Huế - once at the heart of the Nguyễn dynasty - may not be topping everyone's Vietnam must-see list.
And, granted, it's no Hanoi. But in my view? Worth a visit! We didn't spend long here - one full day and two nights - which was just enough time to see the main sights. Here's how we spent our 36 hour stopover in Huế...
Where we stayed
Central Vietnam was kind to us accommodation-wise - we managed to get some really nice, affordable (who am I kidding... downright cheap) hotels in Ninh Bình, Huế and Hội An. In Huế we stayed in Hotel Serene Paradise - a pretty swanky double room cost just £15 a night (June 2016) and at the time the hotel's restaurant was the #1 place to eat on Tripadvisor! Just a few doors down was Secret Garden Bar; a great spot for a few G&Ts and a cheeky shisha.
Exploring the sights
As ever, we decided to avoid the organised tour option and do our own thing; hiring a scooter and hitting the road with no agenda or restraints. Our hotel kindly gave us a map of the city and pointed out the 'must-visit' sights. We started with the Imperial Citadel / City and once we had driven round the outskirts three times trying to find an entrance (at this point we regretted not taking the organised tour...), we finally parked up and made our way across the moat towards the impressive looking outer walls. At the booth we decided to buy a combination ticket for 320,000d each which gave us entry to the Citadel + two tombs.
The Citadel itself was so impressive. If, like me, you love beautiful architecture and an old, peeling doorway this is the place for you! A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Imperial City (inside the Citadel) was built in 1362 and took 203 years to complete. Give yourself a couple of hours to walk between the various sites and buildings, check out the gardens and soak up the history. If you fancy it you can take a moment to stop in the tea rooms, or try on some old traditional Vietnamese costumes.
We left the Citadel and stopped off for lunch at a recommended street food joint - Bún Thịt Nướng Huyền Anh (52 Kim Long). They serve just two dishes; bánh cuốn (a steamed rice roll) and bún thịt nướng - bowls of vermicelli noodles with grilled pork. We ended up with an additional plate of grilled pork, which was no bad thing as it was totally delicious - salty, tender and dangerously moreish.
After the Citadel we visited two more spots; the Minh Mạng tomb and finally Khải Định tomb. Neither as impressive as the Citadel, but worth the visit nonetheless.
Otherwise, we didn't see much more of Huế. We know many people didn't bother stopping off here, but the Citadel was so beautiful I would recommend trying to squeeze it in to your itinerary if you have time.
I'll leave you with a small selection of the 200+ images I have of various doorways, peeling paint and colourful walls...