It was the story that launched a million hashtags. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love book (publisher Penguin) in 2006 and the subsequent film was a tale of personal-reinvention that spawned a new travel-trend of continent-hopping adventures.
While the book focused on the cuisine of Italy, the spirituality of India, and the serenity of Bali, where the lead character ultimately found love, do you really need to travel that far to enjoy some of the world’s best cuisines, explore your spiritual side in iconic temples and churches, and stroll alongside some of the world’s most romantic backdrops? Agoda has identified a Vietnamese city where travelers can ‘find it all’ with little more than a weekend away – Hue!
Located north of the breathtaking Hai Van Pass, the ancient city of Hue includes ruins that can be traced back to the fourth century AD. Hue’s royal past has lent itself to countless hilltop pagodas and mausoleums that hark back to the dynasties of yore.
Famed throughout Vietnam as one of the country’s top cuisines, Hue’s food also owes its traditions to this regal lineage, with Vietnam’s top chefs flocking to prepare food for the families that sat on its thrones throughout the centuries.
With all these temples, all this history, set on the gorgeous Perfume River, overlooked by its famed Citadel, travelers who want to explore their souls, satisfy their palates and rekindle a little romance can look to Hue to do so. Here are a few places to explore and stay in Hue that will offer you great chances to connect with each of these three elements of sensory and spiritual awakening:
While every hotel boasts a restaurant serving local dishes, to truly get a taste of Hue, take to the streets. Base yourself by the Citadel at the Agoda home Kelly and Cohen Platemaker and stroll down Han Thuyen Street, the locals’ choice for banh canh noodle soup. Continue over the canal to Bach Dang and the city’s signature dish – bun bo Hue – is served up in steaming bowls every morning by Me Keo. Further in – Nguyen Binh Khiem Street is noted for its delicious banh beo rice cakes. Follow the river, cross over the lovely Truong Tien Bridge and work your way toward Truong Dinh Street and sample one of the vendors’ com hen dishes. Cross back and head behind the Citadel to complete the loop with a visit to Nguyen Trai Street for banh beo nam loc to end a wonderful morning of gastronomy.
Buddhism has been a part of everyday life in Hue since the 16th century. Visitors will find dozens of temples and pagodas in the town and its surrounds, where they can while away the hours in their gardens, meditate and chat with resident monks.
Famed also as the birthplace of Thich Nhat Hanh, the ‘father of mindfulness’, Hue is home to the Tu Hieu Pagoda, where the faithful arrive daily to pay homage to the elderly monk. Travelers can enjoy peaceful respite at the Hue Ecolodge with its quaint brick cottages 15 minutes away from the secluded temple.
What is not to love? Where is not to love in Hue? Whether you are strolling the beautiful Perfume River and chasing the tropical fragrance it is said to exude as the sun sets behind the Citadel, or finding love for nature at the Bach Ma National Park, Hue’s charms are virtually endless for those seeking a little romance.
Situated beside the Perfume River, the luxurious Azerai La Residence Hue with its charming art-deco stylings, salt-water pool facing the Citadel and renowned restaurant offers the perfect romantic getaway.
Before ending your trip, make your ultimate declaration of love for Hue, by taking a photo at the iconic, illuminated “I Love Hue” sign.
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This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt