We just leave Da Lat and its tranquility to Hoi An and his old neighborhood. After 5 pm bus, we arrive at 5 o’clock in the morning in this small town by the sea. We tell you our stay “hoianesque” which then continues to Hué, the ancient imperial city of the Vietnam.
First stop in Hoi An
Walk in the old town of Hoi An
Arriving at 5 o’clock in the morning in Hoi An, we must acknowledge that we are not very fresh. Vietnamese bus sleeping are nice but after 5 pm and full a night to turn in your seat, you start to find the time long and have dark circles under the eyes. But it is also at this time that we see the city come to life, cafes opening their gate to welcome their first guests, farmers working in their fields, etc. A good show offered to us and we still smile despite fatigue.
After will be requinqués a bit to our guesthouse and after a good shower that wakes up, we decided to walk quietly and his leaving porter in the old quarter of Hoi An, with its houses classified world heritage of UNESCO. A ride on the local market, where vendors listen you for you sell their magnets, lacquers and other memorabilia made in China… Has not felt it until now, but we quickly realize that Hoi An is much more touristy than the cities we’ve been through far.
It runs along temples, old colonial facades covered with bougainvillea and yellow houses, before arrived on the docks along the river. It is really very hot. Suddenly arises in a small shop of tea and Vietnamese coffee in order to find some shade. The little lady who holds the House makes us taste different kinds of teas and coffees local, really delicious. Without force us to purchase, she simply wants us to discover its green tea, its lotus tea or even the coffee hazelnut.
Back to our guesthouse, it is tempted by the bus to My Son the next scheduled morning out. And since we’re the warriors, we booked the niche that leaves at 4:30 to make the sunrise on the temples. That means we have to set the alarm at 3:30… As say you that the evening passes quickly and only after a good meal on the “food market” in the old town, we go back to bed to recover from the night before and anticipate on the revival of tomorrow!
“Sunrise” to My Son
Wake up at 3:30 so… Prepare before you leave feet with the owner’s son to join the bus that we will lead us for the day. Small lunch at the Agency before leaving, we realize that we’re much more than the 10 to 15 people initially announced. Disappointment, we don’t really like to get into these towers of 50 people. But don’t worry, we’re still going to sunrise on the temples so who cares. 🙂
We’re leaving the Agency at 5: 00 and a few. However it takes 45 minutes to reach My Son temples. The sun rises at 5:30. I’m not super good at mathematics but in my opinion there, there is a bug in the matrix. We’re not there to see the sun rise… And indeed, this isn’t My Son that is the big orange red ball emerging mountains, but since our bus that is road to the temples. Here we’re really disappointed. It was up just for that and we miss him. The guide does that to apologize for the delay. Try all the same to enjoy our visit (#restonszen). History of close that little moment “mug shot”, we learn that we must in addition to the output to 200,000 VND per person, pay the entry fee of VND 150 000 for access to the temples. So after gnawed a few nails because of nervousness, we into perspective by saying that now that we’re here, might as well try to enjoy maximum.
The light is very beautiful and Mr can make wonderful pictures of the site. The complex of My Son is in very great part destroyed (especially because of the war with the USA). There are only a few ruins that remind us a little temples of Angkor in Cambodia, even if it’s much less impressive. Our guide explained the architecture of the site, the meaning of the drawings and serious characters in the rock, and the restoration techniques that they put in place to preserve this heritage. He makes us laugh because still many things remain unknown on this site and the meaning of the elements. So, whenever he doesn’t know, he takes a sad mine and a dramatic voice to tell us “sorry we don’t know”.
After the tour of the temples, our group takes the path of return. It is possible to return in boat by the River, option we have learned since the owner of our hostel suggested us (in fact we didn’t but it was extra normally). Our boat made a stop on a small island in the face of Hoi An, on which the inhabitants live from their craft. Wood carving, lacquerware, mother-of-Pearl etc. You’ll find everything. We then return in the old town, where we stop fans “food market”, market food before you go take a NAP at our guesthouse. You can taste here some of the local specialities including Cao Lau, the Mi Quang (prepared differently noodle soups) or even White Roses (dumplings steam).
But why Hoi an is the city to 1 000 lanterns?
When we say that we go to Hoi An, everyone always answers us “Oh cool!” You’ll see lanterns! “.” Indeed, as you stroll the day in the city, you see a lot of shops in the streets selling lanterns and balls silk of all colours and all grounds. In the evening, the old city and particularly the river sector, take beautiful colors, which creates a totally different atmosphere. Garlands of lanterns float in the streets, on the balconies, the terraces of restaurants and even on the River in little flowers. It is gorgeous!
But that beautiful tourist hotspot. It’s in the evening truly measuring traffic in the old city. There are tourists, many Chinese groups, from anywhere. The bridge crossing the river is saturated. We complain people trying to cross bike. It’s no use, it is best to set foot on land.
But then why these lanterns? The city specializes in the manufacture of lanterns for more than 4 centuries. She made her symbol and many artisans perpetuate the traditional know-how with built in bamboo lanterns. It is possible to manufacture his own lantern in some small traditional shops.
