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Hue Travel Guide – Everything to know before visiting Hue City

May 25, 2024

Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam, is a captivating destination that seamlessly blends history, culture, and natural beauty. As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, Hue offers a unique insight into Vietnam’s rich past and a chance to immerse yourself in the tranquil charm of the Perfume River. Whether you’re drawn to the grandeur of the Imperial Citadel, the serene beauty of the royal tombs, or the allure of the surrounding landscapes, Hue is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Vietnam. You can see detailed Hue travel guide below:

Hue Imperial Citadel, Vietnam

Hue Imperial Citadel, Vietnam

Things to know before visiting Hue City

1. How to get there?

Hue is located in central Vietnam, approximately 700 kilometers south of Hanoi and 1,100 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City. Visitors can access Hue by various means of transportation, each with its own advantages and considerations.

By Plane: Hue’s Phu Bai International Airport (HUI) serves domestic and some international flights, making it the most convenient way to reach the city. Major airlines, such as Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, and Jetstar, offer regular flights from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and other regional hubs. The airport is located approximately 15 kilometers from the city center, and travelers can easily arrange private transfers or utilize local taxi services to reach their final destination.

By Train: Hue is a stop on the North-South Railway, also known as the Reunification Express, which connects Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The train journey from Hanoi takes around 12-14 hours, while the trip from Ho Chi Minh City is around 16-18 hours. The train station is conveniently located in the heart of Hue, making it a practical option for those seeking a more leisurely and scenic journey.

By Bus: Numerous bus companies offer regular services to Hue from major cities across Vietnam, including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, and Nha Trang. Bus journeys can be lengthy, but they provide a cost-effective option for budget-conscious travelers. The bus station is situated near the city center, allowing easy access to your accommodation.

By Private Car or Taxi: For those who prefer a more personalized and comfortable journey, hiring a private car or taxi is a viable option. This method is particularly convenient for groups or families, as it allows for flexibility in the travel itinerary and the ability to make stops along the way.

2. How easy is Hue to get around?

Navigating Hue is relatively straightforward, with a variety of transportation options to suit different needs and budgets.

Walking: The historic center of Hue, including the Imperial Citadel and surrounding attractions, is compact and easily accessible on foot. Exploring the city’s charming streets and discovering hidden gems is a delightful way to experience the local atmosphere.

Bicycles: Renting a bicycle is a popular and eco-friendly way to explore Hue. Many hotels, hostels, and dedicated tour operators offer bicycle rentals, allowing you to venture out at your own pace and discover the city’s hidden nooks and crannies.

Taxis and Ride-hailing Services: Taxis and ride-hailing apps, such as Grab, are widely available in Hue and provide a convenient way to get around the city, especially for longer distances or when visiting attractions outside the city center.

Motorbikes: Renting a motorbike is a thrilling way to navigate Hue and the surrounding areas. This mode of transportation allows for greater flexibility and the ability to explore more remote destinations, such as the Hai Van Pass or Bach Ma National Park.

Cyclos: Hue is one of the few remaining cities in Vietnam where you can still find traditional cyclos (three-wheeled bicycle taxis). Riding in a cyclo is a unique and leisurely way to soak in the sights and sounds of the city.

Boat Tours: The Perfume River is a defining feature of Hue, and taking a boat tour is an excellent way to experience the city from a different perspective. Boat trips are available for exploring the river, visiting the royal tombs, and even taking in the sunset.

2. Check Vietnam visa requirements

Before visiting Hue, it’s essential to ensure that you have the proper documentation to enter Vietnam. The visa requirements for Vietnam vary depending on your nationality and the purpose of your visit.

Tourist Visa: Most travelers to Hue will require a tourist visa, which can be obtained in several ways:

  • Vietnam E-Visa: Vietnam offers an electronic visa (e-Visa) that can be applied for and obtained online prior to your trip. This option is convenient and suitable for single or multiple entry stays of up to 90 days.
  • Vietnam Visa on Arrival: Travelers can also apply for a visa on arrival at major international airports in Vietnam, including Phu Bai International Airport in Hue. This method requires obtaining a pre-approval letter before your arrival.
  • Visa through a Travel Agency: Many travel agencies and tour operators can assist with obtaining a Vietnam visa, either by arranging an e-Visa or a visa on arrival.

