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Travel Guide Asia Vietnam Hue

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Introduction

Hue Pagoda

Hue Pagoda

© All Rights Reserved Neil-Sonia

Hue is the capital city of Thua Thien – Hue province, Vietnam. Between 1802 and 1945, it was the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty. Its population stands at about 340,000.

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Neighbourhoods

Hue City is located at the geographical coordinates 16 to 16.80 north latitude and 107.8 to 108.20 of the east. North and west of town Huong Tra, south of Huong Thuy Huong Thuy east town and Phu Vang district. Situated on the banks of the Perfume River, north of the Hai Van Pass to Danang 112 kilometres from Thuan An Beach 14 kilometres from Phu Bai International Airport 14 kilometres and Chan May deep water port, 50 kilometres.

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Sights and Activities

  • Imperial Citadel - The former imperial seat of government and Hue's prime attraction, this is a great sprawling complex of temples, pavilions, moats, walls, gates, shops, museums and galleries, featuring art and costumes from various periods of Vietnamese history. Thanks to its size, it is also delightfully peaceful, a rare commodity in Vietnam. The citadel was badly knocked about during fighting between the French and the Viet Minh in 1947, and again in 1968 during the Tet Offensive, when it was shelled by the Viet Cong and then bombed by the Americans. As a result, some areas are now only empty fields, bits of walls and an explanatory plaque. Other buildings are intact and a few are in sparkling condition. For the rest, while restoration has been going on for 20 years, there is still quite a long way to go. Allow several hours to see it properly. Inside you can pay USD1.50 (30,000 dong) to dress up in the king or queen's clothing and sit on the throne for a fun photo opportunity. 150,000 dong.
  • Thai Hoa Palace - The emperor's coronation hall, where he would sit in state and receive foreign dignitaries.
  • Forbidden Purple City - Directly behind Thai Hoa Palace, but it was almost entirely destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive and only the rather nondescript Mandarin Palaces on both sides remain.
  • Tombs of the Emperors - 08:00-17:00. Another of Hue's great attractions are the Tombs of the Emperors, on the Perfume River south of the city. They are accessible by taxi or bike from the city, but the best way to see them is to hire a river boat and go for a cruise. Plan to make a full day of it. 80,000 dong per tomb.
  • Thien Mu Pagoda - Perched on a bluff over the river and housing some very fine gold and silver Buddha images. The Thien Mu Pagoda overlooks the Perfume River and is the official symbol of the city of Hue. Thien Mu means "elderly celestial woman", and refers to an old legend about the founding of the pagoda. Brimming with opportunities for great photos. Free.

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Events and Festivals

  • Sinh Village Wrestling Festival - 10th day of the 1st lunar month
  • Cau Ngu Festival Thuan An Beach -10th-12nd day of the 1st Lunar month
  • Voi Fish Festival- 9th day of the 2nd lunar month
  • Praying for good crop Festival - 13th day of the 2rd lunar month
  • Ca Voi Funeral Ceremony Phu Tan Village, Phu Vang District.
  • The Mass for the Dead on the losing day of the capital At the Temples of Hue, especially at Soul Temples in the corner of Mai Tuc Loan and Le Thanh Ton Streets.
  • Duong No Ceremony
  • Vietnamese all souls' day
  • Buddha's Birth Day
  • Hon Chen Temple Festival
  • Worshipping of the Founder of jewelry Truong An ward, An Phu Cat
  • Traditional Festival for praying good crops
  • Traditional Boat Racing Festival On Huong River September 2
  • Kite-flying Festival Ngo Mon royal court. March 26

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Weather

Hue has a tropical climate with generally warm to hot conditions and high humidity. April to September is the warmest time with average days between 31 and 34º and nights around 25 °C. From December to February nights are still between 16 and 20 °C but days are just between 23 and 25 °C. Most of the rain falls from September to early January, peaking in October at a massive 700mm that month!

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Getting There

By Plane

Hue has regular connections with Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, but the airport near Danang has more flights and is about 2 hours away. The airport is 15 kilometres away from the city centre and should cost no more than 180,000 dong by taxi (30-minute ride). There is also a bus that will take you into the city & even drop you at your hotel for 50,000 dong. You can buy a ticket in the arrival hall of the airport.

By Train

Several trains a day to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang (4 hours) etc. The journey down south through Lang Co and the Hai Van Pass is particularly scenic, and from Danang you can take a taxi or motorbike to Hoi An.
A second-class sleeper from Hanoi to Hue on the SE1 (leaving Hanoi at 7:00pm) cost 710,000 dong (for a hard-sleeper, 6-person cabin, middle bunk ; bottom bunk is a little more pricey while top bunk is the cheapest). A second-class sleeper ticket from Ho Chi Minh City on the much superior 'express' SE2-SE6 train to Hue costs between 588,000 & 740,000 dong depending on the level you're on (1,2 or 3). SE 2 departs at 7:00pm.

