Set along the banks of the Perfume River lies Hue, once the ancient capital and heart of the imperial Nguyen dynasty. Despite its rich history and plenty of fascinating things to do, Hue often remains off the radar for many backpackers exploring Vietnam.

However, this city, steeped in history yet surprisingly trendy, offers an ideal opportunity to delve into Vietnam’s captivating culture. Wander through ancient tombs, admire exquisite pagodas, and marvel at the majestic walled imperial city. But beyond its historical significance, Hue is a paradise for foodies and coffee lovers. Immerse yourself in the local coffee culture, including the unique Cà Phê Muối or Salted Coffee. With its heritage as the imperial capital, Hue boasts a royal cuisine, featuring delicacies not found elsewhere in Vietnam. For the adventurous traveler, Hue holds another allure—the infamous abandoned waterpark with its iconic Dragon head, which adds an extra layer of intrigue to your journey.

Whether it’s your first time in Hue or a return visit, this comprehensive travel guide aims to assist you in planning your trip. It provides essential information on accommodation options, the most fascinating things to do, a ready-to-use 2-day itinerary, and, of course, recommendations on where and what to eat in Hue.

Hue the ancient capital of Vietnam a must-see on your 3-week Vietnam Itinerary

VISA | Vietnam requires a visa for citizens of certain countries. Make sure to check the visa requirements on ivisa.com for your nationality before you go.

TRAVEL INSURANCE | Consider getting travel insurance from Heymondo when backpacking Vietnam. It’s our top recommendation for comprehensive and trustworthy coverage. Get 5% OFF through our link.

STAY CONNECTED | Buy a SIM CARD at the airport the moment you arrive or get an E-sim with Airalo to secure reliable internet access in advance.

HOW TO GET THERE | Discover the best flight deals to Vietnam on Skyscanner

GET AROUND | For the ultimate convenience and hassle-free travel in cities, we highly recommend the Grab App

ACCOMMODATION | Browse Booking.com to discover budget-friendly hostels and hotels.

TOURS & ATTRACTIONS | For booking the best & cheapest city tours and day trip excursions, check out GetYourGuide or Viator.

TRANSFERS | Ready to travel to your next destination in Vietnam? Book your bus or train tickets via 12go.

Discover the royal tombs of Hue in Vietnam

Hue, nestled amidst lush greenery and encircled by hills, holds the title of Vietnam’s highest rainfall city. It’s a place where you might find yourself reaching for an umbrella or putting on a rain poncho, yet luck may smile upon you with fair weather. The climate in Hue experiences two distinct seasons: wet and dry.

Although Hue isn’t far from Hoi An or Danang, its weather tends to be hotter and rainier, needing a daily glance at the forecast. 

Avoiding Hue from May to July spares one from the intense heat while steering clear from December to January minimizes encounters with torrential downpours. 

For optimal conditions, plan your visit between February and April when the weather is typically dry and pleasant. March, in particular, stands out as an excellent time to traverse Vietnam.

For travelers seeking adventures beyond Hue, our Vietnam Travel Tips offer a comprehensive guide to the best times for exploring various destinations across the country.

TIP | Ensure you obtain your visa before embarking on your Vietnam trip!

Vietnam Packing List what to wear tips for women dress modestly for visiting temples and historical sights

Situated in Central Vietnam, just a bit north of Da Nang and Hoi An, Hue stands as another essential stop on your Vietnam itinerary. While many travelers opt for a day trip to Hue from Hoi An, we advocate for a more immersive experience by dedicating at least two days to exploring this gem. Despite its underrated status, Hue offers a plethora of captivating things to do, making it well worth extending your stay. Spending two days in Hue allows ample time to uncover its top attractions and immerse yourself in its rich history as a former imperial capital.

JOIN A DAY TRIP TO HUE FROM DA NANG / HOI AN

While joining a day trip from Da Nang or Hoi An is a feasible option, it might not provide the most comprehensive experience. However, for those with limited time, there’s still the possibility of embarking on a day tour to Hue, which covers key sites such as the Imperial Citadel, Thien Mu Pagoda, and the Mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinh, complete with a satisfying lunch break. Along the journey, you’ll also have the opportunity for scenic photo stops at iconic locations like the Hải Vân Pass and Lap An Lagoon.

To make the most of your time in Hue, we suggest opting for a bike rental to navigate the inner city. The distances between the imperial city and other attractions are often too far to cover on foot. For those planning to explore sites like the tombs and the abandoned waterpark, renting a motorbike can offer even greater convenience as these locations are situated a bit farther from the city center.

