Maybe because of its world heritage status Hoi An is very organised for tourist. You can buy one ticket to cover the six main attractions in town all walkable from each other and its not expensive costing four whole British pounds! I managed three of …
Tu Duc was part of the Nguyen dynasty and the longest reigning Emperor of that period from 1848 – 1883. His tomb is in Hue and was designed by himself to make sure it was grand enough! To avoid any enemies digging him up his body was secretly buried very deeply and not directly under his mausoleum so he would be difficult to find and that seemed to work. It consists of several structures set into a garden with a lake, quite a peaceful place to wander around.
One of the bigger structures is undergoing a bit of a renovation at the moment but you can still see the details well. The rest is of a shabby chic nature which is what I prefer rather than a scrubbed up shiny new looking finish, it is so much better to see the evidence of the years of history. It will be interesting to see the building when its finished I really hope it keeps its integrity!
There are a number of statues placed as if they are on sentry duty as you approach the mausoleum and are quite naive in style. You then enter through a very beautiful ornate gate into the centre area where there is a tomb very plain actually (so plain I didn’t actually take a picture of it!). I was much more interested in the weathered wall around the edge of the space sorry about that.
Ha Long bay is in the north of Vietnam. In 1994 it was designated a world heritage site and I can see why. Numerous towering mounds of limestone protrude from the ocean wearing caps of thick lush green forest. It is incredibly picturesque and is one of those things that needs to be seen in person to understand the grander of it all. There are about 1,600 islands and islets scattered over a huge area. Lots of these islands are riddled with caves some discovered some still to be found.
The islands are so interesting to see as you gently sail by looking for signs of the wear and tear of the ocean on them. The water was at a level where crustaceans old and new were visible and signs of gentle lapping of water for millions of years was clear having created an undercut ledge at the base of each one.. These giants of the sea must have been witness to so many changes over the years in temperature, sea level and climate I bet they would have some stories to tell.
Hidden amongst these many islands are secret lakes that can only be reached by small boats or canoes. Its possible to hire one and paddle your way around, or if you prefer there are people on hand to row you in their rowing boat so you can sit back and take in the scenery.
On the whole these Islands are not inhabited but for tourist purposes one has stairs cut into it with a viewing platform at the top and a man made beach at the bottom which was a welcome relief after the climb up for the view but on the whole way to crowded for my liking. There is also an Island open to the public for wandering round one of the many caves. It is also heaving with tourists so best to get there as it opens in the morning! The rock patterns are amazing and again hours could be spent speculating how they were made and how many years ago. The marks are enhanced by a range of coloured lights which work really well to highlight the best bits and create an impressive experience.
If you do plan to visit allow yourself at least two days to make the most of the experience! We were also treated to an incredible range and amount of local cuisine whilst on our boat including lots of fish and seafood which just topped of an amazing couple of days. The chef deserves special mention for making sure and remembering that my food needed to be gluten free so I didn’t miss out on anything.