Hue – Vietnam: Top Tourist Spots And Essential Things To Do First Time Visitors

Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam during 1802-1945 occupies an important place in Vietnamese history. It was the political, cultural and religious center of the country during the nineteenth century. Hué is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993. Here you will find top tourist spots and things to do in Hue.

Top tourist spots and things to do in Hue

Top tourist spots with prices

The Imperial City of Hue

The Imperial City of Hue is inspired by the architecture of Chinese imperial palaces and is the only example of an imperial city of Vietnam still existing today. The beauty of this historical place lies in stories and anecdotes of royal life. If you love to discover these, we reccommend you to hire a professional tour guide which costs about $ 30-35 per group per day. Visiting this site requires one to two hours.

The Imperial City of Hue
The Imperial City of Hue

The ticket is 150 000VND

Combo Ticket: Imperial City + Minh Mang Mausoleum + Khai Dinh Mausoleum: 280,000VND

Combo Ticket: Imperial City + Minh Mang Mausoleum + Khai Dinh Mausoleum + Tu Duc Mausoleum: 360,000VND

Mausoleums of the emperors: Minh Mang, Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, Gia Long

The seven mausoleums of the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty are located outside the city, on the banks of the Perfume River.

The most beautiful are the mausoleums of Minh Mang, Khai Dinh, Tu Duc and Gia Long, the others were much destroyed. They are not near each other. The best ways to visit the Imperial City and mausoleums are traveling by scooter and car. However, it is not worth visiting all 4 mausoleums mentioned above. If you only have time to visit a single mausoleum, accompanied with the Imperial City, we advise you the tomb of Khai Dinh because its architecture is different from the Imperial City.

The tomb of Khai Dinh
Inside the Mausoleum of the Emperor Khai Dinh in Hue

If you have more time, you can still visit the tomb of Minh Mang, it is located near that of Khai Dinh.

The visit ticket: 80 000VND per mausoleum

Cruise on the Perfume River and the The Pagoda of the Celestial Lady

The Perfume River has this name because in autumn, the flowers of the fruit trees around the river falling into the river then perfume the whole Hue city. It crosses Hue before flowing into the Tam Giang lagoon and then the China Sea.

Perfume River
Perfume River

You can go to the pier which is opposite the Saigon Morin Hotel and rent a dragon boat to get to the Pagoda of the Lady Celestial (Thien Mu Pagoda). Going by boat costs 250,000 VND for a one way ticket and 400,000 VND for a return ticket. We can also continue the cruise to the mausoleum of the emperor Minh Mang but it will be more expensive. In fact, this activity only applies to travelers who visit Hue for the first time.

The Pagoda of the Celestial Lady
The Pagoda of the Celestial Lady

Suggestions for accommodation in Hue:

• The Scarlett Boutique Hotel: a small, brand-new boutique hotel located not far from the Dong Ba Market in the heart of Hue. The rooms are very beautiful, tastefully decorated, excellent bedding.

The rooms are very beautiful, tastefully decorated, excellent beddin
The rooms are very beautiful, tastefully decorated, excellent bedding

• Hôtel La Perle: Not as good as The Scarlett but its unbeatable value for money. The clean, comfortable rooms, the warm welcome and the attentive staff. Prices from $ 29.

Dragon Boat Cruise on the Perfume River in Hue

Essential things to do in Hue

Bike ride to Thuy Bieu grapefruit village

Located at the edge of the Perfume River, Thuy Bieu village is known for a long time for its culture of a kind of grapefruit called “Thanh Tra” in Vietnamese. A bike ride in this village is quite pleasant, through rice fields and grapefruit plantations.

During the bike ride, you can stop to visit some ancient garden houses with its original architecture, small temples, pagodas and a communal house. Some travelers prefer to come by boat and return to Hue city by car or bike.

Thuy Bieu Village
Thuy Bieu Village

Some travel companies organize eco-tours in this village, during which tourists can learn how to make some typical dishes of Hue, have lunch with the locals and enjoy a foot massage, done by locals.

The perfect time to visit the village is February when grapefruit blossoms and you can enjoy the scent of flowers.

Bike ride in the countryside to Thanh Toan Bridge

The bike ride through the Hue countryside to the Thanh Toan bridge takes almost half a day. The Thanh Toan tile-roofed bridge is an arch bridge, built of wood. It is a rather rare type of bridge and the artistic value is ranked first among the bridges built at the same time in Vietnam. A visit to the small museum of the village is also interesting.

Thanh Toan Bridge
Thanh Toan Bridge

This bike ride allows you to get out of the noisy city and discover Hue’s peaceful countryside. You will cross rice fields, small markets, schools etc. If you have time, this bike ride is really worth.

