Hue is one of the major attractions in central Vietnam, and there’s a reason why it is so famous for tourists from all across the globe. It is home to many fascinating sights to see, such as the 19th-century citadel, which is one of its main tourist attractions. The Tombs of the Ancient Emperors is another famous structure in this city, a testament to how skilled the architects were back in the day.
The cuisine is another thing to tour Hue; the diversity of its local cuisine with influence from France is something that you should definitely let your taste buds experience.
Whether you’d like to see historical sites, taste food exotic to your taste buds, or immerse yourself in the local culture by mingling with the locals, there’s a lot for you to discover in this city. Having said that, we’ve got a lot of things to do in Hue to cover, so without further adieu, let’s find out what to do in Hue by reading on!
WHAT TO SEE AND WHAT TO DO IN HUE
Hue is a fascinating destination as it packs a lot of features that will make each and every visitor remember the city for the rest of their lives. We want to talk about so many things in Hue.
If you don’t know what to see in Hue, we’ve picked the best activities that we think you will enjoy doing. If you’re keen to learn more, check out the following list:
Explore Hue City
Before going for an in-depth experience of the city, we recommend warming up to the vibe of Hue by joining a full-day tour! A full-day tour will expose you to the general ‘feels’ of the city, and will even give you bits and pieces of information courtesy of the friendly and knowledgeable tour guide who will accompany you.
Joining a full-day city tour will help you understand more about this Imperial City and what made Hue the city it is today. From being a historical site, ancient temples, and incredible food, this is an incredible way to explore Hue.
ALSO READ: How to get from Hue to Hoi An
A short visit to the city’s highlights is also included. Some of the places you’ll get to learn about in this tour are Thien Mu Pagoda, the Imperial Citadel, and Khai Dinh King’s Tomb.
Other things included in the package are hotel pick-up by an airconditioned minivan, a dragon boat ride in Perfume River, complimentary lunch, a bottle of distilled drinking water, and even the entrance fees to each destination.
Tam Giang Lagoon Sunset
Discover the largest lagoon in Southeast Asia, the Tam Giang Lagoon, by joining this half-day tour! If you love sunsets, this tour is definitely for you because the tour includes sunset-watching. Before watching the sunset, which is the highlight of this tour, you will get to enjoy the stunning views of the lagoon while on a cruise.
Not only that, but you will also get to visit Uncle Ho’s memorial house in Duong No village, and the Thuan An Beach before finally reaching the Tam Giang Bridge.
Hotel pick-up and drop-off service, a visit to the Ru Cha Mangroves, seafood dinner, distilled drinking water, all transportation costs during the tour, a friendly, English-speaking guide, and insurance are all included in the package price (see our guide to getting insurance in Vietnam).
This activity is one of the most things to see in Hue, so make sure to not miss an incredible experience while travelling in Vietnam. This is a great day tour in Hue without exhausting yourself all day.
How would you like to learn the art of Japanese glazing pottery in Hue? If that sounds like something that you’d like to do, then definitely join a pottery tour! For full six hours, you will be taught how to create beautiful pots by locals.
The tutors in this tour are people with disabilities, but are nevertheless, incredibly talented individuals. You will also get to learn the Vietnamese sign language, which is a useful skill to learn as you’ll be able to communicate with people with hearing impairments.
Other inclusions in this tour are pick-up and drop-off service, a bicycle tour around the city, vegan food and drinks, a remembrance t-shirt, and entrance fees to the included attractions.
A Vietnam trip is not complete without learning about the 1970 Vietnam War. You can learn more about the history of this war by joining a tour which includes visiting a Demilitarised location. Here, you will see war jets, tunnels, minefields, and other war artefacts.
This tour will take you to the popular DMZ field in central Vietnam and explain everything to know about the war. You will see the old equipment that was used in the war – a definitely education activity to do in Hue.
Thien Mu Pagoda
A 7-storey pagoda was built in 1600 and can be found just outside of the city. It is one of the most iconic temples in Vietnam and is a symbol of Hue and the country.
This is an active pagoda which means monks live here and the locals visit this place pretty often especially during the holidays to pay respect and give offerings to their ancestors. Remember to adopt a more conservative dress code for visiting temples in Vietnam like this one.
Enjoy a Performance at the Royal Theatre
The Royal Theatre of Hue called Duyet Thi Duong Royal Theater in Vietnamese was built in 1826 to originally serve creative performances for the Royal Families. Nowadays, tourists can witness traditional Vietnamese music and dances at the Royal Theatre. The plays are shown on a rotating schedule that lasts 45 minutes and typically occurs three to four times daily. If you want to get firsthand cultural experience and rest like royalty in plush chairs, this place is for you.
- Address: Đoàn Thị Điểm, Phú Hậu, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
- Opening times: 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM
- Entrance fee: $9 for adults and $1.71 for children
Unwind at the Alba Thanh Tan Hot Springs
If you need a place to unwind after travelling for several days, why not try Alba Thanh Tan Hot Springs? You can get there on a shuttle bus or with a private driver. The resort provides a wide range of activities, including ziplining, and water games at the aqua park. You can also take advantage of a relaxing massage or other spa services on-site.
- Address: Phong Sơn, Phong Điền District, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam
- Opening times: Open 24 hours
Shop at the Dong Ba Market
The Dong Ba Market, known as Chợ Đông Ba in Vietnamese should be your priority if you’re looking for a place to shop in Hue. It is the largest business hub in the entire region of Vietnam, and you can get everything there, from tasting traditional Vietnamese cuisine to famous conical hats. However, be aware that some vendors might rip you off since you are a foreign visitor. Remember to bargain around or compare prices with other stalls before paying.
