Photo: Classic Vietnamese fare.

Thanh Toan (The Japanese Bridge)

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This is a small, covered, Japanese-style bridge about seven kilometres east of Hue.

Photo of Thanh Toan (The Japanese Bridge)

There isn’t a whole lot to look at, but it’s pretty, and there’s a story behind it. Tran Thi Dao the childless wife of a high-ranking mandarin in Le Hien Tong’s court had the bridge constructed to facilitate transport and communication in the village here which at the time was separated by the canal. The Emperor, upon hearing of her charitable act, freed the village of taxes to remind them of her good example. In 1925, Emperor Khai Dinh ordered the villagers to place an altar on the bridge in her memory as she’d had no children, and in a culture of ancestor-worship, this meant there was no one to pray for her after she died. So the villagers took up the slack and offer up prayers at the shrine to this day.

If you walk over the bridge you’ll see a building to the left that houses a very odd collection of ancient farm equipment and very little information on the whole point of its being. Still, it’s free to take a quick wander around and if any staff are in attendance they are happy for you to have a go at sifting dusty bits of rice or having a quick spin on the silk wheel.

You’ll probably find that the ride out to the bridge by bicycle or motorbike is more interesting than the bridge itself.


How to get there
There are many ways to get to the bridge, but this is our favourite. Head east on Le Loi towards the Dap Da bridge, but take the last right just before it on Nguyen Cong Tru. Continue straight down. The street changes name to Nguyen Lo Trach after it crosses Ba Trieu. About two kilometres later, look for a sidestreet, Kiet 163, where you'll take a left. If you miss it, don't worry. You want to head towards the bamboo-lined road closer to the river and any left thereafter will lead there, including the last where the road ends. Take a right on the river road and just keep going -- no matter what! The road does some crazy turns through beautiful rice fields and around a fish farm before hooking up with the main road. Take a left there and the bridge is about four kilometres further on; you'll see a market where you can park your bike for 5,000 VND. From here it's about a 50-metre walk through the stalls out to the bridge. The locals know it as Cau Nguoi if you get lost -- that's also what the mile-markers say. You can't take a vehicle over Thanh Toan, but there's a regular bridge just to the left. If you cross that, and take the right fork when you hit the rice fields, the road eventually leads about six kilometres back into the outskirts of Hue.

Thanh Toan (The Japanese Bridge)
11km from Hue

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