The two of us visited this site as part of a private full day city tour with Tour from Hue - Day Tours. We'd decided to include a guide with our tour to walk us through and were glad of our decision. While there is extensive ongoing rebuilding and repair work to restore this huge complex to its former grandeur, a lot of the original buildings are in ruins as a result of previous wars and termite damage. There's very limited signage, if at all, and when you are sometimes just looking at a pile of rubble it's difficult to determine what buildings the remains belonged to without the experience of a guide. We were very appreciative of our guide's historical knowledge and how he helped bring this ancient site to life for us.
The colossal stone walls of this ancient citadel house the remains of the expansive former imperial city of the Nguyen dynasty, including the Forbidden Purple City where the Emperor resided. This huge complex was made up of palaces, halls, imperial residences, temples, gardens and bridges over lakes filled with koi and lotus flowers. Despite the destruction of the original buildings it's an impressive site to walk around and there is still beauty to be found in the restored buildings as well as the gardens and ponds.
Wandering around you appreciate the sheer scale of the site. It was very hot and we covered a lot of ground by foot.
Our guide bought us a package ticket onsite (package ticket for royal palaces) which included entrance into the Citadel as well as Minh Mang Tomb and Khai Dinh Tomb. Great value.
When planning: go through with a guide if you can, otherwise do research beforehand and go armed with a good map to get the most out of your visit as you can't rely on information at the site. Wear comfortable shoes, hats and sunscreen if visiting in warmer months. Take plenty of water as it does get hot walking around. Allow a good few hours to walk around the large site at leisure.
Would definitely recommend a visit.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TravelPod member and not of TravelPod.com.