By Car

 

By Bus

Regular buses go to Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Danang, Hanoi and also to Vientiane and Savannakhet in Laos.

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Getting Around

By Car

Like other Vietnamese cities, Hue is flooded with cyclos and motorbikes, as well as a few meter taxis. Taxi drivers are usually honest, but make sure they turn the meter on: trips start at 15,000 dong for the first 2 kilometres and tick upward at 11,500 dong/kilometre.

By Public Transport

A cyclo is the local versions of the trishaw, with the passenger in front of the cyclist. Be prepared to haggle for reasonable prices as cyclo drivers tend to quote indiscriminately. It's a good idea to agree absolutely on your price before you go.

By Foot

Hue is quite compact, so you can reach most of the hotels, restaurants, and the Citadel easily on foot.

By Bike

Hire a motorbike and join the locals as they swarm across the bridges and along the main roads at a leisurely pace. They're available for around US$5/day from hotels and shops.

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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.

The most famous local dish is bún bò Huế, a noodle soup served with slices of beef and lashings of chili oil. Another tasty local treat is sesame candy (mè xửng), which is peanutty, chewy and quite tasty if fresh and costs under 10,000 dong/box.

Nem lui is a dish of sweet, minced pork around bamboo sticks grilled over hot coals.
Banh khoai is a "pancake" filled with bean sprouts, shrimp and pork.
Bun thit nuong is barbecued pork served with vegetables and noodles.

The Shiva Shakti Indian Restaurant in Hue (22 Pham Ngu Lao Street) has excellent Indian food for great prices! The staff are really friendly as well.

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Drink

Coffee and sugarcane juice are available eveywhere.

There are lots of small cafés (quán cafe) in Hue. Going out for coffee is a favourite local pastime. Most Hue people wouldn't think of starting the morning without meeting friends over a glassful. Most coffee shops open for business in the morning, close down from about 10:30 or so until late afternoon, then open again for the after-work and evening crowds. Do try the local style, iced, either with condensed milk, or black, which means with sugar. In the south, the iced coffee comes in a tall glass with lots of ice and lots of syrupy milk. In the central area, the glass is much smaller and the coffee is usually stronger. If you don't look Vietnamese, you may be served a weaker coffee, or if you order cafe nong (hot), they will also give you an extra glass of hot water to pour in. Do try your coffee first, to taste it the way the locals like it. Something like an iced, sweet espresso, with chocolatey overtones. Generally 6,000-8,000 dong for Vietnamese people; 10,000 dong+ for foreigners.

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Sleep

There are plenty of cheap traveller hotels and mid-market hotels in Hue, as well as a couple of expensive giants. The largest cluster is around the short lane, Pham Ngu Lao (including Le Loi, Hung Vuong, Chu Van An, Nguyen Cong Tru). It's not quite as big (or backpackery) as its Ho Chi Minh City namesake, but still a definite tourist magnet. Just by walking around in the side streets of Pham Ngu Lao, you'll quickly find some guesthouses for USD5–7, depending on your bargaining skills. There are plenty of them around, too many to mention separately. Most of them are well renovated and offer the usual comforts of budget hotels like a small TV, a fridge and a proper bathroom. Wi-Fi is available everywhere, as in most parts of Vietnam. In Pham Ngu Lao itself you only get a dorm bed for the same price, so walking 100 m around the corner is probably well worth the effort. Also note, that the prices offered online are sometimes a fair bit higher than if you just show up there in person.

Upscale

View our map of accommodation in Hue or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Vietnam's international dialing code is +84. To call to other countries from Vietnam, start with 00, followed by the international number, usually without the first 0. International and domestic phone calls are available in almost every hotel or internet café. International phone charges are high in Vietnam and hotels often add a mark up fee so it is smart to always check the rates before dialling. Public phones require phone cards, which are available at post offices.

Some common and useful phone codes are:

  • 00 - International call prefix
  • 110 - Operator
  • 113 - Police
  • 114 - Fire Department
  • 115 - Medical Aid/Ambulance
  • 116 - Directory Assistance
  • 1080 - Information

Post

Vietnam Post is the government owned national postal service of Vietnam. Services are generally fairly reliable, cheap but not overly fast, except express services. Express Mail Service (EMS) ensures that letters and small parcels are delivered within 24-48 hours domestically. International EMS is associated with over 50 countries worldwide, with a delivery time ranging from 2 to 10 days. Regular services are cheaper but much slower. Most post offices keep much longer hours than most other official businesses, usually starting from 6:30am until 9:30pm and also open on Saturday and even Sunday. You can buy stamps here and they also offer other services like money transfers. You can also try other companies to send parcels, for example with DHL, TNT and UPS.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 16.4635
  • Longitude: 107.5991

Accommodation in Hue

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Hue searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Hue and areas nearby.

Contributors

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This is version 31. Last edited at 3:25 on Aug 2, 17 by sleepBot. 3 articles link to this page.

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