Hue, a two hour train ride north from Da Nang, is quite the hidden gem in Vietnam. Most people fly into Da Nang and head straight to Hoi An, but skipping out on Hue would be a big loss. As it’s still in the process of developing its tourism sector, there isn’t a large list of things to do in this city, however, the few things Hue has to offer are well worth the trip. Among these is a visit to the Imperial City in Hue: a former walled palace and fortress that was once the capital of Vietnam. Much of the Imperial City is still currently under construction, but you’ll be surrounded by temples and structures, and a rich history throughout.
Getting to the Imperial City in Hue is quite easy, so long as you’re staying somewhere near the Huong River (Perfume River) where either the Trang Tien Bridge, Phu Xuan Bridge, or Da Vien Bridge are. On a map, the city will look like a square with a moat surrounding the walls of the city. There are three impressive gates to the city, with the only entrance being Ngo Mon Gate on the southern side where you’ll be greeted with a picturesque entrance gate that, due to many years passed (building began in 1804 and the Citadel was greatly damaged in 1968), exudes a rustic vibrancy. This visual contradiction exists throughout the Imperial City, with worn down buildings still adorned in lively (albeit sometimes washed out) colors.
Currently a UNESCO Heritage Site, there are various temples and structures to visit throughout the grounds. If you’re a history buff, it might be wise to hire a private tour guide, which you can get in a number of different languages including English, French, and German. Expect to spend at least two hours wandering about the Citadel (likely more if you’re with a guide or actually take the time to read the information posted). The entrance fee into the Imperial Palace isn’t exactly cheap at 150,000 VND ($53 HKD), but it is definitely worth it.
Unfortunately, on the day that I went to visit the Imperial Palace in Hue, the weather was not in my favour; hazy skies and light drizzle, so my hopes at some picture-perfect photos didn’t exactly pan out. Hopefully, you can still see how beautiful this area is and make a visit to to the Palace yourself!