Hue is situated in central Vietnam along the Huong River, a few kilometers from Bien Dong. This province was the former capital of nine previous Nguyen kingdoms. Hue has retained its cultural heritage which is rooted in the values of Vietnam. Hue is a tantalizing work of art that blends romantic rivers, picturesque mountains, and stunning landscapes.

We say: ‘Certainly one of the highlights of Central Vietnam, Hue has a wealth of cultural highlights. Despite this a full day, or ideally a day and half, will be sufficient time for most visitors, often eager to head further south to charming Hoi An.’

Vietnam’s Last Empire

In a population of 80 million residents and 800 surnames, Nguyen is the name that dominates. The name, which dates as far back as the 1st century, is first mentioned in texts in the 10th century with a nobleman named Nguyen Bac. The Nguyens have woven their presence and influence through the lives of the rulers in Vietnam’s history, from the Tran Dynasty to the Le Dynasty, as loyal subjects, in-laws and trusted advisors. They finally came into power in the 19th century and established their dominion in 1802 – the last empire to rule Vietnam.

The dynasty’s first emperor, Nguyen Phuc Anh, also known as Emperor Gia Long, established an imperial palace in Hue and declared Hue the country’s capital. He became the catalyst that launched the now united country into seclusion, domination, change and civil wars for the next 150 years. It was a time of influence by Chinese traditions, suppression of traditional Vietnamese values and beliefs, modernisation with the building of new roads, overworking and overtaxing of the lower classes, and later, a time to rise up against the French and Japanese armies.

The last of the Nguyen line was Emperor Bao Dai, who abdicated in 1945 and spent the rest of his life in exile in France. During the Nguyen Dynasty, in order to appease and honour their imperial rulers many Vietnamese had their names changed to the royal Nguyen; which is why today the name Nguyen fills over half the pages of a Vietnamese telephone directory!

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