The grand imperial city of Hue is situated in central Vietnam just a few miles from the country’s east coast. It lies on the banks of the Perfume River, which is so-called because in the autumn, orchard flowers fall into its waters and are carried along to the sea, giving off a faint, perfume-like scent along the way. From 1802 to 1945 it was the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty, Vietnam’s last ruling family; as such, there are scores of buildings and landmarks associated with the royal family scattered throughout the city.
From January through to August, Hue is relatively dry. September welcomes in the rainy season, which reaches its peak in October and is over by the end of the year. While rainfall is at its heaviest during these last few months of the year, there’s usually a fair amount of rainfall the rest of the year as well. Temperatures are generally quite favorable year-round, especially during the peak summer months, though in winter the nights can be rather chilly.
The city is renowned for its royal connections and is widely regarded as the most regal of all cities in Vietnam. The most famous landmark in the city by far is the Imperial City, a walled palace that’s been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a vast complex featuring scores of buildings that are astoundingly rich in art and architecture; one of the highlights is the Forbidden Purple City, access to which was restricted to members of the ruling royal family. Many of the buildings are partially destroyed because of fighting during the Vietnam War, there some are still in very good condition. Another key attraction is the Tombs of the Emperors, a series of half a dozen tombs located throughout the city where former emperors have been laid to rest.
Hue is an incredibly busy town and the historical sites attract their fair share of tourists nowadays. We do feel the sites are well worth seeing and arguably a cultural highlight of Vietnam, but we do often recommend staying out of town for a little peace and calm.