Hue was the seat of power of the Nguyen Emperors who ruled Vietnam from 1802 to 1945, and their impressive Citadel remains partially intact today despite the ravages of several wars. Legacies of the city's dynastic past are everywhere and keep visitors busy with visits to elaborate tombs and pagodas, mausoleums and assembly halls. Threaded along the beautiful Perfume River which flows through the city, the unique and extraordinary monuments serve as a guide to the lives of Vietnam's last emperors. Read more...

The spectacular Citadel is built on the same principles and design as Beijing's Forbidden Palace. The outer walls which can be between 10 to 21 meters thick enclose a vast compound of palaces, temples, meeting halls and pavilions, many of which are now sadly victims of war and the passage of time. The remaining buildings do however give ample clues to the grandeur and elegance that the walls once hid from commoners. The city is a traditional seat of culture and learning. Graduates of Hue's education system include Vietnam's famous general, Vo Nguyen Giap, and even Ho Chi Minh himself spent some time at Hue's National School. At around 5 pm each weekday afternoon one of Vietnam's most charming spectacles plays out as girls dressed in traditional, flowing "ao dai" dresses leave the university and cycle along the leafy road bordering the Perfume River.

In 1993, its complex of historical monuments earned Hue a place in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Places of interest

The construction of the Imperial Citadel, designed for exclusive use by the emperor, his family, and his retinue, started in 1804. The city is protected by a series of four enormous outer walls that are 7-21 meters thick. Access to the walled city is via four arched gates, the best known of which is the Ngo Mon Gate, built in 1834. The Imperial City contains a series of palaces, ornate halls, libraries, residences, and colleges. Much of the City, including the Forbidden Palace, was destroyed during a vicious battle between opposing forces during the Tet Offensive of 1968. One can spend an entire afternoon wandering around the grounds of the Imperial City, viewing the ancient architecture of the Nguyen emperors and scars of recent battles.

Much of the Imperial City was built during the reign of Emperor Minh Mang. His tomb is located at the juncture of two tributaries of the Perfume River surrounded by rolling hills. It is said that it took 13 years to find an appropriate burial site for the Emperor and upon arrival it's not hard to see why this location was chosen. Set within an exquisitely landscaped garden it is a tranquil and idyllic place. The site is considered one of the best examples of Nguyen Dynasty architecture and artwork.

This tomb is located in an area of rolling hills and pine trees 7km outside Hue. The tranquil grounds are filled with trees, ponds and pavilions where Tu Duc would write poetry. Emperor Tu Duc had his tomb built 16 years prior to his death and actually wrote his own biography prior to his death.

Khai Dinh's was the last Mausoleum built during the Nguyen Dynasty, and is arguably the most beautiful of all the royal tombs. Situated on one of the Chau Mountains, amidst pine, cassava and sugar cane, Khai Dinh's tomb is surrounded by natural beauty. Its architecture is a blend of East and West. It took eleven years to build and was completed in 1931.

Thien Mu Pagoda is one of the oldest religious structures in Hue and is also one of the most impressive. It was constructed during the 17th century to worship the legend of a celestial lady. In 1844, Emperor Thieu Tri added the Phuoc Duyen stupa. This seven-storey stupa is 21 meters high, with each level dedicated to one of the various human forms taken by Buddha. In the 1930s and 1940s the Thien Mu Pagoda became an important meeting place for Buddhists. It became well-known worldwide when, in 1963, Thich Quang Duc, a 66 year old resident monk, died after setting himself on fire to protest anti-Buddhist policies of the government of South Vietnam. It is best to visit the pagoda by sampan as it sits on the banks of the Perfume River.

The Tha Om Garden House offers an opportunity to relax and enjoy traditional Vietnamese hospitality in the surrounds of a fully-working and functioning replica of a 19th century Hue residence. The house is situated in a charming garden containing a variety of trees, plants and a lotus pond and is in fact a complex of adjoining rooms including bedrooms, living quarters and a room dedicated to ancestral worship.

8km outside of Hue is a charming and undisturbed village surrounded by green rice paddies and irrigation canals. Visitors wishing to unhurriedly explore a rural and quiescent countryside should visit this village. In the middle of the village lies an aesthetically pleasing bridge made of roof tiles. Additionally, the nearby village market adorns a vivid image of Vietnam’s countryside.

One of Vietnam’s most accessible, pristine, yet least visited beaches. Set against a backdrop of the verdant foothills of the Annamite Cordillera, Lang Co beach lies on the eastern side of a spit between a semi-bracken lagoon and the South China Sea. It is generally overlooked by travellers in too much haste making their way north or south between Danang and Hue, and they are the poorer for their haste.

A leisurely drive up over the Hai Van Pass from Danang, Lang Co is pure beach relaxation without much of the “in your face” commercialism (Yet!) which afflicts all the better known beach destinations in Vietnam. The sands along the 8-9km stretch of beach are clean and the water is clear unless there are storms about out in the South China Sea.

There is a resort with the usual facilities on Lang Co beach and quite a few private guesthouses and hotels have opened their doors along the beachfront to welcome overseas travellers.
April to July is the best time for beach relaxation on this end of the central coast. However, August-September also heralds the beginning of the typhoon season, so some pounding surf and stormy weather can be experienced.