the POSH guide
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The POSH Mini-Guide to Hue

The city of Hue, near the center of Vietnam, was the imperial capital of the country from the eighteenth century until early in the twentieth. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. Although parts of the city were badly damaged during the American war, there is still a lot to see in the old city, and it's well worth spending several days here.

Citadel Gate
The main gateway to the citadel - Hue's own 'forbidden city'

When To Go

Since most of the sights of Hue are at least partly outdoors, you want to visit during the dry season from March to July. The earlier you go, the cooler it will be, so the best time to visit is March or April. The months of September to December are to be avoided, as that is when Hue's rainy season is, and it can be quite wet.

Getting To Hue

The easiest way to get to Hue is to fly there. The city's airport offers several flights a day between Hue and both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't point out the beautiful scenery to be had on the drive between Hue and Danang over the Hai Van pass. If your itinerary includes Hoi An, consider renting a car and driver to make the journey between Hue and Hoi An by road.

How Long To Stay

You will want to have at least two full days to see the sights, which means staying three nights in Hue. If you really want to explore all the tombs in the countryside, and do it at your leisure, then add another day or two.

Where To Stay

To get the most of your visit, you will want to stay in the city at one of the riverside hotels just across from the Citadel. See my short list of suggested Hue hotels for ideas or go directly to the Hue hotel search page to sort through all the options. If you're looking for some place to have a beach break before or after your visit to Hue, then consider the nearby resort area of Lang Co, one of the most beautiful stretches of beach I have ever seen. The renowned Banyan Tree chain just opened a fabulous new resort there in 2012.

Getting Around

You will need some form of transportation to see some of the sights, like the tombs of the emperors. If you're visiting in the dry season and reasonably fit, a bicycle would be a great way to get around. Otherwise you may wish to engage a car and driver, since you cannot rely on taxis to get to the tombs.

What To See & Do

The key sights of the city are the Citadel, the Thien Mu pagoda and the tombs of the Nguyen Emperors. The Citadel external link was like a smaller version of Beijing's forbidden city, a separate city unto itself for the Emperor and his concubines. While much of it was destroyed in the war, there's still a lot to see. Along the river just west of the city is the Thien Mu pagaoda external link. The temple predates Hue's role as the capital by more than 200 years, but the towering brick pagoda was built after the Emperor moved the capital to Hue. In the countryside around Hue, southwest of the city, the emperors built their tombs external link, which were fantastical palaces for the afterlife. No visit to Hue is complete without seeing at least some of these amazing structures.

 

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