Best things to do in Hue, Vietnam (7)

14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

Last Updated on February 22, 2024

Wondering if Hue is worth visiting? Looking for the best things to do while there and how to plan your trip? After a 6-week trip to Vietnam, exploring the country from South to North, I’m sharing with you my travel guide for Hue, one of my favorite destinations in Vietnam.

Located in central Vietnam, Hue is a city brimming with history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient temples, sampling delicious local cuisine, or simply soaking up the stunning scenery, Hue has something for everyone.

As a former imperial capital, Hue boasts a wealth of historic sites and landmarks, and I just fell in love with the ancient architecture.

The highlight of my time there was my visit to the Hue Imperial City, a sprawling complex of temples, palaces, and gardens that served as the seat of power for the Nguyen Dynasty.

You’ll also want to explore the city’s many pagodas, such as the Thien Mu Pagoda, a towering seven-story structure that dates back to the 17th century.

And don’t miss the chance to visit the tombs of the Ancient Emperors, where you can marvel at the intricate architecture and learn about the fascinating history of the Nguyen Dynasty.

If you’re looking for the absolute best things to do in Hue and are short on time, then I suggest booking this tour that will take you to the imperial city, three tombs, and the Thien Mu Pagoda.

It’s also possible to rent a scooter and visit these places independently. Or, you can do a day trip from Hoi An or Da Nang.

Read below for the practical info on how to plan your trip and for more things to do if you have extra time.

HELPFUL WEBSITES TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP

14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

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14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

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14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

CAR RENTAL

14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

TRAVEL INSURANCE

14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

ACTIVITIES

14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

VACATION RENTALS

HELPFUL WEBSITES TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP

14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

FLIGHT DEALS

14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

HOTEL DEALS

14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

CAR RENTAL

14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

TRAVEL INSURANCE

14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

ACTIVITIES

14 Best Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

VACATION RENTALS

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Best Places to Visit in Hue

Imperial City and Citadel

The Imperial City and Citadel are two of the most impressive historical landmarks in Hue City. The Citadel was built in 1804 during the reign of Emperor Gia Long and is surrounded by a moat and thick stone walls.

The Imperial City is located within the Citadel and was the residence of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors. The Thai Hoa Palace is one of the most impressive buildings in the Imperial City, featuring intricate architecture and stunning decorations.

Plan at least 2 hours to visit, half a day is better if you want to cover everything. It’s open every day from 7:30 AM until 5 PM. The entrance fee is 200,000 VND for adults and 40,000 for kids – you can get a combo ticket with more sites included.

There’s no official dress code but try to have your shoulders and knees covered. Also, keep in mind that the sun can be strong and there’s little shade in some places, so bring whatever you need to protect yourself from the sun.

You can also hire a local guide at the entrance or book a group tour if you want some insights into the monuments and history of the city.

Royal Tombs

The Royal Tombs are another must-see attraction in Hue City. These tombs were built for the Nguyen Dynasty emperors and are scattered throughout the city, along the banks of the Perfume River. Each tomb is unique and features its own distinct architecture and design.

Two of the most popular tombs are the Minh Mang Tomb and the Tu Duc Tomb. The Minh Mang Tomb is known for its beautiful gardens and intricate architecture, while the Tu Duc Tomb is famous for its peaceful atmosphere and serene surroundings.

Other significant tombs include Emperor Khai Dinh’s tomb, Emperor Gia Long’s tomb, Emperor Dong Khanh’s tomb, and Emperor Thieu Tri’s tomb. Entrance fees vary from 50,000 to 150,000 VND (some can be included in the combo ticket mentioned above).

The tombs are scattered around the city, so you’ll either need to book a tour, hire a cab, or rent a motorbike or bicycle. I don’t think you need to visit all the tombs, maybe do one or two of the main ones and one of the small sites.

If you’re going to book a tour, I recommend this Hue Tombs Tour by Bike and Boat Cruise that will take you to the Thien Mu Pagoda, the Tomb of Minh Mang, and the Tomb of Khai Dinh with an English-speaking guide.

Thien Mu Pagoda

Thien Mu Pagoda

The Thien Mu Pagoda is one of the oldest and most beautiful pagodas in Vietnam. Located on the banks of the Perfume River, the pagoda was built in 1601 and features a stunning seven-story tower. The tower is a symbol of Hue and can be seen from all over the city.

The pagoda is also home to many beautiful statues and shrines, as well as a peaceful garden.

You can visit daily from 8 AM to & PM. Dress modestly. It’s free to visit. If you want to avoid the crowds, try to go around opening time.

Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities

If you’re interested in art and history, the Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities is a must-see. This museum is home to an impressive collection of royal artifacts, including ceramics, textiles, and paintings.

You’ll get a glimpse into the lives of the Nguyen dynasty, who ruled Vietnam from 1802 until 1945, and learn about the different art forms that flourished during their reign.

The museum is open daily from 7 AM to 5:30 PM. Admission tickets cost only 50,000 VND for adults and is free for children,

Duyet Thi Duong Royal Theatre

For a taste of traditional Vietnamese performing arts, head to the Royal Theatre. This historic theatre is located within the walls of the Hue Citadel and was once used exclusively for royal performances.

Today, you can catch a variety of shows here, including traditional music, dance, and theatre performances, similar to the ones performed back in the day. There’s usually a show twice daily, but ask about the schedule when buying your ticket.

Best Things to Do in and Around Hue

Once you’re done visiting Hue’s top attractions, there are still plenty of things to do within the city and day trips to go on to explore the area further!

