Get away from the popular tourist trails in Vietnam in search of Hue, a laid-back and charming city in Central Vietnam that was once the capital of the Nguyễn Dynasty. From historical attractions to spiritual encounters and from cultural exploration to the discovery of the natural beauty, there are a number of reasons why Hue will have your heart. Check out some of the top attractions in the city:

Thien Mu Pagoda

Overlooking the famous Perfume River, the Thien Mu Pagoda is an iconic attraction. The pagoda, at 7-storey, is the tallest religious building in the city. Each of the seven storeys is dedicated to a ‘manushi-buddha’, a Buddha having appeared in human form. Built in 1601 and renovated several times after, the pagoda is an important symbol from the ‘Buddhist Crisis’ that engulfed Vietnam in 1963. It is best to take a boat ride to the pagoda for exploring its serene and blissful setting.

Imperial Enclosure

One of the most prominent historical sites in Vietnam, the Imperial Enclosure refers to a citadel-within-a-citadel that was once the imperial capital of Vietnam. A World Heritage Site, the enclosure boasts a number of tattered buildings, including emperor’s residence, temples and palaces, and the main buildings of state. The renovation work is ongoing at the citadel and tourists can sign up for day or night tours that lead through several surreal corners within the walls of the city. There are cafes for refreshments and shops for souvenir shopping in the vicinity. For night-time visitors, several cultural performances are also organised here.

The Japanese Bridge

Built in a sleepy rural countryside, a few kilometres outside of Hue, the Japanese Bridge is a beautiful, covered bridge that is wood structured and covered with tiles. Built on the initiative of one Tran Thai Dao, the childless wife of a court mandarin, the bridge covers a tunnel to connect two halves of a village. To reach the beach, one traverses on a bike or a taxi through languid and lush countryside, a journey that is as appreciated as the destination. Once you reach, it is best to get a few pictures clicked and then rest in the seating area on the bridge to soak in cool and calm surroundings.

Hue Night Market

Like most decent Asian cities, Hue also hosts a vibrant night market which can be visited for insights on the local life, culture, customs and traditions. Located at Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, along the Perfume River, the market remains open every night from 5 pm to 11 pm. Great bargains are up for grabs on a range of local handicrafts, palm-leaf conical hats, brocade, and traditional clothing, local produce and other souvenirs. Don’t forget to gorge on local street food including rustic dishes like Loc cake, Beo cake, and mussel rice for a dance of flavours in your mouth. Several street performances are also organised here for entertainment of visitors. You can learn about the royal history at the Royal Show or ride a dragon boat with your family for a fun day out in Hue.

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