Nestled in the heart of Central Vietnam, Hue offers a captivating blend of rich history, cultural treasures, and delectable cuisine. It is famous for its prominent historic landmarks and is ranked a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This is one of the most worthwhile destinations in Vietnam. In this blog, Indochina Voyages will give you unusual things to do in Hue that will absolutely satisfy your curious mind.
Explore The Citadel Complex
Step back in time and discover the grandeur of the Citadel Complex of Hue, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a captivating journey that unveils the architectural marvels of the Nguyen Dynasty.
- Marvel at the impressive scale and intricate design of the Citadel’s three circles of ramparts, each revealing a distinct aspect of imperial power and history.
- Wander through the Kinh Thanh Hue, the outermost circle, and take in the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, immersing yourself in the grandeur of the Hue Capital Citadel.
- Step into Hoang Thanh, the Royal Citadel, and witness the splendor of its palaces, pavilions, and majestic gateways, which once served as the residence of the Nguyen emperors.
- Explore the innermost circle, the Tu Cam Thanh, also known as the Forbidden Citadel. Uncover the secrets of this secluded area where only the emperor, his family, and trusted officials were allowed, and imagine the hidden lives within its walls.
- Admire the harmonious blend of traditional Vietnamese and imperial architectural styles, characterized by ornate roofs, intricate carvings, and vibrant colors.
- Capture unforgettable moments as you stroll through the expansive grounds, surrounded by lush gardens, tranquil ponds, and ancient trees, creating a serene and picturesque ambiance.
- Learn about the legends and stories that shaped the city’s past and bring the history of Hue to life by listening to the tales narrated by knowledgeable guides or through audio tours.
- You also have a chance to explore royal costumes and antique furniture, ancient manuscripts, and imperial relics. Each exhibit offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle and cultural significance of the Nguyen Dynasty.
What time of the day should I visit Hue Citadel Complex?
Hue Citadel Complex is open from 07:00 to 22:00 daily. It has its own unique beauty at any time of the day
- Daytime (From 07:00 to 19:00): Arriving in the morning allows you ample time to explore the vast complex, appreciate the architecture, and learn about the history and significance of the site. However, you should take note that if visiting at 12:00 in the summer will be very hot and tiring, because the complex is quite large, and takes time to explore on foot.
- Night time (From 19:00 to 22:00): By night, you can witness the spectacular illumination of the Hue Imperial City at night, as the ancient citadel is bathed in a mystical glow, creating a truly enchanting ambiance.
Besides, don’t miss the opportunity to experience the highlights of Hue by taking a delightful cyclo ride around the Citadel complex, adding a touch of nostalgia and a unique perspective to your exploration. This will be a remarkable experience that allows you to delve into the grandeur and legacy of Vietnam’s imperial past, immersing yourself in its architectural beauty and historical significance.
Cruise Along the Perfume River
Embarking on a scenic boat cruise along the Perfume River in Hue is a serene and enchanting experience. The river’s name, Perfume River, evokes the fragrant flowers that float downstream, enhancing the sensory delight. Drifting along the tranquil waters, surrounded by lush greenery and picturesque landscapes, you’ll catch glimpses of rural life along the riverbanks, from farmers tending to their fields to children playing by the water’s edge. As you cruise, you can also admire historic landmarks, listen to traditional music, and indulge in local cuisine, immersing yourself in the cultural richness and natural beauty of the region.
Visit the Thien Mu Pagoda
Situated on a hill overlooking the Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda is known as an iconic seven-story pagoda that stands as a symbol of Hue. From its elevated position, visitors are rewarded with panoramic views of the river, surrounding landscapes, and the city itself.
The pagoda holds significant historical importance, dating back to the 17th century. And immersing oneself in its grounds offers insights into the region’s heritage. Stepping into the pagoda evokes a sense of tranquility and reverence, with the scent of incense lingering in the air. The intricate architectural details, colorful mosaics, and religious artifacts within the pagoda showcase the artistic mastery of the region.
Besides, interacting with the resident monks and participating in respectful acts further fosters cultural immersion and a deeper understanding of Vietnamese spirituality. The Thien Mu Pagoda is a place where natural beauty, historical significance, and spiritual tranquility converge, providing a truly unforgettable experience in Hue.
Discover the Royal Tombs
Exploring the royal tombs of Hue is a captivating journey into the rich history and architectural splendor of Vietnam’s imperial past. Explore Minh Mang’s harmonious blend of Vietnamese and Chinese styles, Tu Duc’s poetic beauty nestled in lush gardens, and Khai Dinh’s grand fusion of Eastern and Western influences. These tombs offer a glimpse into the lavish lives of emperors, showcasing their architectural masterpieces in a serene and authentic setting.
Lost in Bao Vinh Ancient Town
Bao Vinh Ancient Town is a renowned tourist destination celebrated for its distinctive architecture and rich historical culture. It holds the distinction of being the largest trading port in the Dang Trong region during the 17th and 19th centuries. Presently, the old town remains remarkably well preserved, located a mere 3 kilometers from the city center.
