We were told by so many people that you really don’t need long in Hue, 1 or 2 days max. So that is exactly what we did -‘a day in Hue’. A fleeting visit in which we would try and fit in as much as we could. After our night train experience (you can read all about that here) and with no help from the in-coming (unknown to us) typhoon weather we found this harder than expected.
We arrived in Hue at around 9am in the morning and as soon as we stepped off that train, the heavens opened. We were drenched just from walking out of the station to the main road. to save on money we had wanted to walk to our hostel as it was around a 20 minute walk away. That didn’t happen. We hopped in to a cab, which we are pretty sure over-charged us, and hoped that the hostel would let us check in. We stayed in Amy Hostel Hue, rooms were reasonable and close to a lot of bars and restaurants without being overly noisy. Thankfully we were able to check in, dry off and have breakfast as soon as we got there without having to pay an early arrival fee.
To be honest there was only one place in Hue that we knew we really wanted to visit – The Imperial City, the former capital of Vietnam. The lovely staff at Amy Hostel told us about some other attractions in the area, that we would need a taxi or car to get to including Thien Mu Pagoda and tombs of Imperial Emperors. We decided on sticking to the Imperial City and seeing how long it would take us. The walk wasn’t too long from the hostel, it just felt longer because of the rain.
Entrance to the City was 150,00 VND (per adult) which works out to be about £4.00 each. Entering in to the Imperial City you go through a few ancient archways with koi ponds either side and underneath. In front of you is the main ‘hall’ where the king would meet and speak to commoners. Unfortunately no pictures are allowed inside the hall but when you visit be sure to check out the towering pillars which are beautifully decorated with dragons.
As you walk around there are little titbits of historical information about the Vietnamese royal family and Hue itself. We learnt that some of the Vietnamese kings ruled from the age of seven or eight. Which is insane! We wondered around learning about the history and walking under the sheltered walkways to protect us from the (what seemed like) never ending rain. Despite the rain, the Imperial City still shone and impressed us with its bright colours and well kept appearance, despite its incredibly old age.
Our favourite parts of the giant grounds of the Imperial City were the King Mothers Wing (not really a wing but a small village), which has some beautifully colourful arches, and Truong Sanh which reminded us of Mulan with decorated bridges and willowy trees. The Imperial City is huge. We spent a good 4/5 hours going round it and we are pretty sure we didn’t see it all. It goes on forever, so if you think you have reached the end and seen it all just double check your map as there is always another corner to turn or building to discover.
The rain had continued throughout our time at the Imperial City, so you can imagine how wet we were by now. Being tired, wet and with incredibly sore feet we decided to return to our hostel. The Imperial City had finished us off. We decided that we had seen the main site we wanted to visit in Hue and so desperately wanted to dry off, nap and then to venture out for food later on.
After putting a shout out to all you guys for suggestions on where to eat on our Twitter and Instagram, the lovely Laura from WanderwithLaura told us about a cute little place called ‘Nook’ . It is located down a little side street and offers everything from burgers to spring rolls and has some delicious veggie options too – we can thoroughly recommend the veggie burger!
Overall our 24 hours in Hue weren’t what we expected, and maybe we needed another day to get everything done. But we had a great time, even in the pouring rain. In general we didn’t enjoy Hue as a city as much as Hanoi. It feels a lot bigger, almost empty, and definitely does not have the same buzzing vibe but we found it was a good base for a few days in the middle of Vietnam if you are on your way to or from Hoi An, Da Nang or Na Trang.