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Travel Guide – Huế

This issue, our travel writer Ivy Leow shares with us her backpacking experience in Vietnam, starting with the city of Huế. If you’re planning a trip sometime soon, you might want to read on.

After months of planning and discussions, Hui Hui and I finally started on our free and easy Vietnam trip. On route from Hanoi to Saigon, we stopped at the city of Huế, with well-known historical monuments that are part of the UNCESCO’s World Heritage Site, this was the imperial capital of Vietnam under the rule of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Thien Mu Pagoda (Celestial Lady Pagoda)

Situated near the Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda is one of the oldest religious monument in Vietnam. Stone steps leads up to the main entrance of the pagoda built almost 400 years ago.

Still an active monastery, silence and modesty is strictly observed by the locals and we followed suit as good tourist. Scenic surroundings makes it a good spot for photo-taking.

A vintage car within the compounds caught our attention as we were walking in the compounds. The car is a relic, used by the monk Thich Quang Duc whom immolated himself as a form of protest against the violations of religious freedom during that time.

The Citadel

After our visit to the pagoda, we headed back towards the Citadel, the former capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty. The flagtower is the obvious landmark of the Citadel.

This is the view of the flagtower from within the Citadel

We explored the Citadel on our own armed with a guide book we brought from Singapore. Although we tried to be systematic in exploring the place, we were thrown off track several times. Within the Citadel is the Purple Forbidden City where it was the place for the royal family and those granted special privileges to live within the compound.

Check out the replica of the Emperor’s throne

It’s a pity that much of the buildings are in ruins really, due to the wars and looting as you can see from the empty spaces which were once buildings.

However, the 3D simulation video and the models around the place gives a clearer picture of the glorious history. And we saw much efforts of the Vietnam government, and international help to restore this place that is so rich in culture and history. We were sure that this place was going to look different if we were to go back in another 5 years.

Both attractions took us about 6 hours, including traveling time. The place we stayed in was in close proximity to the Citadel, and to many interesting dining places.

The staff at Huenino showed commendable service and attentiveness during our visit there. Prior reservation is highly recommended as they are always fully booked. During our stay, we saw them turned a few people away. Do check out their website at

Truly, a place that feels like home.

Ivy Leow