Driving on the roads of Hue
The simplest way to get around Hue is to rent a motorbike for 5-6 USD. With just 80k VND of petrol it is possible to go around the city for the entire day. We got to know about this from Mr. Pho yesterday. Our hotel arranged for a beaten up Yamaha. I do not know how to drive any motorised vehicle, so Nandy took up that job while I happily agreed to take care of the navigational duties.
Here is a short video of us riding on the streets of Hue.
The citadel at Hue’s forbidden city
There are many places of historical importance to visit in Hue. These are palaces, pagodas and tombs of the Nguyen dynasty scattered around the city. It is cheaper to buy a four site pass than to buy separate passes for each place. These tickets are not kept at the counter and one must ask for them.
One of the most important sites is the royal palace. To get there, one must cross the Perfume river and cross the outer walls via one of the four gates. The royal palace itself lies within another fortified enclosure or the citadel. Here’s something you will not know if you are using a printed map. Using Google Maps helps. There are a lot of one way streets inside the forbidden city. I had two printed maps and none of them had any information regarding this. As a result, we drove once clockwise and once anti-clockwise only to land up outside the walls of the forbidden city. We joked that the traffic laws are still retaining the significance of the term “forbidden city”. In the end, the direction markings on Google Maps rescued us.
We also visited the Tu Duc tomb but decided not to go to the other ones even if it meant that our tickets would go wasted. We were getting roasted in the heat. Most of these places are in ruins and the government is working to restore the buildings.
Eating and Drinking around Hue
One of the best places to eat traditional Vietnamese noodle soup is Pho Saigon. It isn’t easily available on Google Maps. So, for the sake of the reader / fellow traveller, here are the co-ordinates (TripAdvisor link). They had amazing Pho (Rice noodle soup) and Mi (Wheat noodle soup). I loved their sweet, meat and egg filled dumplings so much that I had a second one.
There is another reason why I would give an additional point to this small eating joint. They had the entire menu in Vietnamese and English as well as a picture of the dish beside the text. For a foreigner, such menu cards make excellent picture dictionaries. A snap of the menu card and he would be able to figure out what is being served on those street shops where the menu is usually written in bold Vietnamese. For the sake of the reader / fellow foreign traveller, here is their entire menu card 🙂
In the evening, we got on our rented motorbike and drove in search of some good coffee. We entered this unlisted shop called Quan Cafe. For 15k VND, they served the strongest coffee I have ever had. There were a lot of local people in and around the shop – smoking, drinking, chatting and in general, enjoying a laid back life.
Judging by the number of roadside food shops and cafes per square kilometre, I seriously wonder if people in Hue cook their own food at home.
At night Nandy was in a mood to taste some authentic Vietnamese restaurant food. We resorted to TripAdvisor for good native restaurants nearby. Golden Rice popped up as one of the closest. The food was really good and the rolls were exceptional.