Vietnam is one of the most interesting countries to travel to. Every inch of it has a rich history, as reflected in its vibrant culture and ancient artefacts. While Vietnam today isn’t the same as Vietnam from a century ago, with wars destroying parts of the country, it has rebuilt with authenticity. Wherever you go, you find a country committed to keeping its cultural heritage intact.
One place that has certainly managed to maintain its heritage is Huế. You can easily get from Hoi An to Hue, where you’ll find a living history with plenty to see. Here’s how you can discover everything Huế has to offer.
You’ll no doubt want to start with the Citadel. Built in the early 1800s, Kinh Thanh has a fascinating history. It was the center of the Nguyen royal family. Its Forbidden Purple City was restricted only to members of the family. Only eunuch servants were allowed into the compound. Only ruins remain of the Forbidden Purple City, but you’ll get a sense of just how exclusive and unique this citadel-within-a-citadel was.
The Imperial Enclosure housed the emperor’s residence, temples, and palaces. Most of its buildings were bombed, but 20 still survived and reconstruction is ongoing. It is a fascinating site that you can spend hours exploring.
The Royal Tombs
Take a trip from the Citadel to the south, where you’ll find the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty. They stretch along the Perfume River, interspersed with beautiful pagodas. If tombs don’t sound very interesting, you haven’t seen the likes of these mausoleums. Each contains artefacts from the particular emperor or empress’s life, a temple, a sepulchre, and a courtyard. There are also lotus ponds.
You can do a tour of the Royal Tombs by boat, which gives you an opportunity to enjoy relaxing on the Purple River.
Hue has many of its own unique cuisines, particularly catered towards vegetarianism. You can eat safely from street food vendors, who will provide a range of cuisines, including many types of rice cakes. These are unlike the Western-style rice cakes you are used to. Rather they come in the shape of filled pancakes, dumplings, and more.
Prepare to get adventurous. This is not the time to be a fussy eater!
Finally, no trip to Hue is complete without spending some time shopping. If you’re looking for high fashion, you’re in the wrong place. However, you will find better traditional conical hats than anywhere else in the country. Their special poem hats reveal scenes of daily life when held up to the light. There are also excellent artists throughout Hue who create elaborate paintings on rice paper and silk. These are perfect to hang on your walls back home or to bring as gifts for family and friends.
Huế is an incredible city that is all-too-often overlooked by travellers. It is well worth a visit when you’re in Vietnam. Make the most of your visit by getting to know the Citadel and by trying the various cuisines Huế has to offer.