Huế is one of the crown jewels of Vietnam’s national tourism industry and a foremost reason wanderlusters fall hard for the country and rush back for more. The capital of Thua Thien-Huế province is a dense dynamo of Imperial architecture, cuisine, languid Sông Hương (Perfume River) charm and, indeed, all the telltale traits of modern economic expansion that have thrust Vietnam on the global map as one of the “Next Eleven”.
Between 1802 and 1945, Hue was the political, cultural and spiritual lodestar of Vietnam. As the place the Nguyen Dynasty chose to call home, the city was, for a time, more strategic than either Hanoi or Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City). Emphatic evidence of such survives in spite of the turbulent and violent second half of the 20th century and lingers today as a prolific cluster of architectural marvels.
The Complex of Hue Monuments is now a nonpareil UNESCO World Heritage Site that has done for Hue what Angkor did for Siem Reap in Cambodia. Bellwether points of interest include the Forbidden Purple City, Tombs of the Emperors, General Museum Complex and Thai Hoa Palace.
Hue's Top 10
10. Thien Mu Pagoda offers remarkable views of the city from a perch over the Perfume River.
5. Museum of Royal Fine Arts has a fine collection of cermanics, finery and furniture.
9. Dien Tho Residence was the audience hall for the Nguyen Dynasty Queen Mothers.
4. Thai Hoa Palace is a grand, austere landmark that hints at past glory.
8. Dieu De Pagoda is a vital national Buddhist temple and former hotbed of political dissent.
3. General Museum Complex has exhibits that range from military relics to archaeology, fossils to geology.
7. Ho Chi Minh Museum displays some important personal objects and documents from the late revolutionary.
2. Tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty Emperors go on for miles on the banks of the Perfume River.
6. Bao Quoc Pagoda dates back to the late 17th century.
1. Forbidden Purple City was the royal cocoon of Hue in the heyday of the Imperial era.
- Tomb of Thieu Tri - Constructed in 1848, this tomb lacks extravagance, rendering it a unique final resting place.
- Tomb of Tu Duc - Built in 1864, this vast, sprawling complex is set around a lake.
- Ngá MÃ´n - The main southern entrance to Hue. Tourists can climb to the second floor to experience a magnificent view of the courtyard.
- Thái Hòa - The emperor's coronation hall.
- Trường Sanh Residence - This palace was the former residence of King Tu Ducâ’s mother, Empress Tu Du.
Hue Art & Culture
- Phu Bai Airport - This airport is a must-see for those interested in the war.
- Ho Chi Minh Museum - This museum is located in a two-floor building that overlooks the Perfume River. It displays many exhibits relating to the life of President Ho Chi Minh.
- Imperial Museum - This museum houses a range of antiques.
- Cau Ngu Festival - This festival takes place on Thuan An Beach on the 10th to 12th day of the first lunar month.
- Bao Vinh Ha Village Festival - This commemorative festival is dedicated to the memory of the establishment of the village. The festival takes place on the 9th to 11th day of the first lunar month.
- Healing the Wounded Heart Shop - This unique shop in Hue is where eco-friendly handicrafts created by disabled artisans can be found.
- Hope Centre - A large selection of handicraft items is made and sold here.
- Dong Ba Market - Located on the north bank of the Perfume River, this market houses hundreds of stalls selling clothing, items for the home and souvenirs.
- Trang Tien Bridge - Trendy boutique stores can be found in this region.
- Pilgrimage Hotel - The gift shops located here are truly outstanding.
Gay & Lesbian Hue
- DMZ Bar - A mixed bar with a pool table and an abundance of cold beer on sale.
- Brown Eyes Bar - A great place to mix with locals and tourists of all genders and sexualities in Hue.
- Cathi - A friendly mixed bar offering a wide range of delicious drinks.
- Why Not? - An arty yet mixed cafe and bar featuring a selection of foods and drinks.
- Camellia - A Hue nightclub offering tourists a unique experience.
- An Hien Garden House - The former residence of Emperor Duc Ducâ’s daughter.
- Ngoc Son Garden House - The former home of Princess Ngoc Son, daughter of the Emperor Dong Khanh.
- Lac Tinh Garden House - A 2,000-square-metre garden created in 1889 by poet Hong Khang.
- Y Thao Garden House - A 1,300-square-metre garden constructed around 50 years ago.
- Tinh Gia Garden House - A garden house originally owned by a princess.
- Watch the Traditional Boat Racing Festival on the Huong River in September.
- Enjoy the kKite-Flying Festival if visiting in March.
- Check out the Sinh Village Wrestling Festival that takes place on the 10th day of the first lunar month.
- Watch the Hue F.C. at the Tu Do Stadium.
- Relax on the shore and watch the water sports taking place on the waters of the Canh Duong Beach.
Worthwhile day trip fodder from Hue includes Thuan An Beach, Thanh Tan Hot Springs and the DMZ.
The Royal Theatre is a majestic monument that holds regular cultural performances throughout the year.
Buddhist temples in Hue host venerable festivals at different times of the year.
Mid-Autumn Festival is a wonderful time to be a visitor in Vietnam.
When To Go
Hue, like much of the rest of Vietnam, has a tropical monsoon climate with torrid weather throughout the year. The city is the bona fide furnace of the country, with temperatures that hover between 70°F (21°C) to 93°F (34°C) from April to September and 64°F (18°C) to 84°F (29°C) from October to March.
Rain falls fast and furious in September, October and November. The three months account for 60% of the city’s average annual total of 88 in (2,230 mm).
The apex of the dry season in Hue is from February to May.
Phu Bai International Airport offers consistent service to and from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. For many, however, Da Nang International Airport is the superior choice, with service to and from the likes of Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Shanghai and Singpaore. Da Nang is less than two hours from Hue.
Ample rail and bus options abound from within Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia.
Within Hue, the best way to explore is by bicycle or meter taxi. Energetic tourists can make quite a bit of progress on foot as well.
Between 1802 and 1945, the political, cultural and spiritual capital of Vietnam was not in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) or Hanoi, but indeed, in Hue. The Nguyen Dynasty built up a prolific collection of imperial monuments along the Perfume River over more than a century in power. Under threat of irreparable ruin in the wake of the Vietnam War, a wise decision was made in 1990 to declare the complex a national treasure. Three years later, the Complex of Hue Monuments was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As a result, Hue is now a formidable tourist destination in Vietnam and a welcome break from the sun-soaked beach resorts on the South China Sea coast. Home to 340,000 people, the Central Vietnam city reveals an altogether authentic and culturally vibrant side of the beautiful country. Primary points of interest include the Forbidden Purple City, General Museum Complex and Thai Hoa Palace. Day trips to Thuan An Beach and Thanh Tan Hot Springs are a must.
Attractions & Activities
- Forbidden Purple City
- General Museum Complex
- Dien Tho Residence
- Thai Hoa Palace
- My An Hot Spring and Spa
- Thanh Tan Hot Springs
- Thuan An Beach
- Hue Festival
- Sinh Village Festival
Restaurant & Nightlife
- La Carambole
- Minh & Coco
- Ngo Co Nanh
- Y Thao Garden
- Tinh Gia Vien
- Bar Why Not?
- King's Panorama Bar
- Cathi 24
- B4 Bar
Hue has a monsoon climate, with a wet season that runs from September to January. Temperatures hover between 21°C and 34°C for the year.
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