All Things You Should Know Before Travelling to Hue

Being between Quang Tri province to the northwest and Da Nang as well as Hoi An to the southwest, Hue Old Imperial capital attributes on the pretty beauties in Central Vietnam. Straddling the genuinely beautiful Huong River, the city had the foundation at the 18th through 19th century. It was the set of power for the Nguyen lords.

One of Hue’s main tourist attractions is the spectacular riverside Hue Citadel or Forbidden Purple City which was built as the practices of ‘feng shui’. Thanks to the historical significance, The Forbidden Purple City is recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Although Hue city centre not is on the beach side as in Quang Binh or Danang city, beach lovers will not be disappointed when relaxing at several good beaches like Thuan An 15km away or Lang Co Beach 60km, Canh Duong beach 60km, etc. Infact, Hue is a perfect destination to discover the cultural heart and soul of the Vietnamese people especially Royal value still remains.

Furthermore, Tam Giang Lagoon covers the large area along the coastline, it offers visitor to have ecotourism in combination with Bach Ma National Park. It is the great way to enjoy the authentic experience.

How Hue City is unique?

Factually, it had remained the national capital until 1945, when the Emperor Bao Dai resigned as the country was chopped into two.

Throughout American War, Hue's location approximately half way between Hanoi from the northwest (540km) and Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon) in the south (644km). And it is about 15 kilometers west of the East Sea and north of the Demilitarized Zone in Quang Tri heavy fighting 110km. Because it was the Old last dynasty Capital in Vietnam, Hue offers you the green city with a lot of green parks, the mausoleum complex of Kings to discover as well as peaceful villages to enjoy authentic life.

In addition, Hue is also very famous for the pagodas. With the hundreds of pagodas around the city, you can see it everywhere right in city or far from centre.

Why we call Forbidden Purple City?

The tombs themselves observed little harm, however, throughout Tet offensive in 1968 severely damaged the Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City. Hue history has earned it a reputation as a political, religious and cultural center. In contrast, visitors to this modern Hue city will locate a town which only reflects its own past, and only does this as a begrudging nod to its visitors today.

Much like Ha Long Bay in the north, a complex of graves, pagodas and palaces across Hue and its surrounds has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, passing time by hundreds of years of war and battle, these tradition architectures are mostly destroyed much compared with its origin. However, thanks to the development of tourism has led to the reservation these traditions and revive them alive.

Consequently, the tourism has developed and created many chances for travellers to discover many values from this old architectures and Royal Family.

At this moment, Hue is a traveller destination largely. In practice, it is still a work in progress. Obviously, it is a beautiful and vibrant city, with places to stay, tasty food and quite a few intriguing things to do. And also it is the well-worn tourist path of historic attractions.

In addition, set on the banks of the Perfume River, it is as a highlight to any trip to Hue city as well as in Vietnam. Beginning from the northeast and going to the southeast of the city, the river flows between and divides the city into two parts. A combination of man-made canals and natural tributaries makes it an aqueous place throughout the typhoon season. This is the special for drawing water from monsoon season by handmade.

Tops things to do in Hue

1. Perfume River

Perfume River spans approximately 80 kilometres in length, flowing from Truong Son Mountain through Hue City Centre and Bang Lang Fork. Infact, Perfume River has two main sources, all of which originate from the Truong Son mountain range. The main stream of Ta Trach is about 67 km long, originating from the Truong Son mountain range, along the Bach Ma national park. It will amaze you Do Quyen Waterfall in Bach Ma National Park is the original for the river. And then confluence with Huu Trach stream at Bang Lang Fork (about 3 km north of Minh Mang mausoleum area). Huu Trach river is about 60 km long, is a sub-branch, flowing north, through 14 falls and passing Tuan ferry to Bang Lang where these two lines meet and form the Huong River.

The Perfume River flows through Hue city slowly, therefore, it brings for the city the romantic scenery. There is a famous Trang Tien Bridge also becomes illuminated with colourful LED lights, resulting in an impressive sight. Especially, the sunset over the river on summer time sometimes brings you the amazing sights with the purple of the sun which makes you surprise to enjoy it.

