Sunday, April 1, 2018

Hue, Vietnam

Hue has a long and interesting history as an imperial city. Driving from Hoi An to Hue over the Hai Van pass was one of the highlights of our trip. We had an amazing driver who shared his knowledge of the history with us. We couldn't wait to arrive and explore.

Fast Five Favourites:

  • RnR at Vedana Lagoon Resort and Spa. Vedana is about half an hour away from central Hue. It was here that we had our first overwater bungalow experience. Vedana is stunning and we loved our relaxing time there. Kayaking on the lagoon in the early morning was serene and peaceful.
  • Citadel-the citadel is the central sight in Hue historically. There is so much history to enjoy here: from being the center of the Nguyen dynasty to key wars that were fought here. You can get a real feel of how the royal family lived at the time by hiring a guide. 
  • Royal Tombs-we visited two of the most popular tombs of previous Kings from the Nguyen dynasty - Minh Mang and Khai Dinh. Both were beautiful representations of Vietnamese architecture and also showed different influences from their respective times. 
  • Hai Van pass-with a private driver it was enjoyable to stop and take in the views along the coast. There are beautiful views from the top (where it was interesting to see a U.S. bunker still standing), and at Lang Co beach and the Lagoon. 
  • Thuan An Beach-we spent a couple of days at Ana Mandara resort at the end of our holiday. We were so impressed with the beach, absolutely loved it! Our beachfront villa was amazing - it's always nice to see the beach!

Tips:

  • People selling stuff were quite a bit more intense here compared to Hoi An so be prepared. 
  • Having a private driver was a convenient way to see the royal tombs, as they are located outside the city. Our driver John from Stop and Go tours was amazing and very interesting to listen to, sharing his knowledge of Vietnam in general. He also drove us from Hoi An to Hue. Highly recommend. 
  • The Citadel and Pagoda are easier to visit by taxi, scooter, or even boat!
  • We hired a guide at the Citadel entrance. She wasn't the most professional guide but it allowed us to easily visit the main areas as it is a huge site! There is quite a bit of info around so possible to enjoy without a guide. 
  • In Hue we stayed at Serene Palace. It was reasonably priced mid-range accommodation, centrally located, and the service there was good. Be careful if booking a transfer with them as once they quoted twice the price of a taxi, and the second time the driver was 25 minutes late (not the best when headed to the airport!). We would recommend Stop and Go Tours. Cars cannot easily get down the narrow side street so it can be a little inconvenient to get a taxi from. The hotel restaurant is number 2 on Trip Advisor. 
  • There are some nice cafes and shops to explore. We found some unique looking lanterns that we purchased and also some coconut bowls.
  • A couple of full days was enough for us to explore Hue. It was nice to experience a bit of the city as well as the ruins. 
  • There's a day trip up to the DMZ zone where you can access some of the tunnels from the war. We didn't know this before visiting, and it looked interesting but the 4-hour round trip would be too much with Lilah. 

Baby on Board:

  • Lilah is two so loves to run around and explore. The temples and old ruins were perfect for this with their big grounds and open spaces. The city with busy traffic was not. We realized very quickly that we wanted a night at the beach for her to be able to explore safely and also for us to relax before returning to Busan. We had two nights in the city and one night at the beach and this was a good amount of time for our family.
  • We have found that grabbing a few pieces of fruit and croissants from breakfast can save us from needing to find emergency snacks when out and about for Lilah. We can last much longer than her between meals but she likes to snack frequently. The staff have always been understanding when we tell them the food is for her :)
  • Private tour guides are essential for us. We can go at our own pace and ask the guide to repeat something if one of us was off chasing Lilah.
  • One of our taxi rides in between hotels was really scary. Thankfully the driver slowed down when we told him to. We were thankful for our private driver the rest of the time.
  • We have always found that having somewhere with good room service is a bonus for us with a baby. Sometimes we do not feel like going out to eat and it is often more relaxing in the comfort of our room. Another bonus if the room has a nice balcony!








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