Towards the end of August, we flew from Hanoi to Hue. At first glance, Hue seemed much calmer than Hanoi. The streets seem bigger with more room for pedestrians to walk and more room on the road for traffic. We ended up staying in Hue for much longer than intended due to us both becoming ill (just nasty colds, luckily, nothing stomach related!)
I would recommend 3 days at most for a stay in Hue. I imagine that the majority of people making their way through Vietnam would find that enough. It’s a very small city so once you’ve seen the sights, there isn’t a lot else to do besides chill out, we were lucky that our hotel had a swimming pool so we were able to relax and cool off from the heat.
We completed all of the items below in one day. On reflection, I think it might be nicer to spread them out over a couple of days. That’s if you were to rent a moped and do it yourself; we ended up following an organised tour and purchasing a combo ticket at a cheaper price. This resulted in a very long day in the heat (and what I think was the last straw before we both became poorly).
Hue has many beautiful sights to see, these are a few of the things we did in the morning of the afore mentioned very long day.
Visit the royal tombs:
We visited 3 different tombs in the morning. I know that it sounds quite morbid to spend a day walking around mausoleums but these aren’t like any western graveyard. The tombs are built into separate palace like grounds and are filled with beautiful gardens and shrines. The most impressive mausoleum (in my opinion) belonged to the oldest King (out of the three we visited) ‘Minh Mang’.
Minh Mang Tomb
This tomb was surrounded by beautiful gardens and forestry. There was also a lake before you get to the mountain in which the Kings body is laid to rest in a hidden location. Those who helped plan the building and those who paid the King to rest were executed shortly after the job was done.
Tu Duc Tomb
This was another tomb where with a beautiful forestry surrounding. An actual concrete tomb sits in the middle of the grounds with incense surrounding it. However, it is said that the body of King Tu Duc is not inside but is also hidden below the tomb somewhere.
Khai Dinh Tomb
This is the tomb of the penultimate king of Vietnam. His tomb was built alongside a hill so we walked up many steps to reach it. It is a fusion of European and Vietnamese design as the King spent a lot of his time in Paris. The shrine itself if filled with mosaics and a lot of gold. A giant bronze statue is placed in the centre of a shrine and King Khai Dinh’s body is resting below it underground.
Watch a Martial Arts performance:
After viewing the different tombs we were taken to a nearby local village to watch a performance put on by school boys who practice for many hours a day.
After a long morning we were taken for lunch for a much needed break! On reflection of the morning, the three tombs were all very interesting, I think that the tomb of Khai Dinh was my least favourite, probably because it was all very grey on the outside. It was supposedly white stone when it was first built (which in all fairness you can see some of) however, the traffic and pollution of the city has taken it’s toll on the building and have slowly covered in it a black smog. I definitely prefer the gardens and foliage that Vietnam has to offer!
One thing I’ve learned since travelling through the cities of Vietnam is that each city has a series of different speciality dishes. Below is a mixture glass noodles, grilled pork and peanut sauce. I was enjoying it just fine until I made the terrible discovery that it had been poisoned with coriander, a herb that ruins any meal that it touches.
I’m not a negative person I promise! (except when it comes to coriander, because no one has time for that mess).