Gate inside the Citadel in Hue, Vietnam

Hue is a city full of history and culture on the central coast of Vietnam.  It was the former capital and is most known for its 19th-century Citadel that housed the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 to 1945 and is protected by a moat and thick stone walls.  Within the gates are several palaces, shrines and the famous Forbidden Purple City where the emperor lived.

During the Vietnam war, the Battle of Hue was said to be the longest and bloodiest of them all leaving the city in disarray.   The people and government have done an excellent job of restoring this historical gem, preserving so many of the cities ancient wonders.

Today, Hue sits along the beautiful Perfume River and is a major tourist attraction.  In the surrounding areas, you can explore the tombs of the past emperors.  Or you can spend a day wandering in the Imperial city Citadel.  If nothing else you must try the classic Hue food with all of its royal culinary influence.

After reading this guide you will be ready to explore this city of wonder with confidence.  I’ll tell you where to stay, what to eat, what to do and how to get around.   Let’s get started.

READ MORE: Interested in visiting Hoi An as well?  Don’t miss my Complete Guide.

Take a flight to Hue

Definitely the easiest way to get here is to fly into Phu Bai International airport, which is located about 10 miles south of downtown Hue.  The hard part is that not many airlines fly directly here because it is a smaller airport.

Vietnam, JetStar and VietJet airlines are the major airlines flying into this location.  From the airport, you will either need to hail a cab or take a shuttle bus into Hue.

Price for a cab to Hue– $10.50 USD.  The ride will take about 30 minutes.  The driver can drop you off at your accommodation so you don’t have to lug around your backpacks.

Price for the shuttle bus to Hue– $2.25 USD.  This might take slightly longer because you might have to wait for the shuttle to fill before they will leave (typical Vietnam).  The bus will drop you off in central Hue where you can either walk or hail a cab to your accommodation.

 

get A FLIGHT TO DA NANG

Another option is to fly into Da Nang International Airport, which has more options for airlines.  From Da Nang airport to Hue there are a couple of different types of transportation.

Price for a taxi to Hue from Da Nang– $50-60 USD.  This will take roughly 2-3 hours depending on the time of day and traffic.  The cab will drop you directly at your hotel.

Price for a Bus to Hue– $2.50 USD.  Buses will drop you off at the Hue bus stop where you will need to walk or take a cab to your accommodation.  This ride can take anywhere from 2-4 hours because they stop frequently to pick up people on the side of the road.  Drivers will cram as many people as possible.  SOOO not always comfortable.

You will need to hail a cab to get to the bus station from the airport, which will cost about $4.50 USD for a regular cab.

If you’re adventurous you can get a motorbike cab for about $2.50 USD.  I have absolutely done this with two backpacks.  The Vietnamese can carry anything on motorbikes.  Trust me.

READ MORE: Want to stay a few nights in Da Nang?  Don’t miss my 48 Hour Guide.

ride the train

Trains are a fun and exciting way to travel in Vietnam.  It runs from the North to the South with many stops in between.  There is a station in Hue.  This is an affordable form of transport with gorgeous views.   Prices are dependant on time of travel, where you’re coming from and the type of seat you choose.

Check the Vietnam railway website for timetables and pricing.

Price for the train from Da Nang– $11-22 USD.  This ride will take about 3 hours.

This is the route I took in, as I had been staying in Da Nang for a few days.  I loved the train ride and highly suggest this route if possible.  It’s absolutely gorgeous.  You ride along the coastline offering stunning views.  I wrote a separate blog about my train ride because I enjoyed it that much.

If you’re headed to the train station from the Da Nang airport you will need to hail a cab for about $3.50 USD.   Or a motorbike cab for $1.25 USD

READ MORE: I absolutely loved my train ride to Hue.  Read all about it in My Article.

 

View from train from Da Nang to Hue in Vietnam

Bus or minivan from any surrounding area

Taking a bus or minivan is one of my favorite forms of transportation in Asia.  Cost and time traveling will obviously vary depending on where you’re coming from.  You can usually book this right from your accommodation or from any local travel agent.   I like to price check both options for the best deal.

Do take note again, they will cram as many people into these vans as humanly possible, so this is not always the most comfortable route.

In Hue, you will get dropped off at the bus station where there will be plenty of cabs or motorbike taxis waiting to take you away.  You can also walk from here if your accommodation is nearby.  

