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.
10+ unusual things to do in Hue
Here are 10+ authentic and unusual experiences for you when you want to touch Hue softly:
1. Blend with the locals at Tam Giang Lagoon
Tam Giang Lagoon is the largest lagoon system in Southeast Asia, located in the central region of Vietnam near the city of Hue. It is known for its picturesque landscapes, diverse ecosystem, and vibrant local fishing communities.
Visiting Tam Giang Lagoon in Hue offers a range of memorable experiences, from soothing your eyes with the tranquil images of the fishing village to impressing your experience with various fantastic local activities:
- Witnessing the charming sunset over the lagoon is a breathtaking sight, as the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant colors reflecting upon the serene waters.
- Exploring the nearby Chuon swamp allows you to immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the wetlands, encountering unique flora and fauna along the way.
- Engaging in fishing activities with local fishermen provides an authentic glimpse into their traditional way of life
- Enjoying a delicious meal on a boat while surrounded by the lagoon’s serene ambiance creates a truly unforgettable dining experience.
2. Stay away from the hustle and bustle with Lap An Lagoon
Nestled at the foot of Phu Gia Pass, embraced by the Bach Ma mountains and Lang Co Sea, Lap An Lagoon is not only a serene destination, but it is also one of the largest brackish water lagoons in Hue, covering an expansive area of approximately 800 hectares. It offers a serene and captivating experience. With stunning vistas, shimmering waters, vibrant skies, and delicious local seafood, a visit to Lap An Lagoon is a journey into serenity and natural enchantment.
Aptly named the “Enchanting Cup of Hue,” every visit to Lap An Lagoon is a feast for the senses, with shimmering reflections on the calm waters, vibrant hues painting the sky, and countless picturesque corners that beckon you to capture their ethereal beauty. Seafood is one of the highlights of this area too.
3. Explore Phu Dien Tower – An ancient Cham tower below sea level in Hue
Phu Dien Tower, also known as My Khanh Tower, was accidentally discovered in 2001, buried deep in the sand, just 120 meters from the sea. After 12 centuries, it was recognized as a National Heritage Site and underwent restoration from 2005 to 2007.
Dating back to the 8th century, it is one of the oldest surviving Cham towers in central Vietnam, preserved within a greenhouse-like enclosure. This unique ancient structure holds great historical and cultural value.
4. Conquer Bach Ma Peak in Bach Ma National Park
Bach Ma Peak (White Horse Peak) is the highest peak in Bach Ma National Park, located in central Vietnam, near the border between Thua Thien Hue Province and Quang Nam Province. The peak stands at an impressive elevation of 1,448 meters (4,754 feet) above sea level, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and coastal areas.
This is a popular destination for nature lovers, hikers, and photographers due to its stunning natural beauty and diverse ecosystems. The area is known for its lush greenery, cool climate, and abundant wildlife, making it a haven for biodiversity. Visitors can explore the park’s numerous trails, enjoy picturesque waterfalls, and observe a wide variety of flora and fauna.
5. 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
6. 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.
7. Discover a glimpse of Hue’s History through lesser-known temples in Kim Long
Kim Long is a historic neighborhood located in the city of Hue, Vietnam. It was once the residential area for the noble families and high-ranking officials of the Nguyen Dynasty, who ruled Vietnam from the early 19th century until the mid-20th century.
Several historical sites and temples you can visit in Kim Long:
- Tien Ancestor Shrine
- Co Hon Shrine
- Duc Quoc Cong Temple
- Dien Phuoc Truong Princess Temple
Besides, Kim Long is known for its traditional architecture, including garden houses (ruong houses) that showcase the distinctive style of Hue. These houses often feature beautiful gardens, intricate woodwork, and a combination of Chinese and Vietnamese design elements. However, they may not be open to the public as they are privately owned residences. The accessibility of these garden houses for visitors would depend on whether the owners choose to open their houses to tourists or not.
8. Making votive products in Trieu Son Village
Trieu Son is a small village in Hue which is common with votive. This is the product of paper with the same size and decoration (or almost the same) as real banknotes, used for worship at funerals, death anniversaries, offerings, and ceremonies at temples and pagodas in Vietnam. You can explore and join with locals, which no tourists to experience their traditional handicrafts.
Besides learning more about the spiritual traditions of the Vietnamese, you can see (and experience) how they make hell money, paper horses for offerings, paper clothes for death, etc.
9. Try your hand on creating paper flower in Thanh Tien Village
Thanh Tien Village, located near Hue, is renowned for its traditional craft of making paper flowers. The village has a long-standing history of producing intricate and vibrant paper flowers that are used for various purposes, including decorations for festivals and ceremonies.
When visiting Thanh Tien Village, you can immerse yourself in the art of making paper flowers by participating in workshops or observing the skilled artisans at work. You will have the opportunity to learn the techniques of cutting, folding, and shaping colorful paper into beautiful flower designs. The locals are often welcoming and eager to share their knowledge and skills with visitors.
Engaging in the process of making paper flowers in Thanh Tien Village allows you to appreciate the craftsmanship and creativity behind this traditional art form. It’s a unique and hands-on experience that showcases the rich cultural heritage of the region.
10. Immerse in Buddhism Culture in Hue
Hue, known as the capital of Buddhism, offers a range of enriching experiences for visitors. You can join a meditation tour at some pagodas, eat vegetarian food at the pagoda and visit some very old pagodas in Hue.
There are two recommended places for meditation: Huyen Khong Son Thuong and Cat Tuong Quan. However, it’s important to note that availability needs to be confirmed with the salesperson, as the temples only accept a limited number of participants (usually one group of about 2 to 6 people).
In addition to meditation, you can also enjoy a unique culinary experience by indulging in vegetarian food at the pagoda. Dong Thien Pagoda (also known as Dong Thuyen) is a recommended destination where you can savor delicious vegetarian dishes prepared with mindfulness and care.
For those interested in exploring the historical and spiritual aspects of Buddhism in Hue, a visit to Tu Hieu Pagoda is highly recommended. This pagoda holds great significance as it is the place where Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, renowned for his teachings at the Mai Hamlet Ashram, became a devoted monk. It is also a place where Zen monks undertake their spiritual practice.
11. 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.
For your reference
Besides, you cannot ignore some signature attractions that are known as symbols when visiting Hue. Below are the best things to do and best places to go when traveling to the tranquil Hue
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.
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.
- 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.
However, there is a special royal experience for you in The Citadel Complex of Hue in the early morning (from 05:00 to 06:00). You can enjoy tea and visit the Imperial City, then finish before the opening hours for visitors. This is a perfect and impressive way to start your day.
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.
For your experience when visiting Thien Mu Pagoda to become extraordinary, after visiting, when going down the hill, you can try one of the most signature Vietnamese desserts, Tao Pho. There are many small local shop stalls along the river going down the hill that sell this dish. This Vietnamese dessert features silky tofu served in sweet ginger syrup, creating a delightful combination of textures and flavors. What a perfect choice after walking on the hill in the heat of 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.
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!
List of Hue’s dishes you can’t miss out:
- Bun Bo Hue (Spicy Beef Noodle Soup)
- Banh Beo (Steam Rice Cakes)
- Banh Bot Loc (Transparent Shrimp and Pork Dumplings)
- Banh Khoai (Crispy Hue-style Pancakes)
- Hue Royal Sweet Soup
Be sure to explore the vibrant Dong Ba Market, where you can savor these culinary delights and experience the bustling local food scene
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) can also create a romantic and taciturn atmosphere. The sudden rains will make Hue’s peaceful scenery 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 can also 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