Monday, December 29, 2014

Trip to Danang, the Third Largest City in Vietnam

Danang is a big city. Although it has been established long time ago, Danang had never been an important town, until the rule of Minh Mang Emperor, which Danang took over Hoi An as the major port town in 1836. French made the port town a foothold to spread their influence into Vietnam as well.

In our previous trip, Danang served as a jumping point for us to visit Hai Van Pass and Lang Co Beach, Hue, Hoi An, and My Son. Although the city has a population of one million, we couldn't really feel the "busy" of the streets, like what we experienced in Hanoi.

We would advise to stay somewhere near to Tran Phu Street and Bach Dang Street. This is where most of the attractions and shopping area located. Many hotels are available along these two streets. We could get a taxi or rental car easily at this location as well. Anyway, if you are a beach lover, then you might opt to stay somewhere near the beach. 

We stayed for two nights in Happy Hotel at 160 Bach Dang Street. It is a hotel with great location- 10 minutes by foot to Danang Museum of Cham Sculpture and Dragon Bridge to the south, while 7 minutes to Han Market, 10 minutes to Indochina Riverside Tower, and 25 minutes to the new Danang Administration Center. The Han River esplanade is just at the other side of the road. The hotel was built high up beside Han River, thus we could enjoy great river view on the top floor of the hotel. The rate- USD 23 per night.

The hotel room  was small (standard room), but the amenities were enough for a comfortable stay- air conditioner, mini bar, LCD flat screen tv, free high speed wifi connection, hot water, and timely room service. Drinking water (hot and cold) can be refilled at the lobby and complementary breakfast was served at the top floor of the hotel, with nice view. The down side, the staff could only communicate with very simple English, and there was no special non-smoking area assigned for the customer. We could smell the burning of cigarette in the restaurant, or at the lobby area (luckily not in the guest room area). The closest convenient shop was around 100 meters away. Recommend it? Definitely yes.

Happy Day Hotel is conveniently located at Bach Dang Street, side by side with a few other hotels (upper left). The lobby of the hotel is shown at upper right. The room was a bit small, but still could accommodate both of us.

Bach Dang Street from the top floor of the hotel.

Nice scenery of Danang Dragon Bridge and the Han River from the hotel.

The only must visit site in Danang is Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture (DNCS), while strolling on the Dragon Bridge (Cau Rong Bridge by locals) can be a great experience too.

Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture was opened to public as early as 1919. The collection was brought from My Son and other nearby area by French archaeologists. It is located at 2 2 Thang 9. The museum is in fact just at the southern end of Tran Phu Street, next to the big-yellow Dragon Bridge of Danang. The entrance fee was just VND 40k per person, cheaper than the National Museum of Cambodia with the treasures from Angkor and Bagan Archaeological Museum in Myanmar. More information about the museum is available at the official website of the museum. Guided tour is not necessary if you have already visited My Son temples beforehand.

The museum is a must visit place in Danang, especially after you have visited My Son temples and the ancient town of Hoi An. We couldn't see much of the sculptures and the artworks of My Son on site, but by looking at the exhibits in this museum, we could imagine bit and pieces of the beauty of the temples temples in the past. We spent around 1 hour in this museum.

The ticket counter of the museum (upper left) at the front of the museum (upper right). Some of the sculptures were exposed to the elements outside of the museum (lower right) We didn't really know why they brought these heavy stones miles away to the museum, to be consumed by rain and sunlight. A few sculptures are big.

Very fine artworks collected from My Son and several other sites in Vietnam (left column). Polo was invented by Cham? (upper right). The Apsara from Vietnam and Cambodia were really different from each others (lower right).

Danang Dragon Bridge was officially opened for traffic in 2013. The bridge was named after the big yellow dragon shaped backbone. From afar, it looks like a dragon swimming across the Han River. Well, a bridge with a steel dragon might not look attractive enough, but the scenery across the river is the selling point of the whole thing. We crossed the river at around 10:30 am, from the tail to the head. We spent around 40 minutes on the bridge, enjoying the strong wind and beautiful scenery of Han River. Of course, the hot sun was not welcomed, but it provided blue clear sky for nice photo. 

Looking at it for afar is really different from walking on it. A leisure stroll on the bridge is highly recommended. Umbrella is necessary if you are about to walk around under the sun.

 The head of the dragon is facing east. We walked 666 meters from the west to see it.

The tail of the dragon.

