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Top Things to Do in Hue of Vietnam, Is It Worth to Visit Hue?

Hue is an enchanting city in the heart of Vietnam with an overabundance of history, culture, and scenic beauty well worth a visit for any traveler.

As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, the city offers a deep look into the country’s history, and the Perfume River and other natural attractions create many opportunities to enjoy the area’s beautiful environment. Unsure where to start planning your tour? Here are the top things to do in Hue. 

Where Is Hue Located in Vietnam? The Location Map of Hue

The beautiful and historic city of Hue sits in the heart of Vietnam, in the central region of the country almost equally distant between Hanoi in the north and Saigon in the south. Its location, with the Perfume River lazily passing through the city, has historically made Hue an important hub for trade administration and culture.

Getting to Hue is very convenient, with many options available. The fastest way to get there is to fly. From either Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, or Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Saigon, it is just a short hop with flights taking around 90 minutes and prices as low as $36 USD. For a more scenic journey, overnight trains from Hanoi and Saigon are also available. The journey usually takes 14-15 hours and allows you to take in the beautiful scenery along the way at a cost of around $22 USD.

Location map of city Hue

Is It Worth Visiting Hue and How Many Days Are Recommended to Stay?

Charming, and picturesque, with a deep cultural history and stunning natural surroundings, Hue and the nearby area combine many of the things that make Vietnam such a popular tourist destination. The city's historical significance, as the former imperial capital of Vietnam, is on full display in the well-preserved architectural sites, royal tombs, and the Imperial City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hue's unhurried pace and friendly atmosphere are enhanced by the serene Perfume River flowing through the city, the beautiful countryside, and delectable local cuisine.

At least 2-4 days are recommended to get the most out of your visit. That’s enough time for a balanced and unhurried experience exploring the key historical sites, sampling the local culinary delights, and taking a leisurely boat cruise along the Perfume River. Hue rewards a laid-back approach, so consider some of the optional activities if you have the time. 

Must-Do in Hue: Visit the UNESCO-recognized World Heritage Site - Hue Capital Citadel

The Hue Capital Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an important must-do during your visit. The Hue Citadel is a historical complex that was the imperial seat of power for the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 to 1945. Its sprawling layout and intricate design are stunning examples of Vietnamese architecture and a fascinating monument to Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage.

At the heart of the citadel is the Purple Forbidden City, an area formerly reserved for the emperor and imperial family. The citadel grounds are surrounded by a fortified wall and a moat and within you can explore the many palaces, pavilions, and ornate gates. Hue Citadel has been meticulously preserved, and the site also features beautifully landscaped gardens that reflect a fusion of Vietnamese and European architectural styles.

Royal relics of timeless beauty Hue Imperial City

Must-Do in Hue: Visit the Dong Ba Market, the Biggest Commercial Center of Hue

Visiting Dong Ba Market is another must while in Hue. Located in the heart of the city, it is Hue’s largest commercial hub and the perfect place for authentic Vietnamese shopping and food experiences. Dong Ba Market has been a central part of Hue’s economic and cultural life for centuries and is an immediate way to immerse yourself in local life.

Lining the narrow lanes of Dong Ba Market are vendors selling everything from fresh produce to clothing, handicrafts, and souvenirs. The market is also renowned for its bustling food section where you can sample authentic Vietnamese street food such as Bun Bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup) and Banh Khoai (a savory pancake).

Dong Ba Market, the oldest market in Hue

Must-Do in Hue: Cruise along the Perfume River and Enjoy the Sunset

However long you spend in Hue, make sure there is enough time to enjoy the sunset on a cruise along the Perfume River. The serene Perfume River travels through the stunning natural environment surrounding Hue before leisurely making its way through the city past notable landmarks such as the Thien Mu Pagoda, a historic Buddhist temple.

The Perfume River gets its name from the fragrant flowers that drop the orchards lining the river in the autumn. All along the river, you’ll see the picturesque backdrop of lush vegetation, ancient pagodas, and traditional Vietnamese villages.

A sunset cruise along the Perfume River is an experience that captures the charm and allures of the ancient city of Hue. Travelers could also choose to enjoy the characteristic royal dishes of hue or a romantic dinner while admiring the wondrous sunset.

Golden light of sunset pouring down on the quiet Perfume River in Hue

Must-Do in Hue: Explore the Royal Tombs

The magnificent burial sites of the Nguyen emperors who ruled Vietnam from Hue are stunning architectural and historical landmarks that are a must-see for anyone touring the city. Exploring the tombs is an experience to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship that went into their creation and learn about the legends and stories that are part of their history.

