Things to do in Hue City

Wednesday, 15 October 2008 09:36

Hue – an ancient citadel of Vietnam
“Poetic Hue, dreamy and romantic Hue, Hue - city of two World Heritages…” are the ever names people call Hue city - the latest imperial capital of Vietnam under Nguyen dynasty (from the 17th to 19th century). Hue is located in central Vietnam on the banks of Perfume River (Sông Hương), just a few miles inland from the East Sea. It is about 700 kilometers (438 miles) south of the national capital of Hanoi and about 1100 kilometers (690 miles) north of Hochiminh City. Hue people take their pride in a long-lasting history. The city has gone through 7 centuries of establishment and development.In 1802, Hue became Vietnam’s capital when Emperor Gia Long, the first King of the Nguyen emperors (Nguyen dynasty), chose the location for the imperial city. The city remained the nation’s capital until 1945, when Bao Dai, the last of the Nguyen emperors, abdicated and a communist government was established in Hanoi. In the Vietnam War, Huế's central position placed it very near the border between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. Thanks to the long precious history, Hue has integrated material and spiritual values, which become its own unique special Culture.
Complex of the Temple for the Worship of the Nguyen Emperors (Thé Mieu)
Complex of the mausoleum of King Minh Mang
Complex of the Temple for the Worship of the Nine Nguyen Lords (Thai Mieu)
Complex of the tomb of the King Tu Duc
Complex of the Celestial Lady (Thien Mu)
Complex of the Palace of Audiences (Dien Can Chanh)
Chronological table of the monuments of Hué

Hue Tips

The rain in Vietnam falls mainly in Hue
Hue is one of the wettest cities in Vietnam, with annual rainfall of around 3,000mm. The wettest months are September and October, when there can be flooding. The best time to go, if you want to stay dry, is from February to April.

Have a pair of shoes for a good grip!
If you plan to visit Hue between Dec and Mar, do expect that the grounds to be wet as this is also the monsoon season. Not to worry too much, you won't be totally drenched as the rain is light.
However, do note that the ground would be wet. Hue is unlike the major cities like Singapore or Bangkok, the grounds are generally made of soil where it would turn muddy after a downpour. You need to be cautious if you are cruising along the Perfume Pagoda as you need to do a bit of "jumping" at the moorings.
In addition, the grounds at the royal tombs are covered with moss too. So, it may be slippery for walking. Hence, it does help if you have a pair of walking shoes with good grip. One thing to note, the weather is cool - which makes the visit pleasant!

Boat sightseeing with a local

If you intend to go for a boat sightseeing, be cautious when hiring a local to be your tour guide. Some like to take advantage of strange guests to earn as much as possible. So, if possible, don’t use this kind of service!


ORCHID HOTEL 5  Stars5  Stars5  Stars5  Stars5  Stars
30A Chu Van An St., Hue, Vietnam

This luxurious boutique style hotel, located within five-minutes of the Huong River, is positioned on a quiet street. Hue can be easily explored through the nearby train station as well as the bus station, providing unfettered access to everything the city offers. As one of the top rated hotels in Hue, guests can expect outstanding service, elegant decoration, and modern amenities that are well kept. The on-site restaurant serves a meticulous compilation of gourmet cuisine that is professionally prepared by a well-trained cook staff. Business travelers will enjoy a host of great features, such as wireless internet access and a comprehensively equipped business center that provides a perfect venue for working while being away from home. The Orchid Hotel in Hue is the perfect location for those who want a top rated hotel with world-class amenities in a unique and quiet location.

ABALONE RESORT & SPA 5  Stars5  Stars5  Stars5  Stars
Thuan An Town, Phu Vang Dist., Thua Thien Hue Province, Vietnam.
This stylish design hotel, situated on the azure shores of the Tam Giang Lagoon, is just 15-minutes from central Hue. Guests will enjoy a tranquil location in the Thua Thien Hue Province that is closely located to the beautiful shores of Hue Beach. The hotel features a peaceful location overlooking a Vietnamese fishing lake, boasting a variety of recreational venues. The hotel combines a unique blend of modern decoration with traditional Vietnamese design concepts allowing guests to experience a distinctive cultural ambience that is both pleasing and relaxing. The Abalone Spa offers a comprehensive array of treatments that cater to luxury travelers that want ultimate relaxation and a peaceful ambience. The Abalone Resort and Spa in unique Hue is the ultimate destination for those seeking total bliss in a distinctly Vietnamese atmosphere.

