Hue is one of Central Vietnam’s major cities. It’s the perfect combination of the old and the new, so you’ll never have to question what to do in Hue. If you’re into cultural travel, Hue’s a great start. Now read on your ultimate Hue travel guide to find out more about the many charms of this ancient city.
In this article, we'll share with you:
Hue’s an ancient city but that doesn’t mean Vietnam’s former capital lacks things to do. In fact, you may be blown away by the myriad of possibilities, so here are our top picks what to do in Hue:
The Imperial City was where the kings of the Nguyen dynasty - Vietnam’s last royal family - ruled and worked. It’s an impressive complex full of palaces, temples, and residences that you’d expect in a feudal court, so visiting this place will give you a thorough look into Vietnam’s history.
Though much of the original buildings were destroyed during the wartime, the Vietnam government has gradually restored many of the architectures. Now there are 14 monuments that you can take a look at inside the Imperial City, and 3 more inside the Forbidden Citadel. You can take time to see every nook and cranny of the Imperial City (prepare to spend over 3 hours!), or choose to visit some memorable structures only.
Some of our favorite ones are Ngo Mon (Meridian Gate), Thai Hoa Palace, Thai To Mieu, Truong Sinh Palace, and Duyet Thi Duong Royal Theatre.
Tip: Buy a lot of water bottles outside (about 1 liter per person) if you’re visiting all the monuments. The trip’s going to be quite dehydrating, and the price of goods sold inside the Imperial City is 2 - 3 times higher than normal.
The magnificence of the Imperial City exudes from its architecture
You’re never going to ask what to do in Hue if you’ve seen the lists of royal tombs around the city. Because they’re the final resting places for emperors, all of them are beautifully and intricately decorated. There are 7 tombs in total, but visitors usually choose to visit only the tombs of Minh Mang, Khai Dinh, and Tu Duc. Each has a style of their own: Minh Mang Tomb has an expansive ground filled with peaceful, green sceneries, Khai Dinh Tomb is the definition of extravagance thanks to its mixed architecture of the East and the West, while Tu Duc Tomb was praised as one of the most beautiful architectures of the 19th century with soft lines and poetic features.
Khai Dinh Tomb’s architecture has a French influence
|Imperial City||VND 200,000||VND 40,000|
|Minh Mang Tomb/ Khai Dinh Tomb/ Tu duc Tomb||VND 150,000||VND 30,000|
|Gia Long Tomb/ Thieu Tri Tomb/ Dong Khanh Tomb||VND 50,000||Free|
|(Combo) Imperial City, Minh Mang Tomb, and Khai Dinh Tomb||VND 420,000||VND 80,000|
|(Combo) Imperial City, Minh Mang Tomb, Khai Dinh Tomb, and Tu Duc Tomb||VND 530,000||VND 100,000|
|All Relics||VND 580,000||VND 110,000|
*Children under 7 years old: Free
Any Hue travel guide will tell you never to miss Thien Mu Pagoda. Just 4 kilometers outside the city center, this holy structure is the unofficial symbol of Hue. Visitors love its romantic surrounding, sensational backstory, and Vietnam’s national treasure - a marble turtle stele, while locals admire Thien Mu Pagoda for its holiness.
The Hue Royal Refined Music was once Vietnam’s national music, often performed in royal events for different rituals. Although the rituals are lost now, Hue Royal Refined Music still lives on, telling us stories and beliefs of the past. You can watch the performance of this music in Duyet Thi Duong Theater in the Imperial City or on dragon boats on the Perfume River for a fantastic night view (you’ll also get to release paper lanterns!)
If you’re wondering what to do in Hue at night, besides listening to Hue Royal Refined Music on the Perfume River, check out Hue’s top bars and clubs where a nice mix of young locals and travelers hang out, namely: the Brown Eyes Bar and the DMZ Bar. Alternatively, take a night Hue food tour, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many goodies this land has to offer. A unique snack that you should not miss is the savory and sweet Roasted Pork Sweet Soup sold at Che Mo Ton Dich by the Perfume River.
Brown Eyes Bar has a lively dance floor on the inside and a laid-back atmosphere on the outside
Just an hour away from Hue, Bach Ma National Park is the definition of biodiversity and a dream getaway for any bird enthusiast as it featured over ⅓ of bird species in Vietnam. Plan a two-day trip here for a complete retreat, hike the refreshing trails full of greeneries, and learn about wildlife in Vietnam!
If you’re wondering what to do in Hue in your last hours in the city, shopping for souvenirs is a great choice. Not only will you get something to remember Hue by, but you’ll also get to have a look at specialties made in the region. Some unique souvenirs that any Hue travel guide will tell you to buy are:
Hue conical hat
Chewy sesame bar
Discover more Things to Do in Hue
Hue has a diverse range of accommodations that cater to all budgets and preferences. You can choose to stay in the city center, near the Perfume River, for a romantic yet convenient location. Or you can opt for somewhere more secluded to admire the peacefulness of Hue.
Situated on the banks of the Perfume River, this majestic colonial villa will make all its guests feel like royalties during their stay.
