The city of Hue doesn’t get as much Insta-fame as Hoi An or Da Nang, but it is undoubtedly worth a stop on your Vietnam itinerary. Here are the top attractions and best things to do in Hue, Vietnam.
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Welcome to Hue: Vietnam’s Ancient Capital
Hue is one of the most historic cities in Vietnam.
It was the capital city of Dang Trong (southern region of Vietnam) from 1738 to 1775 and of the country of Vietnam during the Nguyen dynasty from 1802 to 1945.
The city also witnessed fierce fighting during the Vietnam War in 1968.
History aside, Hue is today the 8th largest city in Vietnam and one of the primary economic hubs of the Center. Thanks to its vast array of historical attractions – and proximity to Da Nang and Hoi An, it has become a popular tourist attraction, especially among domestic travelers.
On this basis, here are some of the top things to do in Hue, Vietnam.
Things to do in Hue, Vietnam
The top places to visit in Hue are spread all over the city, but it’s best to start your visit in the Imperial City on the north bank of the Perfume River.
Visit the Imperial City
The Imperial City is arguably the top attraction in Hue and is home to several palaces, royal pavilions, and temples.
Built between 1805 and 1832, the Imperial city was the seat of government during the Nguyen Dynasty. Apart from royal buildings, the area also hosts several museums and art galleries.
Marvel at the Tombs of the Vietnamese Emperors
The Imperial City is where the emperors ruled, but it isn’t their burial site.
The tombs of the emperors are scattered over the outskirts of Hue – and quite far away from the center. Nevertheless, their grandeur and lavish detailing makes them must-visit Hue attractions.
In this context, get yourself a motorbike and head to the outskirts to explore the tombs of Kai Dinh, Tu Doc, and Minh Mang.
Tu Hieu and Thien Mu Pagodas
The Tu Hieu Pagoda is one of the most significant temples in this part of Vietnam and is home to about 70 monks. In imperial times, it was where the eunuchs lived.
Apart from Tu Hieu, one of the top places to see in Hue is Thien Mu Pagoda. It is one of the symbols of the city and you can take excellent landscape photography here.
Shop at Dong Ba Market
If you want to see an authentic Vietnamese market, head to Dong Ba.
In this large market hall, you can buy everything from spices to traditional Vietnamese hats and fake designer watches.
Learn About the Vietnam War at the Disused Phu Bai Airport
No stay in Vietnam would be complete without learning about the horrors and atrocities of the Vietnam War.
As such, the Vietnam War Museum inside the disused Phu Bai Airport is one of the most crucial things to see in Vietnam for history buffs.
Have a Look at the Abandoned Tiger Fighting Arena
Completed in 1832, the Ho Quyen arena was the scene of fights between tigers and elephants during the Minh Mang Dynasty.
The arena has been abandoned since the early 1900s but is among the top places to visit in Hue if you enjoy spooky historic locations.
Check Out the Royal Theater
The Royal Theater was finished in 1826 and still hosts shows and traditional Vietnamese dances. If shows aren’t your thing, you can also tour the lavish interior galleries and spacious performance rooms.
Go on a Brewery Tour
If you’ve had enough of history and culture, head to Huda Brewery and check out how the brewery uses Danish technology to create Hue’s finest beer.
Alternatively, I can recommend Imperial Craft Bia Brewpub, an excellent pub that makes its own craft beer and stone-oven pizza.
Where to Stay in Hue
The best area to stay in Hue is on the southern side of the Perfume River – not the side of the Imperial City. There are a lot more options when it comes to hotels and apartments here, and also several buzzing nightlife areas.
I stayed at the Melia Vinpearl and would warmly recommend both the area and the hotel.
Find more options on accommodation in Hue here.
Things to do in Hue: Know Before You Go
To complete our Hue guide, here are some of the top things to know before visiting.
How to Get to Hue (from Hanoi, Da Nang, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City)
From Hanoi, you can either take a 12-hour train, 12h-bus, or one-hour flight.
The easiest option is the take a plane, the most scenic one is the train, and the most affordable one is the bus.
From Da Nang or Hoi An, you can take a 2-hour bus to Hue.
How to Get Around Hue
As in most Vietnamese cities, the easiest way to get around is by scooter. You can rent a small bike for less than 10 USD per day and enjoy the hustle and bustle firsthand.
Alternatively, Grab Bike or Grab taxis are super affordable in Hue.
The Best Time to Visit Hue
You’ll have the most pleasant weather between January and April when temperatures aren’t too high – and rain is limited to a light drizzle.