Hue travel information
Vietnam’s former imperial city, Hue, is one of the main cultural, religious and educational centers of Vietnam. Hue became the nation’s capital under the Nguyen Dynasty when Emperor Gia Long, the first of the Nguyen emperors, chose the location for the imperial city in 1802. The city remained Vietnam’s capital until 1945, when Bao Dai, the last of the Nguyen emperors, abdicated.
Hue is a massive complex of citadels, temples, palaces and tombs built during the Nguyen Dynasty. Hue's poetic natural scenery and culinary art have contributed to make it an attractive destination. Hue monuments was recognised by UNESCO as a World Cutural Heritage Site in 1993. Hue also features 127km coastline with beautiful beaches.
Many of Hue’s attractions are found along the banks of the romantically named Perfume River that flows through the centre of town. On the north bank of the river is the Imperial Citadel, built along the lines of Peking’s Forbidden City, enclosed by 10-metre thick walls and surrounded by a moat. Nearby, Hue Museum of Royal Antiques is a gallery displaying hundreds of rare antiques from the Nguyen dynasty, which will help travelers imagine what the royal life was. A few kilometers further up the river are perhaps Hue’s best-known religious site, Thien Mu Pagoda, with its distinctive seven-storey octagonal tower.
The elaborate mausoleums of the Nguyen emperors, more like palaces than tombs, are scattered around the rural areas surrounding the city. The mausoleums of emperors Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri and Gia Long are particularly impressive being extravagant complexes of pavilions, temples, courtyards and lakes. A leisurely cruise by dragon boat up the Perfume River is a good way to see many of Hue’s attractions. Hue is also famous for producing the best non la or conical hats in Vietnam and the place to buy these is at the enormous Dong Ba Market. The very successful international arts event, Hue Festival, brought Hue to the attention of the world when it was first held in 2000 and again more recently in 2002. Hue Festival looks like becoming a firm fixture in the arts world calendar in the future.
For a day trip from Hue, visit beautiful Bach Ma National Park, a hill resort in colonial times, with its stunning mountain scenery, waterfalls and nature trails. For those interested in Vietnam’s recent history, it is possible to visit some former battle sites in what was once known as the Demilitarized Zone or ‘DMZ’. Alternatively, around 70 km south of Hue, nestling at the bottom of the Hai Van Pass, is the idyllic fishing village of Lang Co with its blue lagoon, sandy beaches, coconut palms and wonderfully fresh seafood which makes a nice break on the journey between Hue and Danang. Tam Giang Lagoon - the largest lagoon system in Southeast Asia - is a must-see spot as well. Another choice is Alba Tan Thanh Hot Spring Resort, a site for adventure outdoor activities of Zipline and Highwire.
WHAT TO DO
- Listen to the traditional music of Hue
- Release flower garland into the Perfume River
- Motorcycling to the ancient craft villages (Phuoc Tich, Thanh Toan...). >> See this tour here.
- Stroll around street and taste food at night
- Che Hue (Sweet soup): There are 36 types of Hue royal sweet soup, and each has a distint flavor. They were considered indispensable desserts for king in the Nguyen dynasty. Nowadays, Che Hue is a popular street food can be found on every corner. Some famous places to enjoy this food are Tran Phu, Phan Boi Chau, Truong Dinh street, and Che Hem restaurant on Hung Vuong street.
- Com Hen (Rice with mussles): A simple mixed dish with different ingredients: cold rice, fresh veggies, aromatic herbs, sour star fruit, pungent shrimp paste, warm mussels, hot chili, crispy deep fried pork's skin, roasted peanuts, and white sesame, all served with a bowl of clear mussel soup. The cool rice is still soft and glutinous, while the other ingredients are cool except mussel soup.
- Hue cakes: The full menu of cakes comprises banh beo (bloating fern-shaped cake), banh uot (streamed thin rice pancakes), banh it (glutinous rice cake), banh bot loc (Vietnamese clear shrimp and pork dumplings) with different fillings such as green bean, coconut, prawn, or pork.
- Bun bo Hue: This soup contains thick, round rice vermicelli (bun), beef (bo), boiled beef shank, chunks of oxtail, pig's knuckles, cubes of congealed pig blood and sometimes "mọc' (pork paste balls). The dish is served with lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, diced green onions, raw sliced onions, chili sauce, thinly sliced banana blossom, mint, basil, or Vietnamese coriander (rau ram), and sometimes bean sprouts.
- Banh canh ca loc (snake-head fish soup cake): Dough is kneaded on the spot, rolled into thin layers, cut into fibres, then put into a boiling water pot to make long and pure cake fibres. After bone is removed, snake-head is cooked with fish sauce, then dipped in broth along with cake fibres, and following this, the soup cake is formed. Chopped green onions, salt, pepper, quail eggs and force-meat ball are put into the soup cake too. Another special same dish is banh canh nui.
- Oc Nam Giao (Nam Giao steamed medium-sized edible snails)
- High-Class Royal Cuisine
Sour prawn and sesame candy as well as handicrafts from traditional villages (Tay Ho conical hats, Phuoc Tich pottery, Thanh Tien paper flowers...), lacquer, silk, and embroidery items.