Palaces and pagodas, 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 buildings are older than 150 years and many of them have borne the brunt of war and neglect.Hue owes its charm partly to its location on the Perfume River (Song Huong) – 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 splendour, but the city is very much a jumble of new and old. Modern homes sit cheek by jowl with crumbling century-old Citadel walls, while colourless new hotels tower over stately colonial-era properties.The city of Hue lies along either side of the river. The north side is dominated by the Citadel and has a quieter, local feel. The south side, once a French enclave, has most of the hotels and restaurants. Aside from the Citadel, the other imperial landmarks and sightseeing spots are scattered across the countryside.
Recommended things to do & see
Our top picks for Hue
Citadel: Most of Hue's sights and a sizeable chunk of its population reside within the 2m-thick, 10km-long walls of its Citadel
Dien Tho Residence: The stunning, partially ruined Dien Tho Residence (1804) once comprised the apartments and audience hall of the Queen Mothers of the Nguyen dynasty
General Museum Complex: The General Museum Complex is housed in an exquisite building which was once a school for princes and the sons of high-ranking mandarins
Tropical Garden Restaurant: This popular place offers romantic dining in a lush, leafy garden
Japanese Restaurant: Delicious Japanese food and a worthy cause
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