Visa Exemptions: Citizens of certain countries, such as Japan, South Korea, and Nordic countries, may be eligible for visa-free entry to Vietnam for stays of up to 45 days. It’s essential to check the current visa requirements for your nationality before planning your trip to Hue.

4. Health and safety in Hue

Hue, like much of Vietnam, is generally a safe destination for travelers. However, as with any destination, it’s essential to take some precautions to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit.

Health Considerations: The climate in Hue can be quite hot and humid, especially during the summer months. Staying hydrated, using sunscreen, and taking breaks from the heat are essential. Visitors should also be aware of potential health risks, such as food-borne illnesses or insect-borne diseases, and take appropriate preventive measures, such as consulting with a healthcare professional before your trip.

Safety Precautions: Petty crime, such as pickpocketing or bag snatching, can occur in busy tourist areas. It’s recommended to keep valuables secure and avoid displaying expensive items. Additionally, be cautious when navigating busy streets, as traffic in Hue can be chaotic. Use designated pedestrian crossings and follow the lead of local residents when crossing the road.

Emergency Contact Information: Before your trip, familiarize yourself with the emergency contact numbers in Hue, such as the local police, medical facilities, and your embassy or consulate. This information can be crucial in the event of an emergency.

5. ATMs, cash and cards in Hue

Vietnam, including Hue, is primarily a cash-based society, though the use of credit and debit cards is becoming more widespread, especially in larger cities and at major tourist attractions.

ATMs: ATMs are widely available throughout Hue, located in the city center, near major hotels and tourist sites, and in shopping areas. These ATMs typically accept major international debit and credit cards, allowing you to withdraw Vietnamese Dong (VND) as needed.

Cash: It’s recommended to carry a sufficient amount of VND cash for your daily expenses, such as dining, shopping, and transportation. Many smaller businesses, street vendors, and local markets may not accept credit or debit cards, so having cash on hand is essential.

Cards: While credit and debit cards are accepted at some larger hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls in Hue, it’s important to check with the establishment beforehand. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted cards, while American Express and Discover may have limited acceptance.

Currency Exchange: Currency exchange offices and banks can be found in Hue, allowing you to exchange your home currency for VND. Be sure to compare exchange rates and any applicable fees before making a transaction.

Tipping: Tipping is not an expected practice in Hue, though rounding up the bill or leaving a small gratuity (5-10%) is appreciated, especially at restaurants and for tour guides or porters.

6. Internet WIFI and 4G in Hue

Staying connected during your visit to Hue is generally easy, with a range of options available for accessing the internet.

WiFi: Most hotels, hostels, cafes, and restaurants in Hue offer free WiFi access to their guests and customers. The quality and reliability of the WiFi can vary, but it’s generally sufficient for basic internet browsing and communication.

4G/LTE: Vietnam has a well-developed 4G/LTE network that covers Hue and the surrounding areas. Visitors can purchase a local SIM card with a data plan, allowing them to access the internet on their mobile devices while exploring the city.

Internet Cafes: For those who prefer a more traditional approach, there are several internet cafes located throughout Hue, particularly in the city center. These cafes offer desktop computers and high-speed internet access, making them a convenient option for tasks such as checking emails or accessing online resources.

VPNs: While the internet in Hue is generally accessible, some travelers may prefer to use a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure a secure and private connection, especially when accessing sensitive information or using public WiFi networks.

It’s important to note that internet speeds and reliability may vary depending on your location and the time of day. Additionally, some websites or services may be subject to occasional restrictions or censorship, so it’s a good idea to have a VPN or alternative options available if needed.

Best Time to Visit Hue: When to Go & Monthly Weather

The best time to visit Hue largely depends on your personal preferences and the type of experience you’re seeking. Hue’s climate is influenced by its location in central Vietnam, with distinct seasons and varying weather patterns throughout the year.

