Hue– Former Citadel during Nguyen Dynasty is regarded as must stopover of every tourist once choosing Vietnam as the destination.
Joining a full day tour around this charming historical city, guests would pass by almost every notable spot to understand the feudal times, enjoy wonderful natural beauties and meet up sincere Central residents.
The Citadel Complex of Hue, set up by Nguyen Dynasty from 1805 to 1945, is now one amongst the relics of the Hue ancient Capital – the World Cultural Heritage, capturing much of tourists’ attention.
The poetic and beautiful Hue of Vietnam was chosen to be the capital of the Southern Kingdom under Nguyen Lords’ Dynasty, and officially became the nation’s capital under Tay Son Dynasty, King Quang Trung. The citadel palace complex is located on the North bank of Huong River (Perfume River), inside Hue city. It is a huge complex covering an area of 520ha and comprising three circles of ramparts, Kinh Thanh Hue (Hue Capital Citadel), Hoang Thanh (Royal Citadel) and Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Citadel). It was said to be protected by the two sand dunes: The Con Hen and Con Da Vien on the Perfume River, as “dragon on the left, tiger on the right”. If you are in Hue, please join us in this small journey exploring the beautiful feudal palace, the inspiration for numerous artists ever stepping inside!
The very first stop-over is the exterior circle, the Kinh Thanh Hue (Hue capital citadel), which started to be constructed in 1805 under the reign of Emperor Gia Long and was completed in 1832 under the sovereignty of Emperor Ming Mang. Over the past 200 years, it has still maintained original with nearly 140 small and large constructions. With a square shape, it is almost 10km in circumference, 6m high, 21m thick, with 10 entrances. On the top of the walls, 24 bastions are established for defensive purposes. Besides, the Citadel has an ancillary gate connecting the Tran Binh Bastion called the Tran Binh Mon (Peaceful protector Gate).
Now we get further into the second circle, the Hoang Thanh (Royal citadel), also the most important part of the Citadel, which was built in 1804 but totally completed in 1833, under King Ming Mang’s reign. The Citadel, which is more than 600m long for each side, was built with bricks of 4m high, and 1m thick. Around the citadel is a protecting trench system. Tourists can get access to the Imperial Citadel through four entrance gates. In the past, Ngo Mon Gate was only reserved for the King.
Passing through Hoang Thanh, we enter Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Citadel). Situated inside the Imperial Citadelcomplex, behind the Throne Palace, the Purple Forbidden Citadel was reserved for Emperor and his family. Built in the early 1803 under reign of Emperor Gia Long, it was initially named Cung Thanh. In 1821, it was renamed into the today’s Tu Cam Thanh.
This citadel part was built with brick walls of 3.72m high, 0.72m thick, and about 1,230m in circumference. Its front and back sides are 324m long respectively, while the left and right sides are both more than 290m long. The whole site consists of 50 architectural constructions of different sizes and 7 gates for facilitating the entrance and exit. Dai Cung Mon (the Great Palace Gate) is in the front side, only reserved for the Kings. Can Chanh Palace was the place for daily working of Emperors. Can Thanh (Emperor’s Private Palace), Khon Thai Residence (Queen’s Private Apartment) were reserved for the Queens. There are still many other sections, for instance, Duyet Thi Duong house (Royal Theatre), Thuong Thien (the kitchen for the Kings’ food), Thai Binh Lau (King’s reading room), all of which are of great architectural value, luring uncountable visitors who are interested in feudal architecture.
Should you ever come inside the citadel, taking a look into the special feudal relics of immense architectural and cultural values, you will surely more or less love the traditional and classical side of Vietnam. As time goes by, thousands of changes have occurred, the precious historical and classical beauty of the nation would never be gone!
There’s a religious site in Hue that lures tourists by its beautiful and ancient architectural structures of worship, Thien Mu pagoda in the ancient Hue city.
Where is it in Hue city? Thien Mu Pagoda (namely Heaven Fairy Lady Pagoda), also known as Linh Mu Pagoda, is one of the most fascinating and ancient pagoda in Hue city. It is situated on Ha Khe hill, on the north bank of the Perfume River, in Huong Long village, 5 kilometers from Hue city, which is easy to reach from the city center.
The name of the pagoda derives from a special legend. Long time ago, an old woman appeared on the hill where the pagoda stands today, telling local people that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist pagoda for the country’s prosperity. Lord Nguyen Hoang therefore ordered the construction of the pagoda the “Heaven Fairy Lady” or Thien Mu in Vietnamese (also called Linh Mụ). Thanks to such a mysterious history, the pagoda has attracted a great number of tourists from both inside and outside of the nation to come and explore the legend themselves.