Always remember to haggle with the taxi cab drivers if they don’t use a meter.  They over quote and you will be able to get it cheaper if you try.  Make sure you agree on a price before you get into the cab or onto the back of a motorbike.  I like to repeat myself “so 30,000 Vietnamese Dong to Shark Homestay!?”  That way there’s no confusion.

Another insider tip is to head onto the street outside the bus station and keep walking a bit.  The price will always be cheaper further on down the road.

Hire an EasyRider

If you’re in one of the nearby cities, this is a fun and unique type of transportation.   An easy rider is someone who drives you from point A to point B on a motorbike.

They are equipped to carry all your luggage ( I had 2 backpacks), they are prepared and will keep your things dry if it rains and they take care of all the details.  You just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.  This was my favorite and most memorable experience in Vietnam.

I didn’t take one into Hue, but I know you can.  I took a 2-day ride from Mui Ne to Da Lat.  These rides cost roughly around $60 USD per day, with food, gas, and snacks all included.

READ MORE: Interested in this Easy Rider business?  Read my Full Report.

 

Da Nang to Hue on the Hai Van Pass

If you’re in Da Nang and are looking for an exhilarating adventure, then I suggest you rent a motorbike and ride from Da Nang to Hue on the Hai Van Pass.

It’s breathtaking and was made famous by BBC’s Top Gear.  I rode from Da Nang to Hue then back and loved every minute of it.

There are several companies that do one-way bike rentals.  Where you would rent in Da Nang and drop off in Hue.  If you want to look into this option check this website for more info.

Do bear in mind, that if you do this as a one-way trip, then you need to carry your own luggage.  Which is very doable and the rental companies will help you with tying down your bags.

READ MORE: Check out my article about my motorbike ride on Hai Van Pass.

View from Hai Van Pass In Vietnam

HUE HOTELS- WHERE TO STAY

 

Penny Pincher: Shark Homestay

This is where I stayed for 3 nights while I was in Hue.  It’s a very clean hostel with ensuite bathrooms.  They have an 8 person dorm or they have a large private family room that fits up to 6 people.  Great for a family or group traveling together.

A complimentary breakfast is served in the morning with several different options to choose from.

You can rent bicycles or motorbikes straight from them.  Although, you can rent a scooter for cheaper on the street.  But hey, convenience.

They offer an awesome city map with a plethora of info about the area.  If you are interested in joining a tour group they can set that up for you.  Or they can arrange transportation to your next destination.

The staff was very friendly and helpful.  Every day they asked about my plans and were genuinely interested in getting to know me and ensuring I had the best time possible.

The location couldn’t be better, it’s right on the main street near all the bars and restaurants.   It’s set back in an alley, which keeps the noise down.

Price for one night– $5 USD (cheaper in low season)

Address– 1 kiệt 28 Võ Thị Sáu, Phú Hội, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế 530000, Vietnam

Check them out on Booking

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD: TAM FAMILY HOMESTAY

Disclaimer: I did not stay here.  I just did the research!

This is a lovely homestay with a beautiful host who will treat you like family.   The host is very involved and will help with tours and ways to get around the city.  They can also help with further travel in Vietnam.

The property boasts a gorgeous garden and is only 1 mile from downtown Hue.   This is an excellent location being about a half of a mile from the Citadel.  If interested, you can rent a car here.  They serve a delicious breakfast in the morning that costs $3 USD.

There are several different types of rooms depending on what you’re looking for and how many people are in your group.

Price per night – $11-26 USD

Address– 24 Đặng Trần Côn, Thuận Hoà, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Rave reviews on booking

 

Top Notch: La Residence Hue Hotel and Spa

Disclaimer: I didn’t stay here either.

This absolutely stunning colonial villa is spread across the banks of the Perfume River and is about a mile from the city center. 

The property offers a tennis court, gym, swimming pool, a full-service spa, library, and fine dining restaurant.

All the rooms have an art deco design with terraces, minibar, TVs, and private bathrooms.

Day trips and car rentals can be arranged from here.   They also offer complimentary bicycles for rent.

Price per night– $215-1,000 USD  (I just choked on my coffee)

Address– 5 Lê Lợi, Vĩnh Ninh, Tp. Huế, Huế, Vietnam

Check out their website

Booking for reviews

HOW TO GET AROUND IN HUE

The downtown area of Hue is fairly small.  All the bars, restaurants, night hangouts, and shops are all located within a few blocks of each other.   Where you will need transportation is when visiting the tombs and other surrounding areas.

