Hue, the city of imperial palaces and tombs, is on most travellers’ itineraries when they visit Vietnam. The city’s most famous attraction is the ancient Imperial Citadel and the Imperial Enclosure within. The citadel is the home of Vietnam’s last royal dynasty, the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945).
It’s a massive complex surrounded by 10 kilometres of fortified walls and a moat fed by the waters of the Perfume River. The main sights within the citadel include a Flag Tower, the Thai Hoa Palace, the Forbidden Purple City and the Ancestral Altars. Admission into the World Heritage site is 55,000 VND (USD 2.75). Prepare to spend 2-3 hours wondering around this wonderful old city.
Despite being severely damaged in conflicts with both French and US forces, the Imperial Citadel remains Hue’s most popular and most important historic site. Since its listing as a World Heritage site in 1992, many of the buildings have been carefully restored. However, the levelling of the vast Forbidden Purple Palace in 1968 left nothing for restoration.
Hue‘s weather is infamously bad; the Truong Son Mountains towards the south retain moisture making the climate usually misty, drizzly or outright rainy. Things get even wetter than usual in the winter rainy season, especially from February to the end of March. I visited Hue in February and you can see how wet it was from my photos. In fact, it rained continuously the 3 days we were there and it was indeed chilly. To be safe, bring along an umbrella or buy a local plastic poncho. Don’t forget to bring a jumper and jacket in winter as it can get chilly, with temperatures falling to as low as 8 C. degrees at night. We found lots of shops selling North Face fleecy lined rainproof jackets for around USD 40. When the sun does make an appearance for a day or a week, it can reach 30 C. degrees!