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Hue's Ancient Town and the Forbidden Purple City

Hue's Ancient Town and the Forbidden Purple City

Hue, in central Vietnam, was the capital and seat of the final imperial dynasty until 1945. The Nguyen Dynasty ruled Vietnam from Hue's Imperial City. Although Hue took some of the worst damage during the Vietnam War, the Imperial City has been partially restored, and is open to visitors. If you want to learn about Vietnam's history, don't miss a visit to Hue! Here is everything that you need to know.

hue vietnam ancient town

The UNESCO World  Heritage Site Imperial City is the main attraction in Hue. A citadel within a citadel, the Imperial City was the home of the last emperors of Vietnam.


150,000d - tickets can be bought in cash at the ticket booths near the front gates to the citadel.


8:00am - 5:30pm daily

8:00am - 10:00pm Thursday (limited access at night)

Changing of the guard:

Don't miss the changing of the guard ceremony, which takes place at the imperial citadel's front Ngo Mon Gate every morning at 8:00am. You don't even need to have a ticket to see this interesting historical reenactment, as the changing of the guard ceremony takes place outside of the imperial city's walls.

changing of the guard in Hue, Vietnam

If you have some extra time, take an hour or so to enjoy a relaxing walk around the walls of the Imperial City. There are wide sidewalks surrounding the city beautiful and atmospheric moat, and you'll be able to see the citadel's four impressive gates up close.

gate at Hue ancient city

What not to miss:

The most impressive sites inside of the Imperial City include:

The Forbidden Purple City - the residence of the emperor and his household

The Nine Dynastic Urns - each forged with symbols representing each emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty

Hue Museum of Antiquities - the museum is located just at the exit to the Imperial Citadel, and includes numerous beautiful treasures from the Nguyen Dynasty

forbidden purple city imperial palace vietnam

The last emperors of  Vietnam:

The reign of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) was plagued by political tension with the French colonial government. Although granted limited autonomy, the emperors were placed in the difficult position of trying to appease both their own people and their colonial overseers. Eventually, the dynasty collapsed with the rise of the nationalistic Communist movement of Ho Chi Minh. Vietnam became independent from French Indochina, and reorganized from a monarchy into a Communist state.

Emperor Bao Dai, the final emperor, died in exile in France in 1997. He spent the rest of his life calling for unity and peace in Vietnam, even after his exile.

pond at imperial palace hue vietnam

Getting to and from Hue:

Hue has a very small airport, but the best ways to get to and from the city are by train or by bus. Hue is located just three hours by bus from Da Nang, and 12 hours (via overnight bus) from Hanoi.

imperial urns in Hue, Vietnam

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