I walked everywhere downtown while I was here because I love the exercise and to take my time exploring.  However, I did rent a motorbike for one day to see the tombs and a few other landmarks.

Rent a bike

Always a great option for getting around on a budget.  Especially if you’re staying at a place farther out of town and don’t want to be walking for 30 minutes to go get some dinner.

Price to rent a bike for 1 day– $1 USD

Rent a motorbike

This is my favorite way to get around.  I love the freedom it offers and you can go at your own pace.  Driving around via motorbike is easy and the roads are all in really good condition.

Price to rent a motorbike for 1 Day– $5 USD (plus gas, which is also very cheap)

Call a Cab

There are plenty of cab drivers around.  The best way to arrange this is at the front desk of your accommodation or at a local travel agency.  Typically they have local friends that they like to give the business to.

If you like the driver, make friends with them and get their number.  They get so excited to have return business from people.

Price for a cab ride– $6-$30 this depends on how far you’re going, how many stops and how many people.

Take a Cyclo

A personal little buggy ride powered by a local.  If you’re lucky they will double as a tour guide.   You can just walk out into the street and you’ll find several of them waiting to pick you up.  They are literally everywhere in town.

Many of them also sell marijuana if you’re into that.  I wouldn’t suggest it though.

This is great for in town rides, bless their hearts and legs though, they can’t ride you all the way to the tombs although they might offer.  You never know.

Price for a ride in town– $1.50 USD

Hire a Motorbike Driver

There are a lot of motorbike drivers in Hue, I think because the Grab app isn’t available here yet.

This actually really annoyed me.  I couldn’t walk 5 steps anywhere downtown without being harassed by these drivers.  I get it, they need business, but sometimes a girl just wants to walk.  When I say no thank you, politely, and with a smile, I do not appreciate being continually pestered.  No means no.  This happened more times than I can count.  So beware and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You can also score drugs from these drivers as well.  Apparently, that’s a big thing in Hue.  Who knew?

With that being said, this is a great option for seeing the tombs and other landmarks outside the city.  You can hire them for the day and they will wait for you while you explore each sight.  If I hadn’t rented my own bike, then I would have gone this route.

Price for a motorbike driver for the day– $15-20 USD.  Depends on where you’re going and how long they stay with you.

Always negotiate a price for your entire trip/ day before you get on the bike.

Buses

They do have local buses.  However, from the look of them, I personally won’t suggest them here.  If you’re interested in going this route, I would try to find a trusted local to help you navigate a route and plan.

WHAT TO DO IN HUE

 

Take a Stroll around town

This is my favorite thing to do when I first arrive in a new city.  It helps me get my barrings and to feel more comfortable with my surroundings.  I love to find local eateries and map my way there.  I’m always hungry, so this is always a good start.  I rely heavily on google maps.  If google maps is not available (which is very rarely), or I don’t have service, then I use maps.me.

Maps.me is an offline navigation system.  You just have to remember to download the maps while you’re on wifi before you head out.

Walk along the banks of the perfume river

You can’t miss the perfume river when visiting Hue.  Seeing as it basically runs right through the city.  The Citadel and many temples lie on the north side and the downtown area on the south side.

In the Autumn, flowers from the orchard upstream float down and become very fragrant, giving it the name Perfume River.   This is all hearsay because I was here in the autumn and I smelt nothing of the sorts.

The river is beautiful and a common place for friends, families, and travelers to hang out.  This is definitely the best sunset spot in town, and at night the Trang Thien Bridge becomes illuminated with lights.

In the mornings I enjoyed walking along the banks where all the locals come to sit in peace before their busy days.

 

Take a Dinner cruise on the Perfume River

There are several companies that do dinner cruises on the river in traditional dragon boats.  Most boats leave from the Huong pier.

On the cruise, they make one stop to explore some of the historical sights from temples to tombs.  A traditional Vietnamese dinner is served on board while you watch the sunset.

If you’re interested, this site has more info, schedules, and pricing.

Price for dinner cruise– $44-116 USD.  The cost depends on how many people on board.  The more people, the lower the price.

 

Perfume River in Hue, Vietnam

Visit Hue’s Museums

Hue is a town that is rich in History and conflict of the past, particularly during the time of the Vietnam war.

