Hue was once the capital of Vietnam until the Nguyễn Dynasty fell in 1945. The city is focused around the commanding Perfume River.
This ancient citadel was once filled with temples, pavilions, gates, and museums. Some notable sites include Thái Hòa Palace, Trường Sanh Residence, and Ngọ Môn.
Some of the ancient rulers buried here include Minh Mang, Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, and Thieu Tri.
This museum offers free entrance and shows historic photographs and artifacts from Ho Chi Minh and Hue.
This spa is one of the best hot springs in Vietnam, and also provides opportunities for ziplining and high wiring.
This pagoda high on a bluff offers great views of the Perfume River. It is famous enough to be considered the symbol of Hue city.
Hue's famous "Imperial City" is head and shoulders above the city's other historical attractions. This spectacular complex was once the center of Vietnam's royal dynasty. Built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in a style mimicking the Forbidden City in Beijing, and surrounded by walls that stretch for a mile and a half, this UNESCO World Heritage site is crammed with halls and pagodas. Despite being half-ruined during the Tet Offensive in 1968, it's still a powerful place to wander around.
Also known rather poetically as the "Pagoda of the Celestial Lady" this sublime tower can be found right next to the equally poetically named Perfume River. Built with a harmonious seven story construction, it dates back to the dawn of the 17th century, but the current structure was put up in 1844. Be sure to see the famous turtle sculpture in the right hand pavilion, and the left hand pavilion, which houses one of the world's largest bells. And simply relax in the shadow of the city's iconic structure.
An essential complement to visiting the Imperial City, Thế Miếu is a temple complex dedicated to the emperors of Vietnam, and one of the country's holiest sites. The main Hien Lam Pavilion is the center of attention, and rightly so, with its three-tiered design, but it's also worth ducking into the side temples, where you'll find shrines to every one of the Nguyen emperors (who ruled from 1802 until 1945). These shrines are dominated by massive urns. And that means massive. At around 2,000kg each, these are some hefty monuments to the glory of the long-expired dynasty.
Another major riverside attraction, Dong Ba is one of Vietnam's largest marketplaces. As with many Vietnamese markets, it has to be next to the river to allow traders to dock their heavily laden sampans, but it's not a floating market. Stalls are spread out across 16,000 square meters, and cover everything from fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables, to electronics, street food, clothes, and ornaments. Quirky gift ideas abound, including "non la bai tho" hats with poems embroidered into them, and me xung candies that should last the journey home.
The tomb of Khải Định is another one of Hue's (rather morbid) imperial treasures. This time around, it's a magnificent complex dedicated to the twelfth Nguyen ruler, who died in 1925. The man himself wasn't the greatest of rulers, becoming too close for comfort to the French colonial state, but he got a lavish send-off nonetheless. Located on Chau Chu mountain, around 7 miles outside the center of town, the tomb is stunning, mixing traditional Annamese styles with an obvious French influence.
Hue's weather is very unpredictable, and is often misty or rainy in every season.The best time to visit is in the summer months between June and August when you have the highest visibility and driest weather.
Phu Bai International Airport (HUI) is located south of the city center, with most visitors connecting to the city by private taxi, which costs around ₫200,000.
There are several trains leaving daily from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang for Hue. The overnight sleeper train from Ho Chi Minh City takes 23 hours and costs ₫750,000.
Take the QL14 highway from Ho Chi Minh to arrive in Hue in just under 20 hours driving time.
Buses reach Hue from spots like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. A journey from the city of Hoi An to Hue Bus Station costs ₫200,000 and takes 6-7 hours.
Midtown Hotel Hue has a rooftop pool and modern amenities. Orchid Hotel is slightly cheaper and includes a buffet breakfast and free train station transfer.
Imperial Citadel - this historic area has a large amount of monuments, temples, and museums for exploring Vietnam's history.
Phu Hoa - this area is home to Dong Ba Market, a popular place to shop that was even featured on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" show.
Phu Hoi - this area is home to Pham Ngu Lao, a street with the highest concentration of hotels and boutique lodging in Hue.
Travel by cycle or motorbike for the fastest transfers in the city. Prices are negotiable and should be negotiated, but generally cost around ₫100,000.
Fares start at ₫10,000, with a typical journey around the city center costing around ₫50,000.
Daily rental car prices start at ₫250,000 and can be picked up from the airport, train, or bus station.
Shop at Healing the Wounded Heart Shop to support disabled people in Hue who are selling eco-friendly handcrafts. Big C market is the biggest shopping mall located in the heart of downtown, with big label brands and traditional store fronts.
Big C market is also the biggest and most central shopping food market in Hue. A dozen eggs costs ₫29,000.
Ancient Hue Royal Cuisine and Gallery offers authentic imperial food in an ancient house with manicured gardens. Meal prices are higher than at other locations in Hue, at ₫800,000 per person.