Huế was once the capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). The town’s main tourist attraction is the Citadel, which is surrounded by moat and wall. Inside, are the ruins of the Forbidden Purple City, shrines and the renovated theater. Outside the town, there are several tombs and pagodas.
How We Got There & Around
We took a train from Da Nang to Huế. The train ride was about 3 hours. The AC seemed to cut in and out, but we ended up meeting a fantastic couple from England, Oliver and Sarah, so the time seemed to pass quickly. The train ride also provided spectacular views of Vietnam’s famous beaches.
Once we arrived, we shared a taxi with Oliver and Sarah and said good bye to them at their hotel. Throughout our time in Huế, we walked and on our last day, arranged an all-day Taxi to take us around the tombs. Walking in Huế was similar to walking in any other city in Vietnam so far, you have to be vigilant for scooters and sometimes there are no sidewalks. During our walks to and from places, numerous scooter drivers would approach Steve and asked if he wanted Marijuana. This happened more than a dozen times. We found it odd, but ignored. Steven got used to it and would occasionally raise his voice and say “We DON’T WANT YOUR MARIJUANA”, with the driver rushing to leave the scene.
On our way out of town, we took the train again. While waiting, we spent time at Mr. Pho’s restaurant just outside the train station. I only mention this because we had fantastic service there. His English was great, and he made us carry-out food for our outgoing overnight train. He was curious about our travels, and gave us great insight into Hanoi. He doesn’t have a website, but we would highly recommend visiting him when in town.
Where We Stayed
We loved our hotel, Hotel La Perle! They had the best customer service we have had in Asia. They asked us how we were, where we wanted to go, made sure we had a map, provided an umbrella when it rained – they were great. The breakfast and room were fine too. Overall – great place.
What We Did
Imperial City – Much of the imperial city is in ruins from the Vietnam war, however, they are undergoing a lot of reconstruction. We spent a few hours exploring the ruins. The highlights are – the flag tower, the Ngo Mon Gate, the Royal Theater, the garden and the Throne palace.
Hue Museum of Royal Fine Arts – Just next to the imperial city is this museum, where we saw many artifacts from the Nguyen dynasty. Photos were not allowed, but even the grounds were beautiful.
Thien Mu Pagoda – This 7 story pagoda is the unofficial symbol of the city. The pagoda was built in 1601, but has received several renovations. It also is a site where anti-government protest would start in the 1960’s, when many Anti-Buddhist laws went into effect. The pagoda also has the famous car, that drove Thích Quảng Đức to the Cambodian embassy where we lit himself on fire.
Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh – Khai Dinh ruled from 1916 to 1925. His tomb was the most modern (Western) of the three we saw. Khai Dinh worked closely with the French, and many believe was inspired by their architecture for his tomb. Even though his tomb is significantly smaller than others, the inside is quite lavish.
Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang – Minh Mang ruled 1820 to 1841. The tomb itself is separated by three different gates, and the last gate is locked only to be opened once a year. There are several walking paths around the grounds. Truly beautiful.
Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc – Tu Duc ruled from 1847 to 1883. Tu Duc had over 100 wives and concubines, so after his death, there was a section of the tomb devoted for them. His main wife and adopted son are buried on the grounds, but not actually Tu Duc. His tomb is quite beautiful, with gardens and ponds.