Hue originally rose to prominence as the capital of the Nguyen Lords, a feudal dynasty which dominated much of southern Vietnam from the 17th to the 19th century. In 1775 when Trinh Sam captured it, it was known as Phu Xuan. In 1802, Nguyen Phuc Anh (later Emperor Gia Long) succeeded in establishing his control over the whole of Vietnam, thereby making Hue the national capital.
Hue continued to be the capital until 1945, when Emperor Bao Đại abdicated and a Communist government was established in Ha Noi (Hanoi), in the north. While Bao Đai was briefly proclaimed “Head of State” with the help of the returning French colonialists in 1949 (although not with recognition from the Communists and the full acceptance of the Vietnamese people), his new capital was Sài Gòn (Saigon), in the south.
In the Vietnam War, Hue’s central position placed it very near the border between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. The city was located in the South. In the Tet Offensive of 1968, during the Battle of Hue, the city suffered considerable damage not only to its physical features but its reputation as well, most of it from American firepower and bombings on the historical buildings as well as the now infamous massacre at Hue committed by the Communist forces. After the war’s conclusion, many of the historic features of Hue were neglected, being seen by the victorious regime and some other Vietnamese as “relics from the feudal regime”, but there has since been a change of policy, and some parts of the historic city have been restored.
From Hue, take the Easy Rider tour to Hoi An via Ho Chi Minh Trail, or Hai Van Pass is remarkable. Join the Easy Rider tour to get down south such as Dalat or Saigon via the Central Highlands is an unforgettable experience.