Hue is a romantic and tranquil city in the central Vietnam. Historically, Hue was the seat of Nguyen Dynasty Emperors and functioned as the national capital (1802-1945). People always refer to the 19th-century Citadel encompassing the Imperial City whenever talking about tourism highlights of Hue in Vietnam.
About Hue in Vietnam
Hue gains worldwide recognition for the historical monuments, which have won the UNESCO’s notice for being UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Here, you find the seat of the Nguyen Emperors, namely the Citadel with the walled area on the north of the beautiful Perfume River. In the past, the Forbidden City inside the Citadel were only available for the emperors, concubines, and the royal family members; those that were not granted access but enter the Forbidden City would be put to death. But at present, the whole monuments are open for tourists. Any visit to the Citadel of Hue should not miss the time at the tombs of some Nguyen Emperors, particularly Minh Mang, Khai Dinh, and Tu Duc. Besides, the significant Thien Mu Pagoda, the biggest pagoda in Hue, is worth praising. You might find it appealing to see the highlights of various French-style buildings, the monumental Quoc Hoc High School, the fantastic Lang Co Beach.
Brief History of Hue
Originally, Hue was noticed as the capital of Nguyen lords – a feudal dynasty that governed the majority of southern Vietnam, from the 17th to the 19th century. Then, in 1775, Trinh Lord occupied the capital and renamed it as Phu Xuan. Later, in the year of 1802, the Emperor Gia Long (Nguyen Phuc Anh) successfully controlled the entire Vietnam and made Hue the national capital. Under the reign of Emperor Minh Mang (the second emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty whose reign is from 1820 to 1840), Hue remained the significance regardless of the French involvement in Vietnam. During the French colonial era, Hue was put under the protectorate of An Nam, and it was still the Imperial Palace until 1945 when Emperor Bao Dai resigned, and the communist government was founded to have its capital at Hanoi. Now, in the propitious time of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Hue stands out as the fascinating tourist destination.
What to See in Hue
The Citadel of Hue
The Citadel covers the complex buildings made from 19th to 20th century. While the inside area includes the houses of mandarins, in which the most valuable is “Hoang Thanh” section that used to be the residence of Nguyen Emperors and their royal families. Within “Hoang Thanh,” there have 4 gates in 4 directions, and the major gate in the South is called Ngo Mon. This section itself is magnificent outside with the impressive inside of the Forbidden City, and various relics. There must be a reason for the Citadel to be inscribed as the UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, and there historical monuments inside and outside the Citadel are the key appeals.
Minh Mang Tomb
The Minh Mang Tomb was erected in 1840 – 1843 by more than 10 thousand workers and soldiers. This attractive tomb is around 12km from Hue City, and the construction itself is set on Cam Ke Mountain which gives it the wonderful landscape. Minh Mang was the second Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty (1820 – 1840). As Ming Mang died while the construction of his tomb was in process, the task was done by his son, Thieu Tri King. Therefore, the tomb has another name as “Hieu Lang” which means the tomb showing filial merit.
Khai Dinh Tomb
The reign of Emperor Khai Dinh began in 1916. Then, he ordered to build numerous temples, and one of the construction was chosen as his tomb. Though Khai Dinh Tomb covered the smaller surface, it looked more meretricious if compared to the other tombs. That said, this Emperor was sent people to French to buy cement, iron, steel, etc., and to China to get ceramics, colorful glasses, etc. The actual visit leaves you the admirable feeling.
Tu Duc Tomb
Tu Duc Tomb also functions as a temple located in a pretty valley of Huong Ba Village, Thuy Xuan Commune, Hue City. While the landscape is gorgeous, the temple itself is one of the most captivating temples of the Nguyen Emperor. In fact, the construction includes around 50 units with the worshipping area, relaxing zone, etc. The roads here were made from Bat Trang bricks, and the eye-catching bridges lead to the pine hill.
Thien Mu Pagoda
With proximity to romantic Perfume River, the antique architecture of Thien Mu Pagoda looks more charming. This pagoda is the iconic attraction of Hue and is famous for its sound of the bell which is believed as the soul of Hue. Traveling to Thien Mu Pagoda, you would not miss Phuoc Duyen Tower – the 21m high and 7-storey tower just in front of the pagoda and can be seen clearly from the Perfume River.
Crossing Hue City, Perfume River offers the most romantic scenery that people can ever find in Hue. Only a boat trip on Perfume River is powerful enough to calm everybody’s mind and then cheer them up with the interesting sites of Minh Mang Tomb, Thien Mu Pagoda, and Hon Chen Temple. Especially at night, the Hue traditional music show on the boat inspires the tourists.
Quoc Hoc High School
This age-old high school was erected under the reign of Thanh Thai King. The school was first named as Quoc Hoc, go through several name changes such as Khai Dinh High School (1936-1954), or Ngo Dinh Diem High School (1955 -1956), and then returned to Quoc Hai since 1956 until the present. Know that Nguyen Sinh Cung (President Ho Chi Minh) did study in this school – it is the cradle for Vietnam’s greatest leader.
Lang Co Beach
This is the picturesque beach in Hue that is gifted with pristine nature, 10km-long white sandbank, and surrounded by the immense tropical forest as well as the mighty Truong Son Mountain Range. The tourists do love to spend time relaxing at Lang Co Beach as nature here is beautiful and seafood is fresh. Nowadays, this beach offers the modern hospitality services with the star resorts like Lang Co Beach Resort, Nirvana Resort and Spa, or Nevada Lagoon Resort and Spa.
How to get to Hue in Vietnam
Within Vietnam Airlines, there are 3 daily flights from Hanoi to Hue and 4 daily flights from Ho Chi Minh to Hue, particularly the Phu Bai International Airport (around 15km south of the center of Hue). The flight approximately takes 1 hour.
There are the long overnight bus trips from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to Hue. The bus tickets can be bought in the tourist agents of all three cities. Often, the bus trip might include several attractive stopovers.
The state-run railway network lets you travel to Hue from either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, pleasantly. The vehicles are well-equipped with air-conditioned compartments and convenient services. It’s best to buy the train tickets directly at the station.
You can drive to Hue by taking National Highway 1A or 1B. Note that Hue and Da Nang are now connected via Hai Van Tunnel which helps reduce the traffic accidents and promote convenience.
When to visit Hue
October to March is the best time to enjoy Hue Tours. Indochina Charm Travel is a Vietnamese travel agency since 2008 and able to customise the tour in your own style. The other summer months are suitable provided you can enjoy the heat. Kindly note that July and August are the peak season in Hue due to the massive domestic travel!