Very nice scenery from the bridge. All the best of Danang City by the Han River can be seen from the bridge.

Danang Cathedral was built in 1923, currently serves a congregation of 4000. It is not very attractive, but it does no harm to walk around the area for a while. This cathedral is located in the middle of the busy Tran Phu Street.

Danang offers various types of food, both local delicacies and international cuisine. We tried several stalls around Tran Phu Street and Bach Dang Street. All the foods we tried were nice (at least acceptable). Let us show the food around with our photos.

Quan Pho Bac Hai is located at the junction of Tran Quoc Toan Street and Tran Phu Street, this small and decent shop receive many local customers. The address of the shop is 185 Tran Phu Street. We took our first lunch at this shop. Fried rice, noodle with beef, and noodle with chicken, all of the dishes were nice. The price for the noodle was VND 40,000 per portion, while the rice was VND 50,000 per portion. Cheap and delicious. Of course, like many other small stalls around, you might need to put away the concern about the cleanliness.

By the way, no one from the shop could understand English. What we did is, we pointed at the menu and show the number of order that we wished to have. It was successful for the food, but for drinks, we could only order Coca-Cola, which the name was universal.

The food court in Indochina Riverside Tower is located at the top floor of the shopping mall (upper left). The food court was clean, organized, and air conditioned (upper right). The food court served Vietnam food, Thai food, Western food, Japanese food and many more. We took the duck rice, pork rice, and fried vermicelli with an average of VND 75,000 per dish. The location of Indochina Riverside Tower is at 74 Bach Dang Street. 

The Rachel is a cafe bar located 30 meters from our hotel. The food served was special, but with a higher price. We stopped by the cafe for our early lunch before we went to Danang International Airport. We tried several dishes including crispy spring rows, grilled clams, grilled pork ribs with rice, and rice with stir fried beef. The Vietnamese food for one person was between VND 65k - 200k, while other Asian main courses were served with VND 145k onwards per person. If you wish to have a meal with good atmosphere beside Han River, the Rachel is a good choice for you.

Recommended by Lonely Planet, we visited Mr Duc's at 11 Tran Quoc Toan on our second day in Danang. Exhausted from a day trip to Hoi An and My Son, we didn't take any photo of the restaurant. The restaurant is located 5 minutes away from our hotel. We took dishes with beef, fish, and vegetable, together with steamed rice and fried noodle for that night. The food was very nice. The price was approximately VND 65,000 per person including drinks. By the way, the restaurant was clean and the staff were polite and able to communicate in simple English.

Central Market and the Street
Located between Tran Phu Street and Bach Dang Street, Han Market is easy to find. Groceries, jewellery, souvenirs, food, clothes are some of the things that we can get from the market. Well, like Dong Ba Market in Hue, we could see very few tourists in the market. Although the ventilation was much better than Dong Ba Market, it didn't attract us much as for us, it was just another version of Dong Ba Market. We strolled around for 15 minutes and left the market without buying anything. By the way, the goods available in Han Market were more or less similar to Dong Ba as well.

Han Market from Tran Phu Street. The market is just around 50 meters away from Indochina Riverside Tower.

This market looks more organized and cleaner than Dong Ba Market in Hue. The groceries, jewellery, and food are available at the ground floor, while clothes are sold on the upper floor.

Indochina Riverside Tower is a tall building that can be seen far away. It has a shopping mall with a nice food court at the top floor of the mall.

Jade Mountain is near to Danang. Thus we could see many sculptures along the esplanade (upper left). Danang is a blend of modern and old, which can be seen from the buildings along at Bach Dang Street (upper right). Tran Phu is another busy street with many hotels and tourists (lower row).

 Overall, the streets in Danang was much more less busy than the streets in Hanoi. The area around Tran Phu and Bach Dang streets were safe. We could see people jogging, strolling, or reading newspaper around the Han River esplanade. However, we could see a few tourists around the area. Most of the area were filled with the locals, except for the Museum of Cham Sculpture. 

Danang has the potential to be a vacation paradise, but more effort is required, such as more convenient shops are needed and more English speaking tourism related workers are required to provide a more friendly environment for the visitors.

Our sharing about other places in Vietnam:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Ancient Town of Hoi An

Hoi An is an ancient town built by Cham people. The establishment dated back to the 1st century, with the name of Lam Ap Pho or Champa City in English. It was a harbor town from the 1st - 17th centuries, with merchants from China, Japan, India, South East Asia, and Europe Countries. During the 16th - 17th centuries, a Japanese settlement was established, which the Japanese Bridge was built to connect the settlement with the town. The Japanese at that time believed that Hoi An was the heart of the dragon.

