After pronouncing Hue “Hugh-ee” for at least 4 months, we quickly learned out next stop is actually pronounced “H-Way”. The imperial city of Hue offered lots of cultural, historic sites – namely the Imperial Citadel, where the Nguyen Dynasty emperors once dwelt. Hue was the nation’s capital from 1802-1945. It’s a very interesting place with lots of fascinating architecture to explore. Personally, I was surprised that the old citadel was not better preserved (but then again, I’m not exactly an expert on building preservation!)
When we arrived in Hue, we were both feeling a bit low. The journey thus far had been amazing but exhausting and so we booked ourselves into a cheap hotel’s private room. The Valentine Hotel was clean and friendly, even if the bathroom looked like a scene from a Japanese horror movie. When we arrived, we ended up walking for what felt like miles to discover where the citadel was. Needless to say, our tired legs (and grumpy heads) didn’t quite make it. We stopped for a somewhat disappointing coffee at a random cafe near a large bus station. We also stuffed ourselves with what seemed like the largest ice creams in South Vietnam – I’ve never felt so sick or full from just one ice cream! After this little pick-me-up we strolled through a very large, pretty park opposite. We headed back to the hotel early for a nice long shower and to chill out for a bit. That evening we found a great little restaurant where we tucked into some tiny tasty spring rolls and managed to unwind.
The next day we ventured out early to visit the Imperial Citadel and Forbidden Purple City. The Citadel was vast. Walking around, we learned some fascinating facts and stories about Vietnam’s imperial past. The Citadel is well catered for tourists as it includes lots of information boards and old photographs to help visitors imagine what it was once like within the ancient walls.
Hue felt like a short stop on our way north and, potentially, we did not make the most of this city because we were completely knackered! Nevertheless, it is a very significant and engaging place where history comes to life and teaches swathes of tourists about the imperial, pre-colonial Vietnamese past.