Shop for handicrafts

Hue is known for its rich tradition of handicrafts, and there are plenty of opportunities to see artisans at work. From traditional embroidery and weaving to woodcarving and pottery, you’ll find a variety of handicrafts on display throughout the city.

One of the best places to see these crafts in action is at the Dong Ba Market, where you can watch artisans at work and pick up some unique souvenirs to take home with you.

At Dong Ba Market, you can also grab a bite to eat. Make sure to try the local specialty dishes like Banh Beo, Beef Noodle Soup, Nem Lui, and Banh Khoai.

Hiking in Bach Ma National Park

Bach Ma National Park is a great place to explore if you’re looking for an adventure. You can hike through the lush greenery and see some of the most stunning views in Vietnam. The park is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including over 1,400 species of plants and 130 species of animals.

There are several trails to choose from, one of the most popular is the Five Lakes Trail, featuring stunning waterfalls and swimming holes. You can combine it with the Rhododendrum Trail to see one of the highest waterfalls in Southeast Asia, Do Quyen Waterfall.

The trails are well-marked and you can easily go on your own.

The park is a 1.5-hour drive from Hue. The entrance fee is 60,000 VND and you can pay it at the Bach Ma Visitor Centre. Note that only cars are allowed past the visitor center.

If you want to make things easier, you can book a day trip from Hue including transportation, the entrance fee, a guide, and lunch.

Cruising the Perfume River

A boat ride along the Perfume River is a must-do activity when in Hue. You can take a leisurely cruise and see the city from a different perspective. Most cruises will stop at some of the famous landmarks along the river, such as the Thien Mu Pagoda and the tombs.

Best things to do in Hue, Vietnam (7)

Driving the Hai Van Pass

If you’re up for a scenic drive, take a journey along the Hai Van Pass. The pass offers breathtaking views of the coastline and the surrounding mountains. You can rent a car or hire a motorcycle to make the journey. Along the way, you can stop at some of the beaches and rice paddies to take in the scenery.

Hai Van Pass, Vietnam

Go on a Street Food Tour

One of the best ways to experience Hue’s local cuisine is by taking a street food tour. You’ll have the opportunity to try a variety of dishes and learn about the history and culture behind them.

Join a small-group walking tour, like this one, and sample che, banh beo, bun bo hue, and banh khoai at some of the best food stalls in town.

See the Thanh Toan Bridge

Located about 8 miles outside of Hue, Thanh Toan Bridge is a historic covered bridge that dates back to the 18th century. The bridge is surrounded by rice paddies and is a great spot for a stroll. You can also visit the nearby agricultural museum to learn more about the region’s farming practices.

Attend the Hue Festival

Hue Festival is the biggest cultural event in Hue, Vietnam. It is held every two years in the month of April. The festival showcases the rich cultural heritage of Hue with a variety of events including art exhibitions, traditional music and dance performances, street parades, and food fairs. The festival attracts a large number of tourists from all over the world.

One of the highlights of the festival is the opening ceremony, which takes place at the Ngo Mon Gate. The ceremony features a traditional dragon dance and a performance by the Hue Royal Court Music.

Another popular event is the Ao Dai fashion show, which showcases the traditional Vietnamese dress.

Explore Ho Thuy Tien

This abandoned waterpark is a must-see while in Hue. Located a few miles south of Hue, this waterpark was destined to be the place to be but has been left to its demise only a few years after its opening.

Featuring broken rides, murky pools, and plenty of vines and graffitis, the park is surrounded by a lush jungle and is popular among backpackers looking for some thrills. It’s a fun place to explore if you’re planning on renting a bike and exploring the surroundings.

Hue Travel Tips

Where to Stay

When visiting Hue, Vietnam, you have a range of accommodation options to choose from. From budget hostels to luxury hotels, the city has something for everyone.

If you’re looking for a comfortable and affordable stay, you can check out some of the budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses located in the city center, like the Hung Long Hostel and the Truong Phu House.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more luxurious stay, you can opt for some of the high-end hotels in the city or a resort towards the coast. The Ancient Hue Garden Houses and the Pilgrimage Village Hue are both great options.

Hue, Vietnam

Getting Around

Getting around Hue is relatively easy, thanks to its well-connected transportation system. You can use a bicycle or a cyclo to explore the city’s streets and alleys. Alternatively, you can use a taxi or a motorbike taxi to get around the city.

If you’re arriving by air, you can take a taxi or a shuttle bus from Phu Bai Airport to the city center.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Hue is between March and August when the weather is dry and sunny. This is also the peak tourist season, so expect higher prices and larger crowds.

If you’re looking for a quieter and more affordable visit, you can consider visiting between September and February. During this time, the weather is cooler and there are fewer tourists around.

How to get to Hue

Getting to Hue is relatively easy. There’s a small airport with flights from Ho Chin Minh, Hanoi, and Dalat.

There are also many sleeper buses and regular ones connecting you to most destinations in the country.

Otherwise, you can get to Hue by train, which can be a good option if you’re not coming from too far.

Best Restaurants/Where to Eat

For some of the best banh hue (steamed rice flour and shrimp cake) in town, head to Original Hang Me, a simple eatery popular among locals.

Madam Thu Restaurant and Maison Trang are two of the best-rated restaurants in Hue, serving traditional local and Vietnamese dishes in a nice setting.

Like Hanoi’s famed egg coffee, Hue is known for its salt coffee. Traditional Vietnamese coffee is filtered into a mixture of salt whipped with fermented milk and cocoa powder.  Head to Ca Phe Muoi, where it was created, for some of the best in town.

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Best things to do in Hue, Vietnam