Hue is famous for its historic sights, the Complex of Hue Monuments including the Imperial City, the Series of Royal Tombs and the Temples became the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.
Millions of tourists, both local & international tourists visit the city of Hue every year, but do they really know the city? When you visit a place so often, and have a chance to talk to the locals, as I have, you learn things about it that few tourists get to know.
Here are some interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about Hue.
Hue is the Land of Buddhism
You see a Buddhist pagoda whenever you walk out your front door. The city is home to over 300 Buddhist pagodas with all sizes spread across the city.
A sizable amount of the population are Buddhists who usually take 2 vegan days a month. On these 2 days, nearly all the restaurants & street vendors sell the vegan options of what they usually sell.
Hue is Vietnam's 1st National Green City
When Vietnam’s 2 biggest cities: Sai Gon and Ha Noi sacrifice their giant 100-year-old trees for building subways or urban projects, Hue manages to keep them. There’re over 67,000 enormous trees providing shades and clean up air pollution for city.
In 2016, Hue became the first in the country to be named “the National Green City” by the World Wide Fun. The city has focused on urban greenery, green tourism. A variety of programs such as “Green Sunday” “60 minutes for clean home & neighborhood” ” Garbage Pick-up for a greener Hue” has been practiced and confirmed the image of Hue city as a green & sustainable Tourist Destination.
Whereas Ha Noi & Sai Gon ranked among the top’s world most air polluted cities, Hue people enjoy their clean air most time of the year. More trees could be found in the North of Hue thanks to the strict measures about urban greenery and constrution.
Buildings inside the Citadel must be lower than the Imperial City
The height limit to buildings is 11m to make sure the imperial city is the highest structure in the citadel.
Hien Lam Cac Pavilion was built in 1821 is the highest building in the Imperial City with the height of 13m. It’s the place to remember the merits of the Emperors.
If you want to build any tall buildings, you better find a place in the South of the Huong River where has a looser construction rule.
You see everywhere bullet holes
There is a massive amount of Vietnam War History inside the Citadel. During the 1968’s Tet Offensive, there was heavy fighting in Hue, especially around the Citadel.
The bullet holes in the solid walls still left as a reminder of the War.
Thich Quang Duc's Car is kept at Thien Mu Pagoda
Thien Mu pagoda – the oldest pagoda in Hue which is located by the Huong River, it holds a very important Vietnamese relic: The Car that carried the Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Duc to Sai Gon in 1963, where he set himself on fire in protest against the Diem regime which was supported by the Americans.
The photo which is captured by Malcolm Browne famous with the name: the Burning Monk. It became the World Press Photo of the Year 1963.
The car is now in a small garage at the Thien Mu Pagoda and is visited everyday by thousands of tourists.
The Nguyen Dynasty is the reason 40% Vietnamese have the same Nguyen surname
Nguyen (Nguyễn) is the most common Vietnamese family name. The regular Vietnamese did not have a family name in the old time because only the nobles had them. During 143 years of the Nguyen Dynasty, the Nguyen Vietnamese would have many privileges, so a large number of Vietnamese changed their name to Nguyen.
And then, when the French ruled the country, they did an unprecedented census in Vietnam in the early 19th centure, but many people who had no surname which made difficulty in the progress, to make easier, the French just selected the Nguyen surname for many Vietnamese.
Hue is Vietnam's food capital
As the former capital of the country’s last monarchy, the Nguyen became the country’s food capital due to the fact that the best chefs all over the country gathered to serve the kings and the royal families.
There were 13 Nguyen Emperors who ruled the country in 143 years. Thankfully, they all liked food. A meal could consist of 50 different dishes prepared by 50 chefs and the menu need to be changed every single meal.
Several hundred men were recruited to go hunting, fishing, gathering the most delicious, sometime weirdest ingredients to please the appetite of the emperors. Today, the city is known as the home of almost 1,700 of the country’s 3,000 dishes.
Hue is well worth a visit
Tourists often skip Hue to spend their limited time in Sai Gon, Hoi An, Ha Noi or Ha Long Bay. However, Hue is well worth a visit if you love to learn about Vietnam’s history & culture. More importanly, Hue has one of the best cuisines in the country.