LA RESIDENCE HOTEL & SPA 5  Stars5  Stars5  Stars5  Stars
5 Le Loi Street, Hue, Vietnam.
This extravagant business class hotel, located centrally on the banks of the Perfume River, is just one-kilometer from the train station. Guests will enjoy a location that is only 17-kilometers from the airport, providing convenient access for international travelers. The hotel boasts outstanding views of the historic Imperial Citadel, a perfect sightseeing venue. The on-site restaurant serves a unique compilation of delectable authentic local as well as international dishes. The facilities also include a comprehensively equipped business area. The La Residence Hotel and Spa is a great vacation destination for travelers who seek a variety of on-site facilities in a convenient central location.

Restaurants, Bars & Cafés

51 Le Loi St., Hue
Located on the top of Huong Giang Hotel.
Good Vietnamese and Western food in a superb view.

5 Chu Van An St., Hue
Tel: 847 143
Classic Vietnam restaurant. Good price.

Le Loi St., Hue
Located at the north of Trang Tien Bridge.
Good food at reasonable price. Friendly staff.

28 Vo Thi Sau St., Hue
Tel: 830 995
With the restaurant set in a sublime, lush tropical garden, dinners are in quite romantic corners as well as fine view overlooking pool and the garden.

44 Le Loi St., Hue
Popular spot for travelers in the evening for eating, playing pool and dancing

12 Hung Vuong St., Hue
Geared to the small budget travelers, vegetarian dishes and famous banana pancakes.

Things to do in Hue

 1. Hue's Attractions

Hue Imperial City (The Citadel)
This former site of the old capitol has a moat and ten ornate gates guarding a palace, temples, gardens and tombs. Its most prominent feature is a tall flag tower.

Forbidden Purple City
Charred remains of the royal family’s inner sanctum occupy this area within the Citadel. It is partially rebuilt with plans for future restoration. Attraction type: Historic site

The Noon Gate (Cua Ngo Mon)
This gate is more than merely one of the ten entrances to the Imperial City; it was also the site of political announcements and decrees. Attraction type: Landmark/point of interest.

Thai Hoa Palace
This captivating palace, full of symbolic statues, is situated just inside the Citadel’s main entrance. Attraction type: Historic home; Castle

Thien Mu Pagoda
Address: Huong Long Commune, Hue City
Tel: 84 (0) 54 523237
Possibly Hue’s most recognizable landmark, this pagoda contains numerous living and working buildings for its resident monks, a bell tower and a seven-tiered monument in front. Attraction type: Religious site; Architectural building; Historic site.

Tomb of Tu Duc
Address: Thuy Xuan Commune, Huong Thuy District, Hue city
Tel: 84 (0) 54 523237
The final resting-place of this Nguyen Dynasty emperor and scholar was built before his death. A lake, pavilion and theatre still exist on the grounds. Attraction type: Historic site.

Tomb of Minh Mang
Address: Huong Tho Commune, Huong Tra District, Hue City
Tel: 84 (0) 54 523237
A serene, flower-lined walkway leads to this Nguyen Dynasty emperor’s regal tomb, which is part of a complex including a summer home and lake.
Attraction type: Historic site

Tomb of Khai Dinh
Breathtaking in its ornate glass and porcelain opulence, this emperor’s tomb is one of the area’s most flamboyant attractions. Attraction type: Historic site

Hue Royal Fine Arts Museum
Address: 3 Le Truc St., Hue
Tel: 84 (0) 54 524429
Apart from being one of the city’s best-preserved buildings, it displays a variety of objects from the former royal palaces – including bronze sculptures (cannon, clocks, vases), furniture made of lacquer and mother-of-pearl, traditional musical instruments, decorative weapons and Huế porcelain.