If you are a history buff or are interested in learning more about the struggles this town survived to make it what it is today, then I strongly suggest you visit at least one of the many museums.

Hue War Museum

Situated right next to the Citadel with an impressive amount of war vehicles and weapons.  There are loads of photos inside the museum, however, the English captions are limited.

This makes for a great stop before or after a visit to the Citadel.

Hours of Operation– Closed on Mondays-  7:30am-11am & 1:30pm-5pm – Tuesday thru Sunday

Price for entry– $2.25 USD

Address– Hai Mươi Ba Tháng Tám, Phú Hậu, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities

This museum has all kinds of things from the Nguyen Dynasty.

There is old porcelain, furniture, artifacts, clothing, bedding, crowns and much more.  This is a great spot to stop after visiting the Citadel because it truly gives you a sense of the way the royal family lived.  I found it fascinating that so many things survived the war.

Keep in mind they ask that you are dressed appropriately with knees and shoulders covered as if you were entering a temple.  Also, they ask that you don’t take any photos.

The museum is located a short walk around the Citadel.  Your ticket into the Citadel will allow you free entrance into the museum. What a bonus deal!

Address– 03 Lê Trực, Phú Hậu, Thành phố Huế, thành phố Huế Thừa Thiên–Huế, Vietnam

Hours of Operation– 7 am- 5:30 pm Daily

Price if you’re not visiting the citadel– $1.25 USD

There are several other museums that I didn’t have time to visit.  If you’re interested, you might also want to check these out.

Nguyen Dynasty Porcelain

The name says it all here.

Address– 114 Mai Thúc Loan, Phú Hậu, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Hours of Operation– 8 am-11:30 am & 2 pm-6 pm Daily

Price– Adult $1.25 USD  Children 1-12 Free

Le Ba Dang Art Museum

Famous artist museum said to have very interesting and provocative artwork.  If you have a chance to visit here, please write me and let me know how you enjoyed it.  They had me at provocative, I was sad to miss this one.

Address– 15 Lê Lợi, Vĩnh Ninh, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Hours of Operation– 7:30-11:30 am & 1:30-5:30 pm

Price– Adults $1 USD Children – free

 

Bach Ma National Park

If you’re looking to do some hiking or waterfall chasing then this rainforest is the place for you.   The park is about an hour south of Hue and can be accessed by motorbike or public buses. 

Many come for the bird watching in the AM.  You can also find black bears, leopards, wild pigs, and deer.   There are several old decaying French villas and 65,000 tribal minorities, some of which can be visited while in the park.

Bus from Hue to Park– $3.50 USD

Entrance to Park– $1.75 USD

I read a very detailed article by Travel Fish about their amazing adventure that you’ll love if you’re planning a visit to Bach Ma.

Thanh Toan Bridge

An ancient Vietnamese bridge that has to be hundreds of years old.  Beautifully maintained and located about 5 miles outside of Hue. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the motorbike ride out to the bridge as it took me through traditional Vietnamese villages, rice fields, and past a lake.  I even passed a farmer leading his flock of ducks into the fields.   Hilarious!

The bridge is located in the village of Thanh Thuy and if you plan a trip out here then come hungry to sit and have lunch with the locals.  You won’t regret it!

To get here you can hire a cab, motorbike driver, drive your own scooter or bicycle.  The options are endless.  

AddressLàng Thanh Thủy Chánh, Phú Vang, Thừa Thiên–Huế 536100, Vietnam

Entrance is free and this excursion won’t take long. 

Thanh Toan Bridge in Hue, Vietnam

Hue Imperial City

In 1789 emperor Gia Long ascended the throne of the new unified Vietnam and proclaimed Hue the location of the new capital city.

Construction began in 1804 when thousands of workers began building the 6.2 miles of the walled Citadel and surrounding mote.

Within the Citadel, there is a second set of walls and mote around the Imperial City.  Inside the Imperial City lies the Forbidden Purple City where the Emperor lived.  It is said that even extended family members weren’t allowed in the Forbidden Purple City.

In the late 1940’s with the end of the Nguyen reign, the Citadel was abandoned where it suffered from neglect, termites, and cyclones.  Then later attacks in the Vietnam war left the most lasting damage.  Today it stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and people are working around the clock to restore its beauty.

