HUE - Vietnam

5 star for 3 star holidays

Nestling between the mountains and forested valleys of Annam lies the former imperial capital of Vietnam. The enchantment of Hue has withstood the depredations of centuries and the vicissitudes of war, including severe damage during the 1968 Tet offensive. For over a century from 1802, the 16th-century capital of the powerful Nguyen princes served as the country's political hub. Man of letters Somerset Maugham, who visited Hue in the 1920s, found the pomp and glory of the court was as breathtaking as the scenery below the Trouong Son Mountains. According to tradition, Hue is the home town of the country's intellectual and academic elite as well as its prettiest girls. A few miles along the Perfume River stands the 17th-century Thien Mu Pagoda, the seven tiers of its octagonal tower each representing a different incarnation of the Buddha. Behind the four citadel-like gates of Da Noi, the Imperial City, lie the Forbidden Purple City and the Yellow Enclosure - a paradise of green meadows and flower gardens interspersed with temples and palaces. Most evocative of all are the tombs of the emperors, scattered across the hills to the west. Khai Dinh's mausoleum is adorned with a vast mural and frescoes of inlaid ceramic and glass fragments, whilst the resting places of Minh and Tu Duc are "the patient and inspired work of the artist whose intention was to color the countryside to awaken the awaiting soul, soaring in the silence of its mournful place".

The Headquarters

Century Riverside Inn
49 Le Loi Street, Hue (140 rooms, 2 suites)
Even then, the Nguyen emperors also chose Hue's South Bank as their resting place. Today you can gaze past the dragon boats on the mystic Perfume City. Amidst landscaped gardens, with past glories rekindled in the splendidly carved furniture and the ceremonial banquets; pool and tennis make for a sporting life between river cruises and mausoleum visits.

* Vietnam

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