Hoi An or "会安" in Mandarin, means a place to meet peacefully. The peace was invaluable, especially for a place where so many people around the world gathered. The town however faded after the 18th century due to Tay Son Rebellion. To our best estimation, the yellow buildings that remain standing today are the last built before the rebellion, which are at least 200 years old.

Hoi An ancient town consists of 6 streets. The old buildings which most of them are shops, line up along the street, selling souvenirs, clothes, and food. There are others like museums, art galleries, temples, Chinese associations, and residences of the rich and famous scatter around the area. The ancient town area is not big. Walking along the street take us around 30 minutes to make a complete circle around the area. 

We reached Hoi An at around 2:15 pm. After spending an exhausting morning at My Son, we took our lunch in a restaurant, and that was the time when rain started falling. Roads were filled with water, while almost all the shelters were full of people. With umbrella and poncho, we were able to move around regardless the weather. We would like to bring you around with our photos.

The ancient town of Hoi An is highlighted in green. It was a typical harbor town design, with the streets built parallel with the river. The street that is nearest to the river was used to deliver goods unloaded from the ships, while the next street facing the land was used as trading area for merchants.

If you get into the town area from the east (tourist information center), you will see the market of Hoi An. The market consists of a wet area and a food court. Although looks old, the market is not a part of the ancient town.

The food court inside the market serves various types of local food.

The street of Hoi An is very much like the Jonker Street in Malacca. The yellow buildings around the area were built with wooden frames (upper row). The walls were made by woods or by bricks (lower left). Several Chinese associations were built with good craftsmanship.

Merchants selling souvenirs are everywhere (upper row). Trishaws with special design that allow tourists to keep dry under the rain are available too (lower left). Hoi An is beautifully decorated with trees and shrubs.

Heavy rain cannot stop people like us to move around. As you can see in this photo, sandals or flip-flops are more convenient  to walk on the street that filled with rain water.

Hoi An street is beautiful, even in the rain.

Talk about the tickets, there is a big debate whether the tickets should be paid to those who just want to go into the street to take a cup of coffee, or just to jog around the area. Anyway, the price was VND 120,000 per person during our visit. We can visit six special "sites of interest" within Hoi An per ticket.

At first, we thought that was crazy. Seriously, do we really need to pay by just walking down the street? The equally well preserved old streets in Malacca or Penang did not impose any fee to the visitors. Well, after we visited six of the sites of interest in Hoi An, we found that the price was not that expensive. There were really something that we could see and learn. So, our advice, if you just wish to go into Hoi An for a nice Vietnam coffee, you shall consider to enjoy your afternoon coffee elsewhere. If you wish to visit the sites, then buying the ticket won't be a loss for you.We would like to share the sites that we had visited. Disputes over the entrance fee are available at Travelfish.

Hoi An Art Craft Manufacturing Workshop was the first site we visited (upper left). We were lucky to catch up with the traditional music show (performance at 10:15 am & 3:15 pm)(upper right). The performance hall was small and we had to squeeze in it (lower right).  There was other art crafts such as the lantern making shown in this workshop.

The second one was the Museum of Folk Culture. Many antiques were displayed in this museum, including a very early long boat used by the people in Hoi An (upper left), looming machine (upper right), equipment to catch fish (lower right), sewing machine, and many more. It is a place that worth a visit.

Old house of Tan Ky was full house during our visit. Tea was served to all the visitors, with free tour guide explaining the history of the house. The house is not big, with a few antiques remained for the sack of tourism (upper row). There is an overpriced souvenir shop in the house (lower left). Part of the house was flooded due to the heavy rain. For us, there is nothing special about the house. You can skip this if you have other site in your mind.

The old Japanese Bridge is indisputable the biggest attraction to Hoi An. The bridge linked the old Japanese settlement to the other part of Hoi An Town. The construction of the bridge was started in the Year of Monkey and ended in the Year of Rooster (following Chinese Zodiac). That's why we can see a statue of monkey and a statue of rooster on a side of the bridge.

The bridge has a 15 feet wide walkway, which was full of people during our visit.

Scenery from the bridge.

Hoi An Traditional Art Gallery was empty (no artwork on display) during our visit.

