If you are tired of the complexities and worries of your daily life, why don’t you give yourself a peaceful vacation in dreamy Hue? Coming to Hue is like returning to the stillness, the slowness and the deposition of time. If you set your feet in Hue, don’t forget to do these top 10 best things to do in Hue.
The ancient capital of Hue still retains the tangible and intangible cultural heritage that showcases many values symbolizing the wisdom and soul of the Vietnamese people. For several centuries, the quintessence of the whole country has been refined by a rich culture. Therefore, when thinking of Hue, people immediately remember the citadel, the golden palace, the magnificent temples, the majestic tombs, the wonderful landscapes. Here are the best things to do in Hue!
The Hue Citadel – The historical trace of the last dynasty of Vietnam
The Hue Citadel is located on the north bank of the Perfume River, Hue City, Thua Thien – Hue province. The Hue Citadel’s building is the ingenious combination between Western architecture and Eastern architecture. The Hue Citadel is the pride of Hue people, which has the beauty of coolness and majesty.
Inside the Citadel, is the Thai Hoa Palace, which is a place of imperialism; and the Forbidden City – the residence of the king and the royal family. The other relics inside the Citadel that you cannot miss are the Flag Pole, Hue Temple of Literature, Dien Tho Palace, Tinh Tam Lake, Hue Royal Maritime Museum. I am sure you will admire and be surprised by the pride and beauty of the architecture here.
Visiting time from 7:00 to 17:00 every day.
Fares apply to both Vietnamese and foreigner : 150,000 VND per person.
Going back to the glorious past – The ancient tombs of the Nguyen dynasty’s kings
If you come to Hue, you can see, in addition to the important ancient Citadel in history, the vestiges of the Nguyen dynasties that are preserved in magnificent tombs, temples and palaces. There are four most important and well-known mausoleums. They include Ming Mang, Khai Dinh, Tu Duc and Gia Long. They are located on the west side of Hue Citadel and are not close to each other. The positions of these tombs in turn are Cam Khe mountain, Huong Tho commune, Huong Tra town, Thua Thien – Hue province (Minh Mang Tomb); Khai Dinh, Thuy Bang Commune, Hue City (Khai Dinh Tomb); Thuong Ba village, Thuy Xuan ward, Hue city (Tu Duc Tomb) and Dinh Mon village, Huong Tho commune, Huong Tra district, Thua Thien-Hue Province (Gia Long tomb).
The royal tombs in Hue were built through magnificent construction surrounded by a special terrain covered by hills and trees. Around the tomb, the king asked workers to build many large palaces. If you have the opportunity to visit the ancient capital, don’t forget to visit the tombs in Hue.
Visiting time from 7:00 to 17:00 every day.
Ticket: 100,000 VND per person.
Enjoy Hue folk songs on the Perfume River
An Orchestra of performers sing Hue folk songs, which include musicians dressing Ao dai’s and turban’s, playing musical instruments such as erhu, moon lute, flute and gourd lute.
Why don’t you try floating down the Perfume River on a Dragon Boat and listen to Hue folk songs? The boat ride starts off by leaving the harbor down the Huong River. At night, the citadel on both sides of the river and is decorated in colored lights. In the middle of the river, the boat’s engine will be shut down and it will float down the river, returning to a quiet space on the river and the music performance will start. The singer’s sweet voices and melodic sound will relax you. We believe that this is a great experience you should not miss.
Tickets for Hue folk songs on the Perfume River: 100,000 VND per Vietnamese
150,000 VND per foreigner
Admiring Trang Tien Bridge and the Perfume River
These are the most famous symbols that are associated with each other when people think about Hue:
The Perfume River – The graceful muse of Hue
The river flows through Hue city, districts and towns: Huong Tra, Huong Thuy and Phu Vang. During the day, the Huong River brings a peaceful and poetic beauty to the city. The jade-colored river shines next to the view of the city on calm surface water. On the banks of the river, the architectural work includes temples and beautiful gardens reflecting on the smooth flow of the river. When the sun sets, the river lights up in a light purple colour, which is where it gets its poetic reputation from. The Perfume River, which flows year-round in the city, is always a must-see destination for tourists who come to Hue.
Trang Tien Bridge – Remnant of heroic history
Trang Tien Bridge is a bridge spanning the Perfume River of Hue City. The length of bridge is 402.6 meters. The north of the bridge is in Phu Hoa ward and the south in Phu Hoi ward. After more than 100 years of history, the charming Truong Tien Bridge on the poetic land has undergone many changes and traumatic events with the ancient capital of Hue. The position and fate over the past 100 years has made Truong Tien Bridge become a part of the history of the ancient land. Although there are many other bridges crossing the Perfume River such as Bach Ho Bridge, Phu Xuan Bridge, Bai Dau Bridge, Trang Tien Bridge is still the most distinctive bridge of the Hue dreamland. When in Hue during present times, visitors still want to go over the Trang Tien bridge to see the curving bridges reflecting the river, the boats quietly float under the bridge and the rows of red phoenix flowers on both sides of the river.
Thien Mu Pagoda – a silent place in the heart of Hue ancient capital
Hue is known as the Buddhist Centre of Viet Nam. There are more than 300 ancient pagodas in the city. Among those, Thien Mu Pagoda is the oldest, that is more than 400 years old. This is an ancient temple situated on Ha Khe hill, on the left bank of the Perfume River. It is about 5 km from the west of Hue City.
