Hue, known as the most royal city in Vietnam. Located in the bank of the Perfume River. A quiet and peaceful place.
The locals say, people in Hue are calm, just like the water of the Perfume River, as it doesn’t move. It remains still and calm. When I look at the river and interact with the local people, I understand why the kings loved it here… 🙂
Visiting some historical places in Hue, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, one can feel that the Nguyen emperors still resonates with the glories of imperial Vietnam. An interesting place to visit, full of history. And I just love the ambiance of this place. It’s not crowded like Ho Chi Minh City. Not at all. On the contrary, even in the tourist destinations, peace and tranquility still resonate strongly in between those old temples, pagodas, or kings’ tombs. And perhaps because of this, visitors also act calmly, walk slowly, and nod with respect whenever our eyes meet.
So, where to go in Hue?
Here are some of the must-visit places in Hue that you shouldn’t miss!
- Hue’s Citadel
You wouldn’t miss the Hue’s Citadel if you explore the city. The grand Citadel walls are so obvious! For nearly a century and a half, from 1802 to 1945, those walls protected the royal capital of Vietnam’s Nguyen dynasty.
Inside the Citadel complex, there is the Purple Forbidden City, which reserved exclusively for the royal family. People say that it’s like “Mini China” – because Hue also has a Forbidden City and the Citadel provided multiple layers of defenses for a supposedly impregnable fortress protecting the royal family from potential invaders from out beyond the walls.
Unfortunately, the Vietnam War destroyed large parts of the buildings inside the Citadel. There used to be beautiful gardens and intricate pagodas. Having said that, we still can see some royal palaces that are still well preserved.
I love the old, historic, and colorful gates in the Citadel!
If you’re lucky, you can also witness traditional music performance in Citadel.
This guy is playing a traditional music instrument. He’s such an expert! I’ve never seen anyone played this instrument before.
This one makes sound like a trumpet.
Leaving the Citadel complex — they come here with a horse cart!
In this building, you can see portraits of the kings from different generations and their stories.
2. Thien Mu Pagoda
Thien Mu Pagoda was originally founded in 1601 by Nguyen Hoang, governor of Thuan Hoa province. The temple itself is a humble building in the inner courtyard, past the triple-gated entrance where three statues of Buddhist guardians stand at the alert. In the main sanctuary behind the bronze laughing Buddha are three statues: A Di Da, the Buddha of the Past; Thich Ca, the historical Buddha (Sakyamuni); and Di Lac Buddha, the Buddha of the Future.
Pay attention to the symbols on the outer of pagoda’s walls. Each symbol has different meanings. You can ask your guide for each of the symbol’s meaning.
This pagoda is located by the river. So, you can actually reach here by boat, too!
3. Imperial Tomb of Khai Dinh
This is probably my favorite site in Hue. The Imperial tomb of Khai Dinh Hue has been declared the most majestic imperial tomb of throughout Vietnam. It took 11 years to build this impressive site, from 1920 to 1931. And it is the last Hue Imperial tomb.
This is one of the most beautiful points of the site, the courtyard of ceremonies, with stone statues (rare material in this imperial tomb), which unlike the rest of Hue imperial tombs, has 2 rows of statues where the second row are the bodyguards of the emperor.
In the complex Khai Dinh, we can also visit the Thien Dinh Palace. And inside the palace, there is a room that will take your breath away. It’s the room where we can see the sarcophagus of Emperor and it’s filled with colorful decorations! Wow.
The main hall contains a statue of the seated Emperor Khai Dinh upon his throne and at his feet, his sarcophagus. The decoration is made with stained glass and mosaics built ceramic based broken into pieces.
The whole interior of this palace is just beautiful! It is said that the walls in this palace, decorated by mosaic, are the most beautiful and the last ones in Vietnam.
There are many more tombs, pagodas, palaces and temples in Hue, Vietnam. Spending a week here exploring historical places would be perfect! I wish I spent more time here in Hue. Really.
And oh, to go around, you can either rent a bicycle or take a taxi. Ask your hotel to get you a taxi. It’s not that expensive :).