The other symbol of the city is the Japanese covered bridge. The city has experienced several periods of Japanese, Chinese, or even French occupation. The old quarter therefore propose to explore at this time and visit the buildings and landmarks. Just buy a ticket at the checkpoint at the entry to the old town and you buildings, temples and the famous bridge! We did it in the dark at the time where lanterns come to life and create the special atmosphere in the city center. It’s really beautiful! We recommend especially to cross the bridge in the evening, when the lanterns float on the river and that couples in traditional dress take the break in small boats.
Discovery of the area between rice paddies and sea
Once you have done around the old neighborhood and the Tower of night lanterns, Hoi An is not great interest. On the other hand, if you take a bike (or a scooter for the laziest), it is possible to get out very easily in the city and escape in the rice paddies, wheat fields and the small surrounding villages before winning the beach.
And a small swim at 10 o’clock in the morning when it’s 35 degrees, it’s more enjoyable. Cua Dai beach is probably the Beach the cleanest we’ve seen up to now in the Viet Nam… Almost no plastic, no jellyfish and gelatinous slugs… A real pleasure to sting a little head in the water, as there is nobody!
On the way back, we take the time to get lost in the fields, on small paths where the only be that we cross are buffaloes or cows trying to mull over the grass of the Meadow next door. Tough life! Through villages at the time of the out of school around 4 pm. So, full of children follow us, double bike on the way making us of large cuckoos and shouting “hello, hello!”.
The ride is even nicer that it ends on a beautiful sunset, at the entrance to the port of Hoi An. There is no one else but us and the moment leaves us speechless, as each time that we can admire a beautiful sunset. The perfect opportunity to reflect as a result of the journey, the adventure that we live, etc.
Stopover in Hué
The discovery of the the ancient imperial city
Hué is not very far from Hoi An. Just take a bus which connects the 2 cities in a little over 3 hours. Level timing, it is always good since we arrive to the station of bus around noon. And of course, our guesthouse is located 1/2 hour’s walk, under a Sun at the end of a huge and endless straight line. But I think we’re starting to get to this climate and our bags on the back. Time flies almost and it happens pretty quickly to our accommodation. 😉
Let it be said, it comes to not booed for the city, which has no real interest. If we do stop here, especially for discovering the ancient imperial city, the Vietnamese forbidden city mini. Please allow a 1/2 day time to explore the temples, to read the story of the last Nguyen emperors, etc. It’s really very interesting and we didn’t pass the time.
Some say that the imperial city is disappointing and does not deserve its reputation. So, you didn’t know what to expect. But we’re pleasantly surprised. After visiting the forbidden city in Beijing, although it is much smaller, but it remains interesting because the temples are being restored or completed. There are a lot of things to read in the major corridors that connect buildings together, which allows to understand a little more the Vietnamese history. And above all, the place is much greener than the forbidden city, that had been found very mineral!
So yes, there are many ruins (again because of the war), and do not expect to see impeccable buildings as in China. But no, we were not disappointed in our discovery. The doors and restored temples are particularly impressive.
We also recommend the restaurant right next to the site, very pleasant after a morning visit in full sun. Impossible to find his name on the internet, but you can’t miss it, the walls being tagged by tourists who stopped. Notes in all languages so adorn the walls. Feel free to enjoy the balcony upstairs. 😉
For those who wish to extend a little that day, and before you go back across the bridge, the local market may be an interesting stop. We cross not many tourists because here you can find everything for his house and eating. You need a service to tea, a basin, or rice to make your meals? The Dong Ba market is where you need to go. We appreciate strolling between stalls in tiny passages in the middle of the mountains of plastics, clothes and other products.
We close our day by a good beer Huda, the local beer, facing the sunset over the perfume River. We love!
Day bike to the discovery of the Royal Tombs
As mentioned previously, there is not much to do in hue. So we rent a scooter for the discovery of the tombs of the Vietnamese emperors nearby. Here again, if you do not feel it, it is possible to go through agencies that organize tours to the day to see the main tombs.
It is with our Maps.me app and a paper map that we go on exploring. After having struggled to find gasoline (Yes here, they rent out scooters), we take the direction of the first Tomb… that we will never find. In checking on the internet, we read that a guy who wanted to get there did attack and bitten by a dog. Well, we will not insist more than that. We quickly turned when you see a dog come forward in our direction.
We continue our journey, direction the next tombs and mausoleums. We leave to the discovery of the tombs of Tu Duke, Khai Dinh, or even Dong Khanh. The tombs are all more majestic than the other. We discover a bit of history of the last dynasty of emperors of the Viet Nam: Nguyen dynasty. Notably, we learn that the tomb of the Emperor’s concubine had its place in the mausoleum, in the same way as the Empress. They marry overall all the same architecture, except one, the tomb of Dong Khanh who did build his mausoleum at the top of a hill. Really interesting!
We end our day “motorbike” by the Thien Mu pagoda, the celestial Lady pagoda. We learn that this is the highest Pagoda of the Viet Nam. Symbol for the city, it overlooks the river of perfumes. This pagoda is a few kilometers from the imperial city and many tourists make the trip on a bike rather than take a scooter. We highly recommend you get there because once we are under the spell…
Here we arrive at the end of these two stops in the center of the Vietnam. Having said goodbye to Hué, we take a bus (Yes we stop here), in the direction of Phong Nha. Known for its caves hidden in a huge natural park classified UNESCO, our stay there and in the Halong Bay on land subject to a final article on the Viet Nam. Case to follow…