High Season (March to August): During the dry season, Hue experiences warm and sunny weather, with average temperatures ranging from 25°C to 35°C (77°F to 95°F). This period is the peak tourist season, as the weather is generally pleasant, and the city’s attractions are easily accessible.

Low Season (September to February): The rainy season in Hue coincides with the cooler months, with average temperatures ranging from 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F). While the weather may be more unpredictable, this period can offer a more authentic experience, as the city is less crowded, and some attractions may be less expensive.

Monthly Weather Breakdown:

  • January: Temperatures range from 15°C to 22°C (59°F to 72°F), with the potential for light rain.
  • February: Temperatures range from 16°C to 23°C (61°F to 73°F), with the rainy season starting to ease.
  • March: Temperatures range from 18°C to 25°C (64°F to 77°F), with increasing sunshine and less rainfall.
  • April: Temperatures range from 21°C to 28°C (70°F to 82°F), with warm and dry conditions.
  • May: Temperatures range from 24°C to 32°C (75°F to 90°F), with the start of the hot and humid summer season.
  • June: Temperatures range from 26°C to 34°C (79°F to 93°F), with high humidity and occasional thunderstorms.
  • July: Temperatures range from 27°C to 35°C (81°F to 95°F), with the hottest and driest conditions of the year.
  • August: Temperatures range from 26°C to 34°C (79°F to 93°F), with the rainy season beginning to return.
  • September: Temperatures range from 24°C to 31°C (75°F to 88°F), with increased rainfall and the potential for typhoons.
  • October: Temperatures range from 21°C to 28°C (70°F to 82°F), with the rainy season in full swing.
  • November: Temperatures range from 18°C to 25°C (64°F to 77°F), with the start of the cooler, drier months.
  • December: Temperatures range from 15°C to 22°C (59°F to 72°F), with the potential for light rain and misty conditions.

When planning your trip to Hue, consider your personal preferences, the activities you wish to engage in, and the weather conditions that best suit your needs. The high season may offer more favorable weather, but the low season can provide a more authentic and less crowded experience.

Best things to do in Hue

Hue is a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, offering a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors to explore. From the imperial grandeur of the Citadel to the serene landscapes of the surrounding countryside, Hue has something to captivate every traveler.

1. Hue Imperial Citadel

Hue Imperial Citadel, Vietnam

Hue Imperial Citadel, Vietnam

The Hue Imperial Citadel is the crown jewel of Hue’s historical attractions. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was the seat of the Nguyen dynasty, the last ruling family of Vietnam, and serves as a testament to the country’s imperial past.

The Citadel is divided into several sections, including the Forbidden Purple City, the Imperial City, and the Outer Citadel. Visitors can wander through the grand gates, explore the intricate architecture, and learn about the rich history that unfolded within these walls.

Highlights of the Imperial Citadel include the Thai Hoa Palace, the Throne Room, and the Ngo Mon Gate, which offers panoramic views of the Citadel and the Perfume River.

2. Lang Co beach

Situated approximately 25 kilometers northeast of Hue, Lang Co beach is a picturesque coastal destination that offers a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. Renowned for its pristine white sand, turquoise waters, and dramatic mountain backdrop, Lang Co is a popular day trip or weekend getaway for both local and international visitors.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities at Lang Co, including swimming, sunbathing, and water sports such as kayaking and paddle boarding. The beachfront is lined with charming seafood restaurants, serving up fresh local catches and offering stunning ocean views.

For those seeking a more luxurious experience, Lang Co is also home to several high-end resorts, providing the perfect setting for a relaxing beach vacation.

3. Tombs and Temples

Khai Dinh Royal Tomb, Hue

Khai Dinh Royal Tomb, Hue

Hue is renowned for its impressive collection of royal tombs and temples, which offer insights into the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Royal Tombs: Scattered throughout the countryside surrounding Hue, the royal tombs of the Nguyen dynasty are true architectural gems. Some of the most notable tombs include the Tomb of Minh Mang, the Tomb of Khai Dinh, and the Tomb of Tu Duc, each with its own distinct style and historical significance.

Thien Mu Pagoda: This iconic seven-story pagoda, situated on the banks of the Perfume River, is one of the most famous religious sites in Hue. The pagoda, along with the nearby An Dinh Palace, offers a serene and picturesque setting for visitors to explore.

