Monday, August 22, 2016

Hue 2016 - An Dinh Palace

One of the most beautiful heritage buildings in Hue happen to be right in the city. An Dinh Palace was built by Khai Dinh - the 2nd last Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. It was completed in 1918 in a French Colonial style in which Emperor Khai Dinh had great interest. The palace was later used by Khai Dinh's son Bao Dai who was the last emperor of Vietnam. It was almost completely destroyed and was recently restored as part of a German Government aid project.

The building interior on the ground floor is very ornate and impressive.

It was interesting to see the sleeping quarters of the royal family. These rooms are not fully furnished like the ground floor - and not as ornate. In fact the bedrooms are all of quite modest proportions.

There is supposedly an entrance fee to visit the palace - but when we visited the attendants did not bother to collect anything from us. We were left free to wonder through the building and compound on our own.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Hue 2016 - La Residence Hotel and Spa

If you are looking for the best hotel in Hue - then La Residence Hotel and Spa would definitely fit the bill. It is a beautiful hotel right in the city centre - with a storied history and elegant Art Deco French Colonial architecture. It was once the residence of the French Colonial Governor of Hue. The buildings have been carefully restored, and the large garden compound provide an elegant and relaxing retreat for the guests.

The interior is just as impressive. Art Deco and neo-Classical style carry through from the outside to the inside with soothing colours and graceful lines. Only in the bar does the colour scheme get amped up a bit for some excitement. If you have the cash to spare - this would be the most stylish base to explore Hue.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hue 2016 - La Carambole Restaurant

In every popular Asian city you will find a backpacker's quarter - and in Hue this would be the area around Pham Ngu Lau Street. The street is lined with backpacker hotels, cafes, pubs and restaurants. It is not as chaotic as Khao San Road in Bangkok - and is actually a very pleasant street with colourful signages and cool people. Here you will also find one of the most popular restaurants in Hue - La Carambole.

La Carambole serves French and local Vietnamese food. It is very popular with travelers as well as locals - and booking is recommended. When we got there in the early evening there were already a few big tables of local diners having a great time. The cafe is very charmingly decorated with wood paneled ceiling and colourful lanterns.

Having had our fill of Vietnamese food in the last 2 days - we decided to go Western. The cheese and ham sandwich was good - but not as good as the Banh Mi we had on the street unfortunately.

The steak frites was good - with tender pieces of beef.  The fries were a bit disappointing though - they looked and tasted like supermarket fries.

The best dish was the beef stew which was very flavourful.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hue 2016 - Serene Palace Hotel and Restaurant

Based on many positive reviews - we decided to stay at Serene Palace Hotel at the Eastern side of Hue City. When we arrived we were quite happy with the hotel. The lobby is generous, the room basic but spacious and clean. The only let down was the narrow street in front of the hotel. This is more of a backlane rather then a proper road, and it is full of potholes along certain stretches. It gets a bit muddy on rainy days. Other then that our stay was very pleasant as the staff were all very friendly and helpful.

 The small lane in front of the hotel.

View from our room. 

The best thing about the hotel is the cafe. The breakfast was always fresh and tasty, and should you choose to go there for dinner you will be rewarded with some of the best food in Hue. The cafe staff also do an excellent job of serving the guests and making each one feel pampered and welcome - and considering that they work from early morning till late at night that is no easy task.

The banana flower salad was lovely and aromatic.

Vietnamese spring rolls - very fresh ingredients and a lovely dipping sauce that tastes like its freshly made.

Serene Palace Fried Rice - a very tasty fried rice filled with small morsels of crunchy vegetables.

Lemon grass chicken - simple but well executed.