Delicious cuisine in Hue Vietnam

Once in Hue, you can not forget to enjoy the good food here.

The gastronomy of Hue is characterized by the technique of preparation and sophisticated cooking. The list of Hue specialties is quite long: com hen (shellfish rice); bun bo Hue (beef soup); banh beo cakes, banh bot loc etc.

Com hen (shellfish rice) -a specialty of Hue
Com hen (shellfish rice) -a specialty of Hue

If you want to try all the typical dishes of Hue at the best price, do not hesitate to go to Hanh restaurant. Each dish costs only 2-3usd, so you can try several. If you want to eat like locals, go to Dong Ba Market.

Banh Beo, served in Hanh Restaurant, Hue Vietnam
Banh Beo Cake, served in Hanh Restaurant

Listening to the traditional music of Hue on the Perfume River in the evening

Hue is also known for his songs and his royal music. In 2008 the “nha nhac” music of the Vietnamese royal court was recognized as UNESCO World Heritage.

In the evening, you can join with other travelers in boats on the Perfume River and participate in the Hue singing show. Hue’s song is a mixture of folk songs and Nha Nhac (royal court music). It consists of two lines of melodies, North and South, and a total of sixty tunes. After the show, travelers drop flower lanterns on the Perfume River, a custom to solicit peace.

Hue Royal Court Music performance on Perfume River
Hue Royal Court Music performance on Perfume River

The ticket costs from 150.000VND. There are 2 shows each evening, at 19h and 20h30.

Visiting the beautiful pagodas: Tuy Van, Tu Hieu

Tuy Van is an exceptional pagoda, not like the others because it is on the Tuy Van mountain from where you can enjoy an excellent view of the Tam Giang lagoon and the China Sea. It is located 45km south of the city of Hue and is listed in the list of the 20 most beautiful sites of Hue, chosen by the emperor Thieu Tri – the third emperor of Nguyen Dynasty. Several other emperors  made their way here to admire the magnificent landscapes.

The beautiful view from the Tuy Van Mountain
The beautiful view from the Tuy Van Mountain

Another recommended pagoda in Hue is the Tu Hieu Pagoda. It is near the mausoleum of the Emperor Tu Duc, and was built by eunuchs and concubines of the emperors. It is covered with a fir forest in a very quiet and beautiful atmosphere.

Tu Hieu Pagoda
Tu Hieu Pagoda

Visiting the lively Dong Ba Market

Dong Ba is the largest and most lively market in Hue, located on the bank of the Perfume River. In the market, there are several small restaurants where you can taste the gastronomy of Hue but be careful, almost all dishes are spicy. Maybe people here plant chilli instead of rice.

Dong Ba Market
Conical hat – a typical souvenir of Hue at Dong Ba Market

Visiting craft workshops

If you return to the city of Hue from the mausoleum of the Emperor Tu Duc, you can stop on the way to visit the incense making village.

Incense making village in Hue
Incense making village in Hue

In addition, one can cruise to the Sinh village and Thanh Tien village, where some families make paper flowers and folk paitntings.

Folk paintings of Sinh village
An artist making a folk painting at Sinh Village

Admiring beautiful beach at Beach Bar Hue Hotel

Few people know that there is a beautiful beach that is little touristy in Hue. The beach is called Thuan An, 14km east of the city of Hue.

Thuan An Beach
Thuan An Beach

If you travel to Hue during the summer (between April and September) when the heat is unbearable, the option of a hotel with swimming pool or a half day at Thuan An beach will be superb. For the other months, the waters are a bit too cold for swimming.

Beach Bar Hue Hotel
Beach Bar Hue Hotel

The best place to enjoy Thuan An Beach is at Beach Bar Hue Hotel because the beach is more beautiful and clean. If you have a drink or a meal at the bar, do not pay for the access to the beach. Otherwise, you have to pay 100,000 vnd. The owner of the bar also owns Villa Louise Hue Beach Boutique Hotel – a beautiful hotel on the beach that has two beautiful pools.

Villa Louise Hue Beach Boutique Hotel
The beautiful pool with beach view at Villa Louise Hue Beach Boutique Hotel

What to do in Hue when it rains?

• Discovering the gastronomy of Hue.
• Rickshaw ride around the city of Hue, and cross the Truong Tien Bridge.
• Enjoying a coffee in a café in front of the Imperial City.

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About Me

Welcome to Local Life In Vietnam Blog. I’m a Vietnamese who love traveling around the world. My mission is to share with those who are interested in traveling in Vietnam the best travel experiences, things to do in the most popular tourism destinations in Vietnam. Vietnam is definitely a great place to visit and has much to offer. I strongly hope that someday you will take on a trip to visit my beautiful country.