- Address: Phú Hoà, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
- Opening times: 6:30 AM – 8:00 PM
Explore the Tu Hieu Pagoda
For temple enthusiasts, head to the Tu Hieu Pagoda. This structure was constructed in 1843 to honour the imperial eunuchs. It offers a serene and atmospheric setting since it is surrounded by a pine forest. We recommend coming here early in the morning to avoid crowds of tourists. You can check out two enormous temples and even hear the chanting of the monks as they go about their daily religious rites. Make sure that you are dressed appropriately, and cover your shoulders and thighs.
- Address: Duong Xuan Thuong III village, Thủy Xuân, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
- Opening times: Open 24 hours
Trek the Bach Ma National Park
If you’re up for an adventure with nature, then you should trek the hidden gems of Bach Ma National Park. Here, you are surrounded by forests, waterfalls, and rhododendrons. The most convenient way to get there is to book a tour that includes a knowledgeable local guide, a transfer from your hotel to the park, and lunch. Don’t forget to wear long-sleeved clothing to keep insects off of you, and put on your comfortable hiking shoes.
- Address: Lộc Trì, Phú Lộc, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
- Opening times: Open 24 hours
- Entrance fee: $1.71
Sunset Cruise along Perfume River
Perfume River is a significant spot in Hue and nothing is more scenic than taking a sunset cruise through this magnificent river. This is an awesome spot to finish off your day of exploration where you see beautiful garden houses and old pagodas, while on a traditional boat.
FOOD TO TRY IN HUE
We’ve learned about some of the activities and attractions for you to try in Hue. But we feel that this what to do in Hue article won’t be complete without talking about one of the main reasons why tourists flock to this city: the local cuisine.
ALSO READ: Best snacks in Vietnam
Hue is also known as the food capital of Vietnam. Many tasty Vietnamese dishes originated in Hue and were influenced by different regions of the country according to their own preferred taste.
Hue cuisine is known for being spicy and sweet and herby. Herbs such as basil, mint, coriander, and lemongrass, as well as chillies, are some of the staple food ingredients of the local cuisine.
According to experts, these dishes were once only served exclusively to Vietnamese royalties, particularly the royal families of the Nguyen Dynasty. If the same rule still applies today, we wouldn’t have any chance of tasting the local flavours. Luckily, modernisation came and made Hue cuisine available to ordinary people.
Let’s pretend that we’re royalties and check out some of the foods you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Hue:
Nem Lui Hue
Nem Lui Hue, often abbreviated as Nem Lui, is a dish that looks like a kebab but is prepared differently. It is made by wrapping lemongrass stalks in marinated ground pork or beef and grilled over charcoal.
It is served with rice paper, rice vermicelli, cucumber, lettuce, and fresh herbs. It is eaten with a special sauce, a mixture of sesame seeds, shrimp paste, chopped garlic, chilis, shallots, fermented beans, and ground peanuts. This dish originated in Hue and is usually served in many local restaurants as an appetizer.
This dish is hard to replicate, and if other places sell this food, the taste would be very different. If you want to experience its authentic taste, don’t order this food anywhere else but in Hue. It typically costs anywhere between $1 per serving.
Com Hen basically a serving of rice topped with baby basket clams that are stir-fried in onion, garlic, pepper, fish sauce, and mint leaves; also, shrimp paste, crispy pork skins, roasted peanuts, and fresh herbs and veggies are included in one serving.
It usually is partnered with a bowl of clam broth, shredded banana blossoms, bean sprouts, and coriander leaves. You can find Com Hen almost anywhere in Hue; it is typically sold in food stalls and restaurants.
If you’re a passionate foodie, you shouldn’t pass up the experience of eating food with an explosion of different flavours: spiciness, sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, and sourness all rolled harmoniously into a single dish! Plus, the price is also sweet! As each serving only costs less than $1.
Che Hat Sen
Che Hat Sen, also known as Lotus Seeds Sweet Soup, is a dish made from lotus seeds with green rice flakes. This dish is typically eaten by the locals during summer because of its cooling effect. However, many restaurants serve Che Hat Sen nowadays, even if it isn’t summer.
Aside from its relaxing effect, another reason why you should eat Che Hat Sen is that it is packed with nutrients such as protein, the B Vitamin thiamin, and minerals such as manganese and phosphorus from the lotus seeds. And because it is 100% plant-based, it is a vegan-friendly dish, too!
I personally recommend Hue is Che Hem on Hung Vuong Street as they serve a generous amount of sweet soup compared to other restaurants in Hue. Each serving of this dessert costs around $0.15.
ACCOMMODATIONS IN HUE
Here’s a quick list of recommended places to stay in Hue, we also have a big list of accommodations if you don’t know where to stay in Hue.
For an affordable place, stay in Maily Hostel, a spot to meet other travellers. MyFa House is a great choice for a mid-range hotel where you can find comfort without spending too much. While Melia Vinpearl Hue is the best hotel if you are looking for a luxury spot.
HOW TO GET TO HUE
The fastest way to get to Hue is by taking a domestic flight. You can also take the bus which is more affordable but can be significantly slower if you are coming from Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. From Da Nang or Hoi An, Hue is only a 2.5-hour bus ride. We have an intensive article on how to get to Hue.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON WHAT TO DO IN HUE
So, we’ve covered what to do in Hue and even the local dishes that are a must. Of course, these are but the tip of the iceberg. There are more things in this city that await your arrival! Having said that, I encourage you to go on an adventure when you arrive, explore more historical sights, taste all the local foods that can be eaten, and enjoy what Hue has to offer!
I really hope we’ve given you an idea of what to do in Hue. If you’ve been to Hue yourself and you would like to add more, or if you’d like to share with us your personal experiences, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.