A short domestic flight on Wednesday saw us arrive into the ancient capital of Hue in the afternoon. Taken straight out by our guide we wondered around the ancient citadel where the Nguyen dynasty reigned between 1802 to 1945. The movement of the capital to Hue, in central Vietnam, from Hanoi in the north, was taken to unite the north and south of Vietnam. Hue suffered raids by the French in 1885 and further trouble from the Americans in 1968. Eventually the capital returned back to Hanoi where it remains today. Currently, they are doing their best to restore the ancient citadel to some of its former glory. The two meter thick walls lead to beautiful buildings and grounds before another set of walls, buildings and finally a third set enclose the Forbidden City. You could easily explore this large area over a day or two. Sadly for us, as with much of this trip, we were just getting a taste before moving on.
Shrines to the 13 kings
After the citadel we visited the Thien Mu Pagoda, constructed in 1844. Set on a steep hill overlooking the Perfume River I think I will remember this Pagoda most for the monks that still live and work here. They moved around their daily chores in the shadow of this beautiful place of worship. Next to the pagoda was a large bell, weighing around 2050kg, it is said that when it was rung for prayer it could be heard 10km away.
From the pagoda we boarded one of the little dragon boats to chug down the Perfume river whilst watching the sun set. Finally we were dropped at our hotel, a stunning French art deco building on the banks of the river. Here we enjoyed one of the best meals of the trip so far and soaked up the great atmosphere in this former governors house. Already this stunning hotel and this little city are on our list to re-visit. A total contrast to Hanoi’s crazy, hectic atmosphere.