Palaces and pagodas, tombs and temples, culture and cuisine, history and heartbreak – there’s no shortage of poetic pairings to describe Hue (pronounced ‘hway’). A Unesco World Heritage site, this deeply evocative capital of the Nguyen emperors still resonates with the glories of imperial Vietnam, even though many of its finest buildings were destroyed during the American War.
Hue owes its charm partly to its location on the Perfume River – picturesque on a clear day, atmospheric even in less flattering weather. There’s always restoration work going on to recover Hue’s royal splendour, but today the city is very much a blend of new and old: modern homes sit cheek by jowl with crumbling century-old Citadel walls, and sleek new hotels tower over stately colonial-era properties.
Tourism has brought an excess of touts (who can dog your every step), but, minor hassles aside, Hue remains a tranquil conservative city. There’s no real bar scene and local tourism authorities have lamented the fact that locals go to bed before 10pm.
Hue destination guides
Vietnam Express Southbound
Capture the spirit of magical Vietnam on this compact tour from the colonial charm of Hanoi to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. Sip coffee with locals in Hanoi and shop up a storm in the Old Quarter, cruise along emerald waters on a Halong Bay boat trip, travel through old-world Hue and Hoi An, and get lost in the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City.
From south to north, Vietnam is a kaleidoscope of wonderful people and picturesque landscapes.