1. The Imperial City Hue

Heading to Hue city, it’s worth touring around the citadel palace complex which is located on the North bank of the Huong river. The huge complex stretches about 520ha and comprises three circles of ramparts, namely Kinh Thanh Hue (Hue Capital Citadel), Hoang Thanh (The Imperial City) and Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Citadel).

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The Imperial City is one of the most magnificent royal architectures in Vietnamese history. It is the second circle of the complex. The Imperial City Hue was built in 1804 by King Gia Long and completed in 1833 under King Minh Mang’s reign. It is considered the most important part of the Citadel, being in the shape of a square and covering an area of more than 600m long on each side.

Historically, the Imperial City of Hue was home to the Nguyen Dynasty – the last dynasty of Vietnam which lasted for 143 years. 13 Kings ruled and used this palace. Each year, an influx of tourists flock to Hue and the Imperial City to admire the place and listen to the story of the royal’s life.

  • Location: 23/8, Thuan Hoa ward, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue province.
  • Features:  the 2nd wall of the complex
  • Shape: square, more than 600m long on each side
  • Entrance:  ranging from 30.000 – 150.000 VND ( ( $1.28 – $6.39)
  • Opening hours: vary based on the season

Summer: 6h30 – 17h30

Winter: 7h00 – 17h00

2. How to enter the Imperial City Hue

The Imperial City of Hue is near downtown Hue, so it is quite easy for tourists to access this place. You can choose any kind of transportation that you prefer to visit.

If you want to immerse in the slow pace of Hue city, hiring a bike is a wonderful choice. Booking a taxi is better for a family size or with children. In case you are not afraid of traffic chaos, take a motorbike to make your trip more dynamic and native.

If you come to the Imperial City of Hue from another city, you can go by train or bus. If you are already in Hue, it takes you about 15 to 20 minutes to walk from the tourist area to the main gate.

3. Some remarkable architecture in the Imperial City Hue

3.1. Ngo Mon Gate

The Imperial City of Hue is covered by a trench system. There are a total of thirteen gates to get into the Imperial City, but residents and tourists mainly enter through four entrance gates, namely Ngo Mon, Hien Nhon, Chuong Duc and Hoa Binh. In the past, the Ngo Mon gate was only used by the King, and other gates are used by other people. However, Ngo Mon gate is now open to all people and even horses, elephants and other stuff can enter other gates.

3.2. The Nine Holy Cannons

Cửu Vị Thần Công (The Nine Holy Cannons) is the name of the nine cannons made by Emperor Gia Long which are beautifully decorated and retain their own greatly size among dozens of cannons cast under the Nguyen Dynasty. The Nine Holy Cannons draw the attention of many tourists with its artistic value.

Legend has it that after overthrowing the Tay Son Dynasty, Emperor Gia Long confiscated bronze spoils to melt down and cast into 9 cannons as a way to mark this milestone. Each cannon has its weight engraved in its body and its name on its tail.  Four cannons were named after 4 seasons around a year, namely, Xuan (Spring), Ha (Summer), Thu (Fall), and Dong (Winter). The others are named after the 5 natural elements (Five Elements), namely Kim (Metal), Moc (Wood), Thuy (Water), Hoa (Fire), and Tho (Earth).

3.3. Thai Hoa Palace

Thai Hoa Palace, recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site, is one of the most precious symbols of Hue Imperial City. It was a wooden palace that witnessed royal life with many cultural, historic and artistic activities. It is said that the palace is originally built as a pavilion for the Emperors to breathe fresh air and the Emperors used to play tennis there.

Due to the war (around the 1940s), most parts of the palace were destroyed. But it has been restored and repurposed for spiritual activities. When walking around the palace, tourists can also find a corner to relax, read something or just sit down and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

4. Best things to DO when vising the Imperial City Hue

4.1. Walking around the Citadel to learn about the former capital of Vietnam

Hue boasts a poetry beauty and was chosen as the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, the Vietnamese last loyal empire, for 140 years (from 1805 to 1945).

Every day when the Vietnamese flag is raised, people gather at the gates to enter the Imperial City. Walking inside, you are provided with audio telling you the story of the Vietnamese Nguyen dynasty and some interesting facts about this sacred land. You can listen to those stories while admiring magnificent architecture that reflects the Vietnamese feudal patterns and Oriental philosophy. 

The exterior is symmetrical and embraces the Five Elements (earth, metal, wood, water, fire) and Five Colors (yellow, white, blue, black, and red). In particular, Hue Imperial City lies between the Ngu Binh Mountain and the Perfume River and it fits in perfectly with the surroundings. That’s why this place used to be the capital of Vietnam.

4.2. Admiring the Hue Imperial City by night

By nightfall, the glow of the Imperial city against the night sky. Especially during holidays such as National Reunification Day (April 30) and May Day holidays, the relic site provides tourists with many ancient royal rituals, traditional dances and art performances as well as Hue traditional crafts and other royal activities.

4.3. Enjoying Vietnamese tea at Thai Hoa Palace

Thai Hoa Palace is a fabulously grand imperial garden. Visitors can have a stopover in Thai Hoa Palace, have a bit of a rest and do the sights there before traveling on. You can have a cup of tea and enjoy the light and delicate flavors of Vietnamese tea.

5. Some tips for you to explore the Imperial City Hue like the local

  • Spring and holiday seasons (during April and May) are the best time to visit this relic site
  • Please take a map with you in case you may get lost because Hue Imperial City is quite large
  • Do not wear offensive clothes such as miniskirts or flashy clothes, etc.
  • Taking photos, shooting films or touching the exhibits is not allowed
  • No littering on the street

The Imperial City of Hue is worth your visit. You will fall in love with the cultural and historic beauty of this destination and may consider your next visit even when you are strolling around it. Contact Meta Voyage for more information and book a fantastic trip to Hue, Vietnam so you will not miss anything.

To explore Hue to the fullest, click here: Hue Full day City Tour

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