The sound of Thien Mu bell is not only the soul but also the heart of this dreamy land. The pagoda is designed with a unique and impressive architectural style. The Phuoc Duyen Tower is beautiful symbolic link to the Thien Mu Pagoda. Its height is 21 metres. It has seven story’s and is located in front of the pagoda. On each storey, there is a statue of a Buddha. When you come here, you will pour out all your sorrow, anxiety, keep your soul at peace and take you back a gentle nature.
Getting lost in the fairy realm on the top of Bach Ma
Bach Ma is the name of a famous mountain range in Hue. The scene here is like a fairyland covered in clouds and mist. The space is like a majestic and charming picture. Bach Ma Mountain attracts tourists due to its waterfalls and green forests. In particular, the climate here is cool, not as sultry as Hue city. Standing on the top of Bach Ma mountain, tourists may feel like they are in Sapa, Dalat or Tam Dao. Bach Ma Mountain area has an extremely diverse and rich biological resources. Whilst visiting Bach Ma Mountain, in addition to enjoying the sight of the sky and clouds, tourists can also visit a rich natural world.
Bach Ma has about 501 species of plants; 55 rare and precious animals. Walking on small trails leading to the forest, visitors can easily catch up with animals and strange birds such as white-spotted pheasants, delacour’s langur, ‘sao la’ (pseudoryx nghetinhensis), monkeys. Furthermore, you can visit Vong Hai Dai, the highest point on the top of Bach Ma. From Vong Hai Dai, visitors can observe the whole bellowing scenery with beautiful Lang Co bay and romantic Truoi Lake.
Ticket: 60,000 VND for 1 adult
20,000 VND for 1 child.
Lang Co Bay – the impermanent in the breath of nature
Lang Co beach stretches for about 10km and is located in Lang Co town, Phu Loc district, Thua Thien – Hue province, close to Highway 1A and near Hai Van pass. Lang Co is poetic with white sand dunes, clear blue sea and ranges of green mountains. Coming here, people stretch their chests to take a deep breath, give up the noise and dust of city. Setting foot on this coastal area to see Lang Co’s bright smile and the smell of the sea, you will feel how relaxed you are. Being able to watch a sunset from the white sand beach would be a blessing in itself.
Sunset over Tam Giang lagoon
Tam Giang Lagoon is located in the 4 districts of Phong Dien, Quang Dien, Huong Tra and Phu Vang in Thua Thien-Hue Province. It’s wild beauty makes everyone feel excited yet relaxed at the same time. Tam Giang Lagoon is the biggest lagoon in Southeast Asia and a lifeline for many locals. We recommend that you should go for a boat ride and watch the sunset over the lake between 16:00 – 17:30, depending on the season. Don’t forget to buy seafood here! Everything is fresh, delicious and very cheap.
Wearing purple Ao dai – Elegant symbol of Hue women
In the middle of this heritage city, you’ll see a glimpse of the purple ‘Ao Dai’ on a Hue girl holding a conical leaf hat. It seems to have become a cultural characteristic of this gentle land. Ao Dai’s are available all over Vietnam, yet the purple Ao Dai is iconic in Hue. Feel free to dress up in your very own purple Ao Dai to make your Hue experience more memorable!
Immerse yourself in the cuisine of Hue
Hue is famous for a number of delicious must-try dishes such as:
Hue noodles with beef
The dish is famous in three regions and around the world because of the typical flavor that reminds people of the ancient capital. It has a bold taste and is made up of round and soft bun noodles, bone broth, meat rolls and thinly sliced beef, chopped green onions and red chili. A Hue beef noodle bowl is usually sold at a price between 20,000 – 30,000 VND. Some well-known addresses that visitors can order the most delicious noodles are Dong Ba Market, Hai Ba Trung Market, Ly Thuong Kiet Street, O Cam Restaurant on Tran Cao Van Street. The best time to eat is from 6:00a.m to 11:00a.m.
Rice dumpling cake, bloating fern-shaped cake, ‘nam’cake
These cakes are usually made from rice flour and cassava. They are small and wrapped in banana leaves. In the heart of the cake are green beans or chopped shrimp and pork. Pretty cakes are sold in everywhere in Hue, but the center of the city is probably the most popular venue, especially Le Huan, To Hien Thanh and Phan Dinh Phung Street. You just pay about 30,000VNĐ.
Baby Basket Clams Rice
The main ingredient of this rustic dish are baby mussels or basket clams and leftover rice. However, the spices are crucial to the dishes success, which includes cold star fruit, aromatic herbs, banana flower, fish sauce, pepper, onion, salt, sesame, chili, fried pork skin, raw fish sauce, peanuts roasted with whole-grains and oil. All of them must be cold. Only the mussel water must be kept hot.
This dish appears everywhere from the small restaurants in the market to the streets to the luxurious restaurants in Hue city. You can eat mussel rice in small restaurants along the streets of Con Hen District such as Truong Dinh, Pham Hong Thai, and Ung Binh Streets. A blow will cost you about 10.000-30.000 VND.
Sweet soup is a specialty in Hue, with hundreds of different types, including the 36 Hue royal gruels. If you like aromatic and sweet tastes, you can choose sweet lotus seed gruel, green bean gruel, cassava gruel, sweet taro pudding with coconut gruel or white cow-pea with coconut gruel. And if you like fruit, sweet mung bean gruel, pineapple green gruel, pomegranate gruel and mixed fruits are great choices. You can find hundreds of delicious gruels in small shops on Hung Vuong, Tran Phu, Phan Boi Chau and Truong Dinh streets for about 10.000 VND per a bowl.
Hue is a beautiful and peaceful city that has many things to do. It is definitely worth a visit!