Tag Archives: Hue

On the Reunification Express

There is a pot with flowers on the small table by the window. I have never had that before on a train.

In my train cabin
In my train cabin

This is the SE20 Reunification Express train from Da Nang to Hanoi. I have got on board in Hue’ and will get off in Ninh Binh in the morning – a 12-hr overnight ride for $46.
Memories of my “epic journey from Da Lat to Hoi An” (click here) make me pray for an uneventful one.

The train itself – when it finally arrives in Hue’, 45 minutes late, not too bad for a start I am told – doesn’t look bad. It reminds me of trains in Italy in the early 80’s. Very basic. But it’s clean.

I booked my ticket online on the Vietnam Railways website and the ticket was efficiently delivered to my hotel in Hue’. A lot of Westerners told me that they had tried to do the same but not found the correct website. So I am grateful to my local contact in Ninh Binh for sending me the right URL!

My berth
My berth

I have a lower berth in a 4-berth soft sleeper cabin. An Australian girl is already in when I get on board. A Vietnamese man joins us an hour later and spends the whole night coughing and spitting. But there are no other disturbing factors.

The cabin is initially very hot but at some point the a/c kicks in and I have to make use of the blanket provided. I wonder how often blankets and pillows are washed/changed. But I don’t see major causes of worry.
I spot one coackroach in the morning but I guess it could be worse.
And it’s quiet. Quite unusual, a regular ‘commuter’ tells me.

We arrive in Ninh Binh at 9:30am. 45 minutes late. It’s ok.
All in all a fairly smooth train journey!

The Imperial City in Hue’

I am not too fond of Hue’ city. It reminds me of Saigon: big city, lots of traffic, hordes of motorbikes, very noisy.


Yes, there is a but. The Imperial City.
If there is one reason why Hue’ should make it on your travel itinerary, the Imperial City is that reason.

One of the entrance gates to the Citadel
One of the entrance gates to the Imperial City

Hue’ was the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945, during the Nguyen dynasty. Eleven of the Nguyen emperors are buried here.
A large Citadel, surrounded by a 10Km-long wall, was laid out at the beginning of the 19th century and contained the Imperial City. The latter is where offices, temples and royal palaces (in the Forbidden Purple City) were located. Definitely something not to be missed!

Palace in the Imperial City
Palace in the Imperial City

A visit to the Imperial City will take you 2-3 hours. Out of the original 148 buildings, only a few have survived fires and bombs but they are spectacular. Particular mention goes to the throne palace (Thai Hoa Palace), all gold and red – no photos are allowed inside, though.

A lot of restoration work has taken place in the Imperial City, and much is still ongoing – you will come across several examples during your visit.

Restoration works!
Restoration works!

The entrance ticket to the Imperial City will also give you access to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, with its impressive collection of royal paraphernalia. The palace where the museum is located is a sight in itself.

Hue’ has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993. And deservedly.