Hue is a central Vietnamese city with a rich, imperial history.
From 1802 to 1945 Hue served as the imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, which controlled the entire nation of Vietnam for more than a century.
Imperial influences are readily found alongside modern developments and infrastructure in Hue. Old imperial palaces, Buddhist pagodas, and royal tombs are nestled alongside modern high-rise apartment buildings and the occasional skyscraper on both sides of the gorgeous Perfume River that divides the city between north and south. The plethora of ancient structures, monuments, and temples from the Nguyen Dynasty and earlier eras led UNESCO to declare the city a World Heritage Site in 1993.
The Imperial Citadel (Dai Noi) is actually a super structure containing and protecting several small fortresses in its walls. The sprawling complex just north of the Perfume River contains numerous temples, pavilions, walls, gates, and even museums and galleries that display artistic works and styles of dress from multiple eras of Vietnam’s history. Much of the ancient fortress was destroyed between the French and American wars in Vietnam (U.S. bombings took a particularly devastating toll in 1968 during the Tet Offensive), but conservation efforts have been underway for some years, and decent progress is being made. The forbidden Purple City, Thai Hoa Palace, and the Truong Sanh Residence are a few of the buildings that are still in excellent shape.
To the south of the citadel across the Perfume River, the Tombs of the Emperors are splendid examples of Vietnamese Buddhist architectural style. The tombs of Tu Duc, Min Mang, and Kahi Dinh are the most celebrated of the burial structures, and the best preserved buildings. Many of the other tombs are in the process of being restored. A river cruise along the Perfume River is an excellent way to reach the tombs.
West of the citadel, the Thien Mu Pagoda rests atop a hill with a striking view of the Perfume River. The nearly 70-foot-high structure was completed in 1884, and the entire seven story structure is dedicated to various Buddha incarnations.
Best Time to Visit Hue:
The best time to visit Central Vietnam is between October and March when the skies are generally clear, and the weather is balmy. The temperature steadily rises between May and September, but rainfall provides cooling relief in the mornings and afternoons.
How to get to Hue:
Hue is the capital city of Vietnam’s Thua Thien-Hue Province. Located in Vietnam’s central region, the former Imperial capital is best reached by a short flight from Hanoi while traveling on a luxury tour of Vietnam. Once reaching the city, our guests are chauffeured in a private vehicle between monuments.
Travelers can easily reach destinations like the Demilitarized Zone, where Vietnam was formerly dived between capitalist south and communist north, from Hue City.
Hue is an intriguing mix of old and new, ancient and modern. The cuisine, influenced by both imperial heritage and Buddhist tradition, is often highlighted by travelers for its excellent presentation and tangy spice. Many of the residents of Hue hold to Buddhist diet, and eat only vegetarian meals at least twice a month. This means there’s a plethora of excellent vegetarian restaurants to enjoy in town.
From a historical and geopolitical perspective, Hue played an important role in Vietnam from the 17th century through the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Though the scars of the last century’s conflicts are particularly evident in Hue due to both North Vietnamese shelling and U.S. bombing, there are still plenty of ancient and recent structures to enjoy exploring while traveling on a Vietnam tour.
As with any UNESCO World Heritage Site, we consider the city of Hue a must-see for our guests.
Appropriate Attire :
Western-wear is fine for most excursions, but Hue is still in many ways a very traditional Vietnamese town. Travelers visiting any areas of religious importance, including tombs, should dress conservatively by covering their shoulders, arms, and legs while on hallowed ground.