Hue Imperial City Vietnam travel guide

Imperial City of Hue Vietnam: Discover Historical & Cultural Values

Last updated:

Recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage, the Imperial City of Hue is one of the famous destinations in Vietnam that attracts many domestic and foreign tourists each year.

Hue Imperial City still retains many architectural works, temples, and palaces with outstanding cultural and architectural values.

Hue Imperial City Vietnam garden

 

Contents

This article includes the following sections:

  • Information about the Imperial City of Hue
  • How to get there
  • Hue Day tour information
  • Opening hours
  • Best time to visit
  • Visit duration
  • Entrance fee
  • Best places to stay in Hue
  • Things to see at the Citadel
  • Dress code

Hue Citadel Vietnam

 

Information about Hue Imperial City Vietnam

Hue was found as the capital of Vietnam by King Gia Long in 1802 until abdication in 1945.

The Imperial City of Hue was built in 1805 under King Gia Long and took 30 years to finish during the reign of King Minh Mang.

Hue Citadel scenery

Hue Citadel was built on an area of over 500 hectares and limited by three city walls in the order of Kinh Thanh, Hoang Thanh, and Tu Cam Thanh.

It’s a nearly square citadel, about 2.5km from each side with the front curved in the direction of the Perfume River.

The construction is 6.6m high, 21m thick, including ten doors. The fortress is equally spaced, accompanied by cannons and ammunition.

After nearly 200 years, the current area is almost intact with approximately 140 constructions.

Hue Citadel Vietnam

 

How to get to Hue Imperial City

Transportation guide

Hue is about 100 km from Da Nang, and the journey takes approximately 2 hours to 2 hours 30 minutes. 

The best way to travel from Danang to Hue is by train, as you can enjoy the scenery of Hai Van Pass along the way. 

Traveling by bus is another option to get from Da Nang to Hue. However, the bus usually goes through the tunnel so you won’t be able to see much. 

Tips: You can book your train or bus tickets online with Baolau or 12go.asia

If you’re in Hanoi, check this link to book train or bus tickets.

Getting to Hue Citadel

From the southern bank of Huong River, you should pass Trang Tien Bridge, Phu Xuan Bridge or Bach Ho Bridge.

Then go towards Quang Duc gate, purchase your ticket and enter Hue Citadel.

Hue Citadel Vietnam entrance gate

 

Hue Imperial City tour

Hue city day tour

If you have a short time in Hue but would like to explore most of the attractions, joining a Hue city day tour is an excellent option.

Itinerary

  • 7:30 am –  Pick up at hotel within Hue city center or meet-up location
  • 8:30 am – Visit The Royal Tombs Minh Mang and Khai Dinh
  • 10:30 am – Visit The Traditional Martial Art Van An
  • 11:00 am – Visit The Conical Hat Village and The Incense Making Village
  • Noon – Buffet lunch
  • 1:30 pm – Explore The Citadel of Hue
  • 3:00 pm – Thien Mu pagoda
  • 4:00 pm – Enjoy boat sightseeing along the Perfume River
  • 5:00 pm – Finish the tour at the boat station

Hue Imperial City Vietnam travel guide

Hue tour from Hoi An

If you’re in Hoi An, joining a day trip is a great option.

You’ll get an opportunity to have a photo stop along Hai Van Pass and Lang Co Beach, and visiting famous attractions in Hue such as

  • Hue Imperial City
  • Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Tomb of Tu Duc

Itinerary:

  • 7:10 am -7:20 am: Meet up at the location
  • 8:00 am-8:15 am: Stop at Da Nang city
  • 9:00 am: Photo stop along Hai Van Pass
  • 9:45 am: Photo stop along Lang Co Beach
  • 11:30 am: Arrival in Hue, have lunch
  • 12:30 pm: Visit Hue Imperial City (The Citadel)
  • Visit Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Visit Tomb of Tu Duc
  • 4:00 pm: Depart for Hoi An
  • 7:00 pm: Drop off at meet-up location

Hue Imperial City Vietnam picture

 

Hue Imperial City opening hours

The opening hours of Hue Citadel changes depending on the season.