This is the information center and ticket selling counter at Nguyen Hue Street. A car park was available 20 meters away from the center. We can get a map after we paid for the ticket. By the way, the person who attended us there was rude and couldn't communicate well in English.

Is Hoi An a worthy place for a visit? For us, it is like a "yellow" version of Bandar di Hilir in Malacca. The whole ancient city area is very much like a big tourist trap. We recommend that Hoi An should be visited together with My Son, and both of the places could be visited in a single day. Spend a night at Hoi An can be a good idea, but since we need to pay every time we entered the heritage area, we chose to stay in Danang, where we could find more places for shopping and food. 

Food and drinks are available in the ancient town area, so what we really need to bring is an umbrella, just in case of sudden rainfall.

We took our lunch at Hoa Don Ban Le at Bach Dang Street (upper row). The restaurant was nicely decorated, but to our surprise, nobody in the restaurant could speak in English. The food served was average, the price, VND276,000 or approximately USD12.30 for 4 dishes and 2 drinks.

Hoi An is a place for a leisure trip. The beauty of the ancient town can be unveiled through visiting the artifacts in the museums, as well as through the artworks in displayed. Or else, it is not more than just another little town by the river, with tranquil reflection of the swaying trees and nicely built town houses. So, if you are in a hurry and rushing down the streets to grab the scenery as much as you can, you have in fact missed the best part of the town.

If you ask, did raining really spoil our trip? Our answer is "no". When the rain water dripping down through the ancient roof, when the streets filled with water that reflected the yellowish walls, and when the bicycles splashed through ponds of water, that was the most beautiful moment of the ancient town. Most of the sites that we visited in Hoi An had the special places for poncho and umbrella, so moving in and out were convenient. We moved around My Son and Hoi An with sandals, and it proved to be a right choice in the middle of rainy season.

We went back to Danang, which was about 30 minutes away from Hoi An. We would recommend that we should visit My Son and Hoi An first, before we visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Danang. We will share more about Danang in our coming post.

More about our experiences at Danang, My Son, and Hoi An  are available at:

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My Son, the Relics of the Oldest Civilization in South East Asia

We learned about Champa civilization in our secondary school history class many years ago. Champa together with old Kedah in Malaysia were the oldest civilizations in South East Asia. Today, most of the old Kedah's relics have lost due to the lack of preservation by the government, but a few of Champa's relics survived.

My Son temples were built by Champa Kings from the 4th to 13th century AD  to worship Shiva, which can be easily identified by the entrances that face east. The area were once amassed by 70 temples, and served as the center of religious ceremonies and burial sites for the kings and nobles. The first temple in My Son was believed to be built by Bhadravarman I between 380 - 413. The successors later continued building more temples in the surrounding area.

We departed to My Son (some sources name it as My Son Sanctuary) after taking a day rest at Danang. We had spent three days in Hue before that. We rented a car with driver for a whole day trip, from Danang to My Son, Hoi An, and then back to Danang. We paid USD50 for the car with the driver.

Starting from Happy Day Hotel at 8:30 am, our road trip to My Son took about 2 hours, as the heavy rain made our car moved with 30 - 40 km per hour most of the time. Luckily the rain turned lighter when we reached My Son and stopped 30 minutes later. There were very few signboards leading to My Son, you might need to plan in detail if you want to drive by your own. We strolled around My Son temples area for 2 hours 30 minutes.

If not because of raining, we should be able to see beautiful paddy fields along the road (upper left). The cows (upper right) and other animals could be seen along the road. Big signages could only be seen when we were close to the site (lower right). The arch with a big UNESCO logo on indicated that we were on the right track and really close to the site.

We reached the ticketing counter at around 10 am (upper left). From the counter to the entrance of the site is another 5 minutes of driving. Then, we stopped by a booth to hire an English speaking guide with VND 100,000 (upper right). Although quite informative, we could feel that he was hurrying us to walk around the area, and left us in the site after bringing us around for 35 minutes. Canteen (lower right) and toilets are available at the entrance. We need to take another 10 minutes walk to the site as vehicles are not allowed beyond the entrance.

Walking in the rain was no problem for us.

We were lucky to catch up with the Cham folk art performance. It was held in a hall (upper left), with Cham people performing their cultural dances (upper right), apsara dance (lower right) and musical instrument. The performance is scheduled on 9:30 am, 10:30 am. and 2:30 pm daily. By the way, the apsara dance in My Son is like "rock and roll" compared to "slow and graceful" apsara dance in Siem Reap.