2. Thien Mu Pagoda

Thien Mu Pagoda is set top hill just close Hue City Centre. This pagoda is offering the breathtaking views of Perfume River and Hue Imperial City as well as its history building for set up Nguyen Dynasty. It has 21 metre-tall octagonal tower called Thap Phuoc Duyen, which was built in 1844 under the reign of King Thieu Tri. Especially the pagoda has two-tonne bell casted in 1710. The Thien Mu Pagoda was also the home monastery of Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, who had self-immolated in 1963 in protest against the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. Travel to the pagoda you can feel its special location as well as architecture.

3. The Citadel Complex and Forbidden Purple City

The Citadel Complex of Hue was set up by Nguyen Dynasty from 1805 to 1945 which is now one amongst the relics of the World Cultural Heritage – Hue Imperial City. It attracts all tourists to discover once visiting the city.

The exterior circle or called Kinh Thanh Hue (Hue capital citadel), which started to be constructed in 1805 under the reign of Emperor Gia Long and was completed in 1832 under the sovereignty of Emperor Ming Mang. Over the past 200 years, Kinh Thanh Hue has still maintained original with nearly 140 constructions. It has a square shape with almost 10km in circumference, 6m high, 21m thick and ten entrances.

Particularly, the lake surrounded the Citadel and the same for inside Forbidden Purple City. And there are a lot of commoners’ residence still living and make a surrounding journey to discover for tourist by cyclo is the most impressive.

In front of is the Ngo Mon Gate (Noon Gate) was only the gate for King to go inside Forbidden Purple City. Today, Tourist can get inside by four entrance gates.

It offers a lot of constructions for discovering which help tourists more knowledge of the Royal Palace of the last dynasty in Vietnam. It is including Thai Hoa Palace, The Mieu Temple, special Nine Urn Dynasty, Dien Tho Palace, Truong Sanh palace, Duyet Thi Duong Theater, etc.

4. Gia Long Tomb

Gia Long Tomb is located 16km to the west from Hue city centre, on the top of the Thien Tho Mountain and right on the west bank of the Perfume River. In reality, Gia Long Tomb is a complex of several royal tombs including the tomb of his mother, the tomb of himself and his wives, and tombs of other royal family’s members. This complex of tombs was mainly built in 6 year from 1814 to 1820. This is the tomb of the first Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam from 1762 to 1819. He spent most of his life on battlefields from 1775 to 1801 and finally unified the country and became the first king of Nguyen Dynasty in 1802.

Travel to the tomb is the chance to get back the history and enjoy its special in harmony the nature and Oriental architecture which values to pay a visit.

5. Minh Mang Tomb

Minh Mang Tomb or called Hieu Lang is one of the most beautiful tombs of Nguyen Kings on the west bank of Perfume River. And it is praised as the most ambitious royal tomb built during the Nguyen Dynasty. Tourist can access the tomb within 30 minutes by car from Hue centre. The tomb was built in 1840 under the reign of Minh Mang King and finished in 1843 by his son on the reign of Emperor Thieu Tri. The tomb has a lot of landscapes of Lakes, canals, temples, terraces and pavilions which has the harmony with the nature. This is one of the two tombs of Nguyen Kings which is the most visiting by tourists in Hue city.

6. Tu Duc Tomb

Tu Duc Tomb (or Khiem Lang) is the famous one of Hue city and must visit for Nguyen Kings tombs. Just few kilometers from city centre, it takes visitors 15 minutes driving and lies on the south of the city. It was built from 1864 to 1867 and this complex of tomb was known as the summer palace of Emperor Tu Duc when he still alive. Thanks to its natural hillside and riverfront landscapes, plus many constructions harmony with the nature, it makes Tu Duc tomb more amazing.

7. Khai Dinh tomb

Khai Dinh tomb or called Ung Lang is one of the nicest tombs visitors can visit in Hue because of its own unique architectures. The Emperor of Khai Dinh (1885 -1925) actually spent parts of his life living in France, therefore, he has the influence of French architectural design.

In combination, his tomb strays slightly from the typical Vietnamese design and France elements from both cultures. It is also situated on the side of a mountain, offering the spectacular views. Although it is the smallest tomb, it was built the longest within 6 years. Khai Dinh is one of the must-see tombs in the complex of Nguyen Kings’ tombs and gets its special architecture and arts.

