The Imperial City of Hue with its hundreds of ancient architectural structures, is a place that preserves the imprint of the 13 Nguyen dynasty emperors over a span of 143 years. This is the most renowned sightseeing destination in the imperial land, offering visitors a deeper understanding of Vietnam’s last feudal dynasty and providing memorable experiences during their trip to Hue.

About the Imperial City of Hue

+ Address: 23/8 Street, Thuan Hoa Ward, Hue City, Thua Thien Hue Province.

+ Opening hours:

  • Summer: 6:30 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Winter: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM

The Imperial City, also known as the Inner City, is the second enclosure within the Hue Citadel, encompassing the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City. The ancient area of the Imperial City in Hue served as the working, administrative, and residential quarters of the kings and royal family, featuring hundreds of grand and small-scale structures.

Situated along the Perfume River, in the heart of Hue city, the Imperial City is easily accessible by various means of transportation such as bicycles, motorcycles, cyclos, electric vehicles, and taxis. If you choose to travel by motorcycle or private car, you can start from the city center of Hue and reach the Imperial City by following the southern bank of the Perfume River, crossing Phu Xuan Bridge onto Le Duẩn Street. Then, make a right turn onto Cua Quang Duc Street, cross the bridge, and continue moving forward until you reach 23/8 Street. Take a right turn to arrive at the Imperial City of Hue.

How to get to the Imperial City of Hue

Due to its central location in Hue city, finding your way to the Imperial City of Hue should not be too difficult for most people. Specifically, if you start from Hue Railway Station, there are two routes you can take to reach the Imperial City of Hue:

+ Route 1: From the station, turn left onto Bui Thi Xuan Street, continue straight and cross Dã Viên Bridge, then turn right onto Le Duẩn Street. Keep going straight until you reach Cua Ngan, then turn left to reach the Imperial City.

+ Route 2: From the station, go straight along Le Loi Street, then turn left to cross Phu Xuan Bridge. Continue along Le Duẩn Street until you reach Cua Ngan, then proceed to the Imperial City of Hue.

What makes the Imperial City of Hue so appealing?

The Imperial City of Hue consists of an extensive palace complex, with two main areas: the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City. The Imperial Citadel is the outer enclosure, while the Forbidden Purple City is the innermost area within the Hue Citadel.

Exploring the Forbidden Purple City

The Forbidden Purple City served as the living quarters of the kings and royal family, housing approximately 50 structures. Each structure has its own unique scale, architecture, and specific functions.

The Great Gate (Dai Cung Mon)

The Great Gate is the main entrance to the Forbidden Purple City, located in the southern part of the Imperial City of Hue. The gate is constructed with wood, tiled with yellow glazed tiles, and consists of 5 chambers and 3 doors. Behind the Great Gate, there are two corridors, Tả Vu and Hữu Vu, connecting to the Left and Right Palaces.

Ta Vu and Huu Vu

Ta Vu and Huu Vu are two symmetric buildings located in front of the Can Chánh Palace. These buildings were used by officials to prepare for ceremonies before the royal court. They also served as working spaces for secret agents and venues for ceremonies, banquets, and gatherings. Today, Huu Vu is used for photography services, while Ta Vu houses exhibits related to the royal court.

The Dien Tho Palace

Located to the west of the Forbidden Purple City, the Dien Tho Palace was the residence of the Queen Mothers and Empresses. The palace complex comprises over 20 grand structures interconnected by covered walkways. The central building is the Chính Palace, and to the east lies the Tạ Trường Du Pavilion, situated on a small beautiful lotus pond. This area provided a cool and scenic retreat for the Queen Mothers and Empresses.

The Can Chanh Palace within the Imperial City of Hue

The Cần Chánh Palace was where the king handled official affairs, received envoys, and held celebratory banquets. This palace also hosted the Thường triều ceremonies held on the 5th, 10th, 20th, and 25th days of the lunar month. It is the most architecturally stunning structure in the Forbidden Purple City, with a high podium and elaborately carved wooden structures. In front of the palace is the Bái Mạng Courtyard, where officials gathered to pay homage to the king.

The Thai Binh Lau Pavilion

The Thai Binh Lau Pavilion served as a place for the king to relax, read books, and write poetry. The structure consists of two floors with front halls, main chambers, and rear chambers. The architecture of the Thai Binh Lau Pavilion stands out with its yellow-glazed roof tiles and intricate decorative details.

Exploring the Imperial Citadel

Outside the Imperial Citadel, there is a defensive area with surrounding walls, gates, moats, and observation towers. Next is the area for grand ceremonies and ancestral worship. Below are the two most notable structures in the Imperial Citadel: Ngọ Môn and Điện Thái Hòa.

Ngo Mon Hue

Ngo Mon Hue is the main gate of the Imperial Citadel, located in the southern direction facing the Perfume River. The structure is grand in scale with 5 gates, and above them is the Ngu Phung Lau. In the past, Ngo Mon was where the royal court held military parades, decree ceremonies, and banquets.