Formation and growth
The beautiful pagoda was built in 1601. Later on, several kings of the Nguyen Dynasty such as Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri and Thanh Thai, all had the pagoda restored. At this very initial time, Hoang was the governor of the province of Thuan Hoa (now known as Hue), yet, started ruling his independent state in central Vietnam. According to the royal annals, Hoang was on a sightseeing trip and holiday to contemplate the seas and mountains of the local area when he passed by the hill, which is now the site of the Thien Mu Pagoda. On hearing the mentioned local legend, he had the pagoda constructed. The initial temple was in a very simple form of construction, but as time went by, it has been redeveloped and expanded with more intricate features.
The most striking feature of the pagoda, Phuoc Duyen tower (initially called Tu Nhan tower), was erected in 1884 by King Thieu Tri, and has become the unofficial symbol of Hue. This octagonal tower has seven storeys (2m high), which is dedicated to a Buddha who appeared in human form. It is the highest stupa in Vietnam, and is often the subject of folk rhymes and cadao about Hue, such is its iconic status and association with the city. More importantly, it is regarded as the unofficial symbol of the former imperial capital.
To the left of the tower is a pavilion sheltering an enormous bell. The bell, called Dai Hong Chung, was cast in 1710 by Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu. It is famous for the great size, which is 2.5m high and 3,285 kg weigh. It is considered to be an outstanding achievement of 18th century bronze casting.
To the right of the tower is a pavillion containing a stela dated from 1715. It is set on the back of a massive marble turtle, a symbol of longevity, and is 2.58 m high.
Besides, there are several popular works of art inside the pagoda, which are of great captivation to tourists. For instance, Dai Hung shrine, the main-hall, which presents a magnificent architecture. As bronze cast statues, it shelters some precious antiques: the bronze gong cast in 1677, the wooden gilded board with Lord Nguyen Phuc Chu’s inscriptions (1714).
A historical role
Besides the architectural value, Thien Mu pagoda features a great historical role, which is also of absorption to visitors. During the summer of 1963, Thien Mu Pagoda, like many in South Vietnam, became a hotbed of anti-government protest. South Vietnam’s Buddhist majority had long been discontented with the rule of President Ngo Dinh Diem since his rise to power in 1955. Diem had shown strong favouritism towards Catholics and discrimination against Buddhists in the army, public service and distribution of government aid. Discontent with Diem exploded into mass protest in Hue during the summer of 1963 when nine Buddhists died at the hand of Diem’s army and police on Vesak, the birthday of Gautama Buddha. Accordingly, Buddhist protests were held across the country and steadily grew in size. In those historical days, Thien Mu Pagoda was a major organising point for the Buddhist movement and was often the location of hunger strikes, barricades and protests.
Today, the pagoda is surrounded by flowers and ornamental plants. At the far end of the garden stretches a calm and romantic pine-tree forest. It is much well-maintained and very welcoming to all visitors.
A visitor toHue once remarked after his vacation here: “A visit to Hue would not be complete without a boat excursion on the gentle Perfume River, or else you cannot feel the romance of Hue”.The Perfume River (Vietnamese: Sông Hương or Hương Giang) is a river that crosses the capital city of Hue, in the central Vietnamese province of Thua Thien Hue. Perfume or Huong River is around 80 kilometers long, and owes its name to the fact that it flows through many forests of aromatic plants before reaching Hue, bringing with it a pure and fresh aroma.
Source and flow
The Perfume River has two sources, both of which begin in the Truong Son Mountain range and meet at Bang Lang Fork. The Ta Trach (Left Tributary) originates in the Truong Dong mountains and flows northwest towards Bang Lang Fork. The shorter Huu Trach (Right Tributary) flows through the Tuan ferry, landing towards Bang Lang Fork.
Then it flows in south-north direction passing the temples of Hon Chen and Ngoc Tran, and turns north-west, meandering through the Nguyet Bieu and Luong Quan plains. From this, the River then continuously flows int the north-east direction to Hue city, only an echo of Truong Son mountain, and passes the rest place of the Nguyen Emperors. The river of green water continues its itinerary, passing Hen Islet and various villages, crossing the Sinh junction, which is known as the capital of ancient Chau Hoa, before emptying into the Tam Giang Lagoon.
From Bang Lang to Thuan An estuary, the Perfume River is 30 km long and runs very slowly (as the river level is not much above sea level). The Perfume River darkens as it winds along the foot of Ngoc Tran Mountain – home of the Jade Cup Temple – where there is a very deep abyss.
The poetic romantic Perfume River is the deep inspirations to numerous artists, poets, and composers.
In the autumn, flowers from orchards upriver from Hue fall into the water, giving the river a perfume-like aroma, and a beautiful poetic view. I have asked several artists about the reason for their inspiring love for Perfume River, and received nearly the same answer: “Well, my inspiration derives from the pure water, the fascinating landscape, and the gentle bridge over the river”.