Perfume River
This is a river that crosses the capital city of Hue. It symbolizes the romance and peace of Hue city. Attraction type: Point of interest

2. Nightlife in Hue

The tranquility of the capital city of Hue remains unruffled even in the late hours of the night as nightlife in Hue is very low key, as there are only four or five actual "bars" in the city that play host to the late sleepers in the wee hours of night. Apart from these bars, there are a few garden or travelers' cafes. It is for this reason alone that most visitors will find themselves in bed and asleep long before midnight.
However, it would be wrong to say that there are no nightlife options available in Hue. Some popular places that are the scene of action, while most of the city sleeps are given below:

The DMZ Bar, located on 44 Le Loi St, close by the river is a lively bar popular with tourists and locals. The centre of attraction here is the pool table, which dominates the main, bar area and seems to be always in use.

Apocalypse Now Bar
Though tucked away at a corner of the city, Apocalypse Now Bar is a pulsating bar. Groovy tunes, intoxicating drinks and a seductive nocturnal ambience sets the mood here.

Party with the Locals at Hue
Some of the best time spent in Hue is by mixing with the local people mostly the young local population and have some nighttime fun.

Trang Tien Bridge: Fireworks at Midnight
Plan your trip to Hue to coincide with New year as it one of the best places to enjoy the Vietnamese New Year celebrations of Tet. The magnificent midnight firework display at Trang Tien Bridge is one of the main highlights of the celebration. The fireworks are set off in front of the citadel on the north bank of the Perfume River, but best viewed from the Trang Tien Bridge or the south bank of the river, near the end of the bridge. A number of locals gather at the bridge to watch the fireworks, dressed in their best clothes.

Performance of Hue Folk Songs on the Perfume River
Those with an affinity for water and boat rides can sail off in the moonlight in the dragon boats that depart the wharf at 8:30pm. On this 2 hour long boat ride, passengers can enjoy performances by local artists who sing folk songs to the tune of traditional woodwind, stringed instruments and the teacups.
At the end of the performance, colored lanterns are released onto the river.

3. 24h in Hue

8.30 am: Begin a new day with a strong cup of coffee to refresh your mind! Let’s start exploring Hue with Minh Mang tombs. It is worth seeing with the huge architectural work. Continue with the tomb of Tu Duc- the ‘poet Emperor’-which is set in an elegant garden with a magnificent lake and pavilion complex. What’s more? The tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh will impress you with its uneasy combination of Vietnamese and European features and the use of fragments of ceramics and glass for decoration. Let’s join a trip to Phu Cam hat-making village which lies at the Southern bank of An Cuu River. Romantically, Hue landscapes or even poems can be seen clearly through the hats in the sunshine.

12.00 pm: Not far from the Hue Citadel is a must-see site, Dong Ba market. Roaming around this food market would add new color to your visit to this Vietnamese city. If you want to have understanding of certain things regarding Vietnamese food or culture, you must come to this place. My friend, how big a pity it would be if you pass Hue beef noodle, shrimp cakes, pancakes, bean puddings…, the typical Hue’s food found here. Dong Ba market is not only famous for many goods and local specialties, but also its traditional products such as Phu Cam conical hats, Hien Luong scissors, Phuoc Tich pottery, Ke Mon jewelry, Nam Thuan sweets, Tuan tea…

2.00 pm: Are you so eager to visit Hue citadel? Based on the ancient practice of geomancy, the Citadel was designed and planned around the natural elements. You should spend time visiting the Hue Royal Fine Art Museum where you can see a gallery of antiques displaying collections of bronze, pottery, chinaware, court robes, head-gear and personal belongings of former Vietnam Emperors.  Do not forget to bring with you a camera to take the most beautiful sights on Perfume River. Surprisingly, in autumn, flowers fall into the water, giving the River an aroma.

4.30 pm: After a whole day with a lot of activities, it’s time for you to relax. You can choose a cyclo tour to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Otherwise, drinking some coffee or tea in one of the interesting garden houses occupied by royal family relatives or the wealthy locals is a good idea.

7.30 till late: At night, you will be excited with a boating on the Perfume River to enjoy Hue folk songs that used to be performed for royalty or during ceremonies. It is time for you to take the most beautiful pictures as well as to enjoy the fascinating views between the two River banks.