Fortunately, most hotels and guesthouses can arrange bike or scooter rentals for the day. Alternatively, bicycle rental shops are also available within the town. If you lack experience with motorbike driving, fret not—utilize the ride-hailing app Grab to effortlessly reach your desired destinations. Just ensure you have an internet connection, either by obtaining a local SIM card upon arrival or acquiring an E-Sim from Airalo for instant connectivity.

Another option for getting around in Hue is to hire a driver for the day. This allows you the flexibility to visit various attractions at your own pace, with the convenience of having someone waiting for you at each stop. Private transfers are particularly advantageous for exploring spots on the outskirts of Hue, such as the abandoned waterpark or the tombs, enabling you to tailor your itinerary to your preferences.

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Best things to do in Hue Vietnam

Hue, a city rich in history and trendy vibes, invites you to dive into Vietnam’s captivating culture. As the ancient capital and heart of the imperial Nguyen dynasty, it stands tall as one of Vietnam’s most historic cities, often overlooked but ready to enchant.

The grand citadel is a striking symbol of Hue’s past glory, but it suffered significant damage during the Vietnam War, especially during the TET offensive. However, in recent years, Hue has bounced back, thanks in part to a rise in tourism. Today, you’ll find a lively cityscape with trendy hotels, cool bars, and plenty of delicious dining options.

Immerse yourself in the grandeur of Hue's Imperial Citadel on your 3-week Vietnam itinerary

Undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Hue is visiting the Imperial City of Hue. This walled enclosure, built in the early 1800s, served as the imperial capital of Vietnam in centuries past. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, the Imperial City remains the most famous and visited monument in Hue, despite suffering significant damage during past conflicts. While about 80% of the site was partly destroyed by American forces, ongoing restoration efforts are underway. Make sure to keep your eyes open for bullet holes that are still visible in the outer walls. 

Covering a vast area of 520 hectares, the Citadel complex is a sight to behold, featuring an array of impressive gates, walls, watchtowers, and moats. The main entrance, Ngo Mon Gate, leads to the Forbidden Purple City, the inner sanctum of the citadel, where visitors can explore gardens, palaces, pavilions, and historic gates.

For over a century, the Imperial City was accessible only to the Nguyen emperors, their families, and select individuals, with severe penalties for trespassers. Today, visitors can enjoy a royal experience by dressing as kings or queens and posing for photos on the throne, available for a small fee.

To beat the scorching heat, it’s advisable to visit early or late in the day. Sun protection like a hat and sunscreen is also recommended, as shade is limited. Remember to dress respectfully, as the site holds significant historical and cultural importance.

Depending on your accommodation location, you can reach the Citadel by walking, renting a bicycle, or using a ride-hailing service like Grab. You can explore the grounds independently or opt for a guided tour to learn more about this UNESCO World Heritage Site. While audio guides are available for an additional fee, we personally think they didn’t add much value to the visit and a guided tour would have been a better option. You can find a comprehensive map near the entrance that provides an overview of different routes to ensure you don’t miss any highlights.

ENTRANCE FEE |  200,000 VND (~$8) per person

OPENING HOURS | Every day from 7:30 AM to 5 PM

BUDGET TIP | A visit to the Citadel alone will set you back VND 200,000. However, if you’re planning to explore more of Hue’s imperial history, consider opting for a combo ticket. The combo ticket offers access to Hue’s imperial citadel along with 2 or 3 emperor tombs, depending on the option you choose. The prices for these combo tickets are VND 420,000 and VND 530,000 respectively. If you prefer to visit the tombs separately, each tomb entrance fee is VND 150,000 (around $6) per tomb.

Visit the ancient royal tombs, best things to do in Hue, Vietnam

The Nguyen emperors, who reigned over the city of Hue, commissioned the construction of elaborate tombs along the Perfume River to serve as their eternal resting places. While there are a total of 7 tombs in existence, only three—Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, and Minh Mang—are commonly visited by tourists. You can easily pair exploring these tombs with a countryside excursion and a visit to the intriguing abandoned waterpark.

Getting to these attractions is straightforward—either hop in a Grab taxi or consider renting a scooter through your accommodation. That’s exactly what we did, Hue was the only place where we rented a scooter (you know as Vietnam is crazy when it comes to traffic) but here it was very doable. Biking around the tombs was a highlight of our trip, providing a memorable experience. However, we wouldn’t recommend cycling due to the distance between the city and the tombs. 

Minh Mang Tomb in Hue Vietnam, visiting the tombs is one of the best things to do in Hue

Situated 12 kilometers outside of Hue, the Tomb of Minh Mang resides within a walled enclosure spanning several hectares. King Minh Mang, the second ruler of the Nguyen Dynasty, governed southern and central Vietnam from 1820 to 1840. As part of his ambitious construction projects, he commissioned the construction of his own funeral complex in the southwest corner of the city.

