On day five we left Hanoi to catch our flight to Hué where we spent two nights at the Hotel Saigon Morin.
Hué was the country's capital for nearly 150 years until Hanoi became the centre of Vietnam's state of independence. Hué saw some of the bloodiest fighting and cruellest retribution of the Vietnam War and much of the old city was destroyed.
Recently, UNESCO has helped to preserve and restore the city's monuments which has resulted in the steady re-growth of a city which has remained a mecca of culture, religion and learning and has fast become a flourishing tourist centre.
Not all of Vietnam's monuments have been restored yet as we discovered when we visited Tu Duc's Tomb. Tu Duc was the fourth king of the Nguyen Dynasty, which centred around Hué and bequeathed the city and the nation with their tombs. Tu Duc would relax in the fragrant gardens edged by pagodas and pavilions, which would later become the site of his mausoleum.
Work started on the mausoleum in 1864 and the result is very much akin to a royal palace in miniature.
After seeing Tu Duc's tomb we had lunch in a local restaurant before making our way to Dong Ba Market which is found in the walled citadel of Old Hué.
There has been a market here for over a century where local produce is traded. The market is particularly renowned for the sale of the typically Vietnamese conical hats - a good buy if you want to shade yourself from the sun. Unfortunately it was raincoats we needed & not conical hats! The weather had not improved and we were pretty soggy by the end of our trip to the market!
The following day we set off for our cruise on the Perfume River before taking lunch in a local restaurant. Again we were blighted by the weather and it rained almost continuously throughout the morning.
After lunch we began our exploration of the Imperial City another legacy of the Nguyen dynasty. A network of gardens, terraces, palaces and pavilions were created between 1802 and 1833, their layout dictated by geomantic principles.
The most important site here is the Thai Hoa Palace (Palace of Supreme Peace) with its splendid red and gold interiors, which served both as a ceremonial building and a reception for dignitaries and foreign diplomats.
I am sure the Imperial City is very beautiful in the sunshine but in the rain it looks grey and grim as does everything in the rain and once again we had to settle for picture postcards of the City!