Hue, Vietnam

Ancient arch in Hue, Vietnam  

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.

To search for accommodation in Hue, Click Here,

Top 5 Things to do in Hue

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Visit the 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.

4. 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.

5. Do the Hai Van Pass

Just south of Hue lies the road that was made famous by a particular issue of Top Gear.  Jeremy Clarkson called it “a ribbon of perfection” and “one of the best coastal roads in the world! Many backpackers experience the Hai Van Pass on their way to Hoi An as it snakes across the mountain half way between the two cities. If you want to experience it by motorbike or jeep, then travel companies can arrange to have your luggage meet you at your hostel on the other side. read our article here about taking a Hai Van Pass Tour.

Scenery on the Hai Van Pass Motorbike Tour.
Scenery on the Hai Van Pass, from Hue to Hoi An.

Getting to Hue:

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

Bus Hanoi - Hue $ 14.11 12h 20m
  •   VIP Sleeper 41 17:30
  •   VIP Sleeper 41 17:00
  •   Standard AC 17:30
Train Hanoi - Hue $ 70.25–127.28 13h – 13h 34m
  •   VIP Sleeper 4x 19:25, 20:00, 22:20
  •   1st Class Sleeper 20:00
  •   VIP Sleeper 4x 15:20

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.

Founder & Editor at South East Asia Backpacker | Author\'s Blog

Nikki Scott is the founder & editor of South East Asia Backpacker. A traveller-turned-entrepreneur, she left the UK in 2009 and after 6 months on the road, she started a bi-monthly print magazine about backpacking in Asia. South America Backpacker soon followed and today she runs her backpacking enterprise from her base in Spain. Her honest and fascinating book, Backpacker Business, tells the story of her success in the face of adversity.