Today, I’m chatting all about Hue, the second to last stop in our Vietnam adventure! If I’m being totally honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hue. I knew that we could visit the DMZ from here but other than that, didn’t know what else there was to see. However, I actually really enjoyed my time in Vietnam’s former Royal Capital and can’t wait to share some awesome things to do in Hue.
It feels a bit weird putting up a post with no pictures of me in the city. Does that make me sound like I have the world’s biggest ego? Promise I don’t. But I wonder if it’s something to do with the evolution of the blogging world. Like…nobody could possibly enjoy reading this without seeing me wandering around in a cute outfit right? Or even a classic ‘looking up / out’ shot for good measure. But nope, the reality was an incredibly hot and sweaty day so believe me, you aren’t missing out on much! What do you look for in travel photography? But before you answer, let’s get into these fab things to do in Hue!
Travelling back in time at the Imperial City
Hue was the political, religious and culture centre of Vietnam until 1945 and the Complex of Monuments was actually awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1993. Set on the banks of the Perfume River, the grounds surrounding the Imperial City are incredibly picturesque. However, the central Vietnamese city suffered a great deal of damage during the Vietnam Wars and World War II. The Tet Offensive – one of the largest campaigns in the Vietnam War – was fought here resulting in massive civilian casualties and huge parts of the city were destroyed. You can still see bullet holes and shell damage in the walls today.
You can easily spend a whole day looking around the Imperial City but, in desperate need of water and shade in the 38 degree heat, we bowed out after a few short hours. Come prepared with water and a hat – you’ve been warned! Even with many of the buildings destroyed, it’s easy to see how opulent and grand it must have looked. There’s also a great little information film in one of the first buildings that I’d recommend watching – if you can squeeze through the crowds cooling off in front of the fans!
Enjoying ALL the veggie food
Thanks to the large Buddhist population, Hue has an excellent veggie / vegan food offering. I was pleasantly surprised and would definitely recommend trying different places! We found a whole street of touristy bars and restaurants where we enjoyed a tasty Mexican meal at Jalapeno but we had even more success in the surrounding areas. There’s a great combination of local canteens complete with plastic stools and Insta-friendly cafes – does anybody else deliberately choose restaurants based on the photo opportunities? I was also thrilled to see Banh Mi stalls lining the streets each evening for a post-dinner snack. No regrets. The pictures below are from Nook Cafe which served the most amazing lemongrass tofu!
Touring the Vietnamese DMZ
While I studied the Vietnam war in school, I didn’t remember many details and it was great to learn (or relearn!) more about what happened between the French, American and Vietnamese. The main sights on most DMZ tours are the Rockpile, Ho Chi Minh Trail, Khe Sanh Air Base, Ben Hai River and the Vinh Moc tunnels. Our hotel organised a tour for us for around £15 each but in all honestly, it wasn’t great. We saw all the major sights but our guide wasn’t particularly engaged or informative so I’d really recommend checking out the reviews online before you book.
While we just drove past the Rockpile and across the Ben Hai River – which marked the partition between North and South Vietnam – we were able to get out at the bridge at the start of the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the Khe Sanh Air Base. The air base was interesting, if a little propaganda heavy, but locals do tend to follow people around selling souvenirs.
Jamie had already visited the popular Củ Chi tunnels in Ho Chi Minh, and said that the Vinh Moc tunnels were better! Rather than being used for guerilla warfare, the local village used the network as a shelter. When you see how small they are, it’s unbelievable that whole communities would live down there. We also walked past large bomb craters on the way to / from the entrances which really drove home the impact of war on these small coastal villages. We had a different guide here who was fantastic so this was definitely the best part of the tour for me.
Has this post inspired you to visit Hue? Or let me know if you’ve been before in the comments…