Hue, the ancient imperial capital
Hue has been the capital of Vietnam, the feudal sovereignty, from 1744 when the Nguyen lords controlled all of southern Vietnam. The city is one of the most popular Vietnam destinations. It was severely damaged during the American war, in the 1968 Tet offensive, when house-to-house fighting lasted for weeks. Still, many architectural gems remain to this day and they are well worth a visit. In 1993, UNESCO acknowledged the Complex of Monuments of Hue as a World Cultural Heritage Site.
Hue is divided between the older fortified Citadel, containing most of the interesting attractions, and the new, smaller sprawl that has developed across the river. People come to Hue to see the old Imperial complex, the Citadel and the Forbidden cities, the pagodas, and the many tombs of the emperors that lie a few kilometers south of the city. Each tomb is a walled compound containing temples, palaces, and lakes.
Hue is also known for the Hue Festival, which is a major annual event. It is a nine days event to celebrate the culture, court music and the ancient traditions of this historic city. Other festivals in Hue include the Nam Gion Festival, where participants from the Royal Palace are involved in the ceremony, the Royal Palace Night, which is a three day festival, Truyen Lo and Vinh Quy Bai, both of which honor the ancestors.
One major tourist attraction in Hue is shopping. The main item to shop for here is silk painting, which has been a distinct feature of Vietnam for centuries. Other items include calligraphic artwork on silk, lacquer, stone and wood.
Hue is a quiet, relaxing city, big enough to be interesting but small enough to bicycle around. The food is great, the best in Viet Nam, and the women are supposed to be the most beautiful in the country.