Currently we are in the ancient imperial city Hue in Vietnam. Here the former kings used to live and rule over their colourful kingdom.
Hue on the Central Coast of Vietnam is a city with an interesting history. From its early days during the Nguyen Dynasty until today, it went through interesting times. In the beginning the city was called Phu Xuan, set up as the capital of Vietnam by Emperor Gia Long in 1802. It remained the national capital until 1945. Following Emperor Bao Dai’s abdication the northern government was established in Hanoi, whilst the French colonists established a state capital for the South in Saigon.
During the war the city suffered terrible damage especially in the 1968 Tet Offensive, due to its proximity with the border between North and South Vietnam. Sadly some of the greatest heritage of Hue was left in a pitiful state. Myself I was rummaging through the soil near some of these bullet hole riddled ghost walls out of curiosity and indeed – as expected – I was able to find gun shells – in 2016!
The citadel itself is one of eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vietnam. Also called the Forbidden City of Vietnam, the citadel was the seat of the emperors of the Nguyen dynasty and covers a large, walled area north of the Perfume River, who got its name from autumn blossoms being carried from the origin in the the Bach Ma mountain range towards the lagoon and the East Sea. Said lagoon and the abundant brackwater life is the foundation of many Hue dishes.
Sadly most of the Forbidden City was destroyed through bombing during the war, though efforts are now being made to restore it for the sake of tourism.
Along the Perfume River other famous and interesting monuments are distributed. The tombs of the Emperors Minh Mang, Khai Dinh and Tu Duc are popular tourist attractions that look back on a great history. Also Thien Mu Pagoda, the largest pagoda in Hue and its official symbol.
Nowadays Hue welcomes around two and a half million visitors per year, providing an economic boost the city can use well. This is of course a difficult balancing act, to maintain the level of tourism without having a negative impact on the environment. The authorities are thus far managing it very well. Actually what I have witnessed on Bach Ma and in the citadel, the tourism management of Hue is en par with other countries I have visited, and far more advanced than in Saigon.
Hue is one of the “must visit” cities of Vietnam, is very well connected and can be reached by train, bus, boat and via Phu Bai Interanational Airport.
Bach Ma National Park
…motorbikes and unlicensed cars are not allowed in Bach Ma National Park, so either you get a tour guide or you hike the mountain on foot. Walking takes approximately six hours from the entrance to the peak, so it’s advisable to book a room at the guesthouse near the peak and explore the forest and village early the next day with a chance to catch a glimpse on some birds…
The Tomb of Emperor Khải Định
The tomb is located eight kilometres south of Huế on the Chau Chu mountain. Emperor Khải Định ordered the building of a tomb that combines traditional Asian style elements with European architecture. Completing the tomb took 11 years from 1920 to 1931. -> Khai Dinh Tomb