My wife and I had an absolutely wonderful day in Hue – busy and fascinating – thanks to the help of Asia Tour Advisor. Ms. Giang was of great assistance in planning this tour, and from now on she is our “go-to” specialist for Asia travel planning.
We had a thorough tour of the Imperial Citadel (the former imperial seat of government) , a huge, sprawling complex of walls, temples, pavilions, representing a highly interesting glimpse into Vietnam history. Because of its size, it was blessedly peaceful!
As a suitable accompaniment to the Citadel, we visited mausoleums of three emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty, each with distinct architectural features according to the wishes of the individual emperor. Minh Mang Mausoleum was dominated by woodland and water (a country boy at heart?); Thieu Tri Mausoleum was rather austere, suitable for a monarch known for being careful with the country’s treasury. His last will directed that he be placed in a tomb that was not extravagant, causing him to be highly revered even today.
The Tomb of Tu Duc was in fact a second Imperial City, where the Emperor went for “working vacations”. A large complex set around a lake testifies to his alleged contemplative nature and poetic spirit, although he reportedly had 104 wives and/or courtesans.
In short, a visit to three mausoleums dedicated to three very disparate individuals was an intriguing reflection of the individual monarch’s character traits.
But that’s not all! A cruise up the Perfume River to the Thien Mu Pagoda, the official symbol of the city of Hue. Perched on a bluff overlooking the river, it offers fine views of the surrounding countryside, as well as fine gold and silver Buddha images. The pagoda, at seven stories, is the tallest in Vietnam.
Of note to historical buffs is the Austin motor vehicle in which Thich Quang Duc was driven to his self-immolation in Saigon in 1963 against the Diem regime. It was the first of a series of self-immolations by members of the Buddhist clergy, which brought the plight of Buddhists to the attention of the international community.
We were treated to a delicious 5-course lunch in a top-notch restaurant as a part of the day as well. We were very happy with our guide, who gave us a great deal of information to digest along the way.
The day was topped off with a cyclo tour down the back streets of Hue. What fun!
We look back on our day in Hue with a great deal of pleasure, having absorbed a great deal about the culture and history of this area, and we compliment both Asia Tour Advisor and Ms. Giang for their services to us. It will not be the last time we use them.
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