Palaces and pagoda, tombs and temples, culture and cuisine, history and heartbreak there’s no shortage of poetic pairings to describe Hue (pronounced hway). Ordained by Unesco as a World Heritage site in 1993, this capital of the Nguyen emperors is where tourists come to see something of old, pre - communist Vietnam, even though none of the building are older than 150 years and many of them have borne the brunt of war and willful neglect (the latter due to communist disapproval of imperial emblems)
Hue owes its charm partly to its location on the Perfume River – picturesque on a clear day, sleekly mysterious even in less flattering weather. There’s always restoration work going on to recover some of its lost imperial splendor, but the city is very much a jumble of new and old: modern home sit cheek by jowl with crumbling century – old Citadel walls, and colorless new hotel town over stately colonial-ear properties.
The new has also meant the influx of mass tourism into the heart of Hue, bringing tour buses that charge down its narrow streets and touts who dog your every step.However, unlike sister site while retaining its reputation as a conservative, quiet town. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a party place that’s open into the wee hours of the night, and local tourism authorities have lamented the fact that locals go to bed at 10pm. On the flip side, just venture a couple of streets from the tourist enclave and you’ll find the good people of Hue going about their (nontourist) business as usual.
Having fallen into obscurity before, Hue seems determined not to let it happen again. The city hosts a biennial arts festival, the Festival of Hue, in even numbered years, featuring local and international artists and performers. Events take place at historical sites and arts centers all ever the city. There’s also talk of turning Hue into Vietnam’s first ‘festival city’ (whatever that is).
What to Do ?
Highlights of Hue City are the ancient Citadel, royal tombs, Thien Mu Pagoda and Dong Ba Market. All can be seen in one or two full days. Located 100 km north of Hue, the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Vinh Moc tunnels and Bach Ma National Park, are convenient destinations for day tours starting from Hue.
When to Go ?
The best time to visit Hue is from March to August, particularly in March and April when it is normally dry and the temperatures are cooler although light rain is still likely. Rainy season started from September to January, heavily and frequently.
Most of the city's major sites, beside the Forbidden City, are not within walking distance from the city center. It is recommended to arrange a tour either by boat, private car or motorbike. Bicycling is also an good option. For the DMZ tour, in fact, there are few remnants of the war and not much left to see. If you are interested in the war history, bring along a good tour guide who can color in the sites with stories. Don't forget to bring along an umbrella and a torch to explore the Vinh Moc Tunnels.