Hue, located along the Perfume river in central Vietnam, is the country’s former imperial capital. It is also the city where the famous Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh comes from.
My 2.5days in Hue went by in a blur. 4 people, including me, in my dorm arrived in Hue on the same day and we were staying for around the same time so we ended up seeing the town together which was fab! Hue is the most developed city I have across since the start of my trip and there is quite a bit to see. It was sweltering hot the day I got there (40degrees C with a feel of 48!!) but we braved going out for lunch (which was one of the most uncomfortable afternoons ever!). The humidity was maddening, walking in the intense heat, with sweat pouring and dripping off me was hard work! Somehow, the French and the Dutch in my group were fine which was embarrassing coz I should be more accustomed to the heat than them right? Anyways, after lunch we head out to the Imperial City which is a walled fortress and palace in the city of Hue. We chose the main bits we wanted to see like the Imperial enclosure which is a citadel-within-a-citadel, housing the emperor’s residence, temples and palaces and the main buildings of state. Too much of it was in ruins and without any guide/map it was all about wandering around the ruins and trying to make sense of it (which we obviously couldn’t).
We also saw the To Mieu Temple Complex which has been restored and is pretty impressive in my opinion. There was lots more to the citadel but after 2hrs in the heat we’d had enough and decided to head back to the hostel.
The next day we went to see the royal tombs, around 12-16kms the city, which is a must see if you are in Hue. We rented motorbikes for the day and started our day with a ride along the Perfume river to visit the Thien Mu pagoda.
From there it was another 20kms to Tomb of Tu Duc. This tomb was designed by the emperor himself. There are areas of this complex that were used for hunting, some buildings that were used as temples, some where the emperor’s concubines used to live, etc and finally his tomb.
It was a pretty big complex and still in good condition but still not as impressive as described by Lonely Planet. We did get to see a live Vietnamese singing performance which I thought was pretty cool.
The other tomb we went to, Tomb of Khai Dinh, was my favourite.
This tomb’s exterior gives it a gothic air, which clashes well with the colourful mosaic interior, and is set amidst green mountains. This tomb, though not as big, was more impressive than the former.
There are 7 tombs in total but we decided to stop at 2 and head for lunch at a local restaurant. The menu wasn’t in English but luckily one of the customers was sweet enough to help us with ordering food. After lunch, it was time to head to the beach which was around 30kms away. It wasn’t the best time to go there as it was a very misty and cloudy day and the beach wasn’t that spectacular. Saying that, we managed to find a secluded part of the beach used solely for fishing boats. We climbed into one of the (parked) boats and just relaxed for the next hour or with the sound of waves in the background!
On the last day in Hue we only had a few hours before we took the bus to Hoi An so we simply walked around the massive Dong Ba market, ate delicious fish and rice for lunch and took the bus, ready for the next stop.