8. Tam Giang Lagoon

Cover a large area from Quang Tri province to Lang Co beach, Tam Giang lagoon will be the great chance for those who love the nature and brackish water lagoon.

Just 15km away from Hue City to Thuan An Beach is the closest place of the lagoon with Hue city centre. Tam Giang Lagoon is the “open treasure” hidden behind the charming and graceful of Hue ancient Citadel. From here you can make a visiting at Cha Mountain – mangroves forest in Tam Giang, Chuon Lagoon, ect to see local people in raising seafoods such as shrimp, crab, fish, snail, etc

Furthermore, the beautiful, untouched lagoon and also one of the biggest of its kind in Vietnam will surely take you to discover the breathtaking and stunning natural landscape.

Tam Giang Lagoon has a depth from two to four meters and in some places around seven meters. There are many activities to spend in Tam Giang Lagoon from seeing pure water to handicraft villages. Taking a boat trip on Tam Giang Lagoon, you can see closely how the fishermen divide up the areas with hand-made nets while fishing.

9. Bach Ma National Park

Bach Ma National Park is far away Hue city centre 60km to the south and between Hue and Danang city. It is at 1450 metres above sea level, hosting majestic waterfalls, hiking trails, and dilapidated French villas. Thanks to the special location, Bach Ma National Park offers the great chance for ecotourism and perfect to avoid the noisy of city. It is the home to thousands of rare plants and wildlife, travelers can enjoy one or two day trip for hiking, camping, rappelling, swimming and even abseiling over Do Quyen Fall (Rhododendrun Fall).

10. A Luoi District

Located 60 kilometers to the west-southwest of Hue city centre, A Luoi is a mountainous district is closely the border with Laos. This is the mountain area which has pristime forest, town, historical sites or waterfalls, etc. Especially, A Luoi was very famous in the past during the America and Vietnam War. Hamburger Hill, A Shau valley were one of hot spots of this time. Travel to A Luoi you will have chance to discover the legend Ho Chi Minh trail.

11. Thuan An Beach

Thuan An beach is about 14 kilometres from Hue and also the nearest beach. Infact, Thuan An is a brilliant stretch of yellow sand, ideal for a swim in the sea. Although it is not the famous beach in Hue city for not right in city centre, Thuan An beach is becoming famous for the architecture to be a nice beach, resort along beachside, ect. Connect with Tam Giang Lagoon, Thuan An beach is one of the relaxing time on beach once travel to Hue

12. Lang Co Beach Bay

Lang Co Bay is between Hue and Danang city. This beach bay offers the wonderful landscapes for relaxing and swimming. By a long white sand beach plus blue seawater of Lang Co may attract everyone for the first sight.

Especially, Lang Co beach offers the great sunset moment which you can feel to harmony with the nature and fishing village and Lap An Lagoon.

Lang Co beach is one of the must stop on the way Hue to Danang and Hoian or vice versa. It gives tourists the fresh mind and has a swimming before reaching the next destionation. Along the beach is some resorts and hotels which enjoy the cool atmosphere before conquer Hai Van Pass closely it.

13. Dong Ba Market

When you’re looking for somewhere to go shopping in Hue city, Dong Ba market is your best choice. This is the biggest trading centre in Hue as well as the Central Vietnam area where you can buy everything.

Dong Ba market opens from 3.00 am till 20.30 pm and visitors can visit all day round. You can buy a typical conical hat for souvenir or can taste local foods right in the market. And you should bargain when buying something to get better price.

14. Thanh Toan Bridge

Thanh Toan Bridge is a tile-roofed footbridge which looks like as Hoi An’s Japanese Covered Bridge. It follows the ancient Chinese and Japanese motifs as well as ornate carvings of sacred animals.

This wooden bridge was built by Mrs Tran Thi Dao who was born in this village. It helped local people to walk through Nhu Y River and had place for relaxing after a hard working on field. The bridge is about 20 minutes driving from city centre and it leads you to pass through the peaceful countryside to enjoy its beauties.