Each of the tombs has its own unique charm and significance. The most famous, for example the the tombs of Minh Mang, Tu Duc, and Khai Dinh, are characterized by grand designs, and intricate Vietnamese imperial architecture. Surrounding the tombs are beautifully landscaped gardens that make the Royal Tombs a peaceful retreat for visitors to wander through. 

Must-Do in Hue: Never Miss out on the Thien Mu Pagoda

The iconic Thien Mu Pagoda on the banks of the Perfume River is a prominent spiritual site and link to Hue’s cultural heritage. Also known as the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady, Thien Mu Pagoda features a striking seven-story pagoda tower that stands out against the backdrop of the serene river. Each level of the pagoda represents a different reincarnation of Buddha, and as you ascend its levels, you'll be rewarded with must-see panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

In addition to its spiritual importance, the pagoda is also a place of historical significance. It was a center of Buddhist activism during the Vietnam War and was often the location of hunger strikes, barricades, and protests against the war.

Hue Thien Mu Pagoda
Hue Thien Mu Pagoda.

Must-Do in Hue: Enjoy Traditional Vietnamese Cuisine

Hue is a city renowned for its culinary delights. With its focus on royal and imperial dishes, the city’s food is at once deeply traditional as well as unique among the wide range of Vietnamese cuisine. Hue’s traditional cuisine is notable for its balance of flavors, beautiful presentation, and the use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

The iconic local dish that can’t be missed is "Bun Bo Hue", a spicy beef noodle soup made with tender beef, vermicelli noodles, and a fragrant lemongrass-infused broth. Also make sure to try “Com Hen” a spicy rice dish made with clams, and “Banh Khoai” a crispy pancake filled with shrimp and bean sprouts. Whether it’s in quaint local restaurants or bustling street food stalls, Hue’s authentic, mouthwatering food will be a memorable part of your time there.

A Vietnamese classic cuisine: Bun Bo Hue

Must-Do in Hue: Enjoy the Salty Coffee with Delicious and Unique Flavor

Hue boasts a distinctive coffee culture with a unique local specialty. Known as "Cà Phê Muối", it is a salty coffee made using robust Vietnamese coffee beans, with a pinch of salt and a dash of condensed milk added to the final brew.

The unusual blend is a delightful combination of rich coffee flavor with a subtle saltiness balancing the sweetness of the condensed milk. It is a drink beloved by locals and a great pick-me-up when out exploring the city's markets and historical sites. 

Optional Activity in Hue: Visit Ho Thuy Tien, an Abandoned Water Theme Park

A short drive from the city center is a surreal and offbeat attraction worth a visit, if you have the extra time. Ho Thuy Tien is an abandoned water theme park that was once a popular attraction. Forced to close due to financial troubles, the park has been gradually reclaimed by nature to create a haunting site for urban exploration. The massive dragon-shaped entrance is now engulfed by overgrown foliage, and the graffiti-covered buildings and empty pools all make for striking photo opportunities.

Vietnam's most unique attraction: abandoned water park

Optional Activity in Hue: Visit Thanh Toan Japanese Bridge

Dating back to the 18th century, Thanh Toan Bridge, also known as the Japanese Bridge, stands as a symbol of the strong cultural ties that existed between Japan and Vietnam at that time. It is a covered bridge built in a Japanese architectural style decorated with intricate wood carvings in a distinctive red hue.

The design elements are a unique combination of Japanese, Chinese, and Vietnamese styles, blended into a picturesque fusion of cultures. Than Toan’s tranquil setting is a great opportunity for a peaceful stroll away from the bustle of the city.

Street vendors sitting beside Thanh Toan bridge

Optional Activity in Hue: Chill at One of the Beaches Near Hue

Have more time and want to escape the busy urban environment of Vietnam? A short drive from Hue will take you to one of the area's pristine and relaxing beaches. Lang Co beach, located about 30 kilometers away, has tranquil waters perfect for swimming and water sports, and beautiful white sand beaches set against a backdrop of lush mountains.

Even closer to Hue is Thuan An Beach. Known for its scenic beauty, it is a great place to spend a calm day by the sea, enjoy local seafood, or take a boat ride to explore the area’s picturesque lagoon. Learn more about beach resorts in Vietnam.


Food, history, culture, beaches, Hue has it all. No matter what kind of experience you’re looking for, visiting Hue can’t help but immerse you in the fascinating local culture and create unforgettable memories of experiences you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Contact us for more details and get started planning your Vietnam tour of Hue right away.

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