Travel to Hue

Mandarins at Khai Dinh Tomb

My cousin, Chris, visited me while I was living in Vietnam. He went to some places around Hanoi while I was working. And we were able to travel to Hue for a long weekend to explore the Imperial City. The main city is beautiful and historic. One can see the Citadel and several emperors’ tombs. Running through Hue is the scenic Perfume river. There’s enough to see in Hue for a couple of days. And we took a one day tour towards the north of Hue to see the interesting Vinh Moc Tunnels and a few other sights.

One of the funny experiences we had was to get a massage at the Blind Association of Thua Thien Hue. We decided to support the organisation, and the prices were quite cheap. However, the massage was unlike anything we had ever experienced or expected. It was not really relaxing but it was unique. Afterwards, we were both giggling because we had been whacked on the forehead several times, and it felt like they were slapping us. However, I would still recommend it because it is something unique to try and it supports the association.

Beautiful, colourful incense in Hue
Beautiful, colourful incense in Hue
Perfume river, Hue
Perfume river, Hue
Khe Sanh Combat Base
Khe Sanh Combat Base

Highlights

  • Imperial Palace and Citadel
  • Perfume River
  • Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang
  • Khai Dinh Tomb
  • Watch the women making colourful incense sticks
  • Tour to an ethnic minority village
  • Vinh Moc Tunnels
  • The Rockpile Mountain
  • Massage at the Blind Association of Thua Thien Hue

Before you go

  • The closest airport to Hue is Phu Bai International Airport
  • You’ll probably need a taxi to get around to the main sights, as the tombs are not that close together
  • There are many people who do not speak English so GoogleTranslate can be useful
  • The weather in Hue is hot most of the year. There is a wet and rainy season but be prepared for humidity most of the time!
Thien Mu Pagoda
Thien Mu Pagoda
Kids in the village- loved this little guy's haircut
Kids in the village- loved this little guy’s haircut
Khai Dinh Tomb
Khai Dinh Tomb

Transport

  • From Hanoi, we flew to Phu Bai International Airport with Vietnam Airlines. It is a short flight about an hour. Internal flights are quite affordable.
  • Da Nang and Hoi An are not far away and can be reached by bus or taxi
  • In Hue centre, it is possible to walk around. However, taxis are not expensive and you’ll need one if you want to visit the tombs in the surrounding area
  • Further afield are the Vinh Moc tunnels, and we took a bus tour because that was an easy way to get around. Also, we got to stop at a local village, some viewpoints and a military museum

Accommodation

  • We stayed at the Orchid Hotel in Hue. It has three stars and was clean, comfortable, and affordable. The staff were friendly and did everything possible to make our stay great. I even wrote to the manager to commend the staff. It was the best hotel I stayed at during my time in Vietnam.
  • As usual, I would recommend looking at recent ratings on a site such as Booking.com before choosing a place to stay
Jungle pineapple and jackfruit in Hue
Jungle pineapple and jackfruit in Hue
Hue style spring rolls at Opera Club
Hue style spring rolls at Opera Club
Vietnamese shrimp and pork taco with peanut sauce at La Carambole
Vietnamese shrimp and pork taco with peanut sauce at La Carambole

Food

As with all of Vietnam, there was some excellent food to try in Hue. Hue is well known for a specific type of spring roll that has a shredded pastry wrapper. I forgot to take a photo in Hue but we had similar Hue-style spring rolls in Hanoi as well.

The market was fun to explore and we found some unusual fruits including jackfruit and jungle pineapple. Lots of the fruits seem to have spiky skins here!

Our favourite meal was at Restaurant La Carambole. I loved the shrimp and pork taco with peanut sauce. And my cousin ordered rice paste with shrimp in banana leaves. That reminded me a lot of Chinese dim sum.

There were not too many restaurants around when I went to Hue. I can see that they are still mostly concentrated on the south side of the river, across from the Citadel. Luckily, La Carambole is still there!

Hue Citadel
Hue Citadel
Bunker at Vinh Moc Tunnels
Bunker at Vinh Moc Tunnels
Khai Dinh Tomb
Khai Dinh Tomb

FAQs

Q: Do I need a tour guide?

A: No, not to walk around the main city centre and Imperial Palace. However, if you want to visit the nearby tunnels and villages then it is better to book a tour with transport.

Q: Do people speak English?

A: As with most of Vietnam, some people speak English but not the majority so it is best to bring a translation app just in case.

Q: Is it a walkable city?

A: Yes the main city is walkable though a taxi is needed to visit some of the tombs that are further out

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