Hue, Vietnam

Ancient arch in Hue, Vietnam  

Updated August 13th, 2018.

The ancient city of Hue was the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945 under the Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. For those travellers interested in architecture and culture it’s an interesting destination to explore with some fascinating Buddhist temples, pagodas, palaces and tombs.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, the city has had to cope with its fair share of damage and destruction during Vietnam’s turbulent recent history. In the Vietnamese War, (1947) Hue was the site of a battle between the French and the Viet Minh. Again, in 1968, during the Tet Offensive, Hue was bombed by the Viet Cong and then shelled by the Americans.

Traces of the destruction in shrapnel marks and bullet holes can still be seen in buildings and repairs are still taking place today to help restore the city to its former glory.

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Things to do in Hue

  • Explore on foot or rent a bicycle:

Wandering around or riding a bicycle, which you can rent for about $1 / day, is a great way to explore the ancient streets. Most of the sights are in close proximity to each other.

  • Visit the Imperial Hue Citadel

Hue’s most famous attraction is the Imperial Hue Citadel, the former imperial seat of government which is a must visit sight and gives an interesting insight into Vietnamese history.

  • ‘Tombs of the Former Emperors’:

You can also visit the ‘Tombs of the Former Emperors’, located on the banks of the enigmatic Perfume River set within beautifully landscaped gardens. You’ll need to hire a bike or taxi from the city, or you can take a boat cruise on the river which is probably the best way to visit the site.

  • Indulge in local delicacies:

The local food is Hue is widely regarded to be some of the best in Vietnam. Try ‘Com Hen’ (Mussels from the Perfume River cooked with rice) Delicious and cheap, it’s a must try dish for the backpacker.

Getting there:

From Hanoi, it’s a 12 hour+ overnight bus journey to Hue.

Train Hanoi - Hue $ 5.85–71.01 12h 35m – 14h 25m
  •   VIP Sleeper 4x 19:30, 22:20
  •   2nd Class Sleeper AC 06:00, 09:00, 14:30, 14:45, 19:30, 20:10, 20:45, 22:20
  •   1st Class Sleeper 06:00, 09:00, 14:30, 14:45, 19:30, 20:10, 20:45, 22:20
  •   2nd Class AC seats only 06:00, 09:00, 14:30, 14:45, 19:30, 20:10, 20:45, 22:20
  •   VIP Sleeper 4x 15:30, 16:26
  •   2nd Class AC seats only 01:39, 05:00, 13:05, 15:31, 16:26, 17:15, 21:31
  •   2nd Class Sleeper AC 01:39, 05:00, 13:05, 15:31, 16:26, 17:15, 21:31
  •   1st Class Sleeper 01:39, 05:00, 13:05, 15:31, 16:26, 17:15, 21:31
Flight Hanoi - Hue $ 79.55–415.18 1h 10m
  •   Economy 08:40, 11:20, 13:50, 18:15, 19:40, 20:00
  •   Economy 08:50, 08:55, 10:30, 13:00, 15:40, 16:20, 20:45
Bus Hanoi - Hue $ 12.04–18.71 12h 30m – 14h 30m
  •   VIP36 07:00, 13:00, 20:00, 21:30
  •   VIP Sleeper 41 18:00
  •   Standard AC 17:30
  •   VIP Sleeper 41 17:30
  •   Standard AC 17:30
  •   VIP36 05:48, 16:18, 18:54

Where to go next?

  • Hoi An: Just three hours by bus from Hue, you’ll find this beautiful Vietnamese city that’s also a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park: Home to the world’s biggest cave, this national park is a haven for adventure lovers.


Don’t Forget: Make sure you have good backpacker travel insurance before you head to Vietnam.

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