The grand old dame of Vietnam, Hue city is a fabulous collage of culture, history, natural beauty and modern luxury. Many visitors make the mistake of overlooking it or viewing it as a transit city that can be explored in a day or two.
Hue’s ancient imperial city harbours awe-inspiring structures that cannot be appreciated in a short time frame, starting at The Citadel and fanning out through a town full of regal charm and contemporary culture. History is the main attraction here, whether you look for it in spectacular ruins, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, fabled culinary traditions or merely in the tales of its people. That said the development of high quality hotels and service providers ensures that this city is not merely left in the past, but embraces the future as well.
For the macabre at heart, there are a number of famous tombs and mausoleums throughout, perfect places to pay your respects or simply take in classic architecture and royal furnishings. With traditional dynastic surroundings rubbing elbows with French influenced opulence, the collection of burial sites is one of the big draws in town.
But the town has so much more to offer than historical ruins and sites, this was, after all, the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, which was carefully sited with views of mountains in back and river out front, making this so-called hidden beauty easy on the eyes.
Surrounded by the majestic sights, there is a multitude of options in the imperial city. Try cooking classes, get a taste and learn how to prepare Hue’s regal cuisine: banh beo, banh nam, banh bot loc, and bun bo hue. For a classic tour, get a boat ride up and cruise along The Perfume River. Top your experience with the one-hour motorbike trip to Tam Giang Lagoon, where the seafood is always fresh and plentiful. To see Hue city at its finest, head to town during the Hue Festival, which happens once every two years (the next one will be in April 2014). It’s a chance for visitors to observe the rituals and life of the Nguyen royal family as well as partaking in many traditional forms of entertainment, lifestyle and foods. Be aware that Hue city is very crowded and expensive during this time. For a more peaceful break, visit Hue, Vietnam in autumn, when the weather is agreeable and the city is quiet.