At 7:25 p.m. we took off from Ho Chi Minh City airport and after an hour and a quarter we landed at the tiny Phú Bài airport in Huế (Hue). Before leaving the terminal there is a stall where we buy the bus ticket to the city. The ticket costs 70,000VND (€2.57-$3).
After about half an hour we got off at our stop near Bùng binh Hùng Vương square. Finding the hotel without wifi was quite complicated but we finally found it.
That is why we recommend hiring a transfer service for very little money that leaves you at the door of the hotel, we would have saved a lot of time from going around.
Or you can also hire a eSIM card for your mobile for very little money:
We stayed at the Alba spa hotel. Hon a newly built 4-star hotel that cost us €27.47 ($32) per night with breakfast and spa included.
As it had gotten very late we had to go to dinner in the party area of the city which, luckily, was close by. We ate some Nem and some very tasty hamburgers at a place called Cộng Cà Phê.
After dinner we went to bed so we could get up early the next day.
We got up early and… surprise! It’s raining. But hey, it’s not torrential. We have breakfast and go to the street. At the hotel they lend us some very large umbrellas and we take a taxi instead of walking to the citadel of Huế (Kinh thành Huế). The race costs us about 1€ ($1.08) The race costs us.
The citadel is gigantic and you have to reserve at least the whole morning.
Built from 1804, it was the seat of power until 1880, when Vietnam became a French protectorate. It was a symbolic building until the Nguyễn dynasty was overthrown in 1945 with the Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
We enter through the Cửa Ngăn gate and as soon as we pass the bastion gate, we have the offices where we can buy the tickets.
The price is 150,000VND (€6-$6.58) and you can walk around the entire site.
Once we have our entrance we go to the Cửa Ngọ Môn or midday gate, the entrance gate. Just ahead there is a large esplanade where the 37-meter-high Flag Tower (Cột Cờ) is located.
As you can see, it was still raining and it hadn’t given up for a single second.
We go through the Cửa Ngọ Môn gate or midday gate. Built in 1833 in the traditional Vietnamese Nguyen style under Emperor Minh Mạng, it was used by the sovereign as an observation point for troop movements and ceremonies. There we delivered the tickets at one of the doors adjacent to the main one, since this was reserved only for the emperor.
Passing through the gate we enter a corridor flanked by two ponds with water lilies and beyond that we reach the first building: the Điện Thái Hòa Palace or Palace of Supreme Harmony.
Built in 1805 by Emperor Gia Long, it has been the scene of coronations, royal birthdays, ambassadorial receptions and other solemn acts since it is the throne of the emperors of the Nguyen dynasty.
The interior is really spectacular but it is forbidden to take photos. Before leaving there are models and explanatory videos about the history of the citadel and its restoration.
We leave the palace and go through one of the side corridors (on the left) until we reach the Hưng Miếu temple. Already the gate is really spectacular called Gate of Eternal Happiness (Cửa Thọ Chỉ).
The temple was built in 1821 by order of Emperor Minh Mang to honor the memory of his ancestors.
The interior is also quite spectacular but you can’t take photos either.
Directly opposite is the Hien Lam Pavilion (Hiển Lâm Các). Also built by Emperor Minh Mang between 1821 and 1822, it is considered a memorial to remember the merits of the Nguyen kings and the great courtiers of the dynasty.
It is a pyramid-shaped portico with three floors. Before the door in the courtyard are the 9 Dynastic Urns. There are 9 urns made of bronze decorated with floral motifs and traditional Vietnamese symbols. They represent the 9 Emperors of Vietnam and in ancient times they played an important role in the many ceremonies of ancestor worship. Between 1835 and 1837 the remains of its interior were removed.
We continue down the corridor in a clockwise direction. After several minutes of walking in the rain that continued without giving a single minute of pause, we arrived at the Dien Tho Residence (Cung Diên Thọ or Residence of Enduring Longevity).
Built in 1804 to be the residence of Empress Hieu Khang, the mother of Emperor Gia Long. Later it remained the official residence of the widows of the following emperors. After the fall of the Nguyen dynasty in 1945, it was one of the few buildings that remained intact.
Inside the enclosure there is a pond in which there is a small pavilion that has been adapted as a cafeteria. There we had some cool drinks while it was still raining.
Next to Cung Diên Thọ there is a long roofed corridor leading to the center of the citadel. It was still raining.
Nearby is the Royal Theater (Nhà hát Duyệt Thị Đường). Built in 1826 for the representation of the imperial family and their relatives. On the outside it has the same style as the rest of the buildings in the imperial city. Inside it is spectacular, tiny but full of golden motifs. It is worth seeing.
We follow the route and arrive at the Vườn Cơ Hạ gardens. It was built in 1837, under the reign of King Minh Mang, and was improved, supplemented and restored many times under Kings Thieu Tri and Tu Duc.
Although only part of it is preserved, it is spectacular, especially the central pond full of lotuses, which were in bloom when we visited.
