Last Updated on September 13, 2020 by queenie mak
Planning a three-week itinerary in Vietnam was somewhat tricky because of all the things there is to do. Initially, we were going to visit the north (Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay), south (Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne) and check out Phu Quoc’s beautiful white sand beaches and blue water, and skip out the entire central region. However, I don’t feel that a complete Vietnam trip would exclude Hoi An and Hue. Sorry Phu Quoc, will have to catch you next time!
Pronounced ‘hway’, this ancient city was the capital of Vietnam for 150 years which explains the royal culture and lifestyle that influence all aspects of life in Hue. From the complex local architecture to the aesthetics of food preparation, everything is done with precision.
To be quite honest, if there is only one region you must visit in Vietnam, you must visit the central region. Both Hue and Hoi An are amazing places, and they both captured our hearts and filled our tummies with delicious food.
Related Post – The Ultimate 3 Week Itinerary for Vietnam
Is Hue worth visiting?
With countless temples and tombs scattered around Hue, it might take some time to see them all. So pick and choose. And if you are press for time, rent a scooter and make your way around the city. The traffic is not as crazy as Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, but it’s not like country-side traffic like Ninh Binh. Travelling around Hue is super easy to do for any solo female traveller.
If you are a history buff or like to learn more about the recent history in Vietnam, Hue is the place you want to be. Hue was the centre of the bloodiest battle and massacre during the Vietnam War. During the Battle of Hue, the Americans destroyed 80% of the city. When you visit Hue, you will see how the city is trying to restore the Royal Palace and other famous temples.
And did I mention the food is excellent? If you are a solo female traveller and a foodie, like me, you will love Hue! This city has the best food in the entire country! Northern cuisine is savoury and not as spicy while the food in southern Vietnam is sweeter. But central Vietnam serves up some fantastic flavours that you will not find anywhere else. And don’t worry about dining alone. It is very common to be eating by yourself in Asia.
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What to Do in Hue
Most people will come to Hue and visit the Royal Palace. As a Unesco World Heritage Site, the walled palace showcases the late feudal urban planning in East Asia. The central structure was used as an administrative centre for southern Vietnam during the 17th and 18th centuries. Within the complex, it also houses the Imperial Residence, the Imperial City, and the Forbidden Purple City and related royal palaces. Even though the Royal Palace suffered from the effects of three wars, the city of Hue puts a lot of effort into the restoration and preservation of these important historical sites.
Also, there are many tombs of past emperors all over the city. They can be seen either on tour or simply rent a scooter.
Here are some of Hue’s top attractions that are worth visiting:
Hue War Museum
Night Market along Perfume River
Van Mieu (Temple of Literature)
Tomb of Minh Mang
Thien Mu Pagoda
Truong Tien Bridge
Bach Ma National Park
Day trip from Hue
Going to Hoi An couldn’t be easier! There are many ways to go from Hue to Hoi An and vice versa. It is a matter of personal preference and budget.
On my last trip, I decided to hire a private car. The driver from Da Nang Private Car met us at the airport and drove us to Hue in a comfortable vehicle. On the way, we stopped at various sites like Hai Van Pass, Lang Co Beach and we even had a fantastic seafood lunch at a lakeside restaurant called Hải sản Bé Thân. The car service is easy to book, a deposit is not required, and cost about $50USD. It is a more expensive option compared to other forms of transportation, but it allows you to travel on your own time and schedule.
Related Post – Everything you need to know about Hai Van Pass
Interested in tours around Hue? Try one of these tours below:
What to Eat in Hue
Hue is a culinary powerhouse. There is no shortage of fantastic food in Hue! You are only limited by the time you have in this city.
From chefs preparing food for the royal parties during the Nguyen dynasty to the local chefs who know the local ingredients well, the myriad of food in Hue is exceptional. The cultural traditions of food preparation continue to thrive in modern-day Hue where food plays an important role in local culture and lifestyle.
You must experience all the delicate flavours of Hue. Try all of these iconic dishes:
- Bánh bèo (tiny rice flour pancakes with shrimp and pork skin)
- Bún bò huế (Vietnamese soup with rice vermicelli and beef)
- Bánh canh (crab and tapioca noodle soup)
- Bánh khoai (pan-fried crepe with shrimp and pork)
- Nem lui (lemongrass pork skewers)
- Bánh loc goi (tapioca dough stuffed with shrimp and pork)
- Bánh nam (steamed rice savoury cake with fried ground shrimp and pork wrapped in banana leaves)
- Bánh ép (thin tapioca pancake with a side of pork, pate, dried beef, or egg)
- Cơm hến (clam rice)
- Bun hen (rice vermicelli noodles with baby clams)
- Bánh tráng trứng (rice cracker pizza)
- Trai va salad (salad with Hue’s fig, hoisin sauce, or salty fermented shrimp paste)
Where to eat in Hue
- Hanh Restaurant – 11 Pho Duc Chinh; try bánh bèo, bánh khoai, nem lui, and bánh loc goi and drink huda (local beer). Ordering is easy as there are photos on the menu. The staff here is very helpful.
- Madam Thu Restaurant – 45 Vo Thi Sau Street; food is presented nicely, and it tastes good too!
- Dong Ba Market – Tran Hung Dao Street; try a bowl of bún bò huế here. As Anthony Bourdain calls it “the greatest soup in the world.”
Where to Stay in Hue
The majority of the accommodation is in Hue City, just east of Perfume River. If you stay in this area, exploring the Royal Palace, Dong Ba Market and other central attractions can be done on foot.
Hotel accommodations can range from $25-40USD per night for a comfortable room. There are other luxurious options if you (and your wallet) are up for it. Because the hotel prices are quite reasonable and competitive in Hue, we chose a hotel over the Airbnb option.
- Alba Spa Hotel ($) – I really liked the colour palette of the room, price and location of this hotel. If you want to stay overnight in Hue, this is the best budget hotel in Hue.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
Otherwise, there are other more economical options like rustic homestay and shared-room which can be found on Airbnb.
And if you are not part of Airbnb yet, please use this code to claim your $35 Airbnb discount.
Related Post – Everything you need to know before booking Airbnb