In Central Vietnam, Hue was the National Capital from 1802-1945 when Emperor Gia Long established control over it. This former imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty is now UNESCO World Heritage Site, the town of Hue is a must-see for its complex of ancient royal monuments. Although after the war many of the historic features of Hue were neglected, a lot of the historic areas in the city are being restored today, making it grow in tourism and culture.
Population: 340,000 people.
Vibe: Hue has a very obvious historical vibe. However, given the history in question, there is a sort of, mysterious and dark vibe to the city, with old buildings and sensitive stories; it is an interesting place to take a trip down Vietnamese memory lane.
Known for: Hue is known for the Imperial Nguyen Dynasty, who gained control in 1802. The city went through very tough times during the Vietnamese War, slaughtering thousands of people who were believed to sympathize with the South. This difficult past hangs over the head of Hue still to this day; a lot of history can be learned there.
Must Do: The former seat of the government, Hue’s Imperial Citadel. This complex houses temples, pavilions, gates, shops, museums, and more. Despite it being a main tourist attraction, it is peaceful and calm and you can easily spend the whole day exploring the grounds.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO
Take a motorbike tour
Jump on the back of a motorbike and discover a little bit of the ‘real’ Vietnam with a local guide. Motoring through quaint villages and lush rice paddies, you’ll see the historic and picturesque Japanese covered bridge, find out your future from a local fortune teller, have a go at making incense sticks and learn about the rice growing process at the Rice Museum. Visit the home of a conical hat maker and explore an Emperor's Tomb and the Citadel's Forbidden City.
During the autumn, orchids grow and give a perfume-like aroma, hence the name. Surrounded by mountains and passing through some of Hue’s most cultural and historical sites; it is definitely worth a boat ride along the river, or even a nice relaxing walk beside it.
The Imperial Citadel
This is the first stop for many travellers - a vast network of temples, museums, pavilions, and charming historical sites, that has a quiet, peaceful atmosphere hidden within its walls. There are more than a few sites to see here, so plan at least a full morning to check them out.
Tombs of the Emperors
Best seen by boat ride, Tombs of the Emperors are well worth the cost and effort it takes to get to them. They are perfect examples of Vietnamese Buddhist architecture and aesthetics. Some of the older tombs have crumbled into beautiful ruins, some are currently being restored. Spend an afternoon exploring these examples of traditional Buddhist architecture and funerary styles and learn about the ancient royal families in Vietnam. If you’ve got a bike, take some time between getting from town to the Tombs to check out the countryside, and see some of Vietnam’s rural life!
Thien Mu Pagoda
Housing fine gold and silver Buddha statues, Thien Mu Pagoda overlooks the river and is the official symbol of Hue city.
Thanh Toan Bridge
This beautiful wooden footbridge is located just outside of the city. It is the perfect place to admire and experience a bit of rural life and break away from the fast pace of the city.
Alba Thanh Tan Hot Springs
About 30k outside of Hue is the Alba Thanh Tan Hot Springs. Prepare to make a whole day trip here, with many activities including zip lining, high wiring, and fun water games. That is of course on top of relaxing in the outdoor hot springs baths, and having optional spa and massage treatments.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
This museum contains pictures and information about Ho Chi Minh, as well as some history about Hue. Admission is free so it is definitely worth popping in for an hour.
EATING AND DRINKING
Hue is a big city; there are food options everywhere you turn, with an array of options including many different cuisines, coffee shops, high-end prices, mid-range prices, budget, and vegetarian. As far as local cuisine, there is a famous dish named Bun Bo Hue; a noodle soup with sliced beef and chilli oil. A local treat is sesame candy; sweet, chewy peanuts, delicious when fresh.
There is a local food market, Dong Ba with an array of stalls and local dishes. Just be sure to stick to the menu, if anything else is sent to the table, send it right back! Dong Ba is known for hitting you with much larger bills than you’re expecting. Yikes!
WHERE STRAY STAYS
21 Doi Cung Street
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Tel: +84 234 3838 000
A modern and comfortable hotel located in central Hue. With friendly staff, modern rooms and various attractions nearby, DMZ Hotel will ensure you enjoy your stay in Hue.
Facilities: Free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, 24-hour security, luggage storage, currency exchange, cell phone borrowing services, laundry services, train, bus and flight ticket purchasing and visa extension services.