Hue, the former imperial capital of Nguyen Dynasty for nearly 150 years lies on the banks of the poetic Perfume Rivers that flows through the city. The long feudal time has left historic monuments of the citadel, sacred tombs of emperors, iconic pagodas and fantastic royal cuisines.

Hue was established as Vietnam’s imperial capital under the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 until 1945 when Bao Dai, the last of the Nguyen emperors, abdicated. The city’s main attraction is historic monuments left from the long feudal time. Many of them lie along the banks of the romantic Perfume River that flows through the city. On the north bank of the river is the Hue Citadel, a well-known UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Site. The Citadel is a 520 ha fortress-like grand complex built in the early 1800s and enclosed by 2m thick and 10km long wall. It features inside the Imperial City and the Purple Forbidden City as the inner reserved for the Nguyen imperial family. Further up the river some kilometers, Thien Mu pagoda with its distinctive seven-storey octagonal tower is dubbed the symbol of Hue.

Scattered around the city’s surrounding rural area, the elaborate royal tombs of the Nguyen emperors such as Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, Minh Mang are particularly impressive with pavilions, temples, courtyards and lakes. A leisurely boat cruise along the Perfume River is a great way to see these tombs.

Hue is also known for making the most beautiful non la or conical hats in Vietnam. The Hue women in the traditional Ao Dai and Non Bai Tho are supposed to be the most graceful in all of Vietnam. You can buy these in Dong Ba market which is cultural symbol of the city showcasing traditional delicacies and crafts. Stroll around the market with lots of chances to experience local daily life is a worthwhile experience when in Hue.

For a day trip from Hue, visit the Bach Ma National Park on a colonial-era hill stations with cool climate, stunning mountain landscape, spectacular waterfall and natural trails. The park offers a great choice for hiking, bird watching. Bach Ma is the wettest place in Vietnam thus the best time to visit here is from Feb to Sep with the least rainfall.

For those interested in Vietnam War, let’s go to some former battle spots in what was once known as the Demilitarized Zone or “DMZ”.

Around 70km south of Hue, set at the bottom of Hai Van Pass, the idyllic fishing town of Lang Co boasts turquoise lagoon, palm-shaded white sand beaches and fresh seafood. Lang Co is an excellent break on the journey to Hue.

The Hue cuisine is said to form the heart of Central Vietnamese cuisine. Hue dishes set apart from other regions by the pickiness in processing and refined presentation which is affected from royal cuisine. Local dishes such as banh khoai, is said to be the tastiest.
Hue can be visited within a day from Da Nang or overnight stop on the way to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. The best time to travel here is from May to August when it tends to be driest.

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