I write to you now from British Soil! With such a hectic travelling schedule I’m afraid my journey updates are a little belated, but my adventure continued nonetheless!
After a very early 4:30am sleeper bus (much more comfortable this time!), we arrived in Hue, the old Imperial capital of Vietnam and home to the Nguyen Emperors, which is now a World Heritage Site. As a bit of a history geek, this was definitely a stop I was looking forward to.
The Citadel itself dating back to 1804 still sits at the heart of Hue, and still stands with 10km long walls, surrounded by a 4m deep moat. It quickly becomes apparent that fairly extensive damage was inflicted onto the Citadel during war, and restoration work can be seen on many of the 20 (of originally 148!) buildings still standing.
The main entrance sits through the Ngo Mon Gate, where the central passage way is inaccessible, as this was traditionally for sole use of the Emperor. We were told to use a different gate from the one we first tried, as the fee to visit is slightly higher for foreign vistors! This was only still approximately 125,000 dong (around £4).
Our first point of call was to admire the Thai Hoa Palace ahead of us, with a bridge leading over the lotus pond… and stop to feed the extremely large (and greedy) Koi… a nice little activity for children (or those with a childish side) for only 20,000 dong.
The palace itself was used for official receptions, and the décor has been preserved beautifully inside. Photography was unfortunately not allowed in here! Before exiting the palace, we did stop to enjoy a short video explaining some of the history of the citadel, which gave a better understanding of the area we were exploring.
The Citadel easily requires a few hours to enjoy properly, and we had a lovely afternoon wandering around the Halls of the Mandarins, the Emperors Reading Room, and the Dien Tho Residence. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t to cooperate with our plans, and a torrential downpour put an end to our day! As predominately outdoors, this is not a site to visit on a rainy day!
Needing to rest and refuel (and for a rare change – warm up!) we headed to a Vegetarian restaurant called Lien Hoa. The menu had some vague english translation, so we decided to order an array of dishes. Alongside very fresh rice noodle and vegetable soup, we ordered a Hue special – Banh Beo (steamed rice pancakes) as well as an “appetiser of 8 special foods”. Although we weren’t 100% sure exactly what everything was, the different Banh Beo’s were delicious, and definitely something to try in Hue. After being reasonably unimpressed with the food so far in Vietnam, this restaurant certainly changed that, and I would encourage anyone to find time to visit when in Hue!
Accommodation wise, we stayed at the Tigon Hostel, located in the South Bank area of the city, which is predominately hotels, hostels and restaurants. More of a hotel than a hostel, we had a large room with a single and a double bed (fortunately the little one managed to claim the bigger bed, luxury!) and a proper bathroom rather than a wet room, and a great view over the city. This was fantastic value for only 367,000 dong (approx £10) and had a large breakfast in the morning with eggs, fruit, bread and pancake wrapped bananas!
Otherwise in Hue, there are numerous tombs to visit of rulers of the Nguyen Dynasty, in varying distances from the city, but unfortunately time was too tight for us to include this within our visit.
A well connected city for transport, particularly for the south of Vietnam, Hue is certainly worth a visit to see another side of Vietnam’s history.
From here, the journey south would continue…
With kindest regards,