Hue is one of the ancient capitals of Vietnam, boasting various temples, a modern western area, and of course the Imperial City. The river that runs through it separates old from the new, as people indulge in either relics of imperial history or an iced caramel macchiato.
Out and About
We stayed two nights in a lovely little homestay, which are fast proving to be the nicest places to stay (cosier in a home?). If you take a walk through the busy hotel/hostel area, you’ll find massages, jazzy clothes shops, chill out bars, coffee shops and all the foods of the world. If home comfort is what you need, Hue has it. I love the bars on the corner, where you can have the ultimate beer and people watching combo. We also found some local food, in the form of a woman on a stool under a tree. She had a large metal pot on one side, and a basket of bits on the other. Noodle? Yeah, why not. Two please. Look out for little steals like this, it’s always tastier than you expect, and better than some of the Hue prices.
The Imperial City
Three layers of structures form the city that housed a dynasty for 170 years. The outer, is the city walls, the middle is the royal quarters, and the third, most inner layer, is the emperors private rooms. Of the 148 buildings, only 20 are left, and restoration of those is still in progress. I loved the ancient city. The outer walls are monstrous, and I can see how they set a standard of power, wealth and dominance over the entrant. The walkways are ornate, painted in gold and red, showing what used to be. You can also visit the theatre, conference rooms, and mothers quarters. What’s left of the purple forbidden palace (emperors private area), is simply ruins, but even with those you can see that what once stood there was extremely special. Don’t expect huge palaces to walk around, but go and see the pretty ruins.
Hue is full of history, showing the old Vietnam and the recent war, as well as Vietnam in the modern world. The imperial city takes a few hours to look around, so a day or two will do. For those who love a good old ruin, it’s the perfect pit stop.