Agoda page.

BaNa So White

Now… as I mentioned earlier, while exploring BaNa Hills, I was really confused about the Vietnam-erasure. It didn’t seem like a place that belonged to Vietnam, or even to Asia.

The French-styled architecture made sense because Vietnam used to be colonized by the French. As such, you can see French influences in every facet of life in Vietnam, be it the food or the architecture.

However, while exploring BaNa Hills, I was hard-pressed to find a single brown face in a position of service. It was all white folks. From the wait staff at the restaurants to the street performers.

Upon speaking to some of the folks there, I found out that most of them were fellow travelers and backpackers. Some of them wandered into BaNa Hills while traveling and simply decided to find a job for themselves for a little while.

And furthermore, BaNa Hills is a tourist attraction more than an actual town. A tourist attraction based on the USP that it’s a little Europe tucked away in the heart of Vietnam. That’s what draws all of its local and international tourism.

So I suppose that explains why BaNa is so white! I don’t wanna’ jump to any conclusions about how they keep it so white, but imma leave it up for interpretation.

bana hills vietnam
The performers.

La Fin!

Well, so that’s all about exploring BaNa Hills, Vietnam’s French Colonial Town! I hope you enjoy checking it out. And I hope this article helped you figure out how to get there and what to do.

If you have some other recommendations about exploring BaNa Hills, please mention it down in the comments!

If you want to find out anything else about Vietnam, you can read my Comprehensive Vietnam Travel Guide for First Timers as well. In it, I tell you about all the other amazing things you can do in this beautiful country!

exploring bana hills vietnam rohan tandon

2 COMMENTS

  1. Bekal George | 26th Dec 17

    BaNa Hills looks astonishing . Botanical gardens, rope way and the French village, cultural performance, etc, makes this worth visiting. Bestival Festival or beer-drinking festival seems unique to this place. thank you for sharing such a wonderful article.

    • Rohan | 26th Dec 17

      Hey, thanks for reading! I’m glad you liked it. BaNa really is stunning!

Leave A Comment