Hue: Historical Conservation and Environmental Preservation

By: JK Hobson

The Central coastal city of Hue is of remarkable significance in the history of Vietnam. Once the capital of the country, Hue straddles the famous Perfume River, was the hub of Vietnam’s imperial dynasty, and holds the last remnants of what it left behind. In 1993, the major sites of the city received World Heritage status, a fact that the city is quite proud of, as it boasts of the honour on signs outside the city Citadel and the Nguyen royal tombs. More than 30 million visitors have visited the city since the declaration 25 years ago. Overall, Hue has received a significant boost in tourism which has been growing incrementally on an annual basis, the results of which have been both positive and negative.

vietnam tourismImage source: nhatlongtravel.com

La Residence is a five-star hotel centrally located in Hue. During Vietnam’s French colonial era, it was a guesthouse for French elites. In 2005 it became a hotel that caters mostly to French and American tourists.

Ms Nga, one of the concierge workers there, is hopeful about the rise in tourism, and the changes in development and infrastructure that are taking place as a result. “I’m excited about the walking street!” she says.

“The government is working on a walking street between the two bridges (along the Perfume River). It will go from the Citadel to the major places in Hue!”

Although enthusiastic about the changes, she has concerns about the conservation of some of the lesser-known buildings and relics in her city, fascinating places like Ho Quyen, the famous fighting arena where Nguyen emperors like Minh Mang were entertained by annual battles between tigers and elephants. “If we build up more places like that, they will be more popular to the guests.”

Video source: Angus Ashton Film

Hue on the Forefront of Ecological Preservation in Vietnam

Hue officials have recognised that the upsurge in tourism comes with a cost to the ecology and have been working with international organisations as a means of preserving Hue’s natural environment, especially when it comes to carbon emissions. In 2016, Hue was recognised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as a National Earth Hour Capital, according to VietnamTourism.com. At that time, Hue committed to cutting 20 percent of its gas emissions by 2020 compared to 2011 by focusing on urban green coverage, wastewater and garbage treatment, eco-tourism products, smart public lighting systems, renewable energy, and environmentally friendly building materials.

vietnam tourismImage source: langvietonline.vn

Hue’s biggest challenges to tourism come from the extreme weather conditions the city endures during its wet season. Heavy rains and flooding deluge the city, bringing normal daily activities to a standstill as people focus on the safety of their families, property and possessions. During this period, tourism is at a low, and tourists who endure this season rarely return.

Despite the challenges, tourism is likely to increase in Hue, and the small city will have to rise to the challenge of maintaining a balance between development and ecology preservation, or else squander the elements that make it one of the hidden gems of Vietnam.

Video source: Phan Vu

Banner Image source: adventureinyou.com


Discover: Hue, Vietnam

By: Vinh Dao

The grand old dame of Vietnam, Hue city is a fabulous collage of culture, history, natural beauty and modern luxury. Many visitors make the mistake of overlooking it or viewing it as a transit city that can be explored in a day or two.

Hue’s ancient imperial city harbours awe-inspiring structures that cannot be appreciated in a short time frame, starting at The Citadel and fanning out through a town full of regal charm and contemporary culture.
History is the main attraction here, whether you look for it in spectacular ruins, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, fabled culinary traditions or merely in the tales of its people. That said the development of high quality hotels and service providers ensures that this city is not merely left in the past, but embraces the future as well.
For the macabre at heart, there are a number of famous tombs and mausoleums throughout, perfect places to pay your respects or simply take in classic architecture and royal furnishings. With traditional dynastic surroundings rubbing elbows with French influenced opulence, the collection of burial sites is one of the big draws in town.
But the town has so much more to offer than historical ruins and sites, this was, after all, the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, which was carefully sited with views of mountains in back and river out front, making this so-called hidden beauty easy on the eyes.
Surrounded by the majestic sights, there is a multitude of options in the imperial city. Try cooking classes, get a taste and learn how to prepare Hue’s regal cuisine: banh beo, banh nam, banh bot loc, and bun bo hue. For a classic tour, get a boat ride up and cruise along The Perfume River. Top your experience with the one-hour motorbike trip to Tam Giang Lagoon, where the seafood is always fresh and plentiful. To see Hue city at its finest, head to town during the Hue Festival, which happens once every two years (the next one will be in April 2014). It’s a chance for visitors to observe the rituals and life of the Nguyen royal family as well as partaking in many traditional forms of entertainment, lifestyle and foods. Be aware that Hue city is very crowded and expensive during this time. For a more peaceful break, visit Hue, Vietnam in autumn, when the weather is agreeable and the city is quiet.


My first impression of Hue

By: Tj Vargas

After the 15-hour train ride from Hanoi, I arrived in Hue hovered by gray skies on the 12th of November. I stepped outside and there were people from the travel agencies or hotel bringing papers with them bearing names of tourists they had been waiting for. I knew my name wouldn’t be there; I didn’t ask to be picked up. 

Saigon Morin HueThe misty air would tell the rain has just stopped-probably few moments ago-but the atmosphere was still very cool for 10am. There were a lot of taxis and motor taxis (Xe Om) outside the train station and I hired the latter to drive me to Saigon Morin, the hotel where I'd be staying during my visit in Hue.

So my first interactions were with the Xe Om driver and the hotel staff. For me, people from Hue are very accommodating, warm and sincere. You can feel it by the way they say “Xin chao” or “Hello” to you. This I proved right as I would go around meeting more people in my 3-day stay in the city.

As soon as I had settled in, I did my own walking tour. I took the map the hotel had given me and just roamed around the city with it. I had walked past the post office, the schools, the hotels, the banks, the tailoring shops, and the market.

‘First things first’, I told myself. I had to eat! Since Bun Bo has been my top 1 favorite Vietnamese dish, I took the chance to try it in Hue! I'm glad I tasted the original one at Ly Thuong Kiet Street. The food was more spicy compared to the one I always have in HCMC. The noodles were also thinner and the soup-more yellowish. I had another Bun Bo Hue special at the hotel for breakfast the following day, too. No doubt, this food is more delicious in Hue than in HCMC!

The Palace of French Resident

I knew I was going to take loads of photos here as I had read that Hue is full packed with history so I bought an extra memory card for my camera on Le Loi. This street has a lot of hotels ranging from 2-star to 5-star. 

Connected to this street were Chu Van An, Pham Ngu Lao and Doi Cung where you can find cheap guest house accommodations and there are also a lot of restaurants in these areas where many backpackers hang out in the evening. I dropped my laundry at Pham Ngu Lao; it was 20,000 VND per kilo.  Also on Le Loi, a sight made me stop and I took a photo of a historical monument that read ‘The Site of the Palace of French Resident Superior in Central Vietnam’.

Hue citadel

That was just the beginning. I would actually be immersing myself in Hue’s ancient and rich history the following day. I don’t really like memorizing which 1500s or 19 forgotten sort of things but I’m always more fascinated with records of what had happened and why and how. For me, when and where could be Googled anytime but I appreciate people who are very keen on historical dates.

Before going back to my hotel, I had already booked my city tour which would start at 8 in the morning and would go right away to the city’s most visited tourist attraction, the Citadel.

That was about my first day in the city and the next time you visit our blog again, you’d read about 5 most interesting sightseeing activities and Hue and I am sure you’d be delighted to know them and see the photos.
Cover photo by: Upyernoz

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