Vietnam, Hue: The River and the Sea
The last day was before us in Hue, the picturesque imperial city. In the early morning we hit the streets and just roamed around in the city. Indeed, we saw one of the most distinctive sights in the city - the Trường Tiền bridge across the Perfume River.
The bridge was completed in 1899 and was designed by A. G. Eiffel. Damaged in 1904 the bridge was renovated two years later and its wooden surface was replaced by concrete. In 1937, the bridge was extended to be able to serve also pedestrians and bikers. However, the bridge saw other dramatic moments. Part of the bridge crumbled one year after the WWII during the fights with France. It was renovated only seven years later. Today many lights line the bridge and it partially resembles the other, more famous work of its creator – the Eiffel Tower . Many more bridges cross the Perfumer River. None is that famous and admired, however.
We left the bridge for another important landmark in Hue - Thiên Mụ pagoda. Its seven stores (21 meters of height) make it the highest religious building in Vietnam. Also, it is somewhat of an unofficial symbol of the imperial city. Pagoda was built in the early 17th century. There were many renovations and additions. For instance, in 1710 a bell was installed into its tower. They say you can hear the bell within a 10 kilometer radius. Quite famous, in a sad way, is a car on display here. It is the car of Thích Quảng Đức, a monk who combusted himself to raise attention towards persecutions of Buddhist monks.
Pagoda is still a lively place. People come here to chat, pray, or exercise. We left them to their own maters and set off for one last trip in Hue – to the sea.
We had great baguettes with eggs and other stuff for a snack. We continued on our way on a bike rented at the hostel. Once we reached the beach locals had been already going home. Therefore, we had the entire beach just for ourselves. A stray dog came to us and fishermen gave us curious looks. The sea was warm. And the air temperature was finally bearable.
It was time to leave the imperial city. Next stop was – Hanoi – already waiting for us.
GPS: (pagoda) 16°27'13.1"N 107°32'40.8"E
Text: Hana Bašová
Photos: Hana Bašová, Lưu L
Nha Trang is practically the most famous tourist resort in Vietnam, not so much for some landmarks, this coastal city of Khanh Hoa province is famous for its seven kilometers long sandy beach with adjacent islands. The city of approximately 392,000 inhabitants and this number is growing steadily.
I have always longed to see a large desert with sand dunes. However, neither in Europe nor in Southeast Asia (the places where I spend most of my time) is one. Once I first saw pictures of Mui Ne, Vietnam I knew for sure that I want to go there. Okay, it is not a desert per se but sand dunes there are huge.
The end of my stay in Vietnam was neigh. There was one more place to see, a must-see place. The Caodaistic temple. Caodaismus (Đạo Cao Đài) is a young, syncretic religion established by a bureaucrat from South Vietnam in the 1920s.
Da Nang (a city almost in the geographic center of Vietnam) is largely unknown. Which is unfortunate. An average tourist usually passes by there in a taxi on his way from the airport to his favorite Hoi An hotel…. I spent three weeks in Da Nang. And the city got on the list of my favorite places in Southeast Asia (right next to Chiang Mai). In Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson called the old road to Hue as the “abandoned fragment of perfection.” I absolutely agree.
Omnipresent honking, grandmas pulling bikes with flowers, Vietnamese sitting on small chairs, food, bikes, wires, bikes, French cafes, bikes with food, bikes with chairs, bike transporting part of another bike… Welcome to Hanoi! It is a city crazy beyond believe. You either love it or you hate it eternally.
Last year already, we brought you a video of the "wedding" town of Dat Lat, Vietnam. Our reporteur made a return there to ride down one of the best roads in Vietnam for a road trip on motorbike.
Vietnam is no destination where climbers would travel intentionally. Yet once you are there you should try its climbing areas. We travelled to Cat Ba island which I highly recommend to any climber.
There are many places how to travel in the country. I have prepared for you a small summary with some recommendations.
One day trip to the Bach Ma National Park, approximately 40 kilometers from Hue, was one of our best days in Vietnam. The park was founded in 1991 and its name means a white horse. It covers an area of 220 square kilometers.
