Hue Imperial City
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Hue Travel Guide

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Located in Central Vietnam, Hue is about 540km from the capital Hanoi, and 644 km from Ho Chi Minh City. Playing an important part in Vietnamese history, Hue once served as the capital city of three imperial dynasties from 1558 to 1945, including the last Vietnamese feudal dynasty – Nguyen (1802-1945). Thanks to its long-lasting history, Hue is characterized by and is proud of its many ancient heritages, such as the Hue Citadel, royal tombs, ancient pagodas and temples, ornate garden houses, and many royal buildings. Those history buffs will surely fall in love with Hue.

Apart from its profound history and culture, Hue also features a variety of local snacks, and it is highly recommended to add a local food discovery to your Hue trip.

Hue Imperial City
Hue Imperial City

Top Things to Do in Hue

Visit the Imperial Citadel

A trip to Hue would be a huge miss without a visit to the Imperial Citadel (aka Hue Imperial City). With an area of 500 ha, the Hue Imperial Citadel is a walled palace complex of the Nguyen Dynasty where many emperors once lived in. Walking around the Imperial City, you can admire the noon gates, grand halls, royal pavilions with exquisite carvings, ironwood pillars with dragon and cloud decorations, and moats proudly displaying the essence and layout of the Vietnamese royal architecture.

Most crucial parts of the citadel include the Thai Hoa Palace (the place where emperors work and some grand ceremonies are held), Forbidden City (residence of emperors and their families, offering a glimpse into the life of the royal family), and the Meridian Gate (main entrance to the Imperial City).

Hue Imperial City
Hue Imperial City

Explore the Royal Tombs

The royal tomb is another symbol of Hue’s imperial history and culture, offering an insight into the imperial life of the Nguyen Dynasty. In Hue, there are 9 out of 13 emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty were found buried in seven known tombs. The seven tombs’ design and structure are inspired by the Fengshui Theory, with huge animal and human sculptures standing outside. The three most frequently visited tombs are the tombs of Khai Dinh, Minh Mang, and Tu Duc.

Since all the royal tombs are at least 5km away from the urban area, travelers will need to rent a bike or book a Grab to get there.

Royal Tomb

Admire the Towering Thien Mu Pagoda

One of the oldest and most iconic historical sites in Hue, Thien Mu Pagoda is a seven-storey tower standing on the top of Ha Khe hill, and overlooking the Perfume River. To fulfill a special legend, Lord Nguyen Hoang ordered the construction of the pagoda in 1601, aiming to pray for the country’s prosperity. After being restored and expanded by later emperors of Nguyen, the current Thien Mu Pagoda was added with more intricate features, including a massive bell, praying halls, meditation halls, and pavilions.

Nowadays, the pagoda is home to 70 monks, when visiting here, you can also have a chance to listen to the monks chanting.

Thien Mu Pogoda
Thien Mu Pogoda

Boat along the Perfume River

Boating along the Perfume River (aka Huong River) will allow you to feel the poetic romance of Hue. Being about 80km long and with a splendid riverside landscape, the Perfume River snakes its way through forests of aromatic plants, gentle bridges, and many historical heritages including the ancient citadel, Tomb of Minh Mang, and Thien Mu Pagoda. After night falls, the landscape is more fascinating under the lights and moonlight.

Enjoy Pleasant Time at Dong Ba Market

Dong Ba Market, the largest market in Hue, is along the north bank of the Perfume River, near the Imperial Citadel. Whether you want to capture locals’ daily activities, pick some souvenirs, or sample Hue’s popular snacks, Dong Ba Market is worth your visit. While wandering around the market, you can easily find stalls selling local traditional products, such as Phu Cam conical hats, and Hien Luong scissors which showcase the material cultural traits of Hue.

As home to some of the best food in Vietnam, Hue boasts many many delicious specialties, including dau van pudding, rice noodles with beef, shrimp spring-roll, and Khoai cake. Dong Ba Market is the place you can savor all these specialties of Hue in one go.

Hue Weather: Best Time to Visit Hue

Hue has a harsh climate with the highest rainfall in Vietnam. The weather in Hue can be divided into two seasons: the dry season (February – August) and the rainy season (September – January). Keep in mind that even in the dry season, rains may still occur unpredictably. Fortunately, Hue is dominated by many historical sites and heritages, you don’t need to worry the frequent rainfall will ruin your Hue exploration.

February to March is the best time to visit Hue when the weather is cool, the average temperature is about 20-22℃ (68-72°F). October to January is also a good time when Hue becomes cool again. Though it is the time when the city sees many heavy drops of rain, still, it allows you to encounter some important local festivals.

From April to August, Hue becomes one of the hottest cities in Vietnam due to the Southwest wind blowing from Laos. Temperature ranges from 22-33 ℃ (72-91.4°F) in this period, even can reach to 39 ℃ (102.2°F) on some days.

Hue Transportation: How to Get to and Get around

How to Get to Hue

By Air

Travelers can fly to Hue through the Phu Bai International Airport. Currently, people can fly to Hue from Hanoi (with 3 daily flights, travel time:1h10mins) and Ho Chi Minh City (with 4 daily flights, travel time: 1h25mins). It costs about 50-60 USD for an economy class seat.

The Phu Bai International Airport is about 15km away from Hue downtown, you’ll need to take a taxi to get to Hue city center, which will cost about 11.5 USD. Alternatively, you can take an airport shuttle bus or public bus to get to the city center. The shuttle bus ride from the airport to the city center will cost about 2.95 USD, and a public bus ride will cost about 0.25 USD.

 By Train

It is convenient to travel to Hue by train. Vietnam’s railway network connects major cities from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, and many train routes make stops in Hue every day. A train ticket from Hanoi to Hue is about 13-41 USD, prices vary according to your train type and cabin. From Ho Chin Minh City to Hue, the train tickets cost about 17-45 USD.

By Coach

It is easy to get to Hue from Da Nang by bus, it will cost about 7 USD one way and takes 2-3 hours.

If travel from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll need to take an overnight trip to reach Hue.

How to Get around Hue

The most popular options to get around Hue include boat, bus, cyclo, bike, motorbike, taxi, and walk.

Hue is crossed by the Perfume River with many historical sites built along the river banks, making it convenient to explore the city by dragon boat along the Perfume River. Cyclo is a local traditional transportation mode dating from the French colonial period. Many travelers choose to take a cyclo to explore the Imperial City or the Royal Tombs. The price for cyclo is about 15,000 – 20,000 VND (0.7-0.9 USD) per hour per person, don’t forget to negotiate the price beforehand. It’s also easy to hail a motorbike taxi in Hue, the fare is about 2,000 VND per kilometer. To travel at your own pace, you can rent a bike (1-1.5 USD per day) or a motorbike (3.5-6.4 USD per day). It is not a bad idea to walk around Hue Imperial City to explore the history of ancient Vietnam or walk through the food streets to sample Hue’s specialties.

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