Vietnam & Cambodia Trip – Stop Three – Hue, Vietnam
We arrived in Hue late day February 5th, after a short flight from Hanoi. Upon arriving at our hotel we found out that our room had been upgraded to the Golden Suite. It was a large room with a great view of the Perfume River that runs through the city.
Next morning the rain was heavy but we had plans to tour the city. Hue is the former imperial capital of Vietnam and our first stop was the Imperial City. The city’s proximity to the North / South Vietnam boarder meant that it experienced massive destruction during the war. Much of the Imperial complex was destroyed or damaged during the war, however many of the temples and structures have been rebuilt or repaired. Our tour took us from the Nine Deities Cannons located inside the wall of the Citadel through the Ngọ Môn Gate (Gate of Moon) into the city. We walked through Thế Miếu (Temple of Generations), Royal Theater and into the former Purple Forbidden City.
Next we went on a cyclo ride around the city as the rain started to let up. After we drove outside of the city to visit Thiên Mụ Pagoda (Heavenly Lady Pagoda), Tomb of Tự Đức and the Tomb of Khải Định. The pagoda complex includes monks’ quarters where the car used by the monk Thich Quang Duc is on display and a stone stele detailing the history of Buddhism in Hue.
The tombs we visited are only two of the seven built for Nguyen Emperors. The first was for the second Emperor, Tu Duc, who personally designed the mausoleum and lived on the grounds for much of his rule. Where he was actually buried, however, is unknown in order to protect it from desecration. The second tomb we visited was for the last Nguyen Emperor, Khai Dinh. It is an elaborately decorated structure, covered with mosaics made from imported glass and porcelain. In fact, the Emperor valued imported items more than those made in Vietnam and even had the his alter statue made in France.
By the time we were done touring for the day the rain had mostly stopped so after dinner we walked around the city and even stopped for ice cream for Chris’ birthday.
Chris’ Comments: Hue is one of those places that appears to have two identities. On one hand it was a very old city with some great history and on the other hand it was a backpackers’ haven. There were countless hostels and bars in various parts of town and the city itself seemed very young… in stark contrast to the city itself. I believe we were told it was a college town; you could definitely tell even though our pictures don’t appear that way. Celebrating a birthday in a foreign country was way better than a day at work, although I will admit it was one of the hardest days to not drink alcohol. I think Hue is worth a visit, whether you’re interested in Vietnam’s history or want to party with the backpackers.
Cyclo Ride and Thiên Mụ Pagoda
Tomb of Tự Đức
Tomb of Khải Định
Banana Mango – Another tourist-friendly restaurant with some Vietnamese dishes and western options. We tried the Hue specialty Banh Khoai, which is a pancake / crispy taco stuffed with veggies and meat. It was really good and I could have eaten another.
Zucca – A small Italian Restaurant next door to our hotel. It is not anything special to look at but it was a pleasant enough meal and the Vietnamese coffee was good as well. I was not adventurous enough to try the Italian dishes other than the bruschetta.
Sweet Kingdom Bakery N’ Cafe – This was a small Western style ice cream shop we stopped at. They had a case of pastries and a large menu of options however we had a hard time explaining what we wanted to order. On the plus side the family had a cute little kitten that was playing around the shop.
Note to our readers:
If you are interested many of the photographs are captioned, just select the individual images to open them in a new window. Also, we were surprised how large the country was for a small country. I have put together a Travel Map with the places we visited to give an idea of how we managed to cover a good portion of the country during our trip.