Wednesday, April 20, 2016

5D4N Itinerary to Central Vietnam - Day 1 and 2: Hue

My journey to Central Vietnam started when my ex-schoolmate was suddenly sending me message on my We Chat and asking me to go over there before her employment contract with her company ended. We had talked about it so often before, that one day we’d spend our time together there, visiting places, although initially we even thought of visiting northern part of Vietnam. But due to my leave constraint, I could only take three days off plus weekend, and here I shared with you my itinerary on what to see and where to go if you planned to go there :)

Let's go! :)

From Singapore, I took VietJet Air – the international low-cost airline launched back in 2011 – as recommended by my friend. It was newer plane and hence, safer? I booked VietJet Air from Singapore (stopped once in Ho Chi Minh), and returned using Jetstar - direct flight including meal and a 20-kg baggage - that cost me the total of SGD 250-260 (less than USD 190).

Singapore - Ho Chi Minh - Danang by VietJet Air 

Day 1 - Flight from Singapore - Ho Chi Minh - Danang 

I flew in the afternoon time at 1 pm from Singapore and finally reached Danang at 7.30 pm (transit in Ho Chi Minh about 4 hours until the next flight flying). I stayed at Angsana Lang Co in Hue, Vietnam, and it took me 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach there, by taking the complimentary hotel’s shuttle bus. The sky had turned dark by the time I reached the hotel and my friend had been so tired waiting for my arrival. However, she was smiling upon meeting me, welcoming me to my ready-made room, and chit chatting until very late at night :)

Day 2 – Hue, Central Vietnam.

Beautiful Angsana Lang Co Resorts - Hue, Vietnam :)

We had breakfast in the hotel. It offered international spread buffet completed with free-flow of Sparkling wine on the buffet table. You could taste variety of local food too, like Bánh mì (Vietnamese baguette), Vietnam coffee (hot or cold), Bún bò Huế (Hue style chicken rice noodle soup), Bánh chưng (glutinous rice w/ mung bean dim sum like food), and so on. I had my share enough and thanked my friend for the treat :)

Visiting Hue Imperial Palace or Citadel - Central Vietnam

We took the complimentary shuttle bus provided by the hotel to Hue at 10 am sharp. There were few guests coming with us. It took us one hour and fifteen minutes to reach the Hue bus station, in the middle of the Hue city. Both of us walked directly towards Hue Imperial City, also known as the Citadel, and met my friend’s Vietnamese colleague, Huyen.

Renovated area inside the Hue Imperial Palace :)

My friend accompanied me entering into the Citadel while Huyen was waiting outside, enjoying her fresh coconut drink under the shady trees. We paid VND 150,000 entrance fee (around USD 7) per pax and browsed the place ourselves. My friend guided me on where to visit and what to see as she’d been there for many times before too. Although her knowledge in regards of the Imperial history was limited, she tried her best to explain the famous figure and landmark of the area to me

Historical site - Citadel at Hue, Central Vietnam 

I never realized that the place was so huge!!! There were no proper signage to show the directions too. Luckily she went inside with me, otherwise I would get lost, walking round and round. It’s interesting to learn about their history. It’s pretty similar with what Chinese had. I imagined those Chinese drama when reading into their explanation :P

Hanh Restaurant - Serving local Hue delicacies

After two hours, we finally went out. We took cab to Hanh Restaurant. It’s Trip Advisor 2015 Winner for restaurant serving the authentic Hue cuisine, as recommended highly by Huyen.

Delicious Hue local dishes at Hanh Restaurant :)

She helped us ordering their delicious local dishes, such as: Bánh bèo Huế (steamed rice cake topped with chopped fresh shrimp and pork skin, served with sweet fish sauce and chili – VND 60,000 or USD 2.70 per set), Bún thịt nướng (rice noodles with BBQ pork – VND 30,000 or USD 1.40 per bowl), Nem lụi (lemongrass skewers – grilled minced pork – rolled in rice paper, vegetable, and peanut sauce at VND 70,000 or USD 3.20 per set), Bánh cuốn (steamed rice sheet filled with BBQ pork, cilantro, served with sweet and sour fish sauce at VND 30,000 or USD 1.40 per plate), plus a bottle of cold Huda beer for me in such warm afternoon! Ooohh…. The food and beer were equally delicious!!! I enjoyed every bits of it and felt very thankful to Huyen to bring us there! :)

Thien Mu Pagoda - Hue, Central Vietnam 

After filling our stomach, her friend, Tin, came with her motorcycle. Huyen had asked her help to bring both of us around the Hue city. Our next destination was Chùa Thiên Mụ or Thiên Mụ Pagoda. It was a historic temple in the city. There was seven stories pagoda, sitting on the Hà Khê Hill, facing the bank of the Perfume River. There was a giant bell, which weighed 3285 kg, and a statue of a large marble turtle – as symbol of longevity – on the left and right of the Pagoda. We walked around the area and went inside the main temple for prayer. I felt a heartfelt gratitude for Huyen and Tin to bring us there. This temple was exactly the place that I wanted to visit most during this trip, where it brought my heart closer to Buddha :) Thank you so much!

Motor ride in Hue :)

Next, we took almost 10 km ride towards outskirts of Hue, to the Tomb of Khải Định – Chau Chu Mountain. The weather changed cooler as we walked towards mountainous area and again, I felt a heartfelt gratitude for finally being able to have motorcycle ride in Vietnam! Although I wasn’t the driver, I could feel the sense of freedom in it. I was so so very happy and didn’t stop smiling all throughout the journey :)

Tomb of Khai Dinh - Hue, Vietnam 

Due to the limited time, I had to enter the tomb myself. The ticket cost VND 100,000 or USD 5 for foreigner. Khải Định was Emperor of Vietnam back in 1916. He prepared the mausoleum himself, influenced by French and European architectural style into his Oriental style. You had to climb the staircases up to reach the mausoleum and altar monument. It’s beautiful and unique, worth visiting!

Delicious Banh Canh Cua - Crab soup and sugar cane drink :)

The rests were sipping sugarcane drinks and I joined them afterwards. We rode back to Hue city. Before returning back to the bus station, Huyen brought us to taste their local Bánh canh cua (thick crab soup with Vietnamese rice noodles). We were sitting on the short plastic stools with short wooden table facing the roadside. Hhmmm… another delicious local delicacy and each bowl only cost us VND 20,000 (less than USD 1)!!! What a steal man!!! I really wished to go back and taste all their delicious local dishes! ^^

Rest of our time in Angsana Lang Co - Hue, Vietnam 

By 5pm, we went back into the Hue bus station to take the shuttle bus. At 7pm, my friend went singing Karaoke, where the room was located inside the Rice Bowl Restaurant. Too bad the MTV video wasn’t original and they could not shut their centralised music down. It was quite difficult in finding the latest songs too. Hahaha… We just sang in about an hour plus then decided to leave. Instead of going back to our room, we both played the pool (our own style and rules) for another hour or two. It’d been a tiring and long day for both of us. We took a bath, had a supper (in-room dining), then went to sleep. What a beautiful day we had!!! ;)

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