Hue, Vietnam: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
As an old Vietnamese capital, which also served as the center of Nguyễn dynasty, Hue is a city hosting a great number of architectural, cultural and war-time landmarks. It has been one of the most important strategic points during the Vietnam War.
Thanks to the fact that rulers from the Nguyễn dynasty left a significant number of tombs, pagodas and other buildings in the part of the city now known as the Imperial City, Hue was enlisted in UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 1993. Its many historic monuments are complemented with its surroundings, which can only be described as unique, to say the least. Bach Ma National Park, Lang Co and Thuan An beaches, as well as the Huong River, which is better known as Perfume River for its fragrance, hot springs nearby, etc, are only a few of them.
Endemic species growing and living around this city make it an especially valued spot among nature lovers and explorers.
First cited about 200 BC, when it was the seat of the Chinese military authority in the kingdom of Nam Viet, it was captured repeatedly by the Chinese and in 1306 was ceded to Dai Viet (Vietnam). From 1558 Hue was the seat of the Nguyen family. In 1802 Prince Nguyen Anh, assisted by the French, became the emperor Gia Long of the newly established Nguyen dynasty, which included Tonkin (northern Vietnam) and had its capital at Hue. The last of his line, Bao Dai, officially emperor of Vietnam from 1926 to 1945, functioned as a figurehead under the French protectorate, which had existed from 1883. Under Japanese occupation from 1940 to 1945, during World War II, Hue became the seat of a provisional administrative committee of noncommunist Vietnamese in April 1947. On July 1, 1949, however, the newly declared state of Vietnam chose Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) as its capital, and Hue lost its historic function.
Suffering early damage during the First Indochina War (1946–54), it experienced severe civil disturbances in 1963 and again in 1965. During the 1968 Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War, many of the former royal buildings, museums, libraries, and Buddhist shrines, including the Temple of Heaven, were damaged. The city was subsequently rebuilt.
What to expect in Hue?
Due to its position and landscape, Hue has favorable natural conditions and the rich and diverse ecosystem. The city has a plenty of marvelous natural landscapes including Ngu Binh Mountain, Thien An - Vong Canh hill, Huong River (Perfume River) and so on. Thanh Tan Hot Springs, together with Bach Ma National Park, reveal just how rich and diverse Hue’s surroundings are.
The main source of tourist dollars are, nevertheless, the city’s numerous historic sites. The Imperial City, the Imperial Citadel, many tombs built for rulers of the Nguyễn dynasty, tunnels dag during the Vietnamese War, as well as many pieces of military equipment left from the War are some of them.
The Huong River has such a pleasant smell that it is better known by its nickname- the Perfume River. Many cruising tours are organized year-round for the visitors to enjoy its almost surreal romantic atmosphere. In addition to this, just outside Hue, one can go hiking, biking, cycling, or climbing through a number of hidden natural wealth. Even a class of cooking traditional Hue’s meals, such as Com Hen (rice with mussel), Bun bo Hue (Hue style beef vermicelli), Banh beo (water fern cake), Banh khoai (pancake), or Mam tom chua (sour shrimp sauce), is offered to visitors, to feel as much of local life as possible. Add the Hue Festival, held biannually, to these attractions, and one has a pretty good idea of what to expect in Hue.
One of the things unique for Hue, as much as for Vietnam itself, is riding in a motorbike taxi specifically modified for more comfort, called “xe-om”. Locals are very welcoming and kind, so there should be no problem when bargaining for a price of this ride, and pretty much anything else in Hue.
Modern day city
Starting from its historic significance, together with the present day economic growth, Hue is today still a very significant regional center in Vietnam. Its geographical position also enabled it to be very important strategic and traffic point between the North and the South Vietnam.
Hue city is the center of commerce, services and international transactions of the economy of North Central Coast Vietnam and one of the traffic hubs of the Central Coast Vietnam. It is trying its best to become one of the cities reach the level of development and modernization, an industrial city and to be one of the economic centers of the central key economic area. There are more than 100 mines for minerals and non-mineral resources in and around Hue. In addition, the service sector is considered the diverse developed area with some potential in this sector, especially tourist services.
So, Hue is definitely diverse in its offer to the visitors, just as much as it is in history and natural wealth. Combine this with friendly locals always ready for a good negotiation, and some modern infrastructure, and the result is unforgettable and rewarding.