Hue: The Former Imperial Capital of the Nguyen Dynasty
If our open bus ticket hadn’t stopped in Hue, we probably wouldn’t have visited the city. But after a long 19 hour journey, we decided to stop for one day and take the bus the following day to more famous Hoi An.
We arrived in Hue at 2:30pm and found that the city seemed nice. The Huong (Perfume) River runs through it, dividing the new part from the old part. The new part is filled with hotels, restaurants, and a nice walkway along the river. The old part holds the walled city and the moat-surrounded Citadel where the Nguyen imperial family lived from the early 1800s to the mid-1900s. This part is also called the Purple Forbidden City, similar to Beijing’s Forbidden City.
Without too much to do in the afternoon, we walked to the riverwalk on the new city side. Just like in Hanoi, Vietnamese students trying to learn English came up to us and started a conversation. Since we didn’t have much else do to, we talked for close to an hour as the sun sat. We had mentioned to them that we were going to wake up early the next day and bike around the city to a few sights, and two of them offered to show us around the city so that they could have the chance to practice their English. Sounds like a win-win situation.
So the following morning, we met with Phu and Sau near the main bridge with our rented bicycles (30,000 dong, $1.50 each). Both Phu and Sau are from the same city in southeastern Vietnam, but both are studying at the university in Hue. Phu is studying medicine and Sau is studying law. We rode about 3 miles to the Perfume Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Hue. We then cycled through the walled city, had a coffee, had a look at the Citadel, and then had a snack. It was awesome being shown around by two Vietnamese. They were very friendly and had even researched more history about the area to give us more information. It was the perfect opportunity to learn more about Vietnamese culture and food.
There isn’t a whole lot to do in Hue. However, we were lucky to have met Phu and Sau, who made our one day in Hue memorable!