  • Summer: From 6:30 to 17:30
  • Winter: from 7:00 to 17:00

 

The best time to visit Imperial City of Hue

You should visit in the morning or from early afternoon to have more time exploring the construction because the citadel closes at about 5 pm.

Also, although you can visit Hue anytime, January and February are the ideal time to wander around the historic venues in Hue thanks to the pleasant weather. 

If you’re interested in joining the festivals, April to June is an excellent time to visit. 

Hue Imperial City Vietnam building

 

How long does it take to explore the Imperial city of Hue?

The area Hue Citadel is enormous and consists of 140 constructions.

Therefore, if you’d like to take a comfortable, leisurely trip, it takes from half a day or a whole day to be able to feel and thoroughly explore the architecture.

Packing tips: Don’t forget to bring a hat, snacks, and water for your trip. I didn’t see any place to purchase drinks inside. 

Hue Imperial City Vietnam wall

 

Hue Imperial City entrance fee

Wondering how much the entrance ticket to Hue citadel is?

The ticket price for the Imperial City of Hue is listed below

  • 150,000 VND per adult
  • 30,000 VND per child

Package tickets

However, if you plan to visit the historic sites in one day, you should purchase a package ticket:

  • Route 03 points (Imperial city – Minh Mang Tomb – Khai Dinh Tomb): 280,000 VND per adult and 55,000 VND per child (7 – 12 years old).
  • Route 04 points (Imperial city – Minh Mang Tomb – Tu Duc Tomb  – Khai Dinh Tomb): 360,000 VND per adult and 70,000 VND per child (7 – 12 years old).

I recommend choosing the package 3 points or 4 points to discover more interesting sites in Hue.

Hue Imperial City Vietnam photo

 

Hue Imperial City Map

One note is that the Citadel is very large and you will need to spend some time to consult the map to avoid getting lost.

You can find the map almost everywhere in the Citadel. 

An important point to remember is that the entrance and exit is quite a distance and two completely different gates.

Hue Imperial City Vietnam Exit gate
The exit gate

Tips: You should check the exit sign or ask the staff to find the exit gate. 

Hue Imperial City Vietnam travel guide
The exit gate is this way!

 

Best places to stay in Hue Vietnam

Staying in Hue city center is an excellent idea as you can reach the attractions within 30 minutes ride.

Rosaleen Boutique Hotel is highly recommended if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation in Hue. In addition to an outdoor swimming pool, the hotel offers a tasty breakfast and excellent service

If you’re looking for a party hostel in Hue, Vietnam Backpacker Hostels Hue is an excellent option.

best places to visit in Hue Vietnam

 

Things to see in the Imperial City of Hue Vietnam

1. Ngo Mon

Ngo Mon Gate is the southern main gate of Hue Imperial City, also considered the face of the Citadel and feudal dynasty.

This gate was built during the reign of Minh Mang – the second king of the Nguyen Dynasty.

The architecture of Ngo Mon Gate is complex, and it can be divided into two main parts: the base of the platform is at the bottom and the Ngu Phung floor above.

Although the properties and construction materials are very different, these two components are designed in harmony to become a unified whole.

Ngo Mon Hue Vietnam

Outstanding among the shade of greenery, flowers, and water, Ngo Mon Mon always reminds people of a feeling of relaxation and tranquility.

Perhaps because of that, the image of this door has become a symbol of Hue.

 

2. Ky Dai

Ky Dai is a place to hang the flag of the citadel. It’s located in the middle of the south of Hue citadel within the Nam Chanh fortress.

This flag tower has relatively large architecture, including three floors with a total height of 17.5m.

Hue Flagpole Vietnam

Along with the ups and downs of Hue Citadel, Ky Dai has witnessed many important historical events of the country.

