The Imperial City of Hue (pronounced H’way) was the national capital of Vietnam between 1802 and 1945. The city was heavily bombed during the Vietnam war which destroyed much of the old city, but parts of the 19th century citadel still remain and walking around it fuels the imagination of the grandeur of old Hue.
The old Imperial City is surrounded by a large moat and huge 2m thick walls which now defend the city from tourist onslaught ensuring that we all pay an entry fee and enter in an orderly manner. Once inside you are struck by the beauty of the place. Restoration work has taken place on most of the buildings close to the entrance but walk around the grounds and old relics are easy to come by. We found the old relics of more interest as the rustic, raw feel of them helps connect you to the history of the place.
Outside the Imperial city there is little to see in the main town. Hue is a place that has profited from backpackers who now swarm the main town and it’s backpacker bars. However, there are plenty of good eateries to be found so we couldn’t help ourselves and had to get some long overdue western food – pizza!!! Yes!!!
We made Hue only a short stop before heading to the natural beauty of Phong Nha National Park.
Stay: We stayed at the Poetic Hotel where we got a double room for a crazily cheap price – work was still going on in the hotel so we may have got a vastly reduced price. It was the best accommodation we’ve had as it was really clean and quiet.
Eat: Lots of great places to Eat in Hue. We loved the pizza at Risotto. All pizza is expensive in Vietnam, but this was decently priced and was a good size.
Do: The Imperial City is definitely worth a visit (150,000VND). I’d advice taking a pack lunch with you (with some beers) and finding a quiet spot to have a picnic in the grounds. It’s really quiet and peaceful there.
Moving On: The next logical stop north is Phong Nha which is famous for its caves (the largest cave in the world was recently found there). The bus is easy to organise, but don’t believe the hype that it’ll be a sleeper bus. We got crammed into a minibus all the way, but it’s only about 4 hours. We paid 150,000VND each at a local travel agent (get picked up at the travel agent rather than your hostel as if the bus doesn’t turn up you can at least get the travel agent to chase it up for you).