When we arrived in Hue, we were filled with the atmosphere charged with history, the past can still be felt in the streets, buildings, in the hearts and minds of people. And for good reason, ancient imperial capital of Vietnam until 1945, Hue saw the successive emperors of the Nguyen dynasty. But this is also where it's played one of the longest and fiercest battles of the 2nd Indochina War, thus marking the city with the numerous bombardments that took place. Nowadays, Hue mainly enjoys the resources of fishing and tourism.
What to see and what to do in Hoi An? The inescapable : :
Visit the Imperial City :
Inspired by the Forbidden City of China, the Imperial City is the city's flagship and undoubtedly the most visited. Destroyed almost totally during the war by the Americans, Vietnam is still trying to renovate it. Even today the destruction is very present, and we have had more than one impression of visiting ruins. This does not remove the beauty of monuments.
A World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1993, a visit to the Imperial City provides a good understanding of the history of the city and of the country if you take the time to read the panels, and go through the gallery of old photos they have installed that gives a glimpse of the past. The Imperial City offers a good walk, and you will need several hours to see everything without hurry.
When we were there, a sort of event was taking place, so Vietnamese had dressed in well-colored traditional clothes that glow the heavy atmosphere caused by bad weather. We let you discover the photos that will always tell better than words! (This sentence looks very much like a well-known quote haha).
How much does it cost ?
Entrance costs 6€ (150 000VND) per person by visiting by yourself. I think it's possible to take a guide but I am not sure of the price but it seems to me that it is almost the same price as the entrance or something approaching.
Admire the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady :
Also known as Thien Mu Pagoda, it's an emblematic element of the city with its 21m tower and its 7 floors, each symbolizing a reincarnation of the Buddha. And for good reason, the monument and those around it offer a haven of tranquility away from the horns of the city. It is the perfect place to take a break in this tumult. We strongly recommend you to visit it, and cross the courtyard to admire the many bonsai present, and watch the monks go about their activities. It's soothing and rejuvenating. More, it's free !
According to legend...
An old lady appeared there one day predicting that the one who would build a pagoda on this hill would found a great dynasty. Lord Nguyen Hoang, who passed by, heard the story from a group of peasants and decided to believe it. He built the pagoda in 1601. All his descendants confirmed the words of the oracle, as far as Bao Dai, the last Emperor of Vietnam.
Visit the tombs and mausoleums of the city :
Hue is also famous for these tombs and especially 2 which are the best known and considered the most beautiful.
The Tomb of Tu Duc :
Emperor Tu Duc built this mausoleum as second residence and place of spiritual retreat in order to walk and take a break in state affairs. There are 50 monuments spread over 12 hectares.
The tomb is not in the very center of Hue, so you will have to plan a small walk, or a bicycle rental.
Even though it's so named, the Emperor is not buried there to avoid any risk of plunder, so much so that the 200 servants who helped the funeral were all killed so that the secret is not noisy. Nice isn't it ?
The Minh Mang Mausoleum :
It was Emperor Minh Mang himself who drew the plans of his tomb, but it was built only after the latter's death. Located about 15km from the center, it will be necessary once again to envisage a good stroll or a rent of bike to get you there.
How much does it cost ?
Tomb of Tu Duc : 4€ per person (100 000 VND)
Minh Mang Mausoleum : 4€ per person (100 000 VND)
Sailing on the Perfume River :
It owes its name to the fact that once a medicinal plant grew there and when the time of its bloom came, the flowers fell into the water, permeating the river with their perfume.
The Perfume River separates the old town from the new. Used extensively for trade and tourism, there are many dragon-headed boats that transport tourists to the various monuments of the city. If you do not have a sailor's foot or we prefer a good walking, it's quite possible to follow it.
Rent a bike :
In view of the distances between the monuments, renting a bike is a very good way to visit the city especially if you lack time or hate to walk obviously. It is a popular way to travel in Hue and you will find plenty to choose from for day trips.
How much does it cost ?
Renting a bike for a day costs 1€ (26 000 VND). It's more advantageous to rent at the small local shop of the corner rather than in the agencies or via your hotel at the risk of paying more.
So, want to be "dépayser" in Hue ?
The prices shown are the ones we had, you may encounter a difference (good or bad!) but at least it gives you an idea.