Upon arrival, visitors are greeted by expansive grounds adorned with beautiful gardens, pavilions, and statues, all exuding a sense of symmetry and tranquility. With approximately 40 buildings including palaces, pavilions, and temples, the tomb complex resembles a royal palace rather than a traditional burial site. Remarkably, the tomb was completed in just three years and boasts a unique architectural style, characterized by its simplicity and Chinese influences.

Exploring the entire tomb complex can easily occupy an hour or more, allowing ample time to appreciate its beauty and historical significance. However, it’s worth noting that access to the king’s tomb itself is limited, with the gate opened only once a year on the anniversary of Minh Mang’s death.

ENTRANCE FEE | 100,000 VND (~$4)

OPENING HOURS | 7:30 AM–5 PM

Perched on a hill, stairs towards Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh King in Hue, Vietnam

Located across the river from Minh Mang tombs, you’ll discover the Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh King, renowned as one of the best-preserved tombs in the area. The ascent to the main hall is truly striking, featuring black stone stairs flanked by warrior statues reminiscent of the famed Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, China.

In contrast to other imperial tombs, Emperor Khai Dinh’s tomb stands out for its unique use of dark-colored concrete, a departure from the traditional white or yellow hues. Upon climbing 127 stone steps, visitors are greeted by the king’s tomb, where a remarkable statue of King Khai Dinh seated on a throne captivates with its intricate adornments of colorful inlaid glass and porcelain.

Inside the tomb, opulent mosaics depicting cavorting dragons adorn the walls, showcasing the extravagant taste of Emperor Khai Dinh. Despite its relatively small size, Khai Dinh’s tomb stands as the most labor-intensive and expensive tomb of the Nguyen Dynasty. To fund its construction, King Khai Dinh imposed a nationwide tax increase of 30%, a decision that drew criticism from history.

Inside Khai Dinh Tomb, opulent & colorful mosaics, one of the most impressive things to see in Hue

Although Emperor Khai Dinh faced disapproval from the Vietnamese people for his extravagant lifestyle, his tomb remains one of Hue’s most visited sites. Completed in 1931 after 11 years of construction, Khai Dinh Tomb serves as Vietnam’s final imperial tomb.

Influenced heavily by French colonialism in Vietnam, Emperor Khai Dinh’s tomb reflects a blend of Eastern and Western architectural styles. Perched on a steep hillside, its stark white and black exterior provides a striking contrast to the colorful and ornate interior, making the Tomb of Khai Dinh a truly impressive sight to behold.

ENTRANCE FEE | 100,000 VND (~$4)

OPENING HOURS | 7 AM–5:30 PM

Tu Duc Tomb with a big lake and many pagodas, ancient royal tombs in Hue Vietnam

Another beautiful tomb to visit in Hue is the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, known for his poetry and philosophical writings. Completed in 1867, it is the most famous and grand among the royal mausoleums in the area. Unlike typical tombs, Tu Duc’s tomb feels more like a park, featuring stunning ponds, lakes, pagodas, and pavilions.

Emperor Tu Duc himself designed the tomb before his passing, intending it not only as his final resting place but also as a retreat where he could spend leisure time, much like a second Imperial City. However, the construction of the tomb incurred significant costs and involved forced labor, leading to a failed plot to overthrow the emperor.

Despite his luxurious lifestyle, which included 104 wives and numerous concubines, Emperor Tu Duc faced the sorrow of being unable to have children. The complex reflects his deep love for nature and poetry, with a large lake surrounded by wooden pavilions and tombs dedicated to his wives and favored courtesans.

One interesting aspect of Tu Duc’s tomb is that the emperor chose not to be buried here in the end but instead requested an undisclosed location, a mystery that remains unsolved. Plan to spend around an hour and a half exploring the tranquil grounds of this captivating tomb.

ENTRANCE FEE | 100,000 VND (~$4)

OPENING HOURS | 7 AM– 5:30 PM

Hue Abandoned Waterpark with the dragon head in Vietnam is a must-visit

Hue’s abandoned water park has gained quite a bit of attention online lately, mainly because of its massive dragon-shaped statue in the middle of Thuy Tien Lake. Despite being run-down and covered in graffiti, the dragon has become a hit spot for Instagrammers looking for cool photos. If you’re into checking out weird or deserted places, visiting this spooky water park is a must-do activity in Hue. It’s seriously one of the coolest places to take pictures in all of Asia.

Originally opened back in 2004, the Thuy Tien Lake water park didn’t last long before it shut down. They put a lot of money—about USD 3 million—into building it, hoping to give locals and tourists something fun to do in Hue. But it didn’t work out as planned. There weren’t enough things to do, and there were even rumors about crocodiles living in the lake (though who knows if that’s true).

