Hue is one of the larger cities on the route up through Vietnam, and the backpacker area is nicely placed over a few streets in the centre of the town.
It has a large citadel near the town, and then lots of little(ish) tombs out in the surrounding countryside as well. We decided after a decent night out, that we’d cycle (no moped this time) to see as much as we could. So heading out to the Citadel area we checked out yet another War Remnants Museum, which while the field of tanks was larger than most, was all much of the same as the others.
The Citadel is a large area, with big impressive walls all around, at the centre of which is the Royal Palace which unfortunately was under reconditioning while we visited, meaning a lot of scaffolding in and around the site. While it was still worth a look around, the limits on where you could ride bikes and having to pay more than we had expected soured the experience a bit. Once the work is complete I imagine the area will be quite spectacular, however while we were there the construction and restoration meant we saw more of the work in progress than the buildings actually being worked on.
The best part of the day was certainly cycling through the countryside, trying over and over to find the various tombs that were dotted about. Many wrong turns and detours meant we got a little sneak peak of life away from the touristy side, including some horrible new construction sites of cheap housing, some posh housing and the fairly reasonable conditions of the outer suburbs of the city. Once out in the countryside we found the tombs we were looking for although there were plenty of mis-directions and unhelpful locals, there were at least enough that did help us, and provide us with soft drinks to keep us going throughout the day.
Each tomb had a nice unique factor, and the main ones, Khai Dinhs Tomb and the tomb of Tu Duc, were very impressive. Again construction and restoration efforts meant the views were a bit less impressive, but still they each featured some fascinating architecture and a fun place to explore. There were a couple smaller ones that we’d found in between, some were free entry and others I’m sure were supposed to be ticketed, but we missed that bit. Certainly not as impressive as the main two, but they helped to fill the day with interesting stops.
Cycling was a nice change from the moped as well, and with the mellow hills of the area and reasonable traffic we felt perfectly safe at all times. Overall we rated the tombs much higher than the citadel and palace, but we booked our bus out again for the next day as we felt we’d seen all that the city had to offer us.
The nightlife is pretty good though, one of the hostels has a decent bar, although it shuts a little early, but meeting some of the people we’d met on our route up we had a good meal with a load of strangers, and ended up the only group in a bar at the end of the night. Playing pool against the staff and YouTubing punk rock songs on the sound system was a nice way to spend an evening.
Off the next day heading to Dong Hoi, to explore the famous caves in the area.