You can easily reach this town in time by various means of transportation, such as a car, bike, or motorbike. Or else choose a boat ride along the Dong Ba River and then walk a short distance to reach Bao Vinh’s old town, which is also a unique way to touch the essence of Hue.
Attractions can’t be ignored when coming:
- Bao Vinh communal house
- Bao Vinh Crossing Pier
- Bao Vinh Hue market
- Thien Giang Pagoda
Witness a unique Thanh Toan Tile Bridge
The bridge was built in 1776 thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Tran Thi Dao, the 6th generation grandchild of the Tran family, who donated money for construction. It was recognized as a national monument in 1990.
Thanh Toan Bridge has extremely unique and impressive architecture. This is one of the few bridges in Vietnam built according to the architecture above the house and under the bridge (upper house, lower bridge). Although it has undergone five restorations, the Thanh Toan tile bridge still retains its old architecture and ancient beauty.
Dive in Hue’s Cuisine
Indulging in the culinary delights of Hue is a journey that takes you through a royal heritage of distinct flavors. This vibrant city is renowned for its rich culinary traditions, where every dish tells a story. However, it’s worth noting that Hue’s cuisine leans towards the spicier side. The bold use of aromatic herbs and chili peppers adds a fiery kick to many traditional dishes.
If you prefer a milder taste, fret not! Hue’s talented chefs are more than happy to accommodate your preferences. Simply mention your spice tolerance, and they will skillfully adjust the spiciness to ensure a delightful dining experience tailored to your liking. Let’s pick something on your bucket list to savor in Hue!
Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Beef Noodle Soup)
If Hanoi has Pho, then Hue has Bun Bo Hue. One cannot visit Hue without savoring a steaming bowl of Bun Bo Hue. This iconic dish is a flavorful combination of tender beef, pork, and chewy rice noodles. What sets it apart is the spicy and aromatic broth infused with lemongrass, chili, and a medley of spices. Topped with fresh herbs, lime, and chili, Bun Bo Hue offers a tantalizing blend of textures and flavors that will leave you craving for more.
Banh Beo (Steam Rice Cakes)
This is a delightful dish that showcases Hue’s culinary finesse. These delicate steamed rice cakes are topped with savory ingredients such as minced shrimp, crispy pork skin, and scallion oil. Served in small, shallow bowls, Banh Beo is typically enjoyed by dipping each cake in a tangy fish sauce before savoring its soft and slightly chewy texture. It’s a true gastronomic delight that captures the essence of Huế’s cuisine.
Banh Bot Loc (Transparent Shrimp and Pork Dumplings)
Banh Bot Loc is another Hue specialty that will captivate your taste buds. These translucent dumplings are made from tapioca flour and filled with a savory mixture of shrimp and pork. The dumplings are then steamed to perfection, resulting in a chewy and slightly sticky texture. Served with a flavorful dipping sauce made from fish sauce, chili, and garlic.
Banh Bot Loc, whether wrapped in banana leaves (Banh Bot Loc La) or unwrapped (Banh Bot Loc Tran), is a culinary masterpiece that showcases the artistry and flavors of Hue. The chewy texture of the dumpling skin, combined with the flavorful shrimp and pork filling, creates a delightful combination of flavors and textures.
Banh Khoai (Crispy Hue-style Pancakes)
Banh Khoai is a crispy pancake that is a true indulgence for food lovers. Made from a batter of rice flour, turmeric, and water, the pancake is then filled with a combination of shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and green onions. Fried until golden and crispy, Banh Khoai is often enjoyed by wrapping it in fresh lettuce leaves and dipping it in a tangy sauce. The contrasting textures of the crispy pancake and the fresh vegetables create a delightful culinary experience.
Hue Royal Sweet Soup
To truly experience the royal heritage of Hue, indulge in the Hue Royal Sweet Soup. This exquisite dessert served in the imperial court features a variety of ingredients, such as fruits, beans, grains, and jellies, all meticulously arranged to create a visually stunning dish. The dessert is accompanied by a sweet and fragrant syrup made from coconut milk, pandan leaf extract, and other aromatic ingredients. Every spoonful of this regal sweet soup is a harmonious blend of flavors and a testament to Hue’s culinary opulence.
Another “revolutionary” version of this dish is Che Bot Loc Heo Quay. “Che” means sweet soup in Vietnamese cuisine, while “Bot Loc” is a type of dumpling made from tapioca flour, and “Heo Quay” is roasted pork belly. This is a unique combination of flavors and textures, blending the sweetness of the dessert soup with the savory elements of roasted pork belly. Don’t hesitate; take time to try this local dish once. You’ll never forget the true essence of Hue’s cuisine.
Be sure to explore the vibrant Dong Ba Market, where you can savor these culinary delights and experience the bustling local food scene.
Enjoy Nightlife in Hue
Hue by Night offers a diverse range of activities to suit different preferences. Some people think that Hue is a dreamy city with various tranquil activities, but if you dive into the charm of this city, you will find more and more fantastic experiences:
- Bustling Night Markets: Experience the lively atmosphere of Hue’s night markets, where you can indulge in delicious street food, browse local crafts, and witness the vibrant energy of the city after dark.
