Hue, once a powerful place and a National Capital of Central Vietnam from 1802 to 1945, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its complex filled with ancient royal monuments.
Known for being the most royal city in Vietnam, Hue has a number of breathtaking citadels, pagodas, and royal tombs that give tourists a glimpse of the glories of Imperial Vietnam. Deeply evocative and impressive, Hue is a majestic place filled with history and culture, and it continues to stand as a proof of the resilience of the Vietnamese people — still standing proudly despite the ravages of war.
While at Hue, historic sites will mostly occupy your itinerary. For many travelers, the Imperial Citadel — with its vast network of temples, interesting historical sites, and pavilions — is often the highlight of a Hue tour. The Tombs of the Emperors — a place which features the traditional Vietnamese Buddhist architecture and aesthetics — is a great place to learn about Imperial Vietnam’s royal families. Hue is filled with iconic pagodas such as Thien Mu Pagoda — a beautiful temple which has been the subject of many poems and songs — Tu Dam Pagoda, and Huyen Khong Pagoda. Nearby Alba Thanh Tan Hot Springs is a great place to take a break from all the history trip — this pristine spring resort also offers activities like zip lining and water games, and spa and massage treatments.
Hue’s Phu Bai airport presently serves domestic flights to and from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. However, flight schedules are often easily affected by bad weather. From the airport, you can take a taxi to the city centre. Travel time is 20 minutes and the fare is VND 250,000 (USD 11).
Another option is to take the train. Trains from Ho Chi Minh City leave daily to Hue. Travel time is 20 hours, and costs around VND 1,069,073 to VND 1,660,978.38 (USD 47 to USD 73). If coming from Hanoi, travel time is 12 hours and fare is around VND 864,618.89 to VND 1,228,668.94 (USD 38 to USD 54).
Hue has North and South bus stations. Tourists coming from Dong Hoi, Lao Bao, Phong Nha, Vinh can get off at Phia Bac Station, 5 kilometres from the Hue city centre. Fare ranges from VND 30,000 to VND 90,000 (USD 1.32 to USD 3.96). Travel time runs from 3 to 14 hours.
Buses coming from the South stops at Phia Nam Station. Fares range from VND 60,000 to VND 300,000 (USD 2.64 to USD 13.18).
Vietnamese Dong (VND) is the currency accepted in most establishments around Hue. VND comes in denominations of 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 10000, 200000 and 500000. Some establishments like hotels, souvenir shops, and restaurants accept USD but note that some attractions, especially those located far from town, can only accept VND.
ATMs are widely available around Hue and some have withdrawable limits of VND 4 million (USD 175). For money changing services, you can opt for gold and jewellery shops which offer higher rates.
Hue has a tropical climate so temperatures are often warm and humid. Hue is hotter than most of the cities in Vietnam thanks to its location in Central Vietnam. The dry season starts from March to August, which is eventually followed by the rainy season that lasts from September to February. The best time to visit Hue is between January and April when the weather is cooler and less humid.
Like most cities in Vietnam, you can get around Hue via cyclos, taxis, and motorbikes. Cyclos can be found in major establishments like hotels, restaurants, and the Imperial Citadel. The fare is around VND 25,000 (USD 1.2) per kilometre.
Taxis can be chartered at VND 15,000 (USD 0.66) for the first two kilometres and tick upward at VND 11,800 per kilometre (USD 0.52). You can also rent bicycles and motorbikes to get around town. Daily rates for bicycles range from VND 25,000 to VND 35,000 (USD 1.10 to USD 1.54). Motorbikes can be rented for a day for VND 100,000 to VND 200,000 (USD 4.40 to USD 8.80).
At Hue, you can try various dishes ranging from creations originally served to royals, to street food that boasts of explosive flavours. Don’t miss the Bun Bo Hue, a comfort soup made of round noodles and pork broth, Hue’s own version of pho, or Nem Lui — a staple made of ground beef and pork, lemongrass, and rice paper. Another dish to try is The Com Hen — also known as clam rice — made of rice, stir-fried clams, crispy pork cracklings, bean sprouts, herbs, and peanuts. Banh Nam is another rice cake to try for its savoury combination of pork, shrimp, and clams. Other treats to try include Banh Khoai, Banh Loc Tran, and Banh Beo.
Hue’s royal glory may have been long gone, but its legacy — evidenced in its landmarks and cuisine — continues to live on. Experience Hue’s regal beauty as you enter forbidden cities, visit imperial tombs, and indulge in delicious street food.