We arrived in Hue from Hoi An, after a very uncomfortable bus trip. We decided to stay inside the Citadel walls and let me suggest you not to do that. All restaurants and activities are outside the walls even if the citadel is the main touristic attraction in town. The good thing was that our hotel was a quiet spot. In Hoi An we stayed in a hotel just in front of a primary school…in my opinion children go to school too early in Vietnam and they spend too much time and energy in singing. Something must be done!
The day after our arriving we woke up early even if exhausted, we had a lonely breakfast (the only 2 guests in the hotel) and then we decided to take a boat to visit the Royal Tombs along the Perfume River. But early is never too early in Vietnam and we discovered that it was already too late for the boat. So we rented a private taxi. It was weird because during the all trip we took crowded and crazy transports, having a car just for the two of us seemed unreal, but nice. What is not nice is that you cannot follow the river path with the car and you probably miss several beautiful spots. So my advice is…wake up earlier than early!
The Royal Tombs are fabulous. My favorite was the Tomb of Minh Mang (down here). I felt so inspired there. Forget western idea of tombs or a modern mausoleum. These are majestic architectural complexes built in a profound harmony with the environment. Minh Mang tomb complex is like a series of chinese boxes. There is a one palace after another, in a sort of climax from the shortest and most opulent to the tallest but simplest. You walk all through these magnificent buildings until the last one, where Minh Mang is buried. On the top of steep stairs there is a big decorated gate and you know that there is where the emperor rests. The gate cannot be open, as respect, but you can reach the doors and look through. And what you see it is not a golden tomb like the ones you just went through but only a hill covered with grass and tall trees. I cried for the emotion, that man knew the secret meaning of life.
Tu Duc Tomb is another spectacular complex: his lake and the concubine pavillion near by are a place of rare peace and beauty. I think I took 20 pictures of me surrounded by gianormous lotus flowers.
The last tomb we visited was the Tomb of Khai Dinh. This guy, in the picture, was apparently one of the cruelest people in Vietnamese history and many people died for the realization of his tomb.
My suggestion is if you go to Hue don’t miss a visit to the Royal Tombs.