Beautiful Hue Vietnam is set in the center of the country on the banks of the Perfume River on the coastal highway (Route 1). It is an extraordinarily well preserved ancient city that was the imperial capital of the country from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. This was the center of the feudal Nguyen Dynasty that ruled until communist takeover in 1945. The main attractions in Hue are the monuments, pagodas, tombs, and other ancient structures that caused UNESCO to designate it as a World Heritage Site. Most Hue travel is to visit these monuments that played such an important role in the country’s history. This city also played a role during the American Vietnam War, as it is located just south of what was the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Although the nightlife in the city is fairly low-key, you will find some lively bars in town—a few of which are rather oddly named DMZ Bar.
One of the most important of the attractions in Hue is the Citadel. This was a walled city for the imperial rulers, and like the Forbidden City in Beijing, was off limits to common citizens. In fact, it was called the Forbidden Purple City. Construction was begun in 1805, and the complex was heavily damaged during the Tet (Vietnamese New Year) offensive of 1968. The best way to visit this historic site is by booking a guide at the entrance. These guides are inexpensive, and add a great deal to the experience. After the tour, spend a little more time to explore on your own. The best Hue hotels for those on a budget are located around the Citadel.
Tomb of Minh Mang
Other attractions in Hue include royal tombs, temples, and pagodas just about everywhere you look. While many of the tombs are not in very good condition, some others are. And almost all of them are set on beautifully landscaped grounds. The largest pagoda and symbol of the city is the Thien Mu Pagoda. This lovely structure was built in 1601. For museums, you might try the Hue Vietnam Museum of Royal Fine Arts that has an excellent collection of enamel, chinaware, court robes, and other trappings from the former royalty.
Most of the people who take a vacation to Hue will fly into the city’s airport for a stay of one or two nights. However, people looking for unusual things to do in Hue will make the short drive on the coastal highway from Da Nang, located about 60 miles to the south. Some vacations include this drive because it is particularly scenic and passes through the wilderness of Bach Ma National Park, which is set in the Annamite Mountains about halfway between the two cities. There are also some luxury hotels and resorts located along the stretch of beaches along the way. Some cycling tours feature Hue travel on their itineraries, and this route is also a good one for car rental transportation.
It is best to avoid Hue travel during the months of October through December. This is the northeast monsoon season when the city receives most of its rain. Because of its river location and numerous canals, the rainy weather means that some city streets become flooded, and some low bridges will be underwater. The city is located in the center of the country, and Hue Vietnam cuisine draws on specialties from both north and south. However, you will find a large number of vegetarian restaurants, and the local people have a tradition of dining on a vegetarian diet at least twice a month. This is due to Buddhist practice of the many monks who built the city’s many pagodas and temples.