Hue (The ancient capital of Vietnam)
Hue (The ancient capital of Vietnam) - served as Vietnam's political capital from 1802 to 1945 under the 13 emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. Hue is located in Thua Thien prefecture and is in the central part of Vietnam. Located 660 km from Ha Noi and 1080 km from Saigon.
Today, Hue's main attractions are tombs of the Nguyen emperors, and the remains of the Citadel, the Imperial City.
The Royal Tombs of Hue
The Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) is the last of Vietnam's Royal families. In all, there were 13 kings, however, due various reasons, only seven had tombs. The seven imperial tombs were planned and constructed in a hilly region southwest of the Citadel. Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri, Tu Duc, Duc Duc, Dong Khanh and Khai Dinh all had a tomb built. All tombs were constructed during the reign of the respective kings for which they were named. Each tomb was laid out with statues and monuments in perfect harmony with one another to form a poetically natural setting. The following elements were incorporated in all the tombs: walls, triple gate (Tam Quan Gate), Salutation Court, Stele House, temples, lakes and ponds, pavilions, gardens, and finally the tomb.
In 1957, Les Merveilles du Monde (France) published a list which included the royal tombs of Hue as part of the World's Wonders. Unfortunately, most of the artifacts in the tombs have been stolen by the French and local bandits
Vietnam is not, as some people might imagine, a mosquito-infested country. Far from it. As another traveller said to me, you get more mosquio bites in Europe than you do here.
But, the one place where I did get bitten was in Hue. This city is one of the wettest in Vietnam, and of course the Perfume River has plenty of still waters adjacent to its banks.
So, if the cities had made you wonder why you bothered packing mosquito repellent, Hue will reassure you that you made the right decison.
thien mu pagoda
The Thien Mu pagoda, located on the Perfume River is a beautiful (and free) place to visit of historical importance. It was founded in 1601 by Nguyen Hoang, the governor of Thuan Hoa province, because of a prophecy he had had: a 'fairy woman' (Thien Mu) had told him that if he had built a pagoda there, the country would have had a long properous time.
The first thing you'll notice is a spectacular octagonal 21-meter tall tower built in 1844, you will also see some smaller pavillions and statues, as well as a huge bell. There are also the living quarters of the monks residing there and a shrine dedicated to the now deceased monks... and a rusty Aston martin car. Why? because in this car a monk from the temple, in 1963, drove to Ho Chi Minh and set himself on fire to protest against the government.
The pagoda is located four kilometres from Hue.
though I was only about five years old at the time, the image is one that I still remember.
Hue is famed for its culinary expertise and this was the best food we ate with the exception of Restaurant Bobby Chinn in Hanoi.
You have the choice of outdoor dining in the garden (a covered, raised terrace where there are about 8 tables or 2-3 secluded tables set in the shrubbery - ideal romantic environment!) or the larger indoor main building. Every evening there is unobtrusive traditional music played live from 7-9pm in the main building. the food is spectacular - from the mini vegetarian spring rolls through to the various main dishes.
Note that the menu can be a little confusing as there is no division between entrees and main - and working on the assumption that the lower prices are entrees is wrong! So its a bit of trial and error - we ordered way too much food on one occasion and only just enough the 2nd!