Today, travellers coming to Hue could not miss a while of boating along the river. Most of them admit that this is one of the most beautiful and extremely splendid riverside landscape (especially at night when lights are on) that they have ever visited!
Hue is located in central Vietnam on the banks of Perfume River(Sông Hương), just a few miles inland from the East Sea. It is about 700 kilometers (438 miles) south of the national capital of Hanoi and about 1100 kilometers (690 miles) north of Ho Chi Minh City.
Hue people take their pride in a long-lasting history. The city has gone through 7 centuries of establishment and development. In 1802, Hue became Vietnam’s capital when Emperor Gia Long, the first King of the Nguyen emperors (Nguyen dynasty), chose the location for the imperial city. The city remained the nation’s capital until 1945, when Bao Dai, the last of the Nguyen emperors, abdicated and a communist government was established in Hanoi. In the Vietnam War, Huế’s central position placed it very near the border between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. Thanks to the long precious history, Hue has integrated material and spiritual values, which become its own unique special Culture.
The city has 2 main seasons: dry season and rainy season. The former is fairly hot, lasting from March to August, while the latter begins from August, and is cool and wet. But the most special point is the short spring lasting from January till February, with a very cool and fresh atmosphere and green purity of new tree leaves here and there. This means if you would like to visit the city but still afraid of the hot or wet weather, please come in between January and February.
Hue is one of the main cultural, religious and educational centers of Vietnam. So far, Hue remains to be the only originally historical vestiged city in Vietnam. Many of Hue’s attractions are found along the banks of the romantically named Perfume River with 11km length. This valuable construction includes more than 100 architectural works, which are the reflection of the life of Emperors and mandarins under Nguyen’s reign.
Architecture in Hue is the combination of royal architect, folk, religious ones, tradtional and modern sides. On December 11th, 1993, it was classified by UNESCO as the world cultural heritage. On the north bank of the river is the Imperial Citadel, built along the line of Peking’s Forbidden City, enclosed by 10-metre thick walls and surrounded by a moat. A few kilometers further up the river are perhaps Hue’s best-known religious site. Inside the citadel, there are still wonders. For example, the seat of the Nguyen emperors occupying a large, walled area on the north side of the river. Inside the citadel was a forbidden city where only the concubines, emperors, and those close enough to them were granted access, the punishment for trespassing was death penalty.
If you like something mysterious and valuably architectural, you should take a visit to the tombs of ancient Kings. Situated in the middle of the hills on the Southern bank of Perfume River are very beautiful tombs of Nguyen Kings. Among these tombs are the four famous ones with the name and the arrangements of the tomb reflecting each Emperor’s points of view, personality, and tastes. This is majestic Gia Long tomb, imposing Minh Mang tomb, poetic Tu Duc tomb and magnificent Khai Dinh tomb. No architects who would like to discover ancient architecture of Vietnam could ignore Hue’s old citadel vestiges.
A lot of foreign tourists are curious about Hue’s ritual royal music. Originated from 8 kinds of ritual music under Le dynasty, under Nguyen dynasty, it has improved into 2 kinds of music: “Dai nhac” and “Nha nhac”, which are really magnificent, and skillful. Those are only played on formal occasions. This city is proud to be the cadral of traditional music. The Royal Refined Music was proclaimed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on December 1993.
Hue is also an important center of Buddhism. In Hue and the surroundings still exists tens of pagodas constructed more than 300 years ago, and a hundred of temples and pagodas built in the early century. Thien Mu Pagoda, with its distinctive seven-storey octagonal tower.
Besides all these, Hue’s culture is also found in its famous “non la” or conical hats. You can buy these at the enormous Dong Ba Market as a remarkable and graceful piece of souvenir of Vietnam. A foreign friend of mine had a chance to meet a long-haired Hue’s Vietnamese girl in the traditional violet long dress and a graceful conical hat. And can you guess what happened? He fell in love with her at first sight, and they are now a very happy couple – husband and wife!! Vietnamese cultural grace could win any heart!
Festival and Cuisine
Festivals are also attractions of Hue. There are two main kinds of festival here. Royal festival reflects the life and ritual activities of Nguyen dynasty, almost paying more attention to the ritual than the ceremony. Folk festival consists of multi activities such as Hue Nam festival in Hon Chen temple which follow Champa’s belief, handicraft’s father memory festivals, and some cultural activities as boat racing, westling,…
The cuisine of Hue are rich, but one of the most striking differences is the prominence of vegetarianism in the city. Several all-vegetarian restaurants are scattered in various corners of the city to serve the locals who have a strong tradition of eating vegetarian twice a month, as part of their Buddhist beliefs.
No one who has come to Hue could ignore its ancient beauty and romance. Taking a cruise along the Perfume River, having some special cuisine, and listening to Nha Nhac Royal Music, you can feel the actual picturesque view of this natural classical mysterious city!
