Hue – Vietnam

Pronounced Whey, this city in Vietnam felt very European. A woman we had met in Ha Noi said that she didn’t get a good vibe from Hue, but I felt very comfortable, here. The streets are wide and clean and the housing was generally better. There are fewer people wearing traditional dress and many Vietnamese laughed at my bamboo conical hat, but it is very effective.

view from our balcony

Not being seasoned travellers, we found the 3 star Festival hotel quite intimidating and more like 5 star. Don’t get me wrong – our room was enormous, the laundry service was amazing and the pool provided welcome relief from the humidity.

The front desk suggested we use one of the many local companies to book tours and pointed us in the direction of the ‘tour area’ with excellent detail. We chose a company that resulted in a good one.

They advised a private car and stopping at 4 places. It cost $27 for the day. He took us to the Citadel and said he’d meet us in 2 hours. We questioned that, but he said in his little English that we would need it. We did. In fact, we didn’t really see all of it.

four of the nine cannons

Then we went to Thien Mu pagoda, Thế Miếu temple, The Tomb of Khải Định and another that I can’t recall. They were picturesque or intimidating and just massive. Lots of stairs that are usually vertical.

We were taken to lunch at a place near the temple and it was fantastic – tucked into a hill and great seafood. It appeared to be owned by friends of the driver so that’s good. We tipped well.

The driver also stopped at the incense village and James and I made incense and then we bought some. Lemon grass, cinnamon and sandalwood.

We were taken to an extra place by the driver and we appreciated his enthusiasm and help. We didn’t have the right amount of money to enter so he spoke to his relatives, there is some scuffling about and the next thing, a woman who looked ninety years old turned up on a scooter, offering to take my husband to an ATM. In the end, the driver took out cash and lent us the money, which we repaid on the way back to the hotel.

It was good to return to the hotel and the pool and have a pre-dinner drink.

We decided to have a walk to the church that is visible from the hotel and then dinner, so booked at the hotel, but found so many suitable places along the way, that would have been pretty and interesting, at which to eat. We couldn’t find the church in the dark, even with a map, and argued about where we were and in what direction we should go. There was a canal or river that appeared unexpectedly and threw our direction. Luckily we made it back safely.

We all loved Hue and I would strongly recommend it to Westerners.

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