Book a stay at Azerai La Residence
Azerai La Residence is one of the top 10 deluxe hotels in Vietnam
For those who love serenity, Pilgrimage Village, which sits near the Royal Tombs, will give them a complete retreat. Lush, natural forests surround all accommodation options (including huts and bungalows!).
Book a stay at Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa
Guests at Pilgrimage Village will feel like they’ve taken a walk back in time
Cherish Hue Hotel is located in the heart of the city so guests will have easy access to many entertainments. Other perks are spa treatments, a fitness center, and an excellent restaurant serving delectable delicacies.
Book a stay at Cherish Hue Hotel
Look for more places to stay in Hue:
Now that we’ve covered what to do in Hue, let’s dive into the best drinks and best dishes in Hue. Hue cuisine generally relies on spices, so prepare to have all your senses awakened while chowing down on the delicacies. Moreover, each serving is usually small so one can order multiple portions in one go. Below are top recommendations that both locals and international visitors can’t praise enough:
In Vietnam, Bun Bo Hue is just as famous as Pho. It’s made up of beef, pork, chewy noodles, onion, lemongrass, crab sausage...etc. All combine to form a bowl aromatic, hot noodle soup that’ll satisfy every taste bud. Where’s better to try this Vietnamese staple noodle soup than in its homeland?
Different Types of Banh
The only Hue dishes that are as famous as Bun Bo Hue are Hue’s collection of various types of savory Banh. In general, the “Banh” is made from rice flour or tapioca flour. Then it’s topped or filled with mouth-watering fillings like shrimp, pork, and mung beans. Some noteworthy choices are Banh Beo, Banh Khoai, Banh Bot Loc...etc.
Banh Beo Chen - Water Fern Cakes in Small Bowls - can be eaten in one bite
Sweet soup is a kind of Vietnamese dessert that usually contains various nuts, beans, fruits, jellies, and coconut milk. Thanks to its versatility in pairing different ingredients, there are countless types of sweet soup. Some must-try names in Hue are the lotus seed sweet soup, banana sweet soup, and roasted pork sweet soup!
Vietnamese sweet soup typically contains fruits
We all know that Vietnam is the land of fantastic coffee. Vietnamese love coffee so much that we’ve created numerous unique versions of it, including the new “salt coffee” in Hue. The strong phin-filtered coffee pairs so well with the salty layer of froth on top that it creates a lingering, soft taste on the tongue. Try it for yourself at number 10, Nguyen Luong Bang Street, Hue City.
Salt coffee has a salty, thick froth on top of the coffee
Hue City has Phu Bai International Airport (HUI), which gives us the option of flying to Hue from within the country and from abroad. It is 13 kilometers away and you can either travel to and from the airport by taxi (VND 180,000 - VND 160,000) or by bus number 2 and 11 (VND 5,000 - VND 20,000/ticket)
Phu Bai Airport is quite small, so it may take you longer to complete immigration procedures. Moreover, there’s only 1 cafe and 1 souvenir shop in the waiting area, which is not ideal to buy some last-minute souvenirs.
Phu Bai Airport
Hue City’s 121 kilometers from Hoi An and 105 kilometers from Da Nang. Because there’s no airport in Hoi An and no direct flight from Da Nang to Hue, the three viable options are:
It’ll take three hours to get to Hue from Hoi An and over two hours from Da Nang. Although the distance is not very short, the route is quite easy to follow so you won’t have to worry about getting lost.
Motorbike rental cost in Hoi An and Da Nang: VND 150,000 - VND 250,000/day/bike.
Before hitting the road, read these cautions on driving in Vietnam
The train is an easy and cheap option that non-riders can consider to get from Da Nang to Hue. With around VND 160,000/ticket and a 4-hour train ride, travelers will go through the beautiful train routes connecting the two cities. Most astonishing of which is the Lang Co Beach.
Fee: VND 200,000 - VND 300,000 (from Hoi An) and VND 120,000 - VND 170,000 (from Da Nang)
Duration: 3 - 5 hours (from Hoi An), 2 - 3 hours (from Da Nang)
If you don’t have a lot of time, private buses may be your best bet. Two recommendable companies are TheSinh Tourist and Hoang Long.
Lang Co Beach is one of Vietnam’s most romantic beaches
There are three prevalent choices to get from Hanoi to Hue:
You can choose the most suitable transportation according to your budget and time, however, we highly recommend using the plane as it offers the most convenience, yet the price isn’t so much higher than the other choices.
For more detailed information, see our Hanoi to Hue travel guide
Because it’s almost 1000 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City to Hue, taking the train or riding the motorbike will be a toll on both your time and your health. Therefore, we recommend taking the plane. A few airlines to check out are: VietJet, Vietnam Airlines, and Bamboo Airways.
Fee: VND 600,000 - VND 1,500,000/ticket
Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Find your bus/train/plane tickets online to plan your trip:
Hue is an up-and-rising city with endless things to discover and enjoy. Therefore, we hope that our “What to Do in Hue Travel Guide” has helped you plan a perfect trip to feel this exciting city fully.
Read more on First Time in Hue.
© Written by Ngan Mai for itourvn.com