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Imperial Vietnam - Exploring Huế

We're wrapping up our summer vacation travels in Vietnam with a weekend in Huế. It may have been the hottest time of year to visit - the weather app on my phone often said it feels like 135 degrees...actually, it said the windchill was 135 degrees, but I think it's just as confused by the heat and humidity of the country as I am about converting from Fahrenheit to Celsius!

Situated along the Perfume River, Huế is the former imperial capital and seat of the Nguyễn dynasty, the last ruling family of Vietnam. We visited the Imperial City - a walled fortress {the Citadel} and palace - a beautifully historical site still under restoration. There was no need to book a formal tour, as we took a taxi from our hotel and purchased entrance tickets (150K VND per adult) at the gate. We spent a couple of {sweltering} hours walking around the grounds and exploring the rich culture of Vietnam's royal reign.

Traveling with a three-year old is a challenge when considering long day trips or large tour groups, so we booked a private tour through VM Travel for our second day of sightseeing. They were flexible to our needs and let us customize our partial day tour. At the recommendation of several friends who have visited the area, we drove about an hour and a half outside the center of Huế to An Bằng village. Known as the City of Ghosts or Dead City, this tiny fishing town is home to the most spectacular cemetery I have ever encountered. After a drive back through the Vietnamese countryside where we saw our first water buffalo, we visited the Thanh Toàn bridge, an ornately decorated covered bridge over 300 years old. We finished off our touristing with a stop at the Minh Mạng Tomb. I wish I could share some historical context after our visit there - all I can tell you is that Minh Mạng was the second emperor in the Nguyễn dynasty - but the truth is we were all hot, sweaty, and maybe a tad bit grumpy. Instead, I enjoyed a leisurely walk around the site taking in the architecture and gardens.

Huế is by far one of the most interesting places I've visited in Vietnam, and a fun city center to walk around. Most people say you only need 2 days here to see the sights, but it's definitely someplace I'd like to return to and explore some more!


We stayed in a Palace Studio King room at Indochine Palace in Huế City.

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