After what seemed like an eternity on the overnight bus from Hanoi, we finally arrived in Hue. The drop off point was the supposedly and Lonely Planet recommended Google hotel, which in our eyes looked like a bit of a hole. Fortunately we had already booked ourselves into another nearby hotel, which I had read really good reviews about, but nothing prepared us for what awaited us at the Jade Hotel.
We barely crossed into the lobby when a smiley-faced receptionist welcomed us and offered wet towels and juice while we checked in. As with everything in Vietnam, I was always suspicious when we were given things without asking for it, and when I asked her how much the juice was, she simply giggled and said “Don’t worry it’s free!”.
Then they went a step further and offered us breakfast even though we were not entitled to it. Considering that we were hungry from long journey, we accepted the offer and scoffed down some food. In a mere thirty minutes this hotel had completely won us over and suddenly we were considering staying in Hue for another night…
Having spent fourteen hours on a bus and just eaten breakfast we decided that instead of resting straight away, we visit the city main touristic draw, Hue’s Imperial City, built in the early 1800’s and was the capital of the Nguyen dynasty.
We knew we weren’t too far from the citadel as we had passed it while on the bus towards the stop, but as soon as we left the hotel, the chorus of “You want tuk tuk?? One hour very cheap!” began. We wanted to walk… We enjoy walking when travelling, but for some reason the Vietnamese just didn’t think we should be doing so because it was either “Too hot, you get tired” or “Too far, you get tired” or “ I take you citadel and city tour, very nice, you no walk!”. To be honest the incessant sales pitches were getting on my nerves and my reaction and responses were starting to get gruffy.
Walking along the river you see a city which, like most cities in Vietnam are not examples of beauty and serenity, but more practicality and noise but at least in Hue, unlike Hanoi, the sidewalks are usable as they have seemed to find alternative parking areas for the scooters.
Fifteen minutes after leaving the hotel, the imposing outer walls of the imperial citadel came into view with all its foreboding glory.
The citadel is not easy to miss as it’s imposing outer walls proudly stand along the perimeter with an air of impenetrability. The citadel is accessed through small entrances along the side of the walls and if you make it inside with being hit and/or getting honked at, you win a star (Okay, maybe you don’t…)
As you enter the imperial city through the noon gate you get a sense of the splendour had before being decimated during the war, however entering through noon gate and heading through to the Thai Hoa Palace where Samsung in a clever little bit of marketing seems to have sponsored some restoration work; the production of videos and visualisations of the city and what it looked like before being destroyed during the war. I particularly liked this as it gives you a very good idea of how these cities used to function “in the olden days!”.
We enjoyed simply walking and marvelling at the beauty in some of the detail we saw but also wondered why wars sometimes target the historic tangible heritage of country.
After a good couple of hours of walking around the complex, our stomachs alerted us to an important issue… hunger… We were very hungry. So we walked back to the hotel and found a decent place to eat.
It was during lunch that suddenly tiredness snuck up on us and we felt shattered, so we quickly ate and made our way back to the hotel to have a bit of a rest.
That little bit of rest turned into sleeping the whole afternoon and only getting up when, surprise surprise, we were hungry again. We found another spot to eat at before going for a leisurely stroll and buying a few souvenir T-shirts from a local t-shirt maker, which have some very funny and cool t-shirts. With some ‘souveniring’ done and dusted we were back in the hotel and ready for bed (again).
Our next day was limited as we had to pack and get ready for another day of open bussing, this time to Hoi An where we will spend our next three days.This post is based on our day of the 17th and 18th of September 2012 **Practical Details** Hostel: Jade Hotel- Double room including AC, TV, Fridge and ensuite bathroom $20 per night (see our review of hostel here), but let it be said here, that this was one of our favourite hotels in the trip!