The ancient city of Hue was the country’s capital during the mid 1700s and then again for over a century starting in the early 1800s. The bloodiest battle of the Vietnam War was fought in Hue, and the city’s ancient monuments suffered greatly as a result–the 19th-century Imperial City complex, Hue’s most important UNESCO World Heritage Site, was severely damaged during the bombings.
Hue sits on the banks of the Perfume River, so-called because during spring, the local orchards shed their flowers into the river, causing the water to smell like perfume. The river is an essential part of the history and heritage of Hue, but it’s also a vital part of modern Hue.
The Trang Tien Bridge is a popular background for nighttime photos when it’s completely illuminated, and the waterfront offers plenty of things to do in the form of cafés and restaurants for those out on an afternoon stroll. Most of Hue’s main attractions are set against or within minutes of the river.
Hue is home to many sites worth visiting, including emperors’ tombs; a number of pagodas, including the famous Thien Mu Pagoda; and French-colonial buildings set along the river. For more ideas on what you can’t miss when visiting the ancient capital, take a look at our list of top attractions in Hue.