- Riverside Cafes: Relax and unwind at one of the charming riverside cafes, sipping on traditional Vietnamese coffee while enjoying the picturesque views and the bustling nightlife along the Perfume River.
- Live Music Scene: Immerse yourself in the local music scene by visiting bars and venues that showcase talented local artists, offering a blend of traditional Vietnamese music and contemporary tunes.
- Energetic Nightclubs: Dance the night away at vibrant clubs and discos, where you can groove to a mix of international beats and popular Vietnamese hits, creating an energetic and unforgettable nightlife experience. You can visit some bars, such as Dong Bar—Unlock the Vibe, Brown EYE Bar Hue, DMZ Bar, Sophie Club Hue, etc.
- Cultural Performances: Attend cultural performances in Hue, featuring traditional music, dance, and theatrical shows, providing a captivating insight into the region’s rich cultural heritage.
- Nighttime Boat Tours: Take a scenic boat tour along the Perfume River under the starry night sky, enjoying the serene beauty of Hue from a different perspective.
- Nighttime Cyclo Rides: Explore the city’s streets in a traditional cyclo, a three-wheeled bicycle taxi, as you soak up the lively atmosphere and discover the charm of Hue at night.
Is Hue safe?
Definitely YES. Thanks to its relatively small size, Hue does not suffer the problems of many bigger cities. Therefore, this city is very much believed to be safe, with a very low crime rate. In spite of the development, Hue has still preserved a very comfortable and peaceful nature. Generally, people in Hue are very welcoming and hospitable. However, it is better for you to look after and safeguard your personal belongings and valuables to avoid any troubles.
How many ways are there to get to Hue?
There are multiple convenient transportation options to reach Hue. Ensuring a hassle-free journey for travelers. Here are the various ways you can get to Hue:
- By Air: The Phu Bai International Airport, located just outside of Hue, serves as the main air gateway to the city. You can fly to Hue from major cities in Vietnam such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang, as well as some international destinations.
- By Train: Hue is well-connected by train, and the city has its own train station. You can take a train from various cities in Vietnam, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Nha Trang. Train travel is a scenic and comfortable option, allowing you to enjoy the countryside views along the way.
- By Bus: Hue is accessible by bus from many cities in Vietnam. There are both public and private bus services that operate routes to and from Hue, making it a convenient and affordable transportation option.
- By Car: If you prefer the flexibility of driving, you can rent a car or hire a private driver to travel to Hue. Major highways connect Hue to other cities in Vietnam, making it relatively easy to reach by road.
- By Motorbike: For adventurous travelers, riding a motorbike to Hue can be an exciting option. You can rent a motorbike in nearby cities and enjoy the scenic coastal roads or mountainous routes on your journey to Hue
To be more specific about price and route, let Travel Consultants of Indochina Voyages help you!
How to get a perfect Hue journey?
- Wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be doing a fair amount of walking, particularly when exploring historical sites and attractions.
- Carry a map or use a reliable navigation app to navigate the city and locate points of interest easily.
- Familiarize yourself with the local customs and traditions to show respect for the local culture. For example, remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or a temple.
- Be mindful of your belongings and keep an eye on your personal belongings, especially in crowded areas, to avoid any potential theft or loss.
- If you plan to visit during the rainy season (around October to December), bring an umbrella or raincoat to stay dry during sudden downpours.
- If you’re planning to visit popular attractions, consider going early in the morning to avoid crowds and enjoy a more serene experience.
- Hue can get hot and humid, so wearing sunscreen, a hat, and lightweight clothing can help protect you from the sun.
When is the best time to go?
To experience the best of Hue’s weather and festivities, plan your visit between March and August. During this period, the weather is generally pleasant, with clear skies and mild temperatures.
Besides, the rainy season in Hue (from September to December) also can create a romantic and taciturn atmosphere. The sudden rains will make Hue’s peaceful scenery become more and more serene. Believe me, if you witness these beauties, you’ll always miss them and want to return! However, heavy rain will also affect your sightseeing in this Charming City.
Is Grab or Taxi Available in Hue?
Yes. Taxis and buses are always available for you. Besides the traditional way, you also can take a taxi through the mobile app. Some common taxi apps available in Hue are Grab and Be.
Does Hue have an ATM?
Absolutely yes, Hue does have ATMs. As a popular tourist destination in Vietnam, you will find ATMs conveniently located throughout the city. ATMs can typically be found at banks, commercial areas, shopping centers, and near popular tourist attractions.
They accept major credit and debit cards, including Visa and Mastercard. It’s always a good idea to inform your bank or card issuer about your travel plans to ensure that your cards will work internationally and to inquire about any associated fees or restrictions. Additionally, it’s advisable to have some cash on hand, especially if you plan to visit more remote areas or smaller establishments that may not accept cards.
Indochina Voyages Team