Sun World theme parks and man-made marvels energise Vietnamese tourism

May 08, 2019 | 09:27
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A new wave of Sun World theme parks, cable car rides, and architectural masterpieces have given a new lease on life to many of Vietnam’s leading holiday destinations, which had previously offered little by way of entertainment.

Racing to catch up

While many countries around the world have long been home to cutting-edge theme parks with exhilarating rides and state-of-the-art attractions, Vietnam had lacked such amusement parks for many years.

As an emerging tourism destination, Vietnam leveraged its natural beauty – pristine beaches, majestic mountains, and awe-inspiring landscapes – to attract international visitors. But the country sorely lacked world-class entertainment facilities that would both entice tourists to stay for longer and attract many more to follow.

With a growing middle class, Vietnamese people are also travelling more than ever before in the last 10 years. The country has also been lacking world-class attractions to appeal to domestic tourists, who as a result have been increasingly flying overseas – something that is easier than ever before thanks to budget airlines and visa-exemptions across the ASEAN.

According to the Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA), in 2016 approximately 6.5 million Vietnamese people travelled abroad, spending approximately $8 billion, doubling 2012’s $3.5 billion. One of the reasons for travelling abroad is to seek out new experiences, so it is inevitable that up until quite recently Vietnamese people continued to fly overseas in search of entertainment and amusement parks, such as Disneyland or Universal Studio.

sun world theme parks and man made marvels energise vietnamese tourism
Sun World Ba Na Hills' Golden Bridge is a new icon for Vietnam

A new era begins

So what has changed in Vietnam? Aware that Vietnam was losing out as both domestic and international tourists would seek world-class entertainment elsewhere, Sun Group – the country’s premier developer of luxury tourism and entertainment projects – launched a subsidiary under the Sun World brand. The concept was simple in its own way: to develop complexes that feature world-class attractions and exhilarating rides that would entertain both Vietnamese and international tourists when visiting some of the country’s leading holiday destinations.

With the arrival of Sun World complexes – there are currently five in total – now Vietnamese holiday-goers can enjoy a “Disneyland experience” in their home country, and so much more while international tourists will also find much on offer in some of the country’s leading destinations.

The first Sun World Complex to be unveiled to the world was in Ba Na, high up in the hills that overlook Danang city and the coastline in Central Vietnam. Inaugurated in 2009, Sun World Complex transformed a sleepy mountain town into a hugely popular tourist destination. The cable car ride from the foot of Ba Na to the top is an attraction in itself, offering awe-inspiring views of the lush jungle and mountains all around.

Sun World Ba Na Hills boasts stunning scenery, amazing restaurants, and also hosts cultural festivals throughout the year to keep all visitors entertained. It is also home to the Golden Bridge, a stunning architectural creation that has been hailed as the new icon of Vietnam.

sun world theme parks and man made marvels energise vietnamese tourism
Sun World Danang Wonders offers world-class theme park entertainment

Closer to sea-level, Sun World Danang Wonders is located on the western bank of the Han River. Considered a "green oasis" in the heart of the city, the complex boasts some wonderful architecture and offers visitors a range of exciting cultural activities, unlimited indoor games and attractions – everything a family needs for a fun-filled day out in the city centre.

When Sun World Danang Wonders first opened in 2014, it was a huge moment for Danang, which for many years had little to offer the many tourists who flocked to the nearby beaches, where they stayed in resorts, rarely visiting the city. Thanks to Sun World Danang Wonders and Sun World Ba Na Hills, Danang is now enticing more tourists than ever before, which has infused the city with a much more vibrant energy.

sun world theme parks and man made marvels energise vietnamese tourism
Sun World Fansipan Legend at the Roof of Indochina

The great heights of Vietnam

Further north, Sapa had always been known for its mountains, forests, and terraced fields. It was mainly a destination for young and adventurous travellers who would trek through the hills, in particular, to conquer Fansipan, the “Roof of Indochina,” which stands at over 3,100 metres. That was a trek far beyond most people until 2016, when Sun Group unveiled the Fansipan cable car system, which departs from a station right in Sun World Fansipan Legend.

Now, every day many thousands of visitors travel to Sapa where they can discover more about the rich culture and landscapes of the northwest at Sun World Fansipan Legend. Tourists can also take a ride through the nearby valleys on the Muong Hoa funicular before taking a trip on the world’s longest three-cable car to the peak of Fansipan, where Sun Group have also developed a complex of spiritual buildings, shrines, and monuments.

These attractions alone have transformed Sapa – and not just visually. In 2018, Sapa received 2.4 million visitors, an increase of nearly 60 per cent compared to the same period in 2016, when Sun World Fansipan Legend opened. Industry analysts have forecast that Sapa will serve nearly 4 million visitors by 2020 and 8 million by 2030.

sun world theme parks and man made marvels energise vietnamese tourism
Sun World Halong Complex transformed Halong city from a stop-over into a tourist destination in its own right

The descending dragon

Meanwhile, Halong city in the northeast of Vietnam had for too many years been described as “the beach city without beaches.” In years gone by, the city had also been criticised for allowing Bai Chay beach to be contaminated with garbage and wastewater. This was a hugely disappointing situation considering the city and beach stand on the threshold to the UNESCO-protected Halong Bay, one of the world’s natural wonders.

But now, Halong has also undergone a regeneration. Bai Chay is now rubbish-free and tourists can enjoy the sight of white sands and crystal clear water. By night, Bai Chay Bridge is illuminated with colourful LED lights that reflect off the waters of the bay. All around the city, there is a much more lively atmosphere. A huge part of this is down to Sun World Halong Complex, which features a range of exhilarating rides and water games, but more importantly has turned the city itself into a destination in its own right.

When Sun Premier Village Halong Bay Shophouse, an ideal place for entertainment, shopping, and relaxation, comes into operation, Halong will have even more to offer visitors, further transforming the city, which was previously considered to be little more than a pit-stop where tourists climbed off a bus from Hanoi and boarded a boat to see Halong Bay.

sun world theme parks and man made marvels energise vietnamese tourism
The breath-taking cable car at Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park

A new side to paradise island

Last but not least, Phu Quoc has long been considered Vietnam’s leading beach destination. Seen as something of a rough diamond, located in the middle of the sea, the island has often been tipped as the next Bali or Phuket. But the island had for many years lacked diversity in terms of entertainment. However, that also changed overnight when Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park opened on the southern tip of the island.

A journey from the main island on the Hon Thom cable car – the world’s longest sea-crossing cable car system at over 7km – is a stunning experience as passengers ride over the waves and feast their eyes on the panoramic views.

When they arrive at Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park, visitors will discover a mesmerising world of beach games and water sports, before enjoying a delicious meal in a stunning location.

In developing the Sun World complexes, Sun Group has undoubtedly added much-need dynamism to some of Vietnam’s most popular destinations. Working with the world’s leading designers, architects, and contractors, Sun Group has strategically invested to create man-made marvels and fun-filled theme parks that have raised the bar for tourism and entertainment within Vietnam and caught the world’s attention.

By Tuan Khanh

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