The central city of Hue is the ancient capital of Vietnam and still bears the marks of its royal past, although it sustained heavy damage in both the French war with the Viet Minh and the Tet Offensive during the American Vietnam War. The remaining structures give a clear picture of life in Hue’s golden era, making it a must-see in any trip through Vietnam and Southeast Asia.
As former home to 13 Nguyen emperors, Hue holds the remnants of palaces and temples, which provide a fascinating glimpse into the luxurious and secretive world of the court. Not only were these courts lavish repositories of finery, but they were sanctuaries for the rulers as they sought spiritual enlightenment.
The Imperial Palace is by far the most visited site in Hue, with good reason. The imperial architecture, built according to the practice of Feng Shui, will give you a taste of both the physical and spiritual world through the harmony of location and space. You may also explore red-lacquered pavilions of the citadel, cross the threshold into tombs of ancient emperors, wander through ancient garden houses or feast on delicacies once served in the royal palace.
To see how these rulers prepared and appointed their afterlives, take a luxurious boat ride down the Perfume River, to the Tombs of the Emperors, where you will see how, like other dynastic rulers around the world, the Nguyen emperors confronted death with the same extravagance they demonstrated in life.
Of course, emperors were not the only ones to live in Hue. The farmers and humble rural workers have long worked the fields surrounding the city, and remain hard at work today. The charming Thahn Toan Bridge just outside the city is a great stop to observe rural life, as you drive through the countryside.
Ker & Downey’s team of expert consultants and local guides will ensure that your visit to Hue is rich in every experience, from imperial to scenic, ancient to timeless.