Tuesday, 27th January 2015
The best bridges in Vietnam
On the face of it, bridges are a useful way of crossing a river or body of water, but over the years man has modified, refined and even decorated these structures into elaborate displays of engineering. Some of those found in Vietnam today are noteworthy due to their beauty, dangerous drops or stunning locations, making them worth visiting in their own right.
Dragon Bridge, Danang
One of the most instantly recognisable bridges in Vietnam is the Dragon Bridge, located in the coastal city of Danang. It is not difficult to see why this structure, which spans the Han River, got its name as designers Ammann and Whitney of the US incorporated a large dragon head and arcs representing the creature's body into the design. So not only does it provide the shortest road link between the city and the airport, it also offers some visual excitement.
Long Bien Bridge, Hanoi
Originally called the Paul Doumer Bridge after the French president at the time, the Long Bien Bridge represents an important part of Vietnam's colonial history. More than 3,000 Vietnamese people were involved in the construction of its cantilever design between 1899 and 1902. At a length of 1.5 miles, it was among the longest in Asia when it was completed.
The bridge was built in a strategic location to help the French firm up its power over Indochina and this position went on to make it a target during the Vietnam War. The central section was severed by 20 US bombers, but the ever-resilient Vietnamese population found other ways to cross the Red River, although it is still used as a connecting point between Hanoi and Haiphong to this day.
Monkey bridges, Mekong Delta
Cau khi is the Vietnamese name for the structures that visitors call monkey bridges. There are a number of these spanning the mighty Mekong at its delta in the south of Vietnam, which have been built by local residents. The majority consist of a single length of bamboo and a hand rail on one side, often made out of rope. There is a definite technique required to make it across the water using these bridges and it usually involves stooping, giving the body a resemblance to a primate, hence the structures' nickname.
Nhat Tan Bridge, Hanoi
The newest bridge in Vietnam was only inaugurated earlier this month, with a ceremony to mark the official opening of the Nat Tan Bridge. It is a cable-stayed structure, which makes up part of the six-lane highway between Hanoi and Noi Bai International Airport. At 3,080 metres in length and 110 metres high it is a significant addition to the landscape, but it can be argued that the bridge is best viewed at night - this is when a series of white, blue, orange and green bulbs light the whole structure up.
Related news stories:
What does the Laotian flag symbolise? (17th November 2015)
The history and importance of the Ho Chi Minh Trail (13th August 2014)
How Vietnam got its flag (3rd November 2015)
In focus: Vietnamese cuisine (24th September 2014)
A method to the madness of Saigon, or Ho chi Minh (11th May 2015)