Once within the first walls head to Ngo Mon Gate, through which you can pass to the inner part of Dai Noi, where the royal residence used to be. Sadly many of buildings were destroyed during the struggle for independence from the French and the Vietnam War. Just a few metres from Ngo Mon Gate stands Thai Hoa Palace, which was used for official ceremonies such as coronations.
Beside the palace you will find two buildings formerly used by mandarins (imperial bureaucrats). Today the first structure houses a small museum on imperial memorabilia and the second serves as a souvenir shop, where you can also have your picture taken dressed in royal clothing.
Other sights within the citadel include Dien Tho Palace (residence of the emperor’s mother), the University of Arts (occupying the former royal treasury), Can Chanh Palace, the Royal Theatre, To Mieu Temple and Hien Lam Pavilion. The royal Theatre features cultural performances four times per day.
Royal Tombs of Hue
As the former imperial capital, Hue also houses most of the royal tombs, which are actually in the form of grand mausoleums. Located along Perfume River, the tombs are easily explored by bike, but not on foot. Motor taxis are also a comfortable way to move from one mausoleum to another, while organised river cruises also serve the location.
Although some tombs are more impressive than other, their architecture features a certain pattern. The mausoleums include the main tomb, a temple, a pavilion, a courtyard and a lotus pond. The tombs of Tu Duc, Minh Mang and Khai Dinh are the most visited ones out of the six. Emperor Tu Duk also made use of his mausoleum before he died, using it like his second residence.
Other attractions in Hue
Overlooking Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda is one of the city’s most well-known landmarks along with the citadel. The octagonal seven-storey structure dates back to 19th century, but a previous pagoda occupied the spot since the beginning of 17th century. Two lovely pavilions stand nearby the temple, while the site offers scenic views of the river and the surrounding area.
Located on a hill close to Hue’s city centre, Bao Quoc Pagoda is a temple which dates back to 17th century. Initially built by a Chinese Buddhist monk, the pagoda was later expanded several times through history. Today the complex includes the main temple, a triple-gate entrance, some stupas and a cemetery for monks. A religious school also operated within the complex from 1959 until 1975, when it was closed down by the Vietcong.