Best things to do in Hue Vietnam – During the Nguyen Dynasty and from 1802 to 1945, the royal city of Hue was the official national capital and stood as a testament to the history and traditions of lovely Vietnam. Due to its immense cultural, religious, and political aspects, Hue was recognised as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, and is currently one of the best places to visit in Vietnam for exotic sights and historical locations. Tombs, pagodas, temples, monuments, and more all attract those who want to discover the rich and deep history of one of Southeast Asia’s most stunning countries.
Although much of Hue’s historical sites were neglected and left to rot during the imperial era, many landmarks were preserved and saved so that visitors could still enjoy them and get a taste for the real Vietnam.
The main landmark that most people want to see first upon visiting is the famous Perfume River, which features the old city and the Citadel to the north with new buildings and attractions to the south. Most days in Hue can be drizzly, misty, or rainy year round, so it’s best to bring clothes you don’t mind getting a little wet. The summer months are generally drier, but unexpected storms aren’t unheard of even in 30ºC weather.
Thankfully for most travelers, Hue is a pretty compact city and can be explored by foot. If you want to see more in a day than you think your feet will let you, there are also taxis, motorbikes, bicycles, cyclos, and rental cars. For more information on how to get to Hue, where to rest your head after a long day in the city, and which sights are on the top of everyone’s must-see list, read on below!
How to get there?
There are three main ways to get to Hue, Vietnam: plane, train, or bus. A fourth, optional way is by using motorbike, but is generally only suggest for those coming from Da Nang via the Hai Van Pass. Hue’s main and international airport, Phu Bai (HUI) receives flights from Vietnam Airlines, JetStar Pacific, and Vietjet. After arriving at the airport the city center is only a 30 minute ride away using buses, taxis, or personal vehicles. The Da Nang airport is also a viable option, though it is the busier choice due to having more connections than Phu Bai.
If you want to enter the city by train, several of them leave every day from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang. It’s best to book your tickets in advance, especially if you plan on traveling during the busy seasons or around holidays. You can also board an overnight bus from either airport, Hanoi, or Saigon to get to Hue. There are also options for open tour buses so that you can get the most out of the trip to your final destination!
Where to stay?
Hue Vietnam Guesthouse – Candyinn
Guestrooms at the Candyinn are fully equipped with cable-ready flat-screen TVs, desks, kettles, and hairdryers. The private bathrooms all have bidets, and each room has a wonderful view of the cityscapes. You can store your clothes in the provided wardrobe and enjoy air conditioning and free WiFi. Staff all can speak English and Vietnamese to better help guests with booking tours and making any special requests. The guesthouse is conveniently located next to Perfume River and several attractions and historical sights!
Why Guests Love It: Guests enjoy the serenity and peaceful area the guesthouse is located in, as well as how friendly and helpful staff always are. The on-site breakfasts feature local cuisine and are both delicious and filling. The building is relatively new and always kept spotless and clean. One of the biggest selling points is how conveniently located the guesthouse is, though the helpful staff come in close second!
Book It Now: Candyinn
Hue Vietnam Hotel – Nice Hue Hotel
Featuring a shared lounge and spacious terrace to relax on, Nice Hue Hotel is a full service hotel that doesn’t skimp on Vietnamese hospitality. All rooms come equipped with a flat-screen TV, private bathroom with bidet, free toiletries, a desk, and a seating area. Certain rooms also come with a balcony, and hiring a bike or a car from the front desk is a breeze. Several cafes and restaurants are in close walking distance from the hotel, though the on-site restaurant serves up delicious Vietnamese cuisine that keeps guests from feeling the need to go anywhere else for a meal!
Why Guests Love It: Guests are impressed with the convenient location, soft and comfortable beds, clean rooms, high-speed WiFi, and great coffee! Many of Hue’s most famous attraction are just a short walk away from the property, and with helpful staff that are able to offer and recommend tours it’s easier than ever to see all of Hue without delay! The Nice Hue Hotel is, in a word, nice!
Book It Now: Nice Hue Hotel
Best things to do in Hue Vietnam #1 – Hue Imperial City
The entire complex of Hue Monuments has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the biggest attractions that visitors look forward to seeing. The complex is home to hundreds of unique and interesting monuments and ruins, the most notable being the Forbidden Purple City, the Imperial City, temples, libraries, pagodas, the flag tower, and royal tombs. The Imperial City itself is located on the banks of the Huong River and contains beautiful landscaping and rich architecture. Best of all is the imperial-style cuisine served on-site that gives you a true taste of Vietnamese history!
Best things to do in Hue Vietnam #2 – Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh King
The Khai Dinh King was the second to last Nguyen King who became a kind at at 31 and died ten years later. During his short reign his greatest achievement was creating the Kai Dinh Tomb, which he took great pride in. He is most remembered out of the 13 kings for his unique style that broke traditional Vietnamese architectural rules and norms. The tomb is filled with an assortment of seemingly random items that Khai Dinh liked or favored, which gives it the fun nickname of “hot pot tomb”.
