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Cruising Hue

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ImageThe historic city of Hue in a traditional cyclo.

As Vietnam's former imperial capital and home to the Royal Court, the Hue Citadel's small streets and lanes are perfect for the slow cyclo ride.

It's not difficult to find a cyclo in Hue, as the town of 345,000 people is home to nearly 5,000 of the three-wheeled pedi-cabs. They can be found almost on any street and at any time of the day.

Cyclos in Hue are more comfortable than those in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, boasting wider seats and higher roofs.

Hiring a cyclo on the street for a city tour should cost tourists about VND70,000-80,000 (US$3.9-4.5) an hour. Cyclo drivers in Hue are friendly and can serve as both a driver and guide.

Entering Hue's Citadel at Ngo Mon Gate, to the south, is like traveling into another world. Inside the citadel, formerly a "forbidden city" only accessible by royalty and members of the court - and their concubines - the old city is a world away from the more modern Hue across the Perfume River. A city still bustles inside the walled enclave, but amid canals, watchtowers and walls built centuries ago.

After the citadel, the Dong Ba Market, just outside the walled city on the banks of the river, is one of the best places to sample traditional Hue cuisine for bargain prices. The same food sells for triple the price at HCMC eateries.

After a meal, try che (sweet soup) for desert. Hue style sweet soups are known as some of the best in the country. After desert, relax with royal tea at an old-style restaurant.

And don't forget that your cyclo driver is most likely ready to recommend tailor shops where you can have an ao dai (traditional Vietnamese long tunic) or any other piece of clothing made within 24 hours at a reasonable price.

Since 2004, the "An tuong Hue xanh" (Hue's Green Impressions) initiative has worked to promote cyclo traffic as opposed to other vehicles that burn fossil fuels.

As an alternative to finding a driver on the street, tourists can book cyclo tours at 2 and 5 Le Loi Street or at big hotels including the Saigon Morin, Huong Giang and Century.



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