The UNESCO World Heritage town of Hue in central Vietnam is a must see destination. The eclectic and mesmerizing tombs and mausoleums of the last emperors of Vietnam reveal fascinating insights into the lives of the imperial families and their subjects. The ancient citadel reflects the pomp and ceremony of the dynastic rulers, as well as the scars of many years of turmoil, both ancient and modern (the Royal Citadel was badly damaged in the latter stages of the war). Even so, it retains a sense of grace and majesty even today. Modern Hue is a delightful city of wide boulevards and period buildings set in a picture–postcard landscape. The local university is renowned as one of the country’s finest and the local cuisine is regarded by many as the best in Vietnam.
Day 01: Hanoi – Hue (D)
In the morning, Hanoi Tourism’s car and guide will meet you at your hotel. Then we will transfer to Noibai International Airport for your flight to Hue – the former imperial capital of Vietnam.
After hotel check-in registration, you will have lunch and overnight stay in Hue.
Day 02: Hue (B, L, D)
After breakfast at hotel, we will start a day by taking a leisure boat trip on the romantic Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda (Heavenly Lady Pagoda). This is a well-known pagoda in Hue, which is located on Ha Khe hill in Huong Long commune. It possesses an ancient architecture style which is regarded as one of the most beautiful in Hue. Then we will the Imperial Citadel, one of Vietnam’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Imperial City of Hue, which has long been a must-see attraction for tourists visiting a hidden charm of Vietnam, was actually a walled fortress and palace belonged to the ancient capital city of the Nguyen Dynasty for 140 years date back from 1805 until 1945.
Following luncheon time, we will visit Tu Duc’s Tomb, one of the most beautiful works of the Nguyen dynasty, with romantic scenery of mounts and lakes. Built decades before its occupant’s death, the tomb was used as a palace retreat before its final use as the emperor’s resting place. We will finish up a day at Khai Dinh’s Tomb, which is traditional Vietnamese in design but accented with a European touch, making it unique from the other tombs in Hue.
Dinner and overnight stay in Hue.
Day 03: Hue – Hanoi (B)
After breakfast at hotel, you will be free for your own leisure until transfer to airport for your departure flight, ending your unforgettable experience with Hanoi Tourism.
Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels.
Tours, transfers and all services as mentioned in the itinerary.
Private air–conditioned vehicles during all tours and transfers.
Private boat to visit Perfume River.
English speaking guide .
Entrance fees for all sights visited.
Means mentioned in itinerary (B: Breakfast, L: Lunch and D: Dinner).
International flights to and from Vietnam.
Vietnam visa arrangement (Visa is compulsory and must be arranged in advance)
Explore the UNESCO World Heritage City of Hue by boat. Cruise along the Perfume River and see the city’s historic monuments, including the Thien Mu Pagoda and Hon Chen Temple. Enjoy lunch on board your boat and watch the sunset on the water.
Day 01: Hue – Thuy Bieu Eco village – Cooking Class (L, D)
Pick you up at the hotel at 08:00 am to transfer to Thien Mu Pagoda wharf to embark on Emotion boat, check in around 08:30 am and then visit Thien Mu pagoda
• Visit fishing village, Bao Vinh and Thanh Ha Old Town – the bustling commercial trading port in the past.
• Visit Sinh village where people make folk painting for worshiping, then walking or cycling through colorful flower gardens and green rice fields.
• Visit Thanh Tien Village – where paper flowers are made to worship Kitchen God on 23th Dec of lunar month every year. Back to the boat for lunch while cruising to enjoy Hue’s scenery on river bank.
• Visit Van Mieu temple.
Arrive a quiet Thuy Bieu village – 6.5 km from the city centre – a laidback village famous for growing the Thanh Tra fruit (a kind of small pomelo), visit many garden houses, a unique feature of Hue countryside, and enjoy a nice walking and biking around the village.
• Visit an old communal house, pass by several ancient ancestral temples and communicate with local people.
• Visit an incense making family and discover the daily life of local people while they are working strenuously with joy and enthusiasm. You may also join their activities: gardening, talking and drinking tea with them.
Back to Thuy Bieu restaurant, relax by steeping your foot in medicinal herb water – a traditional therapeutic practice and enjoy excellent massage by blind people, watch beautiful sunset on the poetic river.
In the evening, join our cooking class and prepare dinner by yourself with our chief’s instruction. Have dinner with dishes you have just cooked. Sweet overnight on boat.
Day 2: Perfume River Emotion boat – Disembark (B)
Breakfast on boat while enjoying the magnificent sunrise on Perfume River.
Disembark at Thien Mu Pagoda wharf, end of tour (around 08:00 am). Transfer back to your hotel. End of services vietnam travel