We continue walking in the rain through the spectacular surroundings until we reach the central corridors again. Here we finish the visit to the incredible citadel of Huế.
Since we were running late, we took a taxi to Thiên Mụ Pagoda or Heavenly Lady Pagoda (Chùa Thiên Mụ).
Built in 1601 by order of the first lords of the Nguyễn dynasty, Nguyễn Hoàng, who at that time was the governor of Thuận Hóa (now known as Huế), it underwent several renovations over the centuries until Emperor Thiệu Trị , who succeeded Minh Mạng, erected the Từ Nhân Tower in 1844 which, at 7 stories and 21 meters high, is the jewel in the pagoda’s crown.
In one of the pavilions we can find the blue Austin that took the monk Thích Quảng Đức to Saigon where he set himself on fire as a protest in 1963. It will sound familiar to many because it is the cover image of the first album by Rage Against the Machine (wonderful album ).
At the door of the pagoda, on arrival and departure, legions of people assault you offering to take you to the city by boat along the perfume river, but the truth is that, between the rain and that it costs 4 times more than a taxi, we do not hire it.
At the door there was a taxi (from reliable companies) with a driver who was taking a nap. We woke him up and he drove us safely into town.
It was already a little late but we had to eat. We went directly to a place that had been recommended to me, as well as a restaurant is a travel agency. It’s called Mandarin Cafe.
There we ate well and cheaply and since we were there, we hired a car with a driver to visit the imperial tombs the next day for $30.
The owner, Mr. Cu was very nice. He gave us several postcards that he himself made with his photos.
After eating we continued walking in the rain and went to rest a bit at the hotel. At reception they told us that it was raining so much because there was a typhoon in the north of the country and it was catching our tail. It’s just that he didn’t stop for a single second all day.
Since lunch had been very light, we decided to have an early dinner. We went to a place that had also been recommended to us called Quán Bánh Khoái Hạnh which was very close to the hotel.
We got to the top of eating and it came out very, very cheap.
After dinner, as it was still raining, we went to enjoy the hotel’s Spa with some outdoor pools (roofed) in which it was really comfortable.
We get up early and go to the Mandarin Cafe where we had met at 9. A brand new, air-conditioned car picks us up. It had finally stopped raining.
We headed first to the Imperial Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang, about 12 kilometers from Huế on Mount Cam Ke. Admission is 100,000VND (4€ / 4.37$) and is valid for 4 imperial tombs. It is paid separately from the car.
It was built between 1840 and 1843 by Thieu Tri, son and successor of Minh Mang, although it was designed by the latter.
Upon entering we arrive at the central patio, decorated with statues of mandarin soldiers, horses and elephants.
Here we can also find the pavilion of the stelae, so known because inside it is the biography of Emperor Minh Mang written by his son Thieu Tri.
Crossing the pavilion of the stelae, we come out into a large patio with the entrance door to the main pavilion of the complex at the back.
We crossed the pavilion and went out to the lake of the new moon, a beautiful lake full of lotuses and in the background, the imperial tomb.
We left the compound and there was the car waiting for us with the air conditioning on. After the rainy day, the heat and humidity were brutal.
From here we go to the Imperial Tomb of Khải Định about 10 minutes from the previous one.
As soon as we got out of the car, the entrance stairs warned us of the spectacular nature of the venue.
Built between 1920 and 1931, it has been declared as the most majestic imperial tomb in Vietnam.
In extension it is the smallest of all the imperial tombs but the most elaborate in terms of details and decoration.
Going up the first stairs and passing the door, we reach a patio where the ticket office and a souvenir shop are located. Other stairs start from here with spectacular dragon-shaped railings.
Going up these stairs we reach the courtyard of ceremonies where there are several stone statues at the ends and in the center is the pavilion of the stela, which contains a stela engraved in stone on the life and reign of the emperor.
We climbed more stairs in the infernal heat and arrived at the emperor’s tomb, the Thien Dinh Palace. The building from the outside is quite spectacular, with millions of details engraved in the stone of the facade, but when we entered… impressive. The interior is really spectacular with brightly colored ornaments both on the walls and on the sarcophagus that are amazing. We can also find a life-size bronze statue of the emperor.
The truth is that the beauty of the building left us speechless.
We leave the mausoleum and from the top we can observe the impressive landscape that surrounds the enclosure of the imperial tomb.
We left the compound, and there it was once again, our driver with the air conditioning on.
We now head to the last imperial tomb of the tour, the Tomb of Emperor Tự Đức. It is located about 15 minutes from the previous grave.
Designed by Emperor Tự Đức himself, it was built between 1864 and 1867. It covers an area of 12 hectares and around 50 buildings inside. It is considered the most beautiful tomb of all and blends perfectly with the surrounding nature.
After its construction was completed, Emperor Tự Đức used it as a summer palace and place of retirement.
We enter directly into the palace area, on the right we have Luu Khiem Lake with many lotus flowers and on the left the complex of temples and residences. I don’t know if it was because of the time or because it is less touristy than the others, but there were very few people and there was a tranquility that, together with the surroundings, made for a really pleasant walk. Only bothered by the tremendous heat and humidity that it was.