On August 30, 1945, during the abdication ceremony of King Bao Dai, the red flag with the yellow star of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was raised, ending the existence of the Vietnamese feudal regime.

 

3. Thai Hoa Palace

Thai Hoa Palace is considered as one of the most important constructions and has unique architectural features.

It is known as the center of Hue imperial city and a symbol of the Nguyen Dynasty’s power.

Thai Hoa Palace Hue Vietnam

Thai Hoa Palace used to be a venue for important ceremonies such as the coronation ceremony, the envoy’s reception, the king’s birthday, or the royal court twice a month.

Apart from the King and members of the royal family, only the Ministers could come inside.

Thai Hoa Palace Hue

Everything in the Palace was inlaid with gold. The wooden parts were painted and carved exquisitely. The upper ceiling had different large lanterns decorated with stylized images and poems. 

Note: You cannot take pictures of the interior of the Palace. 

In front of the Thai Hoa Palace is the courtyard where the ministers gathered, stood in line and faced the Palace to perform the ceremony. 

Nguyen Dynasty Hue Vietanm

Passing through Ngo Mon gate, you can enjoy a leisure walk along the yard. 

Hue Citadel Vietnam
In front of Thai Hoa Palace is a large yard with a beautiful pond.

 

4. Truong Lang

In more than 50 buildings in the Forbidden City, Truong Lang is an auxiliary architecture but has an important role.

It’s not only a comfortable walkway with roofs and walls to prevent rain and wind, but also a circuit that connects the works.

It helps to create a diverse architectural complex with a tight layout and counter.

Hue Imperial City Vietnam photo

The exhibitions

It’s also an ideal stop to learn about Hue Cultural Heritage through different angles.

In particular, along Truong Lang in the direction from west to east, Forbidden City has different exhibitions of the ancient Hue.

artifacts in Hue Citadel Vietnam

The collection consists of black and white documents of architecture, landscape, people and many activities in Hue in the early twentieth century. 

Hue Imperial City Vietnam exhibition

 

5. The royal garden

Since Hue Festival in 2012, the Center for Conservation of Monuments of Hue has revived Co Ha garden in Hue Imperial City.

Hue Citadel royal garden

Although only Royal members could visit this garden, now it opens for all visitors to enjoy the scenery with ponds, hundreds of flowers and ornamental plants.

 

6. The ruins

Hue Citadel ruins Vietnam

After 1975, the ancient ruins of Hue carried many wounds of the Vietnam war, especially with the attacks, rebellions, defenses, and retreating in Hue Citadel in the spring of Mau Than 1968.

Many structures were destroyed and had a high risk of collapse.

Hue Imperial Citadel Vietnam ruins

 

What to wear to Imperial City of Hue

The dress code

For women, you can choose long maxi skirts or elegant dresses with lovely color motifs, combined with a hat to avoid the sun.

For men, wearing a T-shirt and a trouser will be sufficient. The weather is hot, and the place is large, so I suggest we avoid wearing a long-sleeved shirt. 

Don’t forget to bring a hat and apply suncream in advance. 

Hue Imperial City Vietnam dresscode

 

More tips on visiting Imperial City of Hue

Here is the list of rules that you should follow

  • Preserve the construction by not littering
  • Do not film and take pictures inside the interior of the Palace
  • Do not touch the artifacts
  • Avoid making offensive postures or wearing inappropriate clothes and lack of respect when visiting Hue Citadel.

 

Final thoughts

Compared to the Hoa Lu ancient capital in Ninh Binh or the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long in Hanoi, the citadel of Hue still preserves its entirety.

During my trip to Hue, I was amazed by the artistic masterpieces of palaces, magnificent temples and shrines, solemn mausoleums, and taciturn landscapes. Hue’s ancient capital has a peaceful and quiet beauty. 

I hope you’ll have a great day exploring Hue and don’t forget to share your opinions in the comment section.

 

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. We receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using some of the links. 

More Stories
10+ Traditional Things to do on Tet Holiday in Vietnam
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!