We were scheduled to be picked up by 8 a.m or so and the complimentary breakfast at the Canary hotel did not disappoint; and for once we were not in a hurry either.
Jack (our tour guide) arrived by 8.30 am in front of the hotel and an air conditioned bus greeted us.
Huế is a city in central Vietnam that was the seat of Nguyễn Dynasty emperors from 1802 to 1945, and capital of the protectorate of Annam. A major attraction is its vast, 19th-century citadel, surrounded by a moat and thick stone walls. It encompasses the Imperial City, with palaces and shrines; the Forbidden Purple City, once the emperor’s home; and a replica of the Royal Theater. The city was also the battleground for the Battle of Huế, which was one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.
Some of the notable sights in Hue include
Thien Mu Pagoda
The Perfume River
Hue Citadel, The Imperial City
The Tombs of the Emperors: Tomb of Tu Duc
The Japanese Bridge: Thanh Toan Bridge
The Tombs of the Emperors: Tomb of Khai Dinh
Lady Buddha pagoda
Minh Mang Tomb
First up was a quick visit to the local market; lot of fresh produce and we ended up purchasing quite a few eatables.
Next on the list was the top attraction of Hue, the Imperial city. The Imperial City is a walled palace within the citadel (Kinh thành) of the city of Huế, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Jack was very knowledgeable about the history of Vietnam; overall Vietnam had 13 kings, last one was in the year 1945 and most of them had lot of wives. Apparently some kings are not worshiped since they were incompetent. The imperial city is huge ; I saw a few folks using the motorized car although we just had to walk for all the distance. Most of the imperial city was destroyed during the Vietnam war but is being rebuilt by the government.
The imperial city is huge and 3 layered. The inner most is the ‘forbidden city’ which is where the king, wives and the eunuchs resided. Inside one of the temples, one can buy Vietnamese coins, stamps and few other artifacts. It was a special occasion on that day and we caught a glimpse of many kids performing traditional dance right in front of the main temples. Most of the temples require a knee deep pant/skirt; thank god our half pants were size of 3/4.
After about an hour at Imperial City, Lady Buddha pagoda was up next. The only fact that I remember is that an old monk is buried there; the honor given because the monk helped rally the Vietnamese against the french. We toured the place for half hour or so before being taken to the nearby wharf to board one of the boats for a gentle 20 minutes ride on the perfume river which happens to be the life line of Hue city.
The boat was a typical tourist boat; the owner, a lady offered to sell some souvenirs to us. This was their way only source of income; while I intended to purchase some, they were simply too expensive. Cheaper variants were available outside.
After the boat ride, the tomb of emperor Ming Mang was up next. Almost every mausoleum comprised of the same basic key elements; the ministers at the entrance, a housing containing the exploits of the king, 2 large pillars to help the emperor’s journey in the afterlife and the burial site itself. Ming Mang’s mausoleum had some very beautiful koi fish and we spent 5K VND to purchase a packet of fish food.
The last on our trip was the Mausoluem of Khai Dinh; the one which was the most expensive to build and understandably so; the interior are all colored ceramic.
The last activity for the day for Incense stick creation; I did not participate in this particular activity; Karthik did though and even he wasn’t game to buy a bunch of incense sticks for 80K VNDs each.
At the end of the journey, we paid a tip of 50K VNDs to jack and another 25K VNDs to the driver before waving good bye. It was almost 4 p.m by the time we were dropped of at the canary hotel ; our pick up was scheduled for 5 p.m or so and an hour was spent on just loitering around at the lounge. The hue airport is almost 15 Km away and our driver was right on time. We were a little too early; there wasn’t much to do. The hue airport has a nice ‘town airport’ feel to it. There are a couple of souvenir shops and a few restaurants as well. I had a go at another bowl of hot noodle soup at the airport cafe; priced at 70K VNDs, a bit expensive but not too much,
We found Vietnam airlines flight had much better leg room as compared to our previous Vietjet flight and is therefore recommend over others. After an hour or so, we reached Hanoi. There is a bus station right outside the airport and the bus dropped us off in hanoi old quarters which happens to be about 45 minutes away from the airport even in 0 traffic situation. GMaps helped us located Pillow backpackers which is located smack dab middle of the old quarters.
It was our first experience in a dorm of a hostel. There were 8 beds overall and the overall ‘feel’ of the place was interesting to say the least. Already checked-in folks very chatting, net surfing etc. We just huddled into our beds, closed the sheets and were off to bed.