15. Elephant Springs

Elephant Springs should be a stop for people who comes in this part of the entire world to see natural beauty.

About 53km from Hue, it is an amazing natural spring that's sure to impress you in a large way. If travel to Hue on hot days, visitors really like to take a dip in the natural pool below a waterfall that is small. For people looking for privacy it is advisable to visit this place on weekdays. You'll certainly enjoy the solitude, but do remember that you will no food because the food stalls are open only on peak days. Origin travel offer Vietnam land tours in Hue. That you'll find pagodas and tombs anyplace in Hue, making it an ideal place to visit and fulfill your appetite.

When is the best to visit Hue city?

Located in Central Vietnam and famous for the hot in summer, Hue brings you different atmosphere when visiting each time of year. Before Hue has four seasons clearly, however, because the change of climate on over the world, Hue seems to change into two season with hot season and winter season when there is lots of sun all year round.

1. Spring season in Hue

Spring season is from January to March is one of the best time to visit Hue city. The climate is always cool and sometimes has cold around 15 to 25 degrees. Especially, spring is the season of flowers blooming so it brings you the beautiful landscapes all around the city.

2. Summer in Hue

Summer is from April to June and but it is hot from May to June and sometimes has afternoon rain on June. It is hot from 30 to 35 degree.

It is also hot climate on dry season from July to September which is on Autumn. Nowadays, July to August is hot, not cool as before because of the changes of climate in the world and the temperature is increasing.

How about Winter in Hue?

Winter season also the flood season usually falls on October to mid-November or sometime to the end of November. However, if you travel on flood time, it has not much affect because most of mausoleums is in south of city and not affect by flood. Just only The Citadel and Thien Mu Pagoda in north of city cannot visit if the water level is high. Infact, the flood time is only within one month from mid-October to mid-November can affect your trip in Hue city, however, it also depends on each year. Because it has not always big flood to affect each year, just some years has one.

Is it good time to visit Hue on Autumn?

Yes, visitor can visit Hue all year round. For autumn season from August to mid-October it is cool and nice for visiting. Although it is hot from April to September, it is idea for combine visiting complex of monuments and tombs with relax on nice sandy beach of Thuan An or Lang Co.

How to get to Hue city?

Hue is between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and in central Vietnam, it is easy to reach Hue by many transportations.

1. By plane:

It takes 1hour and 10 minutes for flight from Hanoi and more than 5 minutes from Ho Chi Minh city. There are from 6 to 10 flights each day for choice to reach Hue base on each season. At this moment there are Vietnamairlines and Vietjetair which have flights to Phu Bai airport in Hue city

2. Public bus or tourist bus:

Its schedule is daily in morning, at noon time or afternoon with late afternoon for traveller to choice.

From Hanoi to Hue: Normally the bus leaves around 6.00 pm and travel full night on bus to reach Hue city in the next morning. Also the bus stop at Dong Hoi, Dong Ha before reaching Hue.

From Ho Chi Minh to Hue, the time is also the same and the bus always stop in main cities such as Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Da Lat, Hoian, Danang before reaching Hue. Because the distance is longer so the bus arrive in Hue around afternoon for tourist bus. With local bus it depends on the time you leave can be earlier if leave Ho Chi Minh in the morning.

With short distance it connects Da Nang and Hoi An to the south and Dong Ha and Dong Hoi to the north. And of course, the cost of ticket for travel by bus is more budget than by flight

3. By train:

Connecting north and south country, therefore, there are many trains pass through and stop in Hue Railway Station. There's a wide range of trains available coming with varying speeds. The prices depend upon the speed of the rail.

In general, traveller can buy train tickets with numerous tour operators and travel company. Or can go to train station and buy it. There is also online booking train ticket on website of Vietnam Railway. Train station is right in city centre and just 5 minutes by taxi or motorbike.