Inside the dragon's head statue at Thuy Tien Abandoned Waterpark, one of the fascinating things to do in Hue Vietnam

Even though the park is technically off-limits, lots of people still go there, both locals and tourists. Some folks have even talked about being hassled by people pretending to be guards and demanding money to let them in, so watch out for that. Getting in is pretty easy, though—some people just ride their scooters right in. Just be careful because parts of it are falling apart, especially inside the dragon’s head where there’s broken glass and wires everywhere.

If you’re up for an adventure, rent a motorbike and use Google Maps to find the water park. But keep in mind, there’s talk that they might tear it down soon. So, if you want to see the dragon before it’s gone, you might want to hurry!

Indulge in Hue’s imperial cuisine, one of the best things to do in Hue Vietnam

Exploring the local cuisine is definitely one of the top things to do in Hue, and trust us, you won’t be disappointed. Thanks to its rich royal heritage, Hue boasts a unique royal cuisine, showcasing dishes that stand out from the rest of Vietnam. With flavors crafted by skilled chefs during the Nguyen Dynasty, Hue’s specialty foods are renowned for their distinctive taste. Even acclaimed chef Anthony Bourdain sang praises for Hue’s cuisine.

When you’re in Hue, the options are endless, and trying everything might seem like a daunting task. That’s where a tasting menu comes in handy—it lets you sample a bit of everything and truly experience the variety.

JOIN A STREET FOOD TOUR

Feeling overwhelmed with all the options? Consider joining a street food tour to sample the best local dishes without the hassle. These tours often include iconic dishes like “bun bo Hue” (spicy beef noodle soup) and other specialties like banh khoai (Hue-style pancakes) and banh bot loc (translucent shrimp and pork dumplings). It’s the perfect way to dive into Hue’s culinary scene and satisfy your taste buds to the fullest.

Easy Riders Day trip along the Hai Van Pass in Vietnam

This day is bound to be one of the highlights of your Vietnam itinerary, just as it was for us! If you’re traveling between Hue and Danang, you absolutely cannot miss the opportunity to conquer the Hai Van Mountain Pass, one of the most breathtaking passes in Vietnam. Known as the Ocean Cloud Pass, this approximately 12-mile stretch of roadway between Da Nang and Hue offers awe-inspiring views.

The Hai Van Pass gained worldwide fame after being featured in an episode of Top Gear, showcasing a road that winds along the mountainside with stunning views of the ocean below. It truly lives up to its reputation and is often hailed as one of the most scenic roads in the world. With its countless bends, the drive from Hue to Da Nang or Hoi An (or vice versa) offers an unforgettable journey through Vietnam’s natural beauty.

Exploring this part of Vietnam on a motorcycle is undoubtedly one of the best ways to appreciate its splendor. You can choose to rent a motorcycle or scooter yourself or opt for an easy rider tour—a fantastic option for those who want to feel the wind in their hair without navigating the roads themselves.

With our Easy Riders Guides from the Hai Van Pass day trip on our 3-week Vietnam Itinerary

On an easy rider tour, you’ll ride on the back of a motorcycle driven by an experienced professional who will take you from Hue to Danang or Hoi An (or vice versa), making stops at all the incredible viewpoints along the way. Acting as your personal guide and driver for the day, they’re familiar with all the hidden gems and perfect photo spots along the route.

While there are several companies offering day trips along the Hai Van Pass, we highly recommend the private Easy Rider Tour that we booked. Our experienced drivers, Dan and Tuan, prioritized our safety and ensured we had an unforgettable experience. They even shared some secret spots and viewpoints that made our journey even more memorable compared to other tours.

Thien Mu Pagoda, famous landmark, must things to do in Hue, Vietnam

The Thien Mu Pagoda, also known as the “Pagoda of the Celestial Lady,” is a famous landmark in Hue, offering stunning views of the Perfume River from its hilltop location. Originally built in 1601, this 7-story pagoda has a long history of destruction and reconstruction due to political unrest. Despite its tumultuous past, the pagoda remains a sacred site, often frequented by monks who can be seen wandering the grounds. Notably, the grounds also house the Austin car famously driven by Thich Quang Duc, the burning monk who tragically set himself ablaze at the Ho Chi Minh intersection to protest for Buddhism’s cause.

For a peaceful photo opportunity, consider visiting Thien Mu Pagoda in the early morning before the tour buses arrive. Alternatively, sunset offers a beautiful view over the river. No entrance fee is required, and you can expect to spend about an hour exploring the pagoda and its surroundings.

Getting to Thien Mu Pagoda is easy. You can easily reach it by bicycle, perhaps after visiting the Imperial Citadel. Another enjoyable option is to hop on a traditional dragon boat and cruise along the Perfume River, as the pagoda is conveniently located along its banks.

