We stopped off at Hue on our way up to the Phong Nha national park, splitting up our journey into a 5 hour bus followed by another 5 hour bus the next day.
The views from the bus were beautiful as we travelled through little villages along the coast!
We arrived in Hue Sunday afternoon so were able to have a little explore of the town before sunset.
After checking into our hostel (we treated ourselves to a private room) we went for a walk to the main tourist attraction in the town, the citadel. We’d planned to visit it the following day so turned around and headed for the largest indoor market in the area.
Hue indoor market
The market was actually huge! It was set out into different departments; kitchen ware was in one sector, electronics another, and food was separated into fruit, vegetable and meat sections etc. Every bit of space was occupied!
Although it’s a little chaotic in there it was our main experiential highlight of hue.
Although we’d planned on visiting the citadel on Monday once we arrived at the entrance we were told that the price of entry has tripled since 2011 (when my lonely planet was last updated)- bringing the price up for 50,000 to 150,000 dong.
So instead of paying the citadel entrance fee, we hopped on a bike your around the old town instead. We paid the driver 100,000 dong for 30minutes where he drove us around and pointed out the sites to us, stopping when we wanted to get off and explore a little or take photos.
It was so much fun! We were then dropped off in the middle of the city once our 30 minutes was up so we walked around a little more and found a little coffee shop where we could drink Vietnamese coffee and eat the coconut covered nut snacks that I’m now a little addicted too….
Food in Hue
We weren’t in Hue for very long but we did get to sample a few good dishes. I had banana leaf salad from a restaurant recommended in lonely planet and was able to swap the prawns that it came with for a baguette instead. The salad was so large that the bread wasn’t needed but I ate it all anyway because it tasted so good!
We also tried to try some new fruits… Leah bought what we thought was fruit ready to eat but instead it needed to be put in a box for four days with sugar to dry out the leaves before it was edible. A process we didn’t have the time or patience for… Instead Leah gave it to the receptionist at our hotel so at least it wasn’t wasted.
Trips to the DMZ, dragon boat cruise and Phong Nha Caves
The prices of the tours were a lot more than we were expecting compared to what we paid for the Mekong Delta trip and Cu Chi tunnels back in Saigon. So instead of going on a day trip to the Phong Nha caves like some people do from Hue, we jumped on the night bus Monday evening and made our own way to the national park.
Bus to the caves
We had a little adventure before we were even on the bus to the national park…
We bought our bus ticket from one of the local tour shops at a much lower price than we saw else where so was a little sceptical whether or not we would even be picked up. At 5 o’clock we were met by a women who led us down the street to another tour office. There we waited for 45 minutes with a few other people before we were all ushered into a 7 seater van (with all of our large rucksacks squashed in the back with us). We thought that every bit of space was occupied but we were proved wrong when we stopped for three more guys to join us in the bus… Needless to say but were all very cosy.
20minutes later we were dropped at a service station along the motorway where our main bus was waiting for us.
Unfortunate leah, a girl called Nadia and myself were given the three back seats… Right next to the toilet…
Luckily the bus was only a few hours long…