Hue Travel Guide.
Hue is located in central Vietnam on the bank of the Song Huong (Perfume River). It is located within a relatively short distance from the sea, 1100 km north of Ho Chi Minh City and 700 km south of Hanoi. Hue is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site and appreciated for its historical values, including the ancient complex of royal monuments.
One of the must see places on the Vietnam family vacation is Hue’s Imperial Citadel, which is a large complex that consists of museums, shops, gates, pavilions, and house temples. This is a quite calm and peaceful tourist destination that can easily take up a whole day to explore the entire grounds.
The climate in Hue can vary between wet and cold and hot and dry. The hot season runs from May to September with an average temperature in the region of 27° to 29° C. The hottest months of the year are May and June when the temperature can climb to 38° to 40° C.
The travellers to Hue on the Vietnam travel packages will experience the cold weather from October to March. During this time, there is quite a lot of rainfall and temperatures are usually in the region of 20° to 22° C, but can fall to about 9° C at its coldest.
How to get there
Traveling to Hue is relatively easy with a choice of using the air, train, or bus services.
The closest airport to Hue city centre is the Phu Bai airport, which is approx 15 km away, and offers a regular service for domestic flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival in the airport, the onward journey to the city is approx $5.50 for a motorbike taxi or $11.50 for a taxi. But, the most cost-effective option is the airport bus service at about $1.50 – although this service isn’t always running.
The main Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City north-south train line service stops in Hue to make a really convenient travel option. There is a choice of local trains and express trains. The express trains stop a lot less often so the quickest option to reach your destination.
The bus is a further travel option which is incredibly cheap, but is the most complicated and slowest option. Most are not fitted with air-con; stops are frequent and can be crowded.
The easiest travel option in Hue is the taxi which is found everywhere. The metered taxis are the best to avoid the rather scenic and unnecessary tours, and costs in the region of $0.50 per km. A single trip to the Pham Ngu Lam from the train station costs about $1.50.
Other methods to get around town include the motorbike taxis and cyclos. They are also easy to flag down and it helps to set a price before starting the journey. For instance, a short trip on a motorcycle taxi can cost in the region of $0.35 for every km, while an hour touring the city can cost about $4.50 on a cyclo.
Where to stay
Hue has the type of accommodation that ranges from world-class hotels to budget guesthouses; both make it really easy to access and explore this historic city. Plus, the budget hotels and backpacking hostels on the Vietnam tour packages are a lot cheaper and cleaner in Hue compared to those witnessed in neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Cambodia.
The most popular tourist area is in the region of the south bank of the Perfume River. This area has a lot of guesthouses and hotels to stay, including areas like Nguyen Cong Tru, Pham Ngu Lao St and Chu Van An St.
A stay at the Jade Hotel makes it possible to relax in a stunning renovated villa dating back to the 1930s. This hotel is well priced at $10 to $20 per night and it oozes charm and style. Even though the rooms are quite small, they are still kept nice and clean and include the basic amenities like nice bed linens, fridge, coffee-making facilities, TV, free Wi-Fi, and air-con. Most of the staff speaks great English and it is possible to get a discount on the price of a room if able to book early.
The Mimosa Guesthouse is located close to Kiet 66 alley which is usually peaceful and surrounded by similar colourful guest houses. It is within a short distance of Hue’s best eateries and bars and certain to appeal to the tourists travelling on a budget. Most of the lodging at Mimosa is quite small but still comes with useful features like a basic bathroom, Wi-Fi, hot water, cable TV and air-con. The cost of the rooms is in the region of $7-$10 per night (more expensive rooms include a window).
Moonlight Hotel is perfect for guests in search of the mid-range amenities and comfort with the cost per night in the region of $40-$60. The rooms are given a classy style and feature luxury bed furnishings, great views, cable TV, mini-bar and air-con. Plus, other great qualities of this hotel include the gym, fifth-floor pool and spa tubs.
Eat and drink
Hue has a wide and varied range of dining options with a choice of authentic Vietnamese dishes, as well as western cuisine.
With the heavy influx of tourists, there are great food options across the entire city with plenty of choices, including vegetarian, budget, mid-range prices, high-end prices, coffee shops, and different cuisines. A great local dish is Bun Bo Hue, which is a noodle soup with chilli oil and sliced beef. A local and delicious treat on the Vietnam private holidays is sesame candy; chewy and sweet peanuts. A visit to the Dong Ba market is great to get an authentic taste of the local dishes.
Many of the regional dishes in Hue are noble, light and elegant. Chilli and other spices play a crucial role in the local cuisine. Other great dishes to try in Hue include baby clams and com hen rice, which has a sweet-smelling flavour using a combination of herbs and spices.
Other local dishes loved by tourists include Bun bo gio heo (pork and beef with rice vermicelli), Bun thit nuong (grilled meat with rice vermicelli), banh la (sticky, sweet rice wrapped in leaves), banh la cha tom (soft pastry wrapped in leaves with egg, shrimp and meat) and banh bot loc (rice pastry with shrimp and meat)
There are plenty of shops and markets throughout Hue that sell a wide range of apparel, accessories and handicrafts that can make great gifts and souvenirs for friends and family.
Located on the northern bank of the Perfume River, the Dong Ba Market is a great place to visit to experience the traditional market feel with stalls packed with local fruits, house-ware items, clothing, and Vietnamese wine. A popular tailor shop can be found in Gia Huy Silk on Pham Ngu Lao Street, where it is possible to get the expert tailored outfit custom made in wool, cashmere, cotton, or silk; most outfits are completed within 24-hours.
For the most upmarket shopping experience there are a few really posh boutiques located close to the junction of Trang Tien Bridge.
Things to see and do
A visit to Perfume River is certain to be worthwhile on any visit to Hue. By taking a boat trip along the river, it is possible to admire many of the most striking historical and cultural sites. Plus, it can be just as nice to take a relaxing walk. If able to travel to Hue during the autumn it is possible to see the orchids in full growth that give a perfume-like aroma, which helped to give this river its name.
The Imperial Citadel
One of the most popular places for the tourist to visit is the Imperial Citadel with its charming historical sites, pavilions, museums and temples. This entire region has a very peaceful and quiet atmosphere. The network of historic sites is quite vast so it can benefit to set aside at least half a day to explore the entire area without having to be in too much of a rush.
Tombs of the Emperors
The Tombs of the Emperors are certainly worth a visit and best explored by travelling on a boat. This site is a perfect example of the local Buddhist aesthetics and architecture. The state of the tombs can vary, with some fully restored while others have been left to become ruins. This is a great place to learn about the royal families of ancient Vietnam. It is possible to easily spend half a day at the tombs, while also admiring the local countryside.
Thien Mu Pagoda
Thien Mu Pagoda is the home of a variety of Buddha statues in silver and gold that overlook the river and is regarded as the official symbol of this city.
Ho Chi Minh Museum
The Ho Chi Min Museum is packed with information and pictures related to Ho Chi Minh, while also including history of the local area. Entry to the museum is free so worth a quick visit when there is some free time in the tour itinerary while experiencing the Vietnam travel.