This is the map of My Son. From the entrance, we will see Group C first. The dance performance hall is located somewhere before Group C temples. Group B, C, and D form the biggest collection of temples. Group A and G are on the other side of the stream. Group E and F are some 200 meters away from A and G. Group K is 300 meters away from Group E and F, which we can see it on our way out.

Group C is one of the most untouched collection of temples. These temples were built between 10th - 11th century.

Group B is located adjacent to Group C. The first temple of My Son was built there. The temple however was destroyed and rebuilt for several times. The relics that remain standing now were built between 11th - 13th century. Group D is located behind Group B.

 Group D temples.

Group A was formerly a part of Group D before a stream formed and divided them. This group is badly damaged, with just a few walls and an altar remain standing. These temples are believed to be some of the biggest and most magnificent within My Son, before the bombs turned them into rubbles. The entrance to the main temple of group A is facing west.

Group G is located on a small hill, with a few small structures remain standing. These structures were built around 12th - 13th centuries. The entrance of the main temple of this group is facing west. A similar hill temple, Phnom Bakheng in Siem Reap is the much bigger version of this temple.

If you are not sure about the meaning of "ruins", please go to see Group E and F. These two groups are the oldest among all, with a few structures dated back to 8th century.

Group K is far away from the others. It can be visited on our way out. The group contains only two small spearhead towers which were built around 11th century.

General architecture of the temples- the main temple contains lingam and yoni at the basement (upper left), with the entrance facing the middle temple and the monastery in a straight line (upper right). The monastery was the place for the preparation of ceremonies (lower left). Some of the main temples (Group B and C) were accompanied by a few of smaller structures, such as library.

The sculptures and bass relief are badly damaged by weather (upper row). Many of the sculptures had been moved into the monastery to avoid further damage (lower row). Many of them have been moved to the museum in Danang as well.

Visiting My Son need a lot of walking, with bridges across the stream (upper left), walkway across the wood (upper right) and dirt path around the temples (lower right). Bomb craters are scattered around the area.

My Son ruins is much less stunning than Angkor Wat and Bayon in Cambodia, or Borobudur and Prambanan temples in Indonesia. Even with all 70 temples remain standing, My Son is still far inferior compared to Bagan in Myanmar. However, as one of the oldest site of civilization in South East Asia, it is worth all the effort for us to visit it. As Old Kedah civilization in Lembah Bujang has basically cannot be traced anymore, My Son is the only place that we can go to catch the bit and pieces about the glory of the past civilization.

Well, visiting My Son have nothing to do with "enjoy" or "fun". The site is really a remote area with toilets and canteen available only at the entrance. So, we should go to toilet before exploring the area for hours without "toilet break". Drinking water is essential, as the humid surrounding will make us sweat a lot. Snacks might be needed to keep us moving forward. Shoes are recommended, but sandals and shorts might be a better choice during rainy season. The site was not friendly to wheelchair, but it can be accessed by those with walking aids. Umbrella is important too, as the weather is hard to predict. Visitors to My Son are not encouraged to walk beyond the designated walking paths to avoid stepping on land mine.

As we browsed through internet, the information regarding My Son was really limited: reading the information in Wikipedia,, and from the book "Vietnam" by Nick Ray. On the other hand, we are quite sceptical about the information provided in Wikitravel regarding the exploitation of My Son resources by outsiders. We would recommend that we should visit My Son and Hoi An first, before we visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Danang.

We took a short rest at the canteen. The food and drinks were sold with reasonable prices. We left My Son around 1 pm and continued our trip to Hoi An. We will share our experience in Hoi An in our next post. Follow us now for more updates. 

Other sharing about Hue, Danang, My Son, and Hoi An:

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Hue- Food, Accommodation, Shopping and Moving Around

We stayed in Hue for 3 days 2 nights, visiting several places of interest such as the tombs of Nguyen emperors and the Citadel of Hue. These UNESCO heritage sites were really must visit places in Hue. To get around Hue, let us start with accommodation.

Finding a place to stay is easy, from high class expensive resorts beside Huong River to the small family-run guest houses between the streets, the choice is yours. However, we would recommend to stay somewhere within the boundary of four roads- Le Loi, Nguyen Chong Tru, Le Quy Don, and Hung Vuong. That is the area where many tourists gathered. Night market along the esplanade, eateries, shops, Truong Tien Bridge, and even the Citadel of Hue are within walking distance from that area.

