We finally made it to Hue after quite a long, but not overly bad bus journey and checked into the chain of the same backpackers we had stayed at in Hanoi, Vietnam Backpacker hostel. It was quite good as you bump into the same people from Hanoi, Castaway or Mai Chau, as everyone is pretty much doing the same route – this also means it is hard to escape some people that will inevitably never fail to annoy you every time you see them.
It worked out perfectly for us though because we bumped into Callum and Leanne again, the ones we saw on Castaway that Matt had met travelling Thailand two years previous and we actually ended up carrying the trip on with them and a few other friends, Jack and Max, the whole way through Vietnam! It was such a class group that was so laid back and up for a laugh. Every time we did anything, it always got well out of hand and was always very eventful – exactly how travelling should be haha.
Hue is in central Vietnam and is considered the cultural capital, situated on the picturesque Perfume River and filled with palaces, pagodas, monasteries and historic monuments. One of the important sites located in Hue is the ‘Imperial City’, which was originally a forbidden city for emperors and royals, separated by large ancient walls. There is little that still remains, however parts have been reconstructed for the purpose of tourists in which you can ride through the gateways and explore the areas. It is also easier to hire motorbikes to get around and they only cost $5 per day.
We went to see the Thien Mu Pagoda, which is the largest pagoda in Hue and the official symbol of the city. To be honest that was about it for our cultural site-seeing of Hue and there isn’t actually that much to do. I think this is because most of its cultural relics and finest buildings were unfortunately destroyed during the American War.
It is easy to visit the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) from Hue, which is the area around the former border between North and South Vietnam. This contains old American military bases and war ruins from the American/Vietnam war. We didn’t end up visiting here but heard it is worth seeing.
We managed to do all these must-dos in one morning and still ended up staying almost a week! We make a habit of getting stuck places! We had a daily routine which involved biking to the Hue Beach Bar everyday and chilling out sunbathing, drinking and meeting other travellers. It is a lovely beach and only around 20mins out of town by motorbike. It was so relaxing after Hanoi and soon enough Matt and I were totally over the food poising from Mai Chau thank god! Although Matt still hates talking about Mai Chau and said he hated the whole place haha.
After the beach, we would all head back whilst the sun was setting (we all know how much I love a good sunset!) and then go for some dinner. The night would ALWAYS involve happy hour at the hostel, head to DMZ bar for warm up drinks and playing pool, then head to pretty much the only club in Hue – Brown eye (ha!). We had some really good nights in there actually and it was here our friend Jack taught us the ‘pizza dance’, and Max taught us ‘the chicken with the broken back’ haha, both which we all do every single night out now! This was basically our routine for the whole 6 days we were there!
There are some great places to eat in Hue, with its famous dish being ‘Bun Bo Hue noodles’, which are actually really nice although very spicy! There are a lot of vegetarian restaurants dotted around the city and this is apparently due to the local buddhists eating vegetarian dishes twice a month as part of their beliefs. Hue was also the place where I discovered Banh mi, this is basically just a baguette stand that is on literally every street in Vietnam. I don’t know what they do to them but they are LUSH! They are open 24/7 and perfect for when you walk out of a club at 3am and theres no Mc Donalds. They have some kind of pate, as well as laughing cow cheese, and some other goodies stuffed in there and they are banging haha. There was one night where I had told everyone not to let me get one at the end of the night…I changed my mind at 3am and decided I needed two but no one would let me and they locked the gate of the hostel to stop me escaping and buying some…I had to be teased up the stairs and to the room with a snickers bar haha still probably just as bad as two baguettes to be honest!
As our time in Hue came to an end, it was time to bike the Hai Van pass…a DEFINITE highlight of Vietnam!