16/03/2013 9:43:56 SA
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Hue arrives on tourist map
When eager travellers arrive in Vietnam, they usually have a familiar list of places that they are determined to visit - Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Sa Pa and maybe Ninh Binh.

One name that usually doesn't crop up immediately is Hue, the former imperial capital, which despite its rich tradition and heritage has mostly been used by tourists as a mere stopping point midway through their journey.

Recently, however, things have started to change and Hue is making a name for itself as a tourist destination in its own right.

In Hue, coffee shops and restaurants are surrounded by crumbling citadel walls that have stood firm through many conflicts – a visual reminder of the city's inimitable history and culture.

Long-term residents value Hue for its peaceful and quiet way of life, which can be quite hard to come by in a country as fast moving and often chaotic as Vietnam.

Often it is the little things that are savoured the most. There is nothing quite comparable to the simple pleasures of drinking a cold Huda (Vietnam's finest beer) on the banks of the Perfume River, drinking ca phe sua (Vietnam's finest milk-coffee) on a floating bamboo platform surrounded by lotus flowers, or drinking a supremely refreshing nuoc mia (sugarcane juice – Vietnam's finest refreshment) in the shadow of the impressive Notre Dame Cathedral. Indeed, almost all free time in Hue is spent drinking something.

The Hue people are well adapted to this inevitable state of affairs by now and continue with their daily lives with good humour. Expats in Hue seldom feel the same way. Those who brave the rainy season are rewarded when April arrives along with the sunshine, and the city transforms from beautiful, misty, rain soaked Hue to beautiful, resplendent, colourful Hue .

The city has a justifiably excellent reputation for food, a legacy of the Nguyen kings who were famously fussy eaters. The Vietnamese dishes here are mouth-wateringly good and beautifully presented, but be warned – the Hue people have a preference for spicy meals so tourists should be prepared!

For travellers who would prefer some home comforts, there is something for almost everybody (Hue boasts good Indian, Korean, Japanese, French, Italian and Mexican restaurants among others) with good quality food and reasonable prices.

Sample the real Hue by singing with friends at one of the numerous karaoke places, haggling at Dong Ba Market, or sailing down the river on a swan boat and watching the sun set. Experiences here can often range from the sublime to the ridiculous, but they all linger long in the memory.

Hue might not be as vibrant or fast paced as Hanoi or HCM City, but the people who return here again and again for just one more ca phe sua on a lazy afternoon wouldn't want it any other way.-VNA

Source: VietnamPlus