Located halfway up the coast of Vietnam, Hue is the perfect respite from chaotic Ho Chi Minh City and hectic Hanoi. Once the imperial capital of the Nguyen Lords from 1802 to 1945, Hue retains its faded yet charming royal air in its ancient pagodas, fascinating royal tombs and wide, leafy boulevards.
1. Imperial City
Just north of the Perfume River lies the 520 ha Complex of Hue Monuments inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1993. Despite being heavily bombed during the Vietnam War, the complex features some very well-preserved sections while others are being meticulously restored. In the very center of the Citadel lies the ruins of the Forbidden Purple City, a walled compound that was solely for the emperor’s use. Play emperor (or empress) for a day and rent a beautifully detailed costume for the ultimate royal selfie!
2. Hải Vân Pass
One of the prettiest drives in the world, 20 km-long Hai Van Pass finds itself 500 m above sea level, with the forested mountains on one side and the turquoise East Sea on the other. Located between Danang and Hue, the pass cuts through the Bach Ma mountains, part of the Truong Son Mountain Range. On a clear day, lucky motorists can see the city of Danang, the port of Tien Sa, the Son Tra archipelago and the Cham Islands, along with ribbons of golden sand hugging the coast for a truly breathtaking journey!
3. Lăng Cô Bay
Backed by forested mountains, picturesque Lang Co Bay is a stunning mix of azure water, wide sandy beaches and colorful boats, excellent for swimming, suntanning or having a seafood meal at one of its many beachfront restaurants.
4. Perfume River – Ngu Binh Mountain
The Perfume River and Ngu Binh Mountain are enduring symbols of Hue, often likened to a pair of inseparable lovers. From the 105 meter-high mountain stretches views of Hue’s beautiful palaces and striking pagodas as well as forested hills and endless plains.
5. Khải Định Tomb
Out of Hue’s many royal tombs, the Khai Dinh Tomb is truly unique, an architectural wonder fusing elements of Eastern and Western asthetics. Situated on a vast hilly area, surrounded by forest and natural surroundings, the mausoleum took many talented craftsmen and artisans more than a decade to construct. Compared to other tombs, Khai Dinh’s Tomb is smaller but more elaborate featuring mosaics, murals and the biggest sculptures of dragons in all of Vietnam.