Imperial Hue

Trip Start Nov 06, 2012
Trip End Feb 01, 2013

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Where I stayed
Holiday Diamond Hotel

Flag of Vietnam  ,
Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Having so far managed to move around Vietnam by plane, bicycle and motorbike, we realised the best way to travel the relatively short distance between Hoi An and Hue was by bus. This was a four hour journey and, while we were relieved that we hadn’t had to rely on the sleeper buses for the long journeys up the coast, we were impressed that the journey ran to schedule and we arrived in Hue feeling relatively fresh.

We had chosen yet another great hotel (thanks Tripadvisor) and were welcomed with cold towels, fresh fruit juice, coffee and a platter of fresh fruit. All for 15 a night. That’s value for money! There were also, for the second time on this trip, rose petals strewn across the bed and in the bathroom, which was lovely and somewhat of a surprise given how little we’d paid for the room.

The citadel was our first port of call to explore the Imperial Enclosure and the Forbidden Purple City within it. The main gate to the citadel is opposite a massive flagpole - the tallest in Vietnam. And it was indeed tall. 

We had been told by a few people that they had found Hue disappointing and recommended we drop it from our itinerary. We, however, found it to be interesting and were pleased that we had stuck to our original plan of coming here. While the citadel is not in immaculate condition, another consequence of the Vietnam War, the place has an air of crumbling grandeur and, with some explanatory information, it’s a great place to explore.  On our way back to the hotel, we happened across a museum displaying a number of planes, artillery pieces and tanks from the Vietnam War.  The narrative on the display labels again referred to the “Western Imperialists shot down by brave Vietnamese heroes”, cracking stuff.

Hue was the political capital under the Nguyen dynasty (the legacy of which you cannot escape in this country) until 1945 and so is home to a number of imperial tombs. We found ourselves the Hue equivalent of Dalat’s Easy Riders and set about exploring three of the Royal tombs: Khai Dinh’s tomb; Minh Mang’s tomb; and Tu Duc’s tomb (although on visiting the site we discovered that Emperor Tu Duc isn’t actually buried here - the whereabouts of his true grave is unknown). 

Each of these tombs was interesting in its own way - the interior decoration at Khai Dinh’s tomb was impressive, the serenity and natural setting of Minh Mang’s tomb was superb and Tu Duc’s tomb showed more of his personality as the Emperor used parts of the complex while still alive. 

While out on the bikes, we also paid a visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda, set on the banks of the Perfume River, returning to the centre of Hue by yet another boat trip. 

Hue impressed us with the best iced coffee yet and an outstanding (and, of course, bargainous!) meal of BBQ pork at a local restaurant recommended by a girl in the hotel.

All in all, a lovely way to spend 36 hours. Next stop Hanoi.
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