We stayed in Holiday Diamond Hotel, which ranked high in Tripadvisor with a reason- outstanding service with only USD24 per room per night. We arrived late at around 6:15 pm.We were immediately served with welcoming drinks and fruits. The hotel staff explained briefly on the attractions in Hue and approximate fees for the tours before leading us to our room. The room was readied with high speed wifi, flat screen TV with satellite programs, safe box, wardrobe with hangers, coffee making facility, mini bar, water heater for bathroom, hair drier, and even fruit served everyday. We were surprised by very nice buffet breakfast with more than 30 items on the menu. By the way, if you wonder where can you get the best "bun-bo", the beef noodle of Hue in the city, our answer is- Holiday Diamond Hotel. However, the dish was not listed in the menu, so you might need to ask the waiter to prepare one for you.

Holiday Diamond is small, and located some 30 meters from the main Nguyen Cong Tru Street, which is not accessible by car. The location might bring some difficulty in case of raining, but the location itself promises quiet environment and a good night sleep. The staff were helpful, with a few of them could speak very good English. The stay at Holiday Diamond Hotel was a very good experience and we really learnt a lesson on how to "win by service". We would like to express our special gratitude to all the staff, especially Anna. She had helped us a lot in finding good deals for the local tour and recommending good local food around Hue.

The outlook of the hotel (upper left), which the front door leads to the lobby (upper right). Holiday Diamond Hotel is connected to the main street through a lane (lower right), where a sign of the hotel can be seen from the main road. This little lane was shared by two other hotels.

The room is big for two with cozy design (upper left). Coffee, tea, fruits, and drinking water were complementary (upper right). Local fruits were served as welcoming refreshment (lower left) and during the buffet breakfast.

Hue offers various types of local food. Although eateries can be found at every corner of the area, not many of them serve nice local food. We tried as many as possible during our stay- pork rib rice, chicken rice, beef noodle, spring rolls, grilled minced pork on lemongrass stick, rice paper roll with BBQ pork, and many more.

Located at 28 Vo Thi Sau Street, Thanh Na Restaurant is just 5 minutes by foot from our hotel (upper left). It was a place where local people gathered (upper right). During our visit, we found that none of the staff could speak English. Luckily, the menu was prepared with simple translation. So, we could get what we want by pointing at the dishes on the menu. The price of chicken leg served with rice and vegetable was VND 55,000 (lower left), while pork was served with much cheaper at VND 30,000. Fried noodle with beef was served at VND 50,000. The taste, really delicious, especially when we were hungry. We took two meals (one dinner and one supper) at this restaurant during our stay in Hue.

We had a supper at Golden Rice Restaurant at 40 Pham Ngu Lao Street (upper left) with good atmosphere (upper right). The price for three fresh spring rolls with beef was VND 59,000 (lower left), and the "bun-bo" or rice noodle soup with beef and pork was served with VND 55,000. The food was average and a bit expensive. But the service was good- staff were attentive and could speak in simple English. The second floor of the restaurant was air-conditioned.

The eateries beside the roadside might not be the cheaper choice (upper left), if it is close to the Citadel of Hue (upper right). We spent our lunch time at a small eatery beside the citadel. The price, VND 50,000 for 4 spring rolls (lower left), VND 50,000 for vegetable and pork rice paper roll (Nem Lui Heo), and VND 70,000 for fried pork without rice.

The Hanh was located at a corner of Pho Duc Chinh. By foot, it was around 15 minutes away from our hotel.The restaurant offered delicious traditional food with relatively cheap price- 6 nen-lui (pork with lemongrass stick) with VND 60,000 (upper left), fried and fresh spring rolls (upper and lower right) with VND 40,000 respectively, and ban cuon (rice paper roll it yourself with vegetable and pork) with VND 30,000 for a portion of 4 person! Cheap, delicious, and highly recommended, but we need to do a little bit of walking to get there.

The Hanh is located at a corner, the street was quiet.

