After my caving adventure in the remote mountains of Vietnam, I was looking forward to reuniting with Ilinca and spend a few calmer days in the city of Huế.
Historical Sites in Huế
With a total population of less than half a million, Huế is only the tenth largest city in Vietnam and does not play an important role anymore. Huế’s glorious times were in the past when it was the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty of emperors from 1802 – 1945.
The Citadel of Huế
The most important attraction in Huế is a very large citadel from the 19th century that is surrounded by a moat and thick stone walls. Inside the citadel are the Imperial City with palaces and shrines and also what’s left of the emperor’s home, the Forbidden Purple City.
Visiting the citadel took us quite a while because it is built on an area of 600 x 600 m and we had to walk everything on foot. Visiting the citadel was interesting, however, the fact that I have basically been visiting temples and palaces in the past 2.5 months in Southeast Asia changes my motivation to see even more historical buildings. Historians would probably shoot me for saying this, but the historical buildings in the region start to look all the same to me.
Tombs of the Emperors
Where there was once an emperor, there is also a tomb. As there was a whole dynasty of emperors in Huế, there is also quite a number of tombs around Huế. Some of the tombs we visited were nicer than others, but what they all had in common was that they were outside the busy city center. Riding our rental scooter out in the green was at least as interesting as visiting the actual tombs, because it gave us some impressions how the Vietnamese live outside the cities.
Thien Mu Pagoda
The last landmark that we visited was Thien Mu Pagoda just a few kilometers out of the city along the Perfume River. As it was only a short scooter ride, the visit was worth it, but architecturally or historically, I don’t think this is one of the important pagodas, but I might be wrong. The location of the pagoda however was very beautiful, directly at the Perfume River, where we could watch the afternoon sun setting slowly.
As other Vietnamese cities, Huế is also very busy and has lots of traffic. There are lots of tourists in the city, but also lots of young locals. And just like in other tourist hotspots in Southeast Asia, there are many overpriced restaurants and a noisy party scene. If it had not been for the historical sights, I would have gladly skipped Huế.