ENTRANCE FEE | Free

OPENING HOURS | 8 AM–6 PM

Nestled away from the usual tourist spots lies An Bang Cemetery, a remarkable burial site known as the City of Ghosts. Its nickname perfectly captures the eerie yet captivating ambiance of the place, making it one of the most intriguing things to do in Hue. In fact, it holds the distinction of being the largest cemetery in the entire country, making it truly an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

Unlike traditional graveyards, An Bang Cemetery features elaborate and vibrant colored tombs resembling miniature houses or temples. These structures are adorned with intricate designs and decorations, reflecting the rich beliefs and cultural traditions of the local community.

What sets An Bang Cemetery apart is its deep-rooted association with the belief in the afterlife. According to local folklore, the souls of the departed reside within the tomb structures, and it’s believed that these spirits can influence the lives of the living. This connection to the supernatural adds an extra layer of fascination to this already captivating site, inviting visitors to explore its mysteries and immerse themselves in Vietnamese folklore.

An Bang Cemetery is around 20 km from Hue center, so you will need a scooter or hire a grab to get here.

Visit Thuy Xuan Incense Village Hue, best things to do in Vietnam

You’ve probably seen stunning images of vibrant incense villages in Vietnam, and now, near the Mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc in Hue, you can experience one firsthand. The area is adorned with colorful bamboo incense sticks, emitting a fragrant blend of scents like sandalwood, cinnamon, and lemongrass. This traditional craft is a feast for the senses, with locals engaging in the art of incense making.

Legend has it that this incense is among the finest in Vietnam, revered by the Nguyen Dynasty. It held a special status as the sole village entrusted with supplying fragrant incense to the royal court, dynasty officials, and the entire country.

The incense sticks are skillfully arranged into stunning formations, making it a haven for photographers and anyone seeking unique experiences in Hue City. They often offer traditional Vietnamese attire rentals, complete with the iconic conical hats, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the experience for a small fee.

Wander through the Night Walking Street of Hue in Vietnam

Just like Bui Vien in Saigon and Ta Hien in Hanoi, Hue also has its popular night spot, Hue Night Walking Street. It might not share the same lively spirit though as in the main cities, it’s still a fun place to hang out at the end of the day. Situated near the Perfume River, it’s right in the heart of Hue City, nestled between the bustling streets of Pham Ngu Lao, Vo Thi Sau, and Chu Van An.

These three streets are known hubs for foreign tourists visiting Hue. Stretching approximately 1 kilometer long, it opens its doors on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, from 6:00 pm to 2:00 am.

During these vibrant evenings, the street comes alive with activity. Motor vehicles are prohibited from entering, creating a pedestrian-friendly environment perfect for strolling, exploring, and soaking up the lively atmosphere. Whether you’re in the mood for street food, live music, or shopping for souvenirs, Hue Night Walking Street offers a diverse range of experiences to enjoy.

Add more destinations to your Vietnam Itinerary

Dong Ba Market stands as the largest and oldest shopping destination in Hue City, with thousands of stalls spanning from Gia Hoi Bridge to Truong Tien Bridge. Dating back to 1899, this market holds significant historical value as both a trading center and a cultural landmark.

Today, Dong Ba Market is a bustling destination for locals and tourists alike, offering a wide range of goods from clothing to food. Strolling around local markets like Dong Ba provides a glimpse into the unique cultural identity of the region. Personally, we find the chaotic charm of Asian markets captivating, enjoying the authenticity and interactions with local vendors. We also love discovering new fruits and vegetables we have never seen before. You can buy almost anything here at the Dong Ba market, so it is also a perfect place to score some awesome souvenirs. 

The market’s food court is particularly noteworthy, featuring a variety of Hue’s signature dishes such as ‘banh beo’, Phu Hoa fried spring rolls and Banh Canh Nam Pho. It’s also famous for dishes like Com Hen and Bun Bo Hue, which even caught the attention of Anthony Bourdain. For food enthusiasts, Dong Ba Market is a must-visit, offering a chance to savor the diverse flavors of Hue cuisine all in one place. Consider joining a food tour for a guided culinary experience with explanations provided by knowledgeable guides.

Immerse yourself in Hue’s Coffee Culture and try out Salted Coffee when in Vietnam

We already mentioned that Hue is THE place for history enthusiasts as well as all our foodies out there. But we discovered on our trip that Hue is also heaven for all those coffee addicts out there! We had no idea we would stumble upon so many cute and cozy cafés. Sleek trendy cafés to boho chic or rustic alongside the water. 