Recommended bus from Hanoi to Hue

1. THE SINH TOURIST

  • Itinerary: Hà Nội – Huế
  • Time: Ha Noi 18h00; Hue 17h15
  • Address: 64 Tran Nhat Duat street in Hanoi, 12 Hung Vuong street Hue city and 246-248 De Tham street – District 1 in HCMC
  • Tel: 024 39290394 – 0234 3845022 – 028 38389593

2. HƯNG THÀNH

  • Itinerary: Hanoi - Hue
  • Time: Hanoi 19h00-19h30
  • Address: 287 Tran Khat Chan street - Hanoi
  • Tel: 024 36337575 – 024 36337614

3. CAMEL

  • Itinerary: Hanoi - Hue
  • Time: Since 18h00
  • Tel: 024 36337575 – 024 36337614

4. TREKKING TRAVEL

  • Itinerary: Hanoi - Hue
  • Time: 18h00
  • Tel: 024 39260572

5. HOÀNG LONG

  • Itinerary: Hanoi - Hue
  • Time: Hanoi 23h-20h30-19h-15h-11h-7h
  • Tel: 0978 600558

Top 5 recommendation bus from Saigon to Hue

1. PHƯƠNG TRANG

  • Itinerary: Saigon – Hue
  • Time: Hue 10h15 – 14h15 Sai Gon 10h15 – 14h15 (Mien Dong bus station)
  • Tel: 028 38309309 – 0234 3870870

2. HẠNH CAFE

  • Itinerary: Sai Gon - Hue
  • Time: Sai Gon (8h-20h-20h30-21h)
  • Tel: 028 39205 679 – 028 38376 429

3. PHI LONG

  • Itinerary: Sai Gon - Hue
  • Tel: 0234 3539198 – 0914 031156

4. THUẬN THẢO

  • Itinerary: Sai Gon - Hue
  • Time: Sai Gon: 8h-10h-14h30 Hue 8h-10h-14h30.
  • Tel: (028) 35112957 – 35111442 – 0913482369

5. MINH PHƯƠNG

  • Itinerary: Sai Gon - Hue
  • Time: 7h30-9h-10h30-13h30-15h
  • Tel: 028 22170597 – 0938 208090 – 0903 638716

Where to Eat?

First of all, Hue is the land of Royal family so it is famous for Royal dishes. Therefore, visitor can taste Royal dishes at luxury restaurant or even be a King/Queen while dining. There are many restaurants for you to get this experience and art foods as Royal like Tinh Gia Vien, Y Thao Garden, Tha Om as garden house style.

Second, Hue is very famous for local foods with hundreds of dishes will pleasure visitor to taste. It is budget cost so that you can try as much as possible.

1. Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue is the must taste dish once you travel to Hue. Thanks to its special, Bun Bo Hue is famous all over the country which you can taste when you are in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh city. However, just in Hue city it will brings you the original taste. It is very simple to wander around streets and enjoy a bowl of Bun Bo.

Furthermore, Hue is well known by different traditional Hue cakes or called banana leaf cakes. These are Nam, Loc, Beo, It, etc which each cake brings you a different taste which you remember forever. Thanks to the special ingredients of Hue people, Hue food has different tastes compared with other parts in Vietnam.

2. Hen Rice

Hen Islet is located right in city centre. It is famous for Bun Hen and Com Hen. It is only a street food and local food, it gives tourists the special for taste as well as its ingredient mainly vegetables. Apart from Hen Islet is the place for this special food. You can walk around streets of Pham Hong Thai, Han Mac Tu to taste this food.

3. Banh Uot Thit Nuong

Banh Uot Thit Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Beef Spring Rolls) is also the famous dish of Hue people, travel along Kim Long street to reach Thien Mu Pagoda, you can taste this food with famous local foodstall Huyen Anh as well as others along this street.

Especially, Hue walking streets along Pham Ngu Lao, Chu Van An, Vo Thi Sau, ect is the great chance to see nightlife in Hue. It will also supply you with many different entertainment opportunities. Although the tranquility remains unruffled throughout the late hours, you may find a few bars keen to pay host to the late sleepers.

Additionally, you can discover traveler’s cafes or a few gardens. As a result, walking along streets visitor can taste and try local foods of Hue or on cyclo.

In conclusion, a combination of tranquility and historical places make Hue an impressive holiday destination. Surely, it is fantastic for people who wish to devote some time enjoying pure beauty along with getting an insight of culture and traditions in this beautiful Vietnam.

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