Located on the Perfume River on the central coast of Vietnam, Hue is a haven of culture and history. Overflowing with temples, palaces and tombs, there is plenty to see and do here, and the city and surrounding countryside has its own unique charm. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hue was the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty, and the country's capital from 1802 to 1945.
Whilst sadly much of Hue was damaged during the Tet Offensive in 1968, the cultural sites are still very impressive. Most of the key imperial sites lie within the Citadel; an imposing structure surrounded by a moat. Visitors to the Citadel will be able to see the Imperial Enclosure, which was once the Emperor's residence, containing temples, palaces and gardens.
Outside the city, it is possible to visit the Royal Tombs which lie along the banks of the river. Many of the tombs are wonderfully intricate and ostentatious, such as the Tomb of Khai Dinh. During a stay in Hue, it is also worth taking a boat ride along the Perfume River, named for the tropical flowers and foliage that float down from the mountains in the autumn.
Another remaining imperial influence in Hue can be found in the cuisine. It is said that it was the Emperor Tu Duc who first demanded that his food be as aesthetically pleasing as it was delicious, introducing the idea of artistically presented dishes. It is still possible to sample 'Imperial Cuisine' whilst in Hue, but for those seeking something more relaxed, the city's Dong Ba Market is the ideal place to try some mouth-watering streetfood and local specialties.