Former capital of the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty, the royal city of Hué is situated on the country's central coast, midway between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. It is a serene place, a small city of canals boasting splendid historical sights, and is dominated by its massive Citadel, and the former Forbidden Purple City. Most of its beautiful imperial architecture was destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive, when the North Vietnamese launched an attack on the south, yet despite a tumultuous history it retains much of its cultural identity and has been recognised as a Cultural World Heritage Site.
Hué is also an important centre for Buddhism and hundreds of temples and pagodas exist around the city, such as the Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the most famous structures in the country. The Perfume River lies between the city and the remains of the mighty Citadel with many attractions along its banks. Sampan boat trips on the river offer an enchanting way to see the main sights in and around Hué, including the splendid tombs of the Nguyen emperors a few miles south of the city.
Along with its historical sights, Hué is also the main starting point for day tours to the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone), a historical area spanning both sides of the former border between North and South Vietnam, and the Vinh Moc underground tunnels.