Visit Hue for a step back in time, to the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty. An imperial city scattered with ornate architecture, Hue has a regal air to it thanks to the city’s former life as Vietnam’s capital, ending in 1945 when Bao Dai – the last of the Nguyen Dynasty’s emperors – abdicated. Today, you can get a glimpse of the Nguyen legacy by exploring the various pagodas, palaces, temples and tombs that emerge between a modern, urban cityscape.
Some of the most prominent imperial sites to discover include the walled Imperial Citadel, with its many shrines and palaces; the Forbidden Purple City; Thien Mu Pagoda; and mausoleums of Tu Duc and Khai Dinh, both eminent emperors of the area’s past. Some of these are extraordinarily elaborate edifices, such as Tu Duc’s mausoleum – a resplendent complex with pavilions, gardens and lakes, built in honour of the ‘Poet Emperor’ who enjoyed a luxurious, extravagant lifestyle. On the other hand, Khai Dinh’s mausoleum integrates influences from around the world – including European, Roman and Gothic – with Vietnamese iconography and architecture throughout.
As well as its imperial legacy, Hue is also beloved for its gastronomy – in fact, it’s widely considered to be one of the foodie meccas of Vietnam. There are plenty of hole-in-the-wall, family-run eateries to discover here, serving local delicacies like Bun Bo Hue, a spicy, lemongrass-infused beef broth; and Banh Beo, savoury pancakes served with shrimp and crispy pork; delicious!