Vietnam’s 19-20th Century capital under her last royal dynasty, Hue is a quiet and attractive city home to some of Vietnam’s most impressive feudal remnants. Vantours will guide you through the landmark Citadel, once the residence of the royal family, where we climb the Citadel’s colossal Ngo Mon Gate for views over the Thai Hoa Palace, with its interior of gold and scarlet ironwood columns and royal paraphernalia.
Walk the grounds of the former Forbidden Purple City, scarred by decades of war, and admire the Hall of the Mandarins and the 2 tonne dynastic urns with their fine bronze work. We take a dragon boat up the Perfume River to the celebrated Pagoda of Thien Mu in its fine hilltop location. In the lush hills beyond the city, we explore the tombs of the former emperors, the beautiful lakes, pavilions, pine groves and palace of Tu Duc, and the startlingly Baroque-influenced tomb of Khai Dinh with its ornate tiled interior.
Things you should do
• Visit to the Citadel of Hue.
• Take dragon boat on The Perfume River.
• Visit to one of the King Mausoleum.
When to go
Hue is located in the zone of typical tropical monsoon, temperate and equable climate. The city’s weather bears the combination of the north and the south climate characters with the inclination to the former. There are two seasons: the wet from August to December and the dry season from January to July, cold waves are occasional but they are of average and short lasting. Average humidity is 83.4%. Average temperature is about 26ºC, the highest is 28-30ºC in June, July, August, the lowest is 18-23ºC in December, January, February. In Ba Na Mountain, the temperature is 20ºC. Average rainfall is 2,505mm per year that concentrates during October and November
Getting there & away
+ Flight: Phu Bai Airport is about 14 km South of Hue Center. There are daily short flights between Saigon and Hanoi to Hue.
• 650 km to Hanoi
• Over 1000 km to Saigon
• Over 100 km away from Danang
• Over 130 km away from Hoian
• 80 km to Ben Hai Bridge, DMZ of North & South Vietnam from 1954 to 1975
+ Train: Daily express train services are available from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Hue.
Where to stay
Hue Imperial Hotel, 5 stars, from USD 150: The hotel is a masterpiece on high-rise building architecture and an embodiment of Asian and Nguyen Dynasty’s architecture with the exposure of cubes, colorful patterns and restored antique materials, making the hotel the most luxurious in Vietnam style. The Imperial hotel is the only site in Hue where at the sunrise or at the sunset you do not want to leave only because through your window there remains a Creator’s masterpiece- the surprisingly beautiful Perfume River. www.imperialhue.com
Hue Pilgrimage Village Resort, 4 stars, from USD 120: the harmony of soothing natural environment and local culture. Delicious meals, sound sleep, and the peaceful life of our quiet countryside combine to refresh your spirits and help to forget the troubles of life. It is also a place where skillful artists carve, polish and weave to create authentic works that are beautiful remembrances reflecting the traditional culture of Hue.
Hotel Saigon Morin, 4 stars, from USD 80: Built in 1901 by the French businessman, Mr. Morin, this architecture of colonial style lived up to its former reputation as the choice of celebrities, intrepid adventurers and discriminating businessmen. It offered everything discerning travelers would expect from a world class hotel.
Park View Hotel, 4 stars, from USD 65: the newest four-star hotel strategically located in the heart of Hue with spectacular views of the whole city, nearby the tranquil and picturesque Perfume River, close to all the renowned tourist attractions, a mere 10-minute walk to Hue Citadel and the prime commercial, shopping and entertainment areas. Park View Hotel is a unique and perfect combination of Western and Oriental architecture, especially Hue traditional concept.
What to see & do
Citadel: The main reason to visit Hue is the citadel of the old capitol, along with the royal tombs scattered around the countryside. The citadel was begun in 1804 and served as Vietnam’s capital until around 1945. The Citadel was originally made of earth, but earlier in the 19 Century, tens of thoudsans of workers laboured to cover the ramparts, built in the style of the French military architect Vauban, with a layer of bricks 2 m thick. The visit to the Citadel includes Flag Tower, Nine Holy Cannons, Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, Forbidden Purple City…
Thien Mu Pagoda: The first Buddhist Temple in Southern Vietnam, founded in 1601 by the first Lord of Nguyen-Nguyen Hoan. The new construction now is built in 1844, and has become the unofficial symbol of Hue.
Khai Dinh Mausoleum: Unlike many of the other tombs, this one is built into the side of a hill, and is, essentially, all of one piece. Its more European that the other tombs, having been built towards the end of the Nguyen period when the French were beginning to dominate the country. Parts of this concrete construction resemble a finely carved sugar confection.
Dragon Boat Tour on The Perfume River: Don’t miss this dragon boat trip up Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pogoda, and Mausoleums of The Nguyen Kings.
DMZ Tour: From 1954 to 1975, Vietnam was temprorary devided into two North and South in Hien Luong Bridge, Ben Hai River in Quang Tri Province, about 80 km away from Hue. A full day tour from Hue, you can visit the historical place, DMZ.
What to eat:
Hue is famed for its Imperial cuisine, originally prepared for the emperor and his retinue. Although the emphasis is more on presentation than taste, an imperial banquet is well worth trying. So, Hue has hundreds of noodles and little rice cakes…In general, Hue food is more spicy than other regions in Vietnam.
Bun Bo Hue: The most famous local dish in Hue, a noodle soup served with slices of beef and lashings of chili oil. This is the next favorite noodle dish after Pho in Vietnam, actually more flavorful than pho. The soup is made with beef but served with a pork hock. The soup is strong in lemongrass flavor and is delicious.
Nem Nuong Hue: Vietnamese grilled pork patty
Banh Beo Hue: a steamed rice cake, a Vietnamese version of blini, these tiny, dainty, steamed rice-flour pancakes are as adorable as can be. It is generally topped with some colorful combination of chopped dried or fresh shrimp, scallion oil, fluffy green beans, crispy fried shallots, and a drizzle of fish sauce and rice wine vinegar. Slide one into your mouth and it’s a soft, chewy, irresistible medley of tangy, salty, sweet and savory. You can’t eat just one.
Com Hen: Hot white rice is part of every meal in Vietnam, but only Hue mussel rice is served cool. Hue people, after deciding that no food should be wasted, have designed this dish using leftover rice. This dish includes Chinese vermicelli, bamboo shoots, lean pork meat, and an assortment of green vegetables (banana leaves, mint, star fruit, etc.).
How to design your tour in Hue:
If you don’t have time, then one night in Hue is enough, if you have time, two nights is better