Hue Vietnam - Things to do and see

Last updated - January 27, 2024
Hue Vietnam - Things to do and see

Hue Vietnam is renowned for its majestic royal mausoleums, grand imperial citadel, and enchanting pagodas. With its captivating blend of history and culture, Hue attracts not only architecture enthusiasts but also discerning travelers in search of unforgettable holidays.

In addition to its architectural wonders, Hue boasts a vibrant culinary scene that tantalizes the taste buds and adds to the city's allure, making it an ideal destination.

Table of contents


Location of Hue Vietnam

Situated in the heart of central Vietnam, Hue city serves as the capital of Hue province, a captivating coastal province that embraces its borders with Quang Tri province to the north, Da Nang city to the south.

Hue location in the map

And between Laos to the west and the vast expanse of the East Sea to the east, this region is blessed with natural wonders and diverse landscapes. A prominent feature of the province is the scenic Perfume River, stretching across 80 kilometers, while the coastline extends for an impressive 128 kilometers.

History of Hue Vietnam

Hue has a rich historical background that dates back to ancient times. Originally part of the Champa Kingdom, the region came under Vietnamese occupation. In 1687, Hue became the feudal capital under the rule of the nine Nguyen lords of the Inner Realm, which encompassed Central and Southern Vietnam. This period lasted until 1775.

Following this, the Tay Son brothers seized control of Hue, establishing it as the administrative capital from 1788 to 1801. However, their reign came to an end, and Emperor Gia Long (Nguyen Anh), a descendant of the Nguyen lords, recaptured Hue, restoring it as the imperial capital. This pivotal event in 1802 marked the reunification of the Vietnamese monarchy under the Nguyen dynasty, which would endure for over a century until 1945.

A monument in Hue Vietnam

During the reign of the Nguyen dynasty, Hue flourished as a center of culture, art, and governance. The city became renowned for its imperial architecture, palaces, and elaborate royal rituals.
Today, remnants of this illustrious past can still be admired in the form of the Imperial City, royal mausoleums, and other historical sites, offering visitors a glimpse into Vietnam's rich heritage.

How to get to Hue Vietnam

Hue is in the center of Vietnam. It is about 700 km away from Hanoi capital and more than 1100 km from Ho Chi Minh city.

Hue is conveniently served by Phu Bai Airport, located a mere 15 kilometers from the city center. Travelers have the option to reach Hue via direct flights provided by reputable airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo airways and Vietjet Air from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

The flight duration typically exceeds one hour, and ticket prices range from approximately 70 USD to 120 USD, depending on booking class and airline company.

Another way is by train to Hue Train Station located in the city center. You can enjoy a 13 hour overnight train from Hanoi to Hue. Or a 19 hour train from Ho Chi Minh city to Hue.

Train to Hue railway station

Although travel by train to Hue will take more time, it will be a chance to enjoy the beautiful landscapes 2 sides of the railway, especially through the coastline.

Bus is available but it will take time. However we do not recommend it due to the complicated traffic in Vietnam.

What to do in Hue Vietnam

With its enchanting blend of ancient architecture and idyllic natural scenes, Hue exudes a serene and tranquil ambiance, offering a delightful respite for those who travel to Vietnam's former capital.

The city's rich historical heritage is beautifully preserved in its imperial structures, ornate palaces, and sacred pagodas, evoking a sense of awe and wonder. Meanwhile, the surrounding landscapes of lush greenery, picturesque rivers, and breathtaking mountains provide a soothing backdrop that invites visitors to immerse themselves in the tranquility of their surroundings.

This is the list things to do in Hue:

Exploring the famous sites

Hue Imperial citadel

The Imperial City of Hue is a part of the Complex of Hue Monuments, which holds the esteemed title of being Vietnam's first UNESCO-recognized Cultural Heritage Site in 1993.

Hue Imperial citadel - A world heritage site

Covering approximately 520 hectares, the Hue Imperial City comprises three main sections. The first is the Hue Citadel, a square fortress encompassing the entire compound with a circumference of 10 kilometers. Next is the Royal City, which served as the administrative center and workplace for emperors, mandarins, and soldiers. Lastly, there is the Forbidden Purple City, an exclusive residence reserved for emperors, royal families, and eunuchs.

Thien Mu Pagoda

Located in Ha Khe hill, the pagoda name means Heaven Fairy Lady Pagoda. This is the most beautiful pagoda in Hue.

Built in 1601, and later, in 1665, Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan oversaw its renovation. During his reign in 1710, Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan commissioned the casting of a large bell named Dai Hong Chung, which carried an inscribed teaching.

Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue

The year 1714 marked another significant restoration of the pagoda, resulting in its expansion and the addition of remarkable architectural structures. This renovation project saw the inclusion of notable buildings such as Thien Vuong Temple, Dai Hung and Thuyet Phap buildings, Tang Kinh Pavilion, as well as monks' quarters and a house dedicated to religious meditation. These additions not only enhanced the pagoda's grandeur but also contributed to its cultural and architectural significance.

Dong Ba Market

Nestled in the heart of the city, Dong Ba Market holds a special allure for visitors seeking to immerse themselves in Hue's vibrant street food culture, showcase their bargaining skills, or acquire the renowned conical hats crafted by the city's finest artisans.

As you step into Dong Ba Market, you'll find yourself in the midst of the bustling city center, where the lively atmosphere reflects the daily lives of the local people. It's the perfect place to gain insight into their purchasing habits, sample the delectable dishes that grace their tables, and discover the hottest items in demand.

Gia Long tomb

Situated approximately 14 kilometers south of Hue, the Gia Long Tomb serves as the final resting place not only for King Gia Long but also for a significant number of the King's family and relatives. This remarkable site encompasses a vast collection of tombs, each meticulously crafted, spanning the 17th to the 19th century. Due to its historical and cultural significance, this cluster of tombs has been recognized and honored as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

As you explore the Gia Long Tomb, you will be captivated by the grandeur and splendor of the architecture, reflecting the importance and stature of the royal family. The tombs are a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of the era, showcasing intricate details and exquisite designs.

Tu Duc tomb

Built in 1864, spanning an impressive area of approximately 12 hectares. The tomb's layout encompasses nearly 50 distinct buildings, both big and small, elegantly scattered across the landscape.

A part of Tu Duc tomb in Hue

When exploring the Tu Duc tomb, you'll be greeted by the sight of an expansive park-like setting seamlessly blending with the surrounding nature. The overall architecture eschews straight lines and sharp angles in favor of a winding and harmonious layout. Remarkably, every structure within the tomb was meticulously crafted by human hands, exemplifying the artistry and dedication of the artisans involved.

Minh Mang tomb

Nestled on the picturesque Cam Khe mountain, approximately 12 kilometers west of Hue city, lies the magnificent Minh Mang tomb.
The meticulous selection of the tomb's location took an extensive 14-year search, ultimately settling on the prime position of Cam Khe Mountain. In a symbolic gesture, King Minh Mang renamed the mountain to Hieu Son and bestowed upon his tomb the name Hieu Lang.

The construction of the tomb commenced in April 1840 under the direct orders of King Minh Mang. However, the king sadly passed away at the age of 50 in early 1841, leaving the completion of the tomb to his successor, King Thieu Tri.

With unwavering determination, King Thieu Tri carried on the work, and the Minh Mang Tomb was finally completed in 1843. This architectural masterpiece stands as a testament to the artistic and engineering skills of the era, showcasing meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Khai Dinh tomb

Located approximately 10 kilometers from Hue city, Vietnam, the Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh rests gracefully on the slopes of Chau Chu Mountain. Despite being the smallest among the tombs of the Nguyen royals, it is notable for its opulence, expense, and relatively recent construction. This exquisite tomb was commissioned by Emperor Khai Dinh, who held the title of the 12th Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Khai Dinh tomb

The architectural design of the tomb reflects a fusion of Eastern and Western influences, showcasing a unique blend of traditional Vietnamese elements with hints of European aesthetics. As you explore the tomb, you'll be captivated by its intricate details, elaborate mosaics, and richly adorned interiors. The craftsmanship and attention to detail exhibited in its construction exemplify the Emperor's commitment to creating a grand and majestic final resting place.

Explore Bach Ma National Park

Bach Ma National Park, located 40 km south of Hue City, offers a captivating natural experience. Standing at an average height of 1,450 meters and situated just 10 kilometers from the sea, the park enjoys a delightful climate. Encompassing an expansive area of 37,487 hectares, it is divided into three distinct zones: a strictly protected core area, an administrative area, and a buffer zone.

Trekking in Bach Ma national park in Hue Vietnam - Photo by

One of the park's remarkable features is its extensive primeval forest, which has been remarkably preserved. This pristine forest boasts a remarkable diversity of flora, with a staggering 2,147 species. In addition, the park is home to a rich array of fauna, comprising over 1,500 species. Notably, 93 of these species are listed on both the Vietnamese Red List and the Global Red List, highlighting their conservation significance.

For nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, Bach Ma National Park offers an idyllic destination. Its sprawling landscapes, abundant biodiversity, and unspoiled wilderness create the perfect setting for exploration and discovery.

Enjoy beach break in Hue

Hue, renowned for its imperial citadel, royal mausoleums, and iconic pagodas, is a city that captures the essence of Vietnam's rich history and architectural heritage. Architecture enthusiasts will find themselves enamored by the exquisite structures that adorn the city's landscape. However, Hue has more to offer than just its architectural wonders.

Location of Thuan An beach in Hue city

For those seeking a delightful beach getaway, Hue presents a range of beautiful coastal destinations. Thuan An Beach, Lang Co Beach, Hai Duong Beach, and Canh Duong Beach are among the pristine beaches that await visitors. These sandy shores provide the perfect setting for relaxation, sunbathing, and enjoying the refreshing waters. Whether you're exploring the city's UNESCO World Heritage sites or unwinding on the beaches, Hue offers a diverse range of experiences to satisfy all preferences.

Hue dragon boat trip along the Perfume river

A dragon boat trip along the Perfume River in Hue is a truly enchanting experience that allows you to behold the captivating blend of nature and ancient relics. If you possess a deep affinity for nature and seek solace in its serene beauty, this leisurely excursion promises to be a perfect match. Drift along the tranquil river, taking in the picturesque surroundings and indulging in the serenity that envelops the air.

Boat trip on Perfume river in Hue city

As you leisurely glide along the water, allow yourself to unwind and relish the opportunity to breathe in the crisp, fresh air. The gentle current of the river guides you past scenic vistas, creating a harmonious connection between you and the natural world. Immerse yourself in the tranquility, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Tasting the traditional local foods

The culinary scene in Hue is renowned not only for its exceptional preparation techniques but also for the meticulous artistry that goes into the presentation of each dish.

Every plate is a masterpiece, boasting an intricate appearance, vibrant flavors, and notable health benefits. To truly grasp the distinctiveness of Hue cuisine, the best approach is to embark on a gastronomic adventure and sample them all.

Bun Bo Hue - A famous local traditional food in Hue

If that seems daunting, at the very least, endeavor to savor the best of dishes listed below.

  • Bun Bo Hue (Hue Beef Noodle Soup
  • Banh Bot Loc (Hue Clear Shrimp and Pork Dumpling)
  • Com Hen (Clam Rice)
  • Nem Lui (Hue Lemongrass Pork Skewers)
  • Banh Khoai (Hue Crispy Rice Pancake)
  • Banh Canh Ca Loc (snakehead fish thick noodle soup)
  • Banh Uot Thit Nuong (Rice Noodle Rolls with Grilled Pork)

Visiting the traditional handicraft villages

While visiting Hue, it is common for tourists to explore well-known attractions such as the royal tombs, citadels, and sacred pagodas. However, to truly immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, rich traditions, and unique identity of Hue, highly recommend exploring the traditional craft villages in the region such as:

  • Phuoc Tich Ceramics Village
  • Sinh Folk Painting Village
  • Hue Bronze casting village
  • Thuy Xuan Incense Making Village
  • Thanh Tien Paper Flower Village
  • Hue Conical Hat Village

Yes, they are great destinations for photography tours. Do not miss this chance to get amazing shots in Hue Vietnam.
Making paper flower Thanh Tien Village in Hue

Best time to visit Hue Vietnam

Hue experiences a distinct dry and rainy season throughout the year. The dry season typically spans from March to August, characterized by hot and sunny weather. During this time, temperatures can occasionally reach highs of 38 to 40 degrees Celsius.

The rainy season in Hue typically extends from August to January of the following year. This period sees heavy rainfall, often accompanied by storms. The temperature during the rainy season can be quite variable. While the weather can be fresh and pleasant, with average temperatures around 19 to 20 degrees Celsius, it can also drop as low as 9 degrees Celsius.

Beautiful weather in Hue city

As Hue receives the highest amount of rainfall in Vietnam, it can be challenging to avoid rain when traveling in this city. Rainfall can be unpredictable, but it is still preferable to the humid conditions of the dry season. Apart from the months characterized by intense sunshine and stormy weather, the remaining months are considered ideal for travelers to visit Hue.

Based on this information, visitors could choose the best time to visit Hue and make a perfect plan for their holiday to Vietnam.

From Hue to Hoi An is about 120 km. Combine these two destination is great for a perfect trip
Hoi An Vietnam

My Son sanctuary

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