Ruins of the Imperial City: In addition to the well-preserved Imperial Citadel, Hue also features the ruins of the former Imperial City, which were largely destroyed during the Vietnam War. Visitors can wander through the crumbling walls and foundations, imagining the grandeur of this once-thriving center of power.

4. Hai Van Pass

The Hai Van Pass, often referred to as the “Ocean Cloud Pass,” is a breathtaking mountain road that connects Hue to Danang. This winding, scenic route offers stunning vistas of the coastline, with towering cliffs and picturesque beaches on one side and lush, forested mountains on the other.

Travelers can explore the Hai Van Pass by car, motorcycle, or even on a bicycle, taking in the stunning views and stopping at various viewpoints and small villages along the way. The pass is also a popular destination for photography enthusiasts, who come to capture the ever-changing play of light and shadow on the dramatic landscapes.

5. Bach Ma National Park

Bach Ma National Park, Hue

Bach Ma National Park, Hue

Nestled in the Truong Son mountain range, just 40 kilometers from Hue, lies the stunning Bach Ma National Park. This protected area is renowned for its diverse ecosystems, including lush tropical forests, cascading waterfalls, and serene lakes.

Visitors to Bach Ma National Park can engage in a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, birdwatching, and exploring the park’s numerous trails. The park’s highest point, the Bach Ma Summit, offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and the East Sea.

In addition to its natural wonders, Bach Ma National Park is also home to several cultural sites, including the ruins of a former French colonial hill station and the historic Thanh Tan Hot Springs.

6. Dong Ba market

No visit to Hue would be complete without a stroll through the bustling Dong Ba market, the city’s main commercial hub. This vibrant marketplace offers a fascinating glimpse into the local way of life, with stalls selling a wide array of goods, from fresh produce and local delicacies to traditional handicraftsand souvenirs.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, and smells of Dong Ba market, bargaining with vendors and sampling an array of local dishes at the food stalls. Popular items to purchase include conical hats (non la), silk clothing, colorful lanterns, and aromatic spices, allowing visitors to take home a piece of Hue’s vibrant culture.

7. Dragon boat trip on the Perfume River

Huong River, Hue

Huong River, Hue

The Perfume River, named for the fragrant scent of flowers that drifts along its banks, is a central feature of Hue’s landscape and history. A dragon boat trip along the river offers visitors a unique perspective of the city, with views of the Imperial Citadel, Thien Mu Pagoda, and the lush countryside that surrounds Hue.

Dragon boats, adorned with colorful flags and manned by skilled oarsmen, glide gracefully along the river, providing a tranquil and scenic journey for passengers. Many boat tours also include traditional music performances and opportunities to sample local delicacies, creating a memorable and immersive experience for visitors.

8. Cycling

Exploring Hue by bicycle is a popular and rewarding way to discover the city’s hidden gems and picturesque landscapes. Several tour operators in Hue offer guided cycling tours, taking visitors off the beaten path to explore rural villages, rice paddies, and historic sites.

Cycling allows travelers to immerse themselves in the local culture, interacting with villagers, observing traditional crafts, and sampling authentic cuisine along the way. Whether pedaling through the countryside or navigating the bustling streets of the city, cycling offers a unique and environmentally-friendly way to experience Hue’s charm.

9. DMZ – Vietnam’s Demilitarized Zone

For history enthusiasts and those interested in Vietnam War-era sites, a visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) near Hue provides a poignant glimpse into the country’s tumultuous past. The DMZ, which once separated North and South Vietnam, is dotted with historical landmarks, battlefields, and memorials that tell the story of the war and its impact on the region.

Popular sites to visit in the DMZ include the Vinh Moc Tunnels, where villagers sought refuge from bombing raids, the Khe Sanh Combat Base, site of a major battle during the war, and the Hien Luong Bridge, which symbolically divided the country. Guided tours offer insight into the events that shaped this region and provide a sobering reminder of the human cost of conflict.