This amazing royal tomb brings in visitors for three reasons: it’s the most expensive tomb that was built with materials imported from France, it is the highest tomb with 137 steps to reach the top, and the location of the king’s buried body is known – it’s 9 meters under his statue in the center! Overall, this amazing location is something you really have to see to believe!
Visit Hue #3 – Thien Mu Pagoda
Sitting atop a hill that overlooks Perfume River, this pagoda is the prominent symbol of Hue and everything it stands for. The tower is 21-meters high and was constructed during Emperor Thieu Tri’s reign in 1844. Not many visitors know, but the seven stories each represent a Buddha that has appeared in human form! Though the pagoda and surrounding buildings have been rebuilt several times throughout the centuries, the structures are exactly the same today as they were during the emperor’s reign. There are several pavilions and temple around the pagoda, all of which get quite busy during the day with tours and sightseers. It’s highly recommended the rent a bicycle for a scenic ride through the area!
Best things to do in Hue Vietnam #4 – Dong Ba Market
Spanning 16,000 square meters, the Dong Ba Market is the oldest market in Hue. Hundreds of stalls are set up to sell a plethora of items, including clothes, handicrafts, household items, souvenirs, and fresh fruit, vegetables, and seafood. There is no rhyme or reason to how the stalls are set up, so you’ll have to do a bit of exploring to find similar items and ensure you’re getting the best prices! The market is open as early as three in the morning, though visitors tend to shuffle in periodically throughout the day. As one of the few shopping venues found in Hue, the Dong Ba Market is the best place to shop until you drop!
Best things to do in Hue Vietnam #5 – Ho Thuy Tien And The Abandoned Water Park
Ho Thuy Tien is a small, natural lake 8 kilometers south of the Imperial City. The lake is best known for the abandoned water park that share’s the lake’s name and was built right on the edge of water. A large, three story dragon used to house a three-level aquarium, and the park once held animals such as crocodiles and more exotic creatures. Though the abandoned wonderland of adventure used to be a closely guarded secret, hordes visitors now travel to Hue specifically to see the slightly eerie sights of a once flourishing park. It’s an off-the-path adventure that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but is worth at least a quick visit.
Visit Hue #6 – Meridian Gate
Also known as the South Gate, this historic sight still stands today as the main gate to the Imperial City. It was constructed in 1833 to mirror the tradition Vietnamese Nguyen style that the rule Minh Mang oversaw. If the gate looks familiar to you, it may be due to the fact that it was designed after the famous Meridian Gate at the Forbidden City in Beijing. Many of the aspects of the gate were directly copied, though the Meridian Gate in Hue still had its own unique style and architectural designs throughout. The best feeling is being able to walk through the gate and knowing that such a privilege wasn’t always available to visitors of the past!
Best things to do in Hue Vietnam #7 – Thai Hoa Palace
This palace bears a name that refers to harmony found between yin and yang that is seen with humans and nature. The palace was likely named such due to the fact that the Nguyen kinds sought peace and prosperity during their reigns. The palace has significant cultural and historical values to Vietnamese art, and is still a powerful symbol of Hue’s influence on the entire country. To this day the palace continues to attract thousands of tourists who want nothing more than to see a piece of Vietnamese history that has stood the test of time and will keep doing so for centuries to come!
Best things to do in Hue Vietnam #8 – Hon Chen Temple
The Hon Chen Temple is one of the most popular stops for those enjoying dragon boat cruises along the Perfume River. The temple itself overlooks Perfume River as it sits atop a rock cliff, so expect a bit of a steep climb to view the sights and beauty of this spiritual place! Inside the temple are artifacts and altars, and though it may seem to be just a small, simplistic temple, this is definitely one sight you should not miss on your trip to Hue!
Visit Hue #9 – Mount Ngu Binh
Also known as Ngu Mountain, Hon Mo, or Bang Mountain, Mount Bgu Binh is a 103-meter high formation only four kilometers south of Hue city. The mountain represents the best of what natural wonders Hue has to offer, as you can view many of the iconic and scenic areas of the city after just a short hike up the mountain. It’s said that watching the sunset or sunrise from the mountain can be a satisfying and fulfilling experience that is hard to beat! If you’re traveling to the area during the Lunar New Year you’ll notice many of the locals climbing the mountain for luck!
Best things to do in Hue Vietnam #10 – Nine Tripod Cauldrons
Placed in the Mieu Yard, these nine cauldrons represent King Minh Mang’s wish for everlasting peace and prosperity for Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty. Each of the cauldrons is named after an official king and are decorated with famous landscapes and specialities of Vietnam. There are over 150 patterns total to be found on the cauldrons; try to see if you can identify them all!
Hue is a city that holds much of Vietnam’s most important historical sights and landmarks. Many travel to this unique and exciting city in hopes of experiencing something worthwhile and exciting, and few ever leave disappointed! With so much to see, so many areas to discover, and such great food to feast on, there’s almost never a dull moment in this authentically Vietnamese city!
And after visiting Hue, don’t miss the charming neighbour city of Hoi An. More info here: Things to do in Hoi An Vietnam.