Must try food in Hue- Rice paper roll. We can wrap it, roll it, fold it, or in anyway we like, with pork, beef, or simply vegetable. Next is bun bo, or the beef noodle. If you are a big fan of Hanoi's beef noodle, then you may want to try this- the taste, a bit more spicy and sour compared to the one that we tried in Hanoi. Nen-lui is special, but the taste was nothing extraordinary, while we prefer Hanoi's spring roll than the one in Hue. Overall, the food in Hue was good, but the price was not as cheap as we thought.
What to buy in Hue? Many will tell that we can buy silk, bamboo works, and wooden items there. Incense made by natural woods can be purchased as well. If you like one of these thing- bamboo hat, bamboo fan, wooden carved items, or clothes made by silk, then Hue is a place for you. For us, we are not interested in any of them. But we did get some souvenirs with bargained price.

Night market beside Truong Tien Bridge was the only night market at Hue. Locals went there to get what they need, so the price of the items were expected to be cheap. Please do bargain "extensively", starting from 1/3 of the price, or even 1/5 of the original price. It would then end up with a deal somewhere around half of the original price. The clothes, food, fruits, and some other items were marked with very attractive prices, but most of them had no price tags on them. We learnt from others that we should insist to pay in Dong. Paying in USD gives a sign of "we are rich" and will close the door of bargaining.

Items available at the market. Some music instruments were sold too.

The incense and bamboo work factory was not attractive, at least for the one that we had visited on our way to Tu Duc's tomb. The items were much expensive than what we found in Dong Ba Market.

Dong Ba Market is located at Tran Hung Dao, some 3 minutes from Truong Tien Bridge. It is one of the oldest market in Hue (upper left). We could find local fruits (upper right), local bamboo work (lower left), groceries, and many others there. Again, when we asked for price, the offer would always be in USD. When we said that we would pay in Dong, the price immediately went down by 20%. When we asked for a discount, then the prices went down further by 70%. It was the offer we got for one of the silk product.

Food stalls at Dong Ba Market (upper left), groceries (upper right), gold products (lower right), and red prawns sold in Dong Ba.

Dong Ba is not a big market. It was not a pleasant place- poor ventilation, squeezy and humid. So, if you don't like to go to wet market, then Dong Ba may not be a place for you.

Truong Tien Plaza is just beside Dong Ba Market (upper left), fully air conditioned, with a supermarket (upper right) and a fast food outlet (lower left) at ground floor, and a food court and departmental store at the second floor.

The best way to go to Hue from Da Nang International Airport is by taxi. The taxi ticket counter was located in the airport arrival hall, and the price was fixed at VND1.15 million per trip for 5 seaters sedan (approximately USD55). Of course, we have to pay more if we wish to use Hai Van Pass, as we shared in our previous post.

Many hotel and tour operators were waiting for their customers outside of the arrival hall (upper left), with the taxi station located at the same level (upper right). The check in counters (lower left) and the departure hall of the airport was clean with modern look.

The standard taxi fares from Danang International Airport to Ba Na, Hoi An, Lang Co Bay, My Son, and Hue were shown in the airport.

Bicycle and motorbike can be rented on daily basis in Hue, with quite a low price.  Riding on our own can be economical, but only if you can adapt to the Vietnam style of driving. You can visit Wikitravel for more information on the transportation in Hue. For us, we used rented car with driver for a one-day trip, from 9 am to 5 pm, with USD45 on our second day in Hue to visit the emperors' tombs and the citadel of Hue. The metered taxi could be a good option for short trips around the tourism area, with the fee calculated in Dong. 

From our hotel at Nguyen Cong Tru Street we had walked around the main tourism streets- Le Loi, Vo Thi Sau, Ben Nghe and places in vicinity. The street was safe both during the day and night. However, we need to be careful about the traffic. Most of the people in Hue follow the traffic lights, but we still need to follow the "Vietnam rules" as in Hanoi and Danang. Electric powered bicycles could be the "deadliest", as these silent vehicles moved very fast without any noise.

Hue in day time (upper row). Some streets can be very quiet, while others can be very busy. The streets at tourism area are basically closed to the traffic (lower left). The night life area was concentrated around Le Loi Street, Doi Chun, Pham Ngu Lao Street, Vo Thi Sau Street and places in vicinity.

One thing that we need to keep in mind- watch out for the incoming traffic (upper left). Locals with their daily activities around the market area (upper right and lower right). The electric powered bicycle was very popular around hue.

Most of the people in Hue could not understand English. Their body language was not as good as what we could find in the night market of Bangkok, or the hawkers in Hanoi. A map is important, but not a must.

After staying in Hue for 3 days, we continued our trip to My Son, Hoi An, and Danang. Follow us now for more updates.

We share more about Hue at:

Our sharing about other places in Vietnam: