Hue is located in Thua Thien - Hue Province in central Vietnam, home to many World Heritage properties. Thanks to its rich historical past, Hue has much to offer: the magnificent Hue Citadel, numerous pagodas, imperial heritage and palaces, festivals, folk culture, craft villages, and dazzling culinary cuisines. Hue is one of Vietnam's imperial capitals that has been kept almost intact.
Population of Thua Thien - Hue Province (2019): 1.28 mil, Hue City: 480,000
Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Co Tu, Bru - Van Kieu, Hoa, Ta Oi
Highlights: Complex of Hue Monuments, Royal Tombs, Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda, Lang Co Beach, Bach Ma National Park
Hue has a tropical monsoon climate with 4 distinctive seasons: spring, very hot summer, windy autumn, and cold winter. The average annual temperature is 25.5oC (78oF). The most suitable time to visit Hue is from November to April. The rainy season is from September to November. Precipitation is about 2,682 mm (105.6 inches) per year.
Hue is 85 km from Da Nang, 654 km from Hanoi, 1,051 km from Ho Chi Minh City, 166 km from Dong Hoi, and 368 km from Vinh.
Most people will travel to Hue through 2 options:
1) Take a domestic flight from Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport or Ho Chi Minh's Tan Son Nhat International Airport to Phu Bai's airport at Hue; or take an international flight to land at Phu Bai International Airport at Hue.
2) Take a bus tour from Da Nang
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Phu Bai International Airport is 15 km southeast of Hue City Center. Domestic Airlines include Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, and Vietjet Air. There are international flights between Hue and Bangkok (Thailand), Jakarta (Indonesia), Vientiane (Laos), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Manila (Philippines), and Siem Reap (Cambodia).
Bus Stations in Hue
Dong Ba Bus Station (view map): a small bus station, this is 1 km from the Imperial City
North Bus Station (view map): located 5 km north of the Imperial City
South Bus Station (view map): located 4 km south of the Imperial City
Motorbike rentals are along Hung Vuong and Le Loi Streets for VND 120,000 - 250,000 per day.
Hue Railway Station (view map) 1 Bui Thi Xuan Street, Hue City. The trains from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh stop here and vise versa.
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Taxis are available almost everywhere in the city. Some of the taxi brands are Mai Linh, Gili, Thanh Do, etc.
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Ngo Mon Meridian Gate (view map)
Tu Cam Thanh
Phu Van Lau (view map)
This 1st outermost boundary has a perimeter of 9,950 m with 13 gates on 4 sides.
The Imperial Citadel is the 2nd rampart with a perimeter of 2,450 m and accessible through 4 gates: 1) Ngo Mon (Meridian Gate) to the south, 2) Hoa Binh (Peace Gate) to the north, 3) Hien Nhon (Humanity) to the east, and 4) Chuong Duc (Virtue) to the west. Ngo Mon is the main gate.
This 3rd and innermost royal complex has a perimeter of 1,225 m and accessible through 7 gates. It was a city within a city. Formerly reserved for the private use of kings, concubines, and selected servants, the Forbidden Purple Citadel was isolated from the outside world. Disappointingly, most of the buildings were destroyed by American bombings in the 1960s.
Constructed in 1805, this palace was the most important building used for court ceremonies of the former capital. This is also where the golden throne of the king is located.
Serving as the main entrance to the Imperial Citadel, this 3-story structure is 58 m long, 27.5 m wide, and 17 m high. During the reign of the Nguyen Kings, the gate was only opened when the kings were passing through or receiving foreign ambassadors. Ngo Mon comprised of 5 entrances with the central entrance reserved for the kings, the 2 adjacent entrances were for the court officials, and the 2 outer entrances for servants.
As one of the many shrines and temples dedicated to the royals of the Nguyen Dynasty, The To Mieu was built in 1921 to worship King Gia Long and later his successors. This was where the court held grand funeral services. Up to 10 kings are now worshipped at The To Mieu.
The urns represented the power and stability of the Nguyen Dynasty and were cast between 1835 - 1837 weighing 1,900 to 2,601 kg each. The designs include the sun, moon, clouds, rivers, mountains, and everyday life.
This 3-story building is 25 m high and was built within the site of The To Mieu. The pavilion was built to remind the younger generations of the merits and contributions of the Nguyen Dynasty.
Reserved for the private use of kings and their families, the complex included other palaces, such as Can Chanh Palace (King's Residence) (view map), Khon Thai Palace (Queen's Residence) (view map), Dien Tho Palace (King's mother's residence) (view map), and Truong Sinh Palace (King's paternal grandmother's residence) (view map). From the war, unfortunately, most palaces were destroyed except for Dien Tho, built in 1804, and Truong Sinh palaces.
Built in the 7th year of Ming Mang's reign in 1826 at the Forbidden Citadel, it is considered as the oldest theater in Vietnam. The theater was the performance place for kings, royal family, mandarins, and national guests of the Nguyen Dynasty.
There are 8 royal tombs as the final resting places of the Nguyen Kings in Hue. Each tomb was meticulously built facing southwest (the direction of the Imperial City) and constructed when the kings were still alive. Each tomb consists of 2 complexes with the 1st reserving for funeral services and the 2nd for the tomb. Generally, all of the tombs have similar architectural designs and enclosed by a surrounding rampart, but the internal configuration is different reflecting the personality and preference of each monarch.
Khai Dinh's tomb was constructed between 1920 - 1931 in a vast wilderness on top of the Chau E Mountains, 10 km from Hue. It is accessible by climbing 109 stone steps.
Tu Duc's Tomb is also known as the Tomb of Modesty. Considered as one of the most beautiful royal tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty, it was built from 1864 - 1867. In the tomb, there is a stone stele inscribed with the words Khiem Cung narrative composed by King Tu Duc about this life, imperial causes, misadventures, and diseases. The stone stele weighs 20 tons and stands 5 m high.
In an area of 12 hectares, there are 50 architectural works at the site. Their names all include the word "khiem" meaning "modesty", such as Luu Khiem Lake, Tinh Khiem Islet, Hoa Kiem Palace, Luong Khiem Palace, and Minh Khiem Duong Theater, etc. Twice a day, there are performance programs of Hue's royal music that often recite King Tu Duc's poems.
Minh Mang's tomb was constructed from 1840 - 1843 in an enclosed hilly area 12 km from the center of Hue. It can be accessed by crossing the river by boat docked at Tuan Wharf or by car from the way to Thien Mu Pagoda.
Located 16 km from the center of Hue and 2 km from the bank of the Perfume River, the Tomb of Gia Long is on top of the Thien Tho Mountains, widely covered with a canopy of old pine trees. The construction of the tomb was from 1814 - 1820. There is a lotus pond at the front and a large terraced yard in the back.
The tomb is accessible by boat from the Perfume River.
The 80 km-long river gets its name from flowing through many forests of aromatic plants before reaching Hue. As one of the popular things to do in Hue, visitors can take a boat excursion on the river to visit sites such as Da Vien, Phu Xuan, Truong Tien Bridges (view map), Thien Mu Pagoda (view map), Tomb of Minh Mang (view map), Hon Chen Temple (view map), Thuan An, etc.
Thien Mu Pagoda, also known as Linh Mu Pagoda, is one of the ancient architectural structures of worship in Hue. Situated on the left bank of the Perfume River on Ha Khe Hill, it was built in the 17th century. The most striking feature of the pagoda is the Phuoc Duyen Tower, built by King Thieu Tri in 1844. Each of the tower's 7 stories is dedicated to a Buddha appearing in human forms. To the left of the tower, there is a pavilion sheltering an enormous bronze bell called Dai Hong Chung, which was cast in 1710. Considered an outstanding achievement in bronze casting in the 18th century, the bell weights 3,285 kg and 1.4 m in circumference. To the right of the tower, dating from 1715, there is a massive marble turtle symbolizing longevity.
Thien Mu Pagoda can be accessed either by car or by boat. Learn more about Thien Mu Pagoda.
The museum is located in an area of more than 6,000 m2. There are more than 10,000 antiques of the Nguyen Dynasty and other objects of the Cham and Chinese ethnicities.
Mount Ngu Binh, also known as Bang Son Mountain, is located 3 km from Hue's city center. It is 105 m high. Along with the Perfume River, Mount Ngu Binh is a significant symbol of Hue. The ancient capital was sometimes called Huong-Ngu City, referring to the mountain and the river.
Huyen Tran Cultural Center is dedicated to Princess Huyen Tran and the mandarins from the Tran Dynasty, who were credited for expanding Vietnam's territory to the South in the 14th century. Located 7 km west of Hue's city center, the area complex of 28 hectares includes Huyen Tran Temple, three-door gate, King-Monk Tran Nhan Tong (Princess Huyen Tran's father) Temple, Octagonal pavilion, Truc Lam Temple, temples of the mountain God and the water God, Bo De Garden, etc.
Located 13 km from Hue's city center, Thuan An Beach is the spot for relaxation. It is a popular local beach, particularly from April to September when people want to cool down from the hot weather. Daily bus tickets to Thuan An Beach can be bought at Dong Ba Bus Station (view map), on the north bank of the Perfume River.
Private gardens of decorative ornamental plants, fruit orchards, and colorful flowers are a characteristic of Hue. Some famous garden houses include An Hien (view map) and Ben Xuan Garden House Theater (view map).
An Hien Garden House
Currently under renovation. This arena was formerly reserved for entertaining kings and high ranking officials. 4 km from the city center of Hue, it was constructed in 1830 under King Minh Mang for tiger and elephant fights. The last fight happened in 1904 under the reign of King Thanh Thai.
Stretching 10 km along National Road 1, Lang Co Beach offers views of white sand, clear shallow water, and rows of coconut trees. Popular activities at Lang Co include sun-bathing, golf, diving, tennis, and fishing. Other sights at Lang Co are the Chan May Mountain, Tu Hien Estuary, fishing villages, natural springs, caves, and waterfalls.
Bach Ma National Park is 50 km south of Hue with the best time to visit to be from February to September. The park is around 3 other cultural world heritage sites including the Complex of Hue Monuments (view map), My Son Sanctuary (view map), and Hoi An Ancient Town (view map), so it's best to plan these sites to visit together when in Vietnam. Read more on Hoi An Travel Guide.
The highest peak is the Hai Vong Dai (Sea Observation Post) at 1,450 m high offering a panoramic view of the sea and surrounding scenery of mountain and forest. In addition, there's the Do Quyen Waterfall measuring 300 m high and 30 m wide and the Bac Chi Waterfall. Bach Ma Park is a nice place for outdoor activities like camping and hiking.
The monastery is located 30 km south of Hue. To reach the zen monastery, visitors have to take a 15 minutes boat ride to cross Truoi Lake and then climb 172 steps to view the 24 m Buddha statue on Linh son Mountain.
This tourist site is 40 km south of Hue. Besides the waterfall, there are various rocks scattered conjuring a herd of baby elephants playing with each other, hence the name Elephant Spring.
Approximately 8 km from Hue, Duong No village is where Ho Chi Minh spent his childhood. Visitors can see the Ho Chi Minh Memorial House (view map) in its former architecture and enjoy the surrounding river view.
Located 70 km southwest of Hue, A Luoi is a district inhabited by the Pa Co and Ta Oi ethnic groups. The area is famous is its unique weaving skills, namely knitting glass beads together with cloth thread.
Hue pancake wrapping with pork, shrimp, quail egg, bean sprouts, carrots, and scallions
Rice topped with baby clams and basil
Experience local culture and buy fresh produce at these local markets:
Hue Festival only happens every other year in even years of national and international scale. In April or May, international art troupes worldwide flock to participate in the Hue Festival with art programs representing cultural differences of 5 continents. Other activities at the celebration include food festivals, contests, fairs, and exhibitions.
Gia Lac Spring Fair is from the 1st to the 3rd of the 1st lunar month. Located at Nam Pho Village, the fair was created during King Minh Mang's reign (1820 - 1840) as a place to exchange goods and provide entertainment.
Sinh Village Wrestling Festival happens on the 10th day of the 1st lunar month on the southern bank of the Perfume River at Phu Vang District. Wrestlers from other martial art schools in Hue and the surrounding districts come to compete in this ancestral tradition at Sinh Village.
Cau Ngu Festival is on the 12th day of the 1st lunar month in Huong Hai to celebrate Truong Quy Cong, also known as Truong Thieu, who taught the locals how to fish and trade.
Hon Chen Temple Festival is on the 3rd and 7th lunar months at Hon Chen Temple (view map) on Ngoc Tran Mountain. The festival celebrates the Holy Mother Thien Y Ana who, according to Cham legends, created land, trees, and taught the people how to grow the trees.
Tourism Department: 35 Nguyen Hue Street, Hue City
Tourism Promotion Center: 1 Pham Hong Thai Street, Hue City
Post Office: (view map) 8 Hoang Hoa Tham Street, Hue
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