Study Buddy (Challenger): New cable cars in Vietnam are springing up across the country, but not everyone is on board

  • Study Buddy Challenger is for students who want to take their understanding to the next level with difficult vocabulary and questions that will test their inference skills
  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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A section of the longest three-cable car system in the world in southern Vietnam. Photo: Shutterstock

Content provided by British Council

Read the following text, and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] What is it with Vietnam and cable cars? They are springing up like welts across the country. The latest cables opened to take tourists from A to B are extensions of a system in Da Nang’s Truong Son mountain range. Visitors now can easily reach Cau Vang Bridge, also called Golden Bridge, to enjoy spectacular surrounding landscapes thanks to a newly inaugurated cable car system, reports the Vietnam+ website. “The cable car route, named ‘Hoi An-Marseille’, and another named ‘Bordeaux-Louvre’, to the mountain peak, were the new facilities unveiled at Sun World Ba Na Hills on March 18, when this site reopened to visitors after a hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

[2] The only post-Covid review of Sun World Ba Na Hills to be found on TripAdvisor at the time of writing, apparently by a visitor from Britain, is fairly scathing of the “fake” attraction, but does concede that, “If I am absolutely honest, the cable car journey to and from the ‘French’ village was very very good.”

[3] The new cables join many others in Vietnam, including one that hauls passengers up Fansipan, the highest mountain in the Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia area, another that connects Cat Hai island to Cat Ba island passing over the karst formations of Ha Long Bay, yet another that floats over tree-covered hills in Da Lat, and one that brings further amusement to a mountaintop amusement park overlooking the sea in Vung Tau.

[4] The rush to build these contraptions followed the success of the Vinpearl Cable Car, Vietnam’s first, which connects Hon Tre Island and its amusement park with Nha Trang, in the southeast of the country. Opened in 2007, the cable runs over seven pylons that were designed to look like the Eiffel Tower and light up in neon at night. In 2009, the Sun Group launched the Suoi Mo-Ba Na and Debay-Morin cable-car systems in Ba Na Hills. The blueprint was set, and now every resort development worth its salt has a cable car – with or without faux-European trimmings – worked into the plans.

[5] There is, of course, a price beyond the monetary to be paid for all this building, as explained in a recent piece from news website Southeast Asia Globe that was headlined “Vietnam’s cable car craze is driving environmental decline”. Author Govi Snell writes: “The rapid development showcases how giant conglomerates are carving out space on Vietnam’s coasts and mountains for resorts and tourism complexes that some argue negatively impact the environment and have little benefit for local communities.”

[6] “Cable cars are often key features of these projects and enable thousands of people daily to visit some of the country’s most environmentally tenuous locales. Land is often cleared for construction, and the high volume of tourists shuttled to now easily accessible destinations leads to waste build-up, putting pressure on the ecosystem,” Snell continues. As these big operations are operated by big players, little of the financial windfall ends up in local people’s pockets.

[7] Perhaps the last word on the matter should go to the understated Ken Atkinson, vice-chairman of Vietnam’s Tourism Advisory Board, who the Southeast Asia Globe quotes as saying that, when it comes to cable cars, “Nobody wants to be left behind,” but “there can be a tendency to overdo things.”

Source: South China Morning Post, May 11


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. To what destination does Vietnam’s newest cable car extension bring visitors according to paragraph 1?

2. Find a word or phrase in paragraph 2 that means “to admit that something is true after first denying it”.

3. What does the writer’s use of the word “yet” in paragraph 3 emphasise?
A. the need for a better cable car system
B. the abundance of cable cars in Vietnam
C. the vast area that Vietnam’s cable car route covers
D. none of the above

4. What are two unique features of Vinpearl Cable Car?

5. What does the word “blueprint” in paragraph 4 refer to?

6. In your own words, explain the environmental critiques of Vietnam’s cable cars in paragraph 6.

7. What does the phrase “environmentally tenuous” in paragraph 6 suggest about the ecosystems the resorts are built on?
A. They are extremely fragile.
B. They are mostly found on land.
C. They have been exploited by locals.
D. They are ideal for building cable cars.

8. Decide if the following statements are True, False or Not Given in the text. (4 marks)
(i) Cable cars only became a common feature of Vietnamese tourism after the Covid-19 pandemic.
(ii) The opening of new cable car routes has negatively affected other transport industries.
(ii) Local residents receive few benefits from the higher number of cable car passengers arriving in their towns.
(iv) Most of the cable car routes mentioned in the text involved an overwater crossing.

9. What is the writer’s overall attitude towards Vietnam’s tourism development and cable cars?
A. patronising
B. agreeable
C. critical
D. pragmatic

Vinpearl Cable Car connects Hon Tre Island and its amusement park with Nha Trang. Photo: Roy Issa


1. Cau Vang Bridge / Golden Bridge (any one)

2. concede

3. B

4. Its pylons look like the Eiffel Tower and light up in neon at night.

5. every resort development in Vietnam having a cable car

6. Land is often cleared for construction, and the arrival of many tourists in these destinations leads to waste build-up, putting pressure on the ecosystem.

7. A

8. (i) F; (ii) NG; (iii) T; (iv) NG

9. C

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