We get off in Hué at 9am and had no idea where to go, where to sleep or how to get to those places that we didn’t know of. We head over to the ticket section to buy/secure our ticket to Hoi An the next day and were stopped by a man scouting the train stations for travelers like us, the ones who didn’t have a plan. He offers a free ride into town so we can check out his hotel and decide whether we would want to stay there. Usually really weary of people like him, we decide that we could check out the hotel in case it is of any good and if anything, at least we would be in town. We get to the hotel which was five minutes away by car from the train station and pass the Perfume River and bridge and can see that the Citadel is within walking distance – based on the city map he provided us – so far, so good. The Star Binh Duong Hotel is located down a small alley with clean, air-conditioned room, WiFi, TV, fridge and clean shower with hot water – this will do for our one night stop in the former capital for $15/night.
Lunch with the Locals – 50,000VND ($1.50) for two full plates
Celebrating Ho Chi Minh
Since we are only here for a night, we decide to visit the tombs and the Citadel
, the must-dos of Hué
. The tombs are located out of the city so our options were either to bargain for a fixed-rate cab or take a tour. The tours were averaging 120,000VND ($6) per person so 240,000VND ($12) for the two of us for the entire afternoon including three tombs and a stop at an incense shop. Entrance fees were, of course, not included. We were only interested in Khai Dinh Tomb
and the Citadel though. We figured that if we were to go with a cab, the fare should be less or equal the tour. After stopping a couple of cabs, they all offered roughly 200,000VND ($10) to Khai Dinh only and back.
Refreshment: Sugar Cane juice!
Entrance to Khai Dinh
Impressive Tomb of the Emperor
The tour it is. We chose the one offered by our hotel. The entrance fees to each of the tombs had increased from 55,000 ($2.75) to 80,000 ($4) per person, which we found a bit steep on our travelers’ budget. Khai Dinh was really impressive and beautiful so we did not regret ‘indulging’. We skipped the rest of the tombs and were able to get dropped off by the Perfume Bridge on our way back so we could go roam around the Citadel. You can enter the Imperial City and see an array of old tanks and war planes on display. There are also lot of tuk tuks around trying to take you for a ride inside the Old City but at least the entrance fee to the Citadel is included. That, had increased as well to 100,000VND ($5) instead of the 55,000VND ($2.75) we read about. Since it was near closing time and hearing from travelers coming out that it was not really worth the entrance fee, we did not go inside. Instead, we wandered and experienced the atmosphere inside the Old City and grabbed a bite at one of the many local joints.
Incense Made in Vietnam
Helicopter & Tanks on display inside Imperial City
Children playing inside the Imperial City
We left the hotel the next day at 9am so we could buy the ticket to our 10:50 train to Da Nang- since Hoi An does not have a train station
. Even though the hotel owner told us we could get a free shuttle ride back to the train station, it did not happen. We paid, so no more customer service. Luckily a cab was 25,000VND ($1.25). The SE3 train of 10:50 was full but we were able to get tickets for the 10:00 SE19 for 70,000VND ($3.5) each, even better! That way we’ll get to Hoi An sooner. We grabbed a poorly made Banh Mi for 20,000VND ($1) each and good-bye Hué!
View from the Bridge of Perfume River