Approximately 7-14 kilometers from Hue, there are 6 imperial tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty, at least some of which are worth a visit. Various excursions are organized, but even a taxi can be hiredfor a few cents.
In the region of Sa Pa, northwestern Vietnam, the best means of transport is a bike. You don’t have to worry about missing your bus, of taxi not coming, or that your taxi cab driver would be someone who drives illegally. Therefore, we rented us a bike in Sa Pa. It cost only a few crowns. Then we planned our trip.
When someone in Prague says “Sapa” everybody recalls the famous marketplace in Prague. However, once you dig into where the name originates you soon find the mysterious area of Sa Pa in Vietnam’s northwest (near the borderline with China).
As much as I hate to travel by bus, I would repeat the ride from Nha Trang and Da Lat. The former is the city of two hundred thousand. It is the most popular spot to spend honeymoon at in Vietnam. It is situated at 1500 meters in the Central Highlands. You can enjoy a number of great views while on the road. And it gets even better on bike …
Upon we explore Hanoi a bit we planned to see other places which are must see in the capital. The first one was the Ho Chi Minh Museum (Lăng Chủ tịch Hồ Chí Minh).
Upon an hour of waiting for a visa I was free to explore the capital of the country I really looked forward to exploring. First of all, I somehow let a cab driver to make a 300 crown rip off. Sometimes things like this happen. But honestly – this happens in Prague as well. Aboard the airplane I could see streets where millions of bikes stream in all directions. And “down” here the traffic is even more crazy. If I compare Ho Chi Minh city to Bangkok, a city of comparable size, in the former there are much less traffic jams. One must add that there is no subway, or rail that would go above the ground. It seems that high taxes on car is working.
We reached Hanoi (Hà Nội in Vietnamese) by train, again. Friends had been waiting for us at the train station already. Hospitable as they were they took us on their bikes to their place. Founded in the 11th century, Hanoi’s original name was Thăng Long – Soaring Dragon. The legend says the emperor saw a dragon soaring at this place so he founded the city there.
Every time I have the feeling I know something more about something I come to realization which tells me the opposite. I spent one year of studying and travelling in China. Bit arrogantly I had felt Asia couldn’t surprise me much more. Fortunately, I hadn’t boarded a plane to the Czech Republic, instead I boarded a plane to Vietnam.
Even though the title suggest some offensive connotations we were did not intend to disgrace royal tombs as if we were in an action movie. A rented bike, however, solved our problems. The tombs around Hue are scattered along vast area. Before relying on public transportation it is better to pay couple of crowns to rent a bike.
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) is often regarded economic heart of Vietnam. It is not as hold as Hanoi (Hà Nội) but still it has some magic.
I was feeling like travelling in China when I was on my way to Hoi An – “there is going to be this yellow bus. It will take you there“.
On the following day we set off to Hoi An (Hội An . It was during the daylight and also it didn’t rain. The sun was pleasantly shining and warm. We reached the historical center by foot and were ready for some great sightseeing (even the one in the night had its atmosphere).
Our journey continued to Hue (Huế), the former capital of Vietnamese emperors situated in the central Vietnam.
Recently was thru internet voting selected the new seven natural wonders of the world. Most information on these remarkable localities in the Czech Internet dismissed several photographs, but we will in our “Do you know that” – serial will try to say something more about the places that you did not receive his reputation by accident.
We set out from Hanoi around the tea plantations and stop at Lake Núi Cóc to the Ba Be National P...
There are interesting things at every corner in Vietnam. Regardless if it is beautiful beaches, v...
If you want to experience Vietnam you need to ride across the country by bike. Our video today sh...
Bikes, food stands, old ladies pushing bikes, all kinds of vendors, and constant honking all over...
Da Nang is almost unknown among tourists. Many just drive through it. What a pity. Even Top Gear'...
Not desert per se but the dunes there are enormous. We talk about Mui Ne, Vietnam – paradise not ...
Do you know a Vietnamese city the nickname of which is „the city of eternal spring“? We talk abou...
Should you visit the capital of Vietnam – the Ho Chi Minh City – you observe he hustle and hardly...
People travel to Vietnam because of nature, mountains, beaches and world-famous food. But also fo...