Hue lies on Vietnam's central coast, midway between
Hanoi and Ho-Chi-Minh City. It is the cultural and intellectual
centre of the country and was the capital city until 1945,
in the time when Vietnam was ruled by the Nguyen emperors.
It was here that they built their majestic temples, pagodas
and ancient tombs which are now the main tourist attractions.
The locals will also tell you that the most beautiful women
in Vietnam come from here and it is considered one of the
most romantic and picturesque cities in the country.
Between 1975 and 1990 the Communist government regarded Hues
history as politically incorrect, reflecting the feudal
Nguyen Dynasty. The local government realised that its
cultural sites had potential for tourism but it was only in
1993 that the monuments in Hue were designated a UNESCO World
What's there to see and do?
Many of the citys attractions lie within the Citadel,
including the Imperial Enclosure (a miniature citadel
within a citadel) where the Nguyen emperors official functions
were carried out. Inside the Imperial Enclosure is the Forbidden
Purple City, reserved for the personal use of the emperor
and was accessible only to eunuch servants who posed no threat
to the household. Other attractions include the ceremonial
Thai Hoa Palace (Palace of Supreme Harmony) and the Ngo
Mon Gate (Noontime gate), the principle entrance to the
Imperial Enclosure. There is also a chance to take in a boat
tour along the Perfume River which runs through the
city. From here you can see some of the tombs that lie outside
of the Citadel.
Hue also has a more recent history which draws tourists to
the city. During the 1968 Tet Offensive (a surprise attack
by the North Vietnamese during the holy period of Tet) Hue
was the site of one of the most infamous battles of the Vietnam
War, dramatised in Stanley Kubricks Full Metal Jacket
film. Held by the North Vietnamese for three weeks, Hue was
liberated by the Americans only after 10,000 people had died
and much of the citys historic buildings had been destroyed.
The memories of this battle are still here, with many old
US tanks and artillery gathered outside the Citadel walls.