Besides the city’s historical charm and scenic beauty, coffee shops in Hue offer more than just your daily caffeine fix – they provide a space for relaxation, socialization, and cultural immersion. From traditional Vietnamese drip coffee to trendy espresso drinks, Hue’s coffee scene caters to all preferences. Visitors can sip on a steaming cup of ca phe sua da (Vietnamese iced coffee with condensed milk) while soaking in the serene ambiance of a quaint café or indulge in a coconut coffee or matcha latte at a modern coffee shop.

But the real gem of Hue’s coffee culture? Cà Phê Muối, or Salted Coffee. This unique brew has become our new favorite, reminiscent of the indulgent flavors of salted caramel or salted brownies. The addition of a pinch of salted foam to the traditional Vietnamese coffee, paired with creamy condensed milk, creates a delightful contrast of flavors. Some places even serve it with ice on the side, allowing you to customize your drink to perfection.

Have you tried Cà Phê Muối before? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Photography packing list for Vietnam Must have items Tripod and Action Cam

2-day Hue Itinerary

Here’s an ideal 2-day itinerary to make the most of your time in Hue:

Day 1

  • Rent a bike to get around the city and explore the grandeur of Hue’s Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site showcasing the city’s grandeur and history.
  • Dive into Hue’s vibrant coffee scene and treat yourself to the unique flavors of Cà Phê Muối or Salted Coffee at a local café.
  • Pass by Dong Ba market to get a feel of local market life, roam around through the stalls, sample local delicacies like Bun Bo Hue, and soak up the bustling ambiance.
  • Head to Thien Mu Pagoda, an iconic Buddhist site offering stunning views of the Perfume River and immerse yourself in its serene surroundings at sunset.
  • End your day with a culinary adventure at Maison Trang, where you can savor the flavors of Hue’s imperial cuisine with a tasting menu.

Day 2

  • Rent a scooter or order a grab car and embark on an adventure beyond the city limits.
  • Discover the eerie beauty of Ho Thuy Tien Abandoned Waterpark, famous for its captivating Dragon head sculpture and perfect for some Instagram-worthy photos.
  • Visit the Royal Tombs of Emperor Minh Mang, Khai Dinh, and Tu Duc, each offering a glimpse into the history and grandeur of the Nguyen Dynasty.
  • Before heading back to the city pass by Thuy Xuan Incense Village and witness colorful bamboo incense sticks
  • Conclude your day by wandering through the Night Walking Street, where you can soak up the lively atmosphere, indulge in street food delights, and browse through local crafts and souvenirs.

With this itinerary, you’ll get to experience the best of Hue’s history, culture, cuisine, and natural beauty in just two days!

The beautiful green surroundings of the countryside of Hue in Vietnam

Hue may not be a very large city, but it’s packed with many fantastic things to do. While many of these sights are a bit of a trek from the city center, except for the Imperial Citadel, arranging transportation is necessary regardless. For a hassle-free experience, we suggest staying near the center, particularly south of the Perfume River. This strategic location allows easy access to restaurants and cafes, perfect for winding down after a day of adventures without the need for a taxi. With a diverse range of accommodations available, from budget-friendly guesthouses to exquisite retreats, there’s something to suit every traveler’s preferences in Hue.

HIGH-END | Senna Hue Hotel

Situated in the heart of Hue along the scenic Perfume River, Senna Hue Hotel provides an affordable yet luxurious experience. With the historic Citadel just a stroll away, guests can delve into Hue’s rich history before unwinding by the hotel’s inviting swimming pool.

RETREAT | Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa

Even though located in the tranquil outskirts near the tomb area, the Pilgrimage Village Boutique Resort & Spa offers a luxurious escape that’s too enchanting to overlook. If you crave an opulent immersion into Vietnamese culture, complete with top-notch hospitality, indulgent spa treatments, and a variety of onsite dining options, then this resort is your ultimate haven.

Despite its serene location, the resort provides convenient access to the town center via a complimentary shuttle service. Guests can choose from a range of beautifully furnished accommodations, including bungalows, huts, villas, and houses, all surrounded by lush greenery. For added luxury, some rooms even boast private pools.

Beyond relaxation, the resort offers enriching experiences such as Vietnamese cooking classes, Tai Chi sessions, and curated tours, ensuring a truly memorable stay amidst the natural splendor of Hue.

BOUTIQUE HOTEL | The Scarlett Boutique Hotel

Located in the heart of the city, The Scarlett Boutique Hotel offers a blend of elegance and convenience. With spacious rooms and excellent amenities, guests can enjoy a comfortable stay close to the old town’s attractions and vibrant dining scene.

MID-RANGE | Hue River Side Villa

Ideal for couples seeking a tranquil yet budget-friendly getaway, Hue River Side Villa boasts a serene riverside location. Guests can relish meals in the on-site restaurant or amidst the peaceful garden while enjoying picturesque river views from their private balconies.