In conclusion, Hue offers a wealth of experiences for travelers seeking to immerse themselves in Vietnam’s rich history, culture, and natural beauty. From exploring ancient citadels and royal tombs to relaxing on pristine beaches and cruising along scenic rivers, Hue captivates visitors with its diverse attractions and warm hospitality. By planning your visit carefully, considering the best time to go, and exploring the top things to do in Hue, you can create memories that will last a lifetime in this enchanting city.

More tips for traveling in Hue

1. Where to go next?

After exploring the wonders of Hue, visitors may be wondering where to head next on their Vietnamese adventure. One popular option is to travel south to the vibrant city of Hoi An, known for its well-preserved ancient town, lantern-lit streets, and picturesque waterfront. Alternatively, travelers can journey north to the bustling metropolis of Hanoi, with its rich history, bustling markets, and world-class street food.

For those seeking relaxation and natural beauty, a trip to the pristine beaches of Da Nang or the idyllic islands of Phu Quoc could be the perfect choice. Whatever your interests, Vietnam offers a diverse range of destinations to continue your exploration beyond the captivating city of Hue.

2. Visiting Hue with kids

Traveling to Hue with children can be a rewarding experience, as the city offers a mix of cultural attractions, outdoor activities, and family-friendly amenities. Kids will enjoy exploring the Imperial Citadel, learning about Vietnam’s history at the various tombs and temples, and taking a leisurely boat ride on the Perfume River.

For outdoor adventures, families can visit Bach Ma National Park for hiking and wildlife spotting, or head to Lang Co Beach for sun, sand, and water sports. Hue also has several parks and playgrounds where children can burn off energy and interact with local kids.

When it comes to dining, many restaurants in Hue cater to families with kid-friendly menus and seating options. With its welcoming atmosphere and wealth of experiences, Hue is a great destination for a family vacation in Vietnam.

3. How to dress

When visiting religious sites, such as pagodas and temples, it is important to dress modestly out of respect for local customs and traditions. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and knees, and remove hats and shoes before entering sacred spaces.

Additionally, Vietnam has a tropical climate with hot and humid weather, so lightweight, breathable clothing is recommended. It is also a good idea to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun during outdoor excursions.

Comfortable walking shoes are essential for exploring the city’s historical sites and navigating its uneven terrain. In the rainy season, from October to December, a raincoat or umbrella may also come in handy.

By dressing appropriately and being prepared for the weather, visitors can ensure a comfortable and respectful experience while traveling in Hue.

FAQs

  1. Is it safe to drink tap water in Hue? It is not recommended to drink tap water in Vietnam, including in Hue. Bottled water is widely available and affordable, so it is best to stick to sealed bottled water to stay hydrated and avoid any potential health risks.
  1. What currency is used in Hue? The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). While some businesses may accept US dollars or major credit cards, it is advisable to have local currency on hand for small purchases and transactions.
  1. Do I need to tip in restaurants in Hue? Tipping is not customary in Vietnam, including in Hue. However, if you receive exceptional service, a small tip is appreciated but not expected. Some upscale restaurants may include a service charge in the bill, so it is worth checking before leaving an additional tip.
  1. What language is spoken in Hue? Vietnamese is the official language spoken in Hue, although English is widely understood in tourist areas and hotels. Learning a few basic Vietnamese phrases can enhance your travel experience and help you connect with locals.
  1. Are there any cultural etiquette tips to keep in mind in Hue? When visiting religious sites or interacting with locals, it is important to show respect by removing your shoes before entering homes or temples, refraining from public displays of affection, and addressing people with a polite greeting like “xin chao” (hello) or “cam on” (thank you).

In conclusion, Hue is a captivating city that offers a harmonious blend of history, culture, and natural beauty for travelers to explore. From the ancient walls of the Imperial Citadel to the tranquil waters of the Perfume River, Hue enchants visitors with its diverse attractions and warm hospitality.

By planning your visit carefully and considering the best time to go, you can make the most of your time in this enchanting city. Whether you choose to delve into Hue’s rich heritage, indulge in its culinary delights, or simply relax on its pristine beaches, Hue promises an unforgettable travel experience for all who venture to this gem in central Vietnam.

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