Hue attractions, Vietnam

Imperial City, Hue sights, Vietnam

Hue attractions focus on the ‘Purple Forbidden City’ royal region inside the walled and moated Imperial City, particularly the Palace of Supreme Harmony and Khai Dinh’s extravagant burial chamber.

Visit Hue

The ancient Imperial City of Hue is beautifully located and wrapped in a tranquil atmosphere, with a spectacular fortified palace that is one of the country’s most important historic sites.

Main Hue attractions

One of the Imperial City gates, Hue sights, Vietnam

One of the restored Imperial City gates. Photo by Clemens Vasters.

Some big sights are located within walking distance of Hue’s centre – The Citadel/ Imperial City – but a proper look at the best of Hue is going to involve some kind of transport out to Tien Mu Temple (Pagoda), the Tomb of Tu Duc and the Royal Tombs including Tombs of Minh Mang and Khai Dinh.

The road to Da Nang from Hue – aka ‘the Mandarin Road’ – through Truong Son Mountains is a superbly picturesque driving route, with the highest point known as ‘the Pass of Clouds’.

Palace of Supreme Harmony

Imperial Palace, Hue sights, vietnam

The exquisite Palace of Supreme Harmony.

It’s well worth buying a small guide book, renting a bike and just tooling around the Imperial City on your own, away from the madding crowds.

Much of the magnificence was first burnt by departing French occupation forces and then bombed to hell in 1968 by the Americans as this was the DMZ between north and south Vietnam. Amazingly, locals bear no grudges. They say.

Khai Dinh’s tomb

Emperor Khai Dinh's's tomb exterior, Imperial City, Hue sights, Vietnam, Asia

Khai Dinh’s tomb (the 12th Emperor of Vietnam) on the outskirts of Hue lacks external excitement. . .

In 1916 Khai Dinh became Emperor of Vietnam but was a puppet of the government of France who were the colonial rulers at the time. Khai Dinh visited France and was influenced by the architectural styles there. The tomb, beside the Chau Chu Mountain about 10kms from Hue, is more elaborately designed than others of its era and is in a curious mix of styles, sometimes dazzlingly modernist and not lacking in mirrors, kaleidoscopic porcelain or dragons. Construction began in 1920 and concluded in 1931, completed by Bao Dai, Khai Dinh’s successor after Dinh died in 1925.

There are about 120 steps and no handrails to get up to the tomb.

Khai Dinh statue inside his tomb, Hue, Vietnam

Khai Dinh statue inside his tomb. Photo byClemens Vasters.

Emperor Khai Dinh's's tomb interior, Imperial City, Hue sights, Vietnam, Asia

. . . but internally it’s a mad mass of technicolor mosaics, tiles and mirrors – not in the best possible taste but way different from the other attractions and will certainly keep tired tour-eyes open!

Minh Mang’s tomb

Emperor Minh Mang's tomb, Hue sights, Vietnam

Emperor Minh Mang‘s tomb, in the same vein as Khai Dinh’s. Photo by Serge-Ottaviani.

Eight Immortals seen in Minh Mang's tomb, Hue sights, Vietnam

Eight Immortals seen in Minh Mang’s tomb, a Taoist symbol of longevity and happiness. Photo by LigerCommon.

The Emperor Minh Mang's tomb, Imperial City, Hue sights, Vietnam, Asia

Minh Mang’s tomb offers a superb balance of landscaping and architecture that surpasses all other royal tombs in Hue, though Khai Dinh is the glitter winner.

Emperor Minh Mang reigned from 1820 to 1840. Work on his tomb began in 1820 but was still under construction on his death so his son and successor Thieu Tri had to complete the project, with a little help from ten thousand labourers and artisans. Here we can see some of Mang’s favourite guards and servants.