Travel around Hue

Nhat Le beach – a fascinating seaside landscape
On your North-South journey in Vietnam, there’s a very beautiful seaside landscape that you should not miss when passing by central Vietnam, that is, Nhat Le beach, Quang Binh province. On this supposed journey, it’s quite easy to realize Dong Hoi, the beautiful small town of Quang Binh province alongside Nhat Le River. You may see a nearby nice beach, named Nhat Le, and a green Bao Ninh peninsula full of coconut tree shadows & fishing boats on the other riverside, making a fresh water-color painting. After only ten-minute drive across the river bridge, you now have a chance to relax yourself in a magnificent fairy landscape of beach, long-lasting sand banks, blue sky, blue sea, and green coconut tree rows!

Thien Cam Beach, a melodious charm
Considered as a “Heaven’s Lute”, Thien Cam is a rhythmically beautiful beach in central Vietnam, attracting thousands of tourist turns annually. If you are wondering about a summer vacation place, Thien Cam beach (Cam Xuyen, Ha Tinh Province) should be on top of your choices. The reason is that not only does it have a wild and pristine beauty with pure environment being good for your health, but an interesting magical legendary as well. Located approximately 20 kilometers from  the town of Ha Tinh province, Thien Cam has been well known and praised as a romantic and pristine beach recently. The beach is bound by Thien Cam Mountain, which makes a beautiful landscape of the harmony of sea and mountain. Thien Cam beach’s beauty is also added by Yen Lac Pagoda where tourists can explore the architecture style of the 13th century and contemplate the famous old picture of “The Kings of Hell’s Ten Palaces”. It has been told from generation to generation that here used to be a favour destination of the first King of Vietnam - Hung King where he could relax on the mountain and listen to the rhythmical sound of ocean.

Lang Co – the sea legendary
Known as a wild picturesque sea view, Lang Co is the ideal beach for summer vacation and wild beauty discovery! Lang Co is a famous beach of Thua Thien-Hue Province, best known for its ever most beautiful natural landscapes and pure sea wildness. Strategically situated inside the zone of 3 World Heritage Conservation Centers (Hue ancient citadel, Hoi An old town, and My Son holy land), Lang Co is only 30 kilometers from Da Nang, and 70 kilometers from Hue. Accordingly, this helps develop diversified types of tourism, and keeps tourists to stay there longer. Lang Co is attached to a number of beautiful names by admiring tourists, some of which are “Beautiful lady of fishing village”, “Greater beauty than picture”, and so forth. You will soon discover the names’ derivation once you have come here.

Bach Ma - Centre of flora Diversity in Vietnam
Open your tourist map, you can easily find the position of Vietnam’s center of flora diversity - Bach Ma National Park. It is located in central Vietnam, in Thua Thien Hue province, around 700 km south of the country's capital Hanoi and 1,000 km north of Ho Chi Minh City.  The park covers an area of about 22,000 ha in the districts of Phu Loc and Nam Dong. Bach Ma mountain peak is the highest point in the park, with 1450-m altitude and only 18 km away from the coast. The climate in Bach Ma National Park is tropical with two distinct seasons, dry season and rainy season, caused by monsoon. Hence, tourists might be surprised at the changeable weather, which goes from sunshine to darkness, and clouds to rains. Mainly from September to December, it receives approximately 8,000-mm rainfall each year. You can encounter hot and dry winds from May to August and even typhoon from June to November.

Phong Nha-Ke Bang, National Park – a fabulous Heaven Land
The Nature has awarded Vietnam a fabulous Wonder with grandiose green tropical jungles, nice & mysterious caves & grottoes, and the Asia’s oldest limestone mountains.., that is, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. Phong Nha - Ke Bang (or Vườn quốc gia Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng in Vietnamese) is a huge national park located in Bo Trach and Minh Hoa Districts of central Quang Binh Province, in north-central Vietnam. The National Park is about 500 kilometers south of the nation's capital, Hanoi. The park was created to protect one of the world's two largest karst regions with around 300 caves and grottoes, and the ecosystem of limestone forest of the Annamite Range. The core zone of this national park covers 85,754 hectares, which are divided into three zones, a "strictly protected zone" (64,894 km²), an "ecological recovery zone" (17,449 km²), and an "administrative service zone" (3,411 km²). The plateau is probably one of the finest and most distinctive examples of a complex karst landform in Southeast Asia.