I think Hue may have been our favorite stop in Vietnam. A nice-sized city (the population is around 330,000 according to Lonely Planet), it had a more relaxed atmosphere than crowded and totally urban Saigon and Hanoi. At the same time, its size allowed it to absorb the tourist tide more effectively than places like Hoi An and Dalat – it didn’t feel over-taken by tourism and for me had a nice grounded and “lived in” energy to it, if that makes any sense.
We also stayed at my favorite hotel in Vietnam, the Hue Holiday Hotel. Our room felt brand new, was spotlessly clean, and the staff were super accommodating and genuinely friendly. Excellent value for money too. The hotel was down a narrow alleyway, located in the touristy area of town but with Vietnamese homes just outside the hotel entrance. I loved catching glimpses of the families’ day to day lives as we came and went.
Our room at the Hue Holiday Hotel – complete with real flowers on the bed
The delightfully clean bathroom!
Another big positive about Hue for me is that I took the initiative to find a posh hotel about a 10 minute walk from where we were staying that had a small gym and a big pool, so a couple of times during our stay I got a work-out in. (If I remember correctly, this was at the Imperial Hotel. Insanely posh and a bit on the expensive side for the per-gym-visit price but access to the outdoor pool made it worth it) Aside from the obvious physical benefit, working out in some form or another is so good for my head space – it’s something I’m trying to do more often while we are still on the road.
Things I want to remember include:
– How wonderfully, genuinely fun it was to fly a kite!
– How infinitely patiently Roman untangled the kite line when it got into an incredibly huge tangle. Also the very sweet teacher who came to talk to us while he worked on the mess. 🙂
– The peaceful walk through the residential area on the north side of town and the friendly cyclo driver we met there.
– The lively atmosphere at the nightly street market along the riverside.
Less fun to remember is getting food poisoning; we actually had to extend our stay by one day because I was in no shape to travel. I can’t say for certain which restaurant may have made me sick. Most of the places we ate were all right but nothing special. The one restaurant in town I can recommend is Vegetarian Restaurant Bo De. Although Roman was less impressed than I was, I really enjoyed the interesting and tasty 100% vegetarian dishes, and I can guarantee that I didn’t get sick from their food! 🙂