Crossing the lake we reach the tomb area. Here we find several tombs, including that of Empress Le Thien Anh and that of Emperor Kiến Phúc, Tự Đức’s nephew and successor.
Despite enjoying the company of 100 concubines, Tự Đức surely had no offspring due to being sterile after suffering from smallpox, so he chose his nephew as his successor, who has no separate grave of his own because he only reigned for a short period of time. since he was assassinated 8 months after taking the throne. The poor man didn’t even have time to think about it.
The exact location of the burial place of Emperor Tự Đức is unknown since, to avoid looting, legend says that he was buried in secret and all the participants were killed so that they could not speak.
The visit to the imperial tombs came to an end and we returned to Hue. We ate something at the same Mandarin Cafe and went to the nearby central post office to drop off some postcards we had bought.
It was a somewhat complicated task since no one spoke English but we achieved our goal.
From there we took a short walk along the river bank. We arrive at Trường Quốc Học, a secondary school established in 1896, being the third oldest in all of Vietnam.
In a French colonial style, its very well-kept buildings stand out for their striking red color.
On leaving we were able to verify “in situ” how easy it is for the Vietnamese to sleep anywhere and at any time. There was a guy sleeping lying on top of a motorcycle. There, quiet.
After the walk we took a taxi and went to the next destination. A 5-star resort on the beach about 25 minutes by car from Hue where we were going to rest for a couple of days.
Her name is Lapochine Beach Resort and she is really spectacular, both the room and the common areas. With a huge breakfast buffet and everything for €68 (73.40$) at night.
That afternoon we spend lying in the pool relaxing. In the evening we ate dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants.
We started the day a little regular. My partner’s ears were plugged the night before and he couldn’t hear anything. But well, it will pass. We got up slowly and went down to breakfast. We eat like there is no tomorrow and we go to the beach.
The hotel has direct access to the kilometer-long beach and has pergolas with sun loungers in front of it.
We lie in the shade. I dare to take a dip in the Gulf of Tonkin. It was very strange. To start with the water was hot like soup. I got in and the water covered me up to my knees and from here, as I advanced, it began to come out until it covered me up to my ankles. So I turned around and where my knees covered me I wallowed like a walrus.
Despite being from the Canary Islands, I don’t like the beach very much and I also get bored at most, so we go back to the pool, which, moreover, the water was cooler.
At lunchtime, we went back to the restaurant where we had dined the night before.
After eating and out of desperation, we decided to call the insurance company to go to a hospital to have my partner’s ears checked.
Remember to always travel with travel insurance. With IATI, specialists in travel insurance, you have a 5% discount for being our reader.
We took a taxi and went to Huế in search of the international hospital. The taxi dropped us off at the entrance to the city’s hospital complex, which is really big. The truth is that I was very surprised by both its size and its appearance, as I expected it to be a building in fairly poor condition.
After going through several buildings we arrived at the international hospital, which looked even better than the rest of the buildings. We walked in and went to the counter. We explained what was happening and they sent us to checkout. The bill was $25. We were told that the doctor would take a while to arrive and that we should wait at the door of the surgery.
The doctor took about 5 minutes to arrive and he came running, we assume that he was consulting local people in another building and they sent those of us who had paid to come running.
In 5 minutes we had solved the problem and Sara had been blessed glory.
On leaving, we stopped at a nearby cafeteria to have a delicious Vietnamese coffee and a fruit juice and we returned to the resort.
We had an early dinner in the hotel restaurant and went to bed.
We get up again unhurriedly and again bad news: this time it’s me with plugged ears. Today we also took the bus to Hội An at 1:00 p.m. It was horribly uncomfortable but we had breakfast calmly and took a little time in the pool. We call the insurance and with the belongings we go to the international hospital.
We arrive at the hospital and go to the counter. There was no one there. We wait a while until we see a guy pass by who seems to be from the hospital. We ask him and it turns out that from 11:30 to 13:30 they all go out to eat at the same time and no one stays there. How to have an emergency.
Well, since we didn’t have time, we left the complex and went to one of the two million pharmacies that surround hospitals. We chose one that was attended by two young girls because they could still speak some English. Well no. We juggled for a while trying to make each other understand that we wanted a few drops to unclog our ears, until I remembered that I had downloaded the Vietnamese package on my mobile. Yes now. She gave me the drops that cost me 28,000VND (€1.10) and we went to eat something.
We ate something light in a place called Phuong Nam which was not very good and a bit expensive considering Vietnamese prices.
From there we went to the Mandarin Cafe where we had bought the bus tickets that cost us 4 dollars per head. There, with one of the employees, we got into a taxi that left us about 50 meters further (which he paid for) and we waited until the bus arrived. We were freaking out. From the outside it was described as a European bed style bus. Well, that, instead of seats they were bunks… live to see. The style is very European but I had never seen it in my life. By the way, my “seat” was broken and I had to lie down the whole way.
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