Located along the banks of the picturesque Perfume River, Hue is one of Vietnam’s historic sites and was the former capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty. Hue was the administrative centre of southern Vietnam in the 17th and 18th centuries and today, the city represents the fascinating history of the Vietnamese medieval empire, including complex of monuments, tombs, a collection of old pagodas, imperial buildings and temples that attract visitors from all over the world. Widely known for preserving its rich historic values, Hue was recognised as a World Heritage Site in 1993.
RECOMMENDED NUMBER OF DAYS: 4 DAYS
PRINCIPLE ACTIVITY: HIKING, CYCLING
BACH MA NATIONAL PARK
A park famous for its natural landscape and refreshing atmosphere, Bach Ma is also the name given to the highest mountain (1,450m) in the park. Impressed by the cool climate and nature, the location during the French era. Some of these classic villas (with magnificent views) have recently been restored and are now open as hotels. With its rich flora and fauna of more than 1,900 species of plants and animals, Bach Ma attracts plenty of hikers and those looking for a place to get away from the heat.
Highlights of the park include the Hai Vong Dai (Sea Observation Post), which rewards trekkers with a spectacular panoramic view of the lagoons and the East Sea, as well as Silver waterfall (Do Quyen) which is over 300m high and 30m wide.
Hue’s prime attraction is the former seat of the imperial government; this walled city is a sprawling complex of temples, pavilions, moats, walls, gates and museums showcase the opulence of Vietnam’s days of imperialism.
While the entire site is undergoing continuous renovation, the inner sanctum (the Ngo Mon Gate, Throne Palace, etc) is still open to the public.
Located along the Perfume River, this collection of elaborate tombs were built by Emperors in the 19th century during the French rule.
Tomb of Tu Duc
The resting place of Emperor Tu Duc, who ruled the country for 35 years (the longest reign of all emperors of the Nguyen dynasty), the Tomb is set against a poetic scenery of vast pine forests, a pretty lake and a majestic pavilion complex.
Tomb of Khai Dinh
Built in the Chau Chu Mountains, the royal tomb is influenced by French architectural styles. Emperor Khai Dinh incorporated a great deal of Western and Eastern elements in the tomb, which took 11 years to complete. Visitors will be greeted with 2 massive dragons forming the side rails of the 37 steps at the entrance gate.
Trekkers can enjoy Bach Ma National Park’s impressive mountain landscape as well as its rich flora and fauna. Climbing up the mountain, you’ll be able to spot old French villas that until now were secluded in the jungle. Two days are recommended to fully explore Bach Ma, with overnight stays available at hotels along the trail.
Of birds, 132 species of mammals and over 500 types of vegetation, Bach Ma National Park is a popular spot for both wildlife watching as well as for extensive scientific research. The native Red-shanked Doucs, the most colourful of all primates, can be spotted in the forest, while two of the rarest mammals on the planet – Saola and the Muntjac – have recently been discovered in the park. Other interesting species include the Asian Elephant, White-cheeked Gibbon, Crested Argus, Annam Partridge, Edward’s Pheasant and Langur.
From Hue, you can cycle to another World Heritage site at Hoi An. From Hue’s back roads, the scenic ride takes you towards the picturesque Lang Co beach and the dramatic Hai Van passes before reaching the well-preserved ancient port town of Hoi An, meandering through small fishing villages, lagoons, rice paddies and forests. One (82km) or two-day (112km) trips are available.
Hue is accessible from Hanoi by train (taking about 12 hours) and plane (about 1 hour, although the airport is closed for renovations until November). Alternatively, there are direct flights from Singapore to Danang, from where it’s a 2-hour taxi ride to Hue via the scenic Hai Van pass.