Thai Hoa Palace

Upon passing through Ngo Mon, visitors will encounter Thai Hoa palace. This is considered the symbol of power in the Nguyen dynasty. It is the largest structure within the Imperial Citadel, featuring a spacious interior supported by 80 lacquered and gilded ironwood columns, a roof tiled with yellow glazed tiles, and exquisite dragon-shaped decorations. The palace was the venue for grand court sessions, the Ten Thousand Year ceremony, and the coronations of the 13 Nguyen dynasty emperors.

Ho Quang

Ho Quang is an architectural relic located in the southern part of the Hue Citadel, in front of Ngo Mon and within the area of the South Bastion. This is where the flags of the Nguyen dynasty were hoisted, and above it is the Vong Dau observation station.

Exciting Experiences at the Imperial City of Hue

In addition to visiting the splendid palaces and numerous magnificent structures, visitors to the Imperial City of Hue can also experience many exciting activities. Here are some popular experiences that many people enjoy when traveling to the Imperial City of Hue.

Capturing Moments in the Imperial City of Hue

The ancient and majestic scenery of the Imperial City of Hue provides a unique backdrop for capturing memorable and nostalgic photos. Additionally, you can rent imperial costumes at Hữu Vu House to take commemorative photos and have fun immersing yourself in the royal atmosphere.

Sightseeing by Cyclo in the Imperial City of Hue

For convenient exploration of the vast area of the Imperial City of Hue, you can choose to travel by cyclo. This popular experience allows you to fully visit the Imperial City, leisurely discover new things, and save considerable time.

Discovering the Sparkling Imperial City at Night with Fascinating Activities

The “Imperial City at Night” program promises unforgettable experiences. Participants can admire the dazzling scenery of the ancient royal court, witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony, enjoy traditional music performances, and take part in various traditional games and impressive activities during the tour.

Watching Royal Music Performances at Duyet Thi Duong

Experiencing the mesmerizing royal court music (Nha Nhac) in the historic ambiance of Duyet Thi Duong is a must-do when visiting the Imperial City of Hue. The meticulously arranged performances, lasting about 35 minutes, captivate the audience with their unique artistic elements in the splendid setting of the royal architecture.

Immerse Yourself in the Vibrant and Distinctive Atmosphere of the Hue Festival

The Imperial City has been chosen as a venue for many exciting activities during the Hue Festival weeks. This program offers visitors unique experiences, cultural and historical insights, and remarkable performances such as the Opening Ceremony, Royal Banquets, Royal Night, and Royal Court Tet. These are ideal opportunities to immerse yourself in the lively and dynamic atmosphere and gain fascinating experiences during your trip to the ancient capital.

Visit Dien Tho Palace to Enjoy Tea and Admire the Flowers

At Dien Tho Palace, you can take a break in the upper garden, savor the fragrant royal tea of Hue, and admire the beautiful natural scenery. This service is highly appealing at the Imperial City of Hue as it provides a relaxing and enjoyable experience for visitors.

Famous Tourist Destinations near the Imperial City of Hue

After your visit to the Imperial City of Hue, you can combine it with a visit to many famous nearby attractions to gain a deeper understanding of the former imperial land and have a diverse range of experiences, such as:

  • Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Perfume River
  • Truong Tien Bridge
  • Hue Walking Street
  • Thien Lam Pagoda
  • Vong Canh Hill in Hue

Please note that these are just a few examples of the famous tourist destinations near the Imperial City of Hue.

Useful Travel Tips for the Imperial City of Hue

Here are some compiled travel tips for visiting the Imperial City of Hue. Take a look at these suggestions to have a smooth and memorable sightseeing journey.

Ideal Time to Visit the Imperial City of Hue

Each season and time of the year offers a unique experience when visiting the Imperial City of Hue. However, the spring season from January to March, with its cool and fresh weather, is considered the ideal time to explore the Imperial City.

Additionally, the festival season from April to June is also a perfect opportunity to visit the Imperial City of Hue and participate in various special programs and events.

Dining Experience in the Imperial City of Hue

During your trip to the Imperial City of Hue and while exploring the ancient capital, you will discover a distinct culinary world with enticing flavors. Some must-try local specialties of Hue include rice with mussels (com hen), Hue-style beef noodle soup (bun bo Hue), crispy pancakes (banh khoai), Hue sweet soup (che Hue), steamed rice cakes (banh beo), tapioca dumplings (banh bot loc), roasted pork rice rolls (banh cuon heo quay), and more.

Other Considerations for Traveling to the Imperial City of Hue

Your journey to the Imperial City of Hue will be complete and smooth when you take note of the following important considerations:

+ Prepare a map of the Imperial City of Hue and familiarize yourself with the touring routes to avoid getting lost and wasting time in the extensive complex.

+ Dress appropriately and choose comfortable and easy-to-move-in clothing for a comfortable sightseeing experience.

+ Adhere to the visiting regulations, avoid touching artifacts, and refrain from breaking branches or picking flowers.

+ Maintain cleanliness and avoid causing noise or engaging in playful activities in sacred areas.

With its grand architecture and beautiful landscapes, the Imperial City of Hue is an appealing destination and a top choice for those visiting the ancient capital. Your sightseeing journey will provide you with a deeper understanding of the historical architecture and the life of the ancient royal court, as well as the opportunity to participate in unique activities and create unforgettable memories.