Hue in central Vietnam is the imperial city of the Nguyen Dynasty is filled with royal palaces, citadel, royal tombs, and pagodas. Our local tour guide in Hue informed us of the proper way to pronounce Hue. Smile and say “hway”. The smiling part is apparently essential
There was a lot about Hue that made me smile so it made sense after getting a feel of the royal city.
From Hanoi, my group of 7 (plus 1 guide) took an overnight train to Hue. The fancier of the two trains has 4 berth cabins. The beds are very short but it was comfortable enough. And the train provides some free Vietnamese snacks that were fun.
Fourteen hours later we arrived in a very, very rainy Hue. The trip to the Imperial City and Citadel made for some soggy sightseeing. I kept thinking to myself how glorious all this would be on a sunny day (albeit probably a lot more crowded).
The Imperial City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with restoration work still in progress from buildings damaged during the Vietnam War.
Oh the colors!
The tombs of quite a few of the Nguyen Emperors lie here and the stories of royal succession is quite dramatic and filled with deviousness. It was the most interesting talk of the whole day. It would be a good basis for a Vietnamese soap opera.
Tiny and life-like Vietnamese guards outside a tomb. Everyone was shorter centuries ago but these were tiny little 4 foot tall guys.
The rain finally let up when we were about done for the day, of course. Group shot at the Phuoc Duyen Tower at the Thein Mu Pagoda (also known as the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady).
After all that sightseeing and over 10 miles walked, I was more than ready for a lot of food. Our hotel was in the area where they close off traffic (mopeds and cars) to only pedestrians and is filled with shops and restaurants. We picked one and got settled at table on a covered porch moments before a giant rainstorm moved through.
Scallion “tacos” with shrimp were awesome! I ended up having these scallion pockets a few more times in Vietnam on the street. For my entrée I had the garlic eggplant with rice shaped like a fish. It was awesome!
It was still pouring when we finished dinner so a rousing game of Jenga ensued. I was the champion.
A lot of Vietnam bars and mid-priced restaurants have drink specials that are buy 2 get 1 free. How weird. The best course of action is to find a friend to split the drinks and the cost. One liquor drink is generally the same price as one entrée ($4). Beer is about $1. Booze and wine is the most expensive thing about Vietnam which is very budget friendly.
We stole our tour leader’s phone and took some photos with it while she was in the bathroom.
My most memorable moment in Hue was the next morning before we left for Hoi An. I went on a run across a bridge to the other side of the river to the local Saturday market. Everyone was looking at me like I was nuts but it was fun. I stopped a lot as mopeds were causing traffic jams in the outdoor market. It was 90 degrees with 95% humidity at 8am so I felt like I was going to die for a bit but it was so worth it to see some more of the city and run along the river.
I took a dip in our hotel pool to cool off so it was an amazing Hue morning for me.
More from Vietnam coming up soon!
Reader Question: Have you ever taken an overnight train? Did you enjoy it?