HOMESTAY | Le Robinet Homestay

For budget-conscious travelers seeking comfort and warmth, Le Robinet Homestay in Hue is an excellent choice. Offering superb value for money, this charming homestay is renowned for its cleanliness and friendly staff. Reflecting the serene pace of Hue, it exudes character and warmth, providing guests with a home away from home experience. The lush garden and cozy sitting areas offer perfect spots to unwind after a day of exploration. With its proximity to the imperial citadel and local eateries, convenience is ensured. Moreover, guests can enjoy complimentary amenities such as free bikes, books, and games, enhancing their overall experience. Le Robinet Homestay truly stands out for its excellent location, welcoming atmosphere, and exceptional value, making it a highly recommended option for families and budget-conscious travelers alike.

BUDGET | Candy Inn

Nestled in a quiet side street in the city center,  Candy Inn offers cozy and well-maintained rooms along with a delightful breakfast. As it is close to restaurants and bars, this charming guesthouse provides a peaceful base for exploring Hue’s attractions. Furthermore, the hospitable owners are dedicated to ensuring a comfortable stay for their guests. Always available to offer assistance, they provide valuable tips and can facilitate various rental services, including bikes and scooters.

We mentioned it already and will emphasize it again, Hue is THE place in Vietnam for foodies and coffee lovers. Eating and drinking your way through Hue City is just one of the best things to do. For a taste of the region’s unique cuisine, we highly recommend trying the imperial tasting menus at the first two restaurants listed below. And of course, no visit to Hue would be complete without indulging in a salted coffee at one of the cozy cafés.

Madam Thu Restaurant – Specializing in regional dishes unique to Hue, “Madam Thu” offers precisely these unique local delicacies. A popular choice along the night-walking street, this restaurant offers a delicious option for a tasting menu. Be sure to make a reservation in advance to avoid long waits, especially during peak hours.

Maison Trang – Dive into the flavors of imperial cuisine with a tasting menu at Maison Trang. This family-owned establishment boasts a warm atmosphere and generous portions. Our favorite was Bánh bèo, would order a gigantic plate just of those!

Bà Gái Hue Beef Noodle Soup – Don’t be fooled by its humble appearance; this spot is renowned for its Hue beef noodle soup, a favorite among tourists. Plus it’s always packed with locals so also a good sign!

Nook Eatery – Satisfy your burger cravings and indulge in Western favorites at Nook Eatery. After traveling in Asia for a while, we understand the longing for familiar tastes, making this spot our guilty pleasure. They also offer amazing breakfast options and mouthwatering coconut coffee.

Cozy Restaurant – A favorite among travelers, Cozy Restaurant is always bustling with activity. With options ranging from vegetarian and vegan dishes to local Vietnamese cuisine, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Nhà Hàng Chay Vạn Hạnh – Located conveniently along the road to the tombs, this cozy restaurant is perfect for refueling. Offering a variety of vegetarian options, it’s an ideal spot to recharge before continuing your explorations.

Best places to eat & coziest cafés for coffee in Hue Vietnam

Best Cafés in Hue

Hiên Cà Phê – Discover this beautiful café just down the road from Nhà Hàng Chay Vạn Hạnh for a fix of salted coffee between tomb raiding.

DAUDO – Nestled along the riverbank, DAUDO offers a cool ambiance and captivating views. Don’t miss their unique salted peanut coffee, perfect for a refreshing break.

Trầm Cafe – After a stroll around the imperial palace, unwind at Trầm Cafe with a coconut coffee or one of their homemade delights.

Ca Phe Muoi – Located behind the imperial citadel, Ca Phe Muoi is renowned for its famous salted coffee, making it the perfect stop during your explorations.

Mayla – healthy bread – This place was around our corner and we loved it for a quick, delicious & affordable snack such as Banh Mi or a granola bowl. Of all places, their salted coffee was our favorite!

Binancians Coffee – A chill coffee store with a great vibe, they also have some nice refreshing drinks like passionfruit juices.

Hanok Café – Located in a small alleyway, it almost feels like a hidden gem. This Korean-style café is very aesthetic and has a fresh outdoor area, which lends itself perfectly to relaxing, reading a book, or hanging out with friends. They serve beautiful drinks, which come with a snack on the side.

How to get to Hue by sleeper train from Ninh Binh or Hanoi, traveling through Vietnam

Hue, located in Central Vietnam, serves as the capital of the coastal province of Thua Thien Hue. Situated approximately 2 hours northwest of Da Nang, another significant city in the region, Hue boasts easy accessibility from various parts of Vietnam. With its own airport bearing the code HUI, flying into Hue is a convenient option for travelers coming from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh.

