Hue was the Vietnamese royal capital during the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802-1945. It is easily accessible from Hanoi by a short 1-hour flight. With only a full day to explore, I opted to join a local tour to save the hassle of planning and hiring a driver.
My morning was spent at 3 royal tombs in the outskirts, such as this one for King Minh Mang completed in 1843. There are far more than 3 tombs in Hue's outskirts, which could easily take several days to visit.
Rain and fog give these tombs a very eerie feeling. They are spacious, with numerous buildings spaced out by courtyards.
Khai Dinh ruled until 1925 and his tomb spreads along the hillside and incorporates both Western and European architecture. The predominant use of black concrete adds to a mysterious Gothic atmosphere.
Inside, the walls and ceilings are magnificently decorated with murals and sculptures.
Tu Duc ruled from 1848 until 1883, and designed this tomb not just as a final resting place, but also a place to enjoy before his death. The extravagance was so great that a coup took place in 1866 to stop him.
The guard of animals and officials were deliberately made shorter than the king.
Hue's Citadel was completed in 1833 and consists of several sections occupying 2 square km, including the Forbidden Purple City. The fortress is surrounded by 10km of walls. While designed by the French, it was ruined by both the French and the Americans years later. The 37m flag tower pictured here is the country's tallest.