Here are a few examples of how to reach Hue from different cities across Vietnam:

By Plane: Opting for a flight from Hanoi to Hue is the quickest and most convenient option, taking approximately 1.5 hours. Prices range from $50 to $100. For the best flight deals, check out Skyscanner.

By Train: For a scenic and cost-effective journey, consider taking an overnight train. Though it spans 13 hours, it saves you a night’s accommodation and offers a unique experience. Ticket prices vary between $22 and $80.

By Bus: The most economical choice is an overnight bus ride, which typically lasts around 14 hours. Prices range from $20 to $30, depending on the bus type. There are these VIP buses available via 12Go, which we took to Sapa, where you have your own cabin, a very comfortable way to travel! 

The journey from Ninh Binh to Hue takes about 11 hours. The most recommended mode of transport is the night train from Hanoi, which passes through Ninh Binh. Alternatively, you can get back to Hanoi first, and fly to Hue. But for efficiency and savings, overnight transport options like trains or sleeper buses are preferable. We chose to book the sleeper train through 12go and were pleasantly surprised by the experience. It proves to be the most cost-efficient option, offering cleanliness and punctuality. To secure your spot, it’s crucial to book at least two weeks in advance, especially during the high season when availability tends to fill up quickly.

To travel between Hue, Da Nang, and Hoi An, you have multiple options. The train is available but only stops in Da Nang, so you’ll need to arrange transport from Hoi An to Da Nang first. The train ride takes about 2.5 hours and costs between $6 and $8.

Alternatively, buses or minibusses are available, taking around 2 to 3 hours and costing about VND 170,000 to VND 200,000 ($7 to $10). Da Nang is the city closer to Hue, about 90 km away.

For a truly adventurous and unforgettable experience, consider joining an Easy Riders tour, like we did. Riding on the back of a motorcycle across the legendary Hai Van Pass is an absolute thrill, offering unmatched views and excitement. Check out the section above for more information on this option. If you’re confident in your abilities, renting a scooter or motorcycle is another great option. This iconic journey takes you along charming countryside roads, past verdant rice fields, and along the stunning Vietnam coastline, featuring the breathtaking 21km stretch of the Hai Van Pass.

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Practical Travel Gadgets & Accessories for your Vietnam Packing List

While Vietnam is generally safe for travelers, it’s wise to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances such as petty theft. In case you are thinking of renting a scooter or motorbike it’s definitely advised to look into travel insurance. Having reliable travel insurance is a smart move to ensure a smooth journey and coverage in case of accidents or injuries on the road, providing peace of mind whether you’re on a short backpacking trip or a more extended stay abroad.

Choosing travel insurance that includes medical expenses, trip cancellation or interruption, and protection against lost or stolen belongings is crucial. Review the coverage and policy details carefully to align with your specific needs.

Heymondo, a recommended provider, offers comprehensive coverage and flexible monthly plans. Their user-friendly app simplifies policy management and communication, even through WhatsApp. Coverage includes Emergency Medical Assistance, insurance for stolen or damaged luggage, Travel Disruption coverage, and Trip Cancellation Coverage. Heymondo also provides additional coverage for items like electronic equipment and adventure sports at an extra cost. 

Practical booking resources for planning your trip to Hue in Vietnam

TRANSPORTATION | For booking ferry, bus, and train rides online, we recommend using the website 12go. This platform has been our go-to across Asia, saving us from the hassle of queuing at travel agencies or bus stations. If you’re traveling during peak season, consider booking tickets ahead, some routes in Vietnam can get booked out quickly.

ACCOMMODATION | Finding affordable places to stay in Vietnam is a breeze with Booking.com. It’s the ideal platform to discover budget-friendly hostels and hotels.

FLIGHTS | Discover the best flight deals to Vietnam on Skyscanner. We love that they highlight the days with the cheapest prices for a destination, and the ability to search by month or region for flexibility.

TRAVEL INSURANCE | When it comes to travel insurance, especially for backpacking in Vietnam, consider Heymondo. It’s our top recommendation for comprehensive and trustworthy coverage.

INTERNET | Secure reliable internet access for your Vietnam trip with Airalo. Simply install it on your eSIM-compatible smartphone before your journey.

TOURS & ATTRACTIONS | For the best and most affordable city tours, day trip excursions, food tours, and cooking classes in Vietnam, check out  GetYourGuide or Viator.

VISA ORGANIZATION | Before your trip, ensure you check the visa requirements for your passport nationality. Explore details on travel documents at iVisa.com.

We hope this Hue travel guide helps you out when planning for your exciting upcoming trip. You can show some ❤ and support for the blog and help us share more adventures! Our travels are entirely self-funded, so any show of support is greatly appreciated. It allows us to keep writing helpful travel guides and gather information to make it easier for people to discover the world.

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