AN UNFORGETTABLE SIGHT

This is an absolute must see when you visit Hue.  It’s so fascinating to walk down the long hallways and corridors.  I couldn’t stop picturing myself as a grand emperors daughter being escorted to and from the several impressive buildings.

The grounds have been restored and are now well kept.  The many walkways and paths around the city can be navigated easily.

You can hire a golf cart to take you from spot to spot if needed.  Expect to spend at least 2.5 to 4 hours here.  I spent almost 4 myself.

Please remember to bring a large bottle of water and if you’re smart, bring a snack as well.  Wear comfortable shoes because it’s a lot of walking.   It will be hot, no matter what time of year.  So stay hydrated, pack an umbrella to shade yourself from the sun and definitely wear sunscreen.

Definitely pack a rain jacket and umbrella in the winter.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Address– Thành phố Huế, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam

Visiting Hours– 8 am- 5:30 pm Daily  On Thursday nights they are open late until 10 pm giving guests an opportunity to see the grounds in a different light.  Also, a great way to avoid the heat.

Price for Entrance– $6.60 USD

Insider Tip– If you are planning on visiting the 3 major tombs in the area, which I strongly suggest you do, then there is a combo ticket for $15 USD.

With the combo ticket, you get entrance into the Citadel as well as Tu Duc, Minh Mang, and Khai Dinh tombs.  Which on their own cost anywhere from $2.50-$5.50 USD.  They only allow you 48 hours to use the combo ticket though, so plan accordingly.

Dress code for the Citadel– I get this question a lot because people assume they have to cover up like a temple.   There is no dress code for the Citadel.  Shorts and a thick cut tank top would be suggested because it’s hot.

Hue Tombs

There are 7 different Emporer tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty in the Hue area.   These tombs were built from egos alone in my opinion.  Many times they were planned and constructed before the Emporers even passed. They are beyond extravagant.

The structures consist of many different buildings. Many of them have Chinese influence and one in specific is heavily French influenced.  They are constructed on massive chunks of land and took several years and sick amounts of money to complete.  The fact that these people spent so much time planning their final resting place is a little weird to me.

With that being said they are freaking awesome to see!  I only visited 4 of the 7.  I don’t think I could have done more tomb raiding if I wanted to.  I really out tombed myself.

The top 4 mentioned here were the ones I visited.   The bottom 3 I did not.

Gia Long Tomb

The furthest away and one of the more forgotten tombs.  Gia Long was the one who started the Nguyen reign, yet his tomb lies deteriorating.

Gia Long’s first wife (they had many wives) was the first to be buried here, then he followed years later along with several other members of his immediate family.

The surrounding mountains create a calming serenity to the tomb grounds.   I enjoyed the grounds here mostly because they are so remote and I was the only one there.  It was easy for me to find on google maps and was a great starting point.

I rented a motorbike to get here and it took me about 45 minutes.

Address– Hương Thọ, Hương Trà District, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam

Visiting Hours– 7 am- 5:30 pm Daily

Price for Entrance– $1.75 USD

Minh Mang Tomb

This tomb is one of the better kept.  It is definitely the most majestic and has nearly 40 different monuments.   I found the grounds here very beautiful with a great balance of architecture, landscape, ponds, bridges, and walkways.   There’s definitely a lot to see.  Plan for at least an hour or 2.

Address– Minh Mang Tomb, Quốc lộ 49, Hương Thọ, Hương Trà District, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam

Visiting Hours– 7 am- 5:30 pm

Entrance Fee– $6.50 USD.  This tomb is one of the combo ticket tombs if you’re going to take advantage of that.

Khai Dinh Tomb

This tomb was outrageous!   I was completely disgusted by how much was spent on someones resting place.   It was also amazing to see.  This guy was a total dick and raised taxes on his peasants for 11 years to fund this WAY over the top structure.  This tomb definitely looks different from the others with way more French influence and its quite small in comparison.  If you only visit one tomb, make it this one.

Inside the palace where the emperor rests there is nothing uncovered.  The ceiling has an intricate painting of nine dragons amongst the clouds and every square inch of the rest of the palace is covered with colorful bits of porcelain and glass.

Beware– there are 127 steps up the side of a mountain and no shade.   Totally worth it though.  For sure not wheelchair friendly.

Address– Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh King, Khải Định, Thủy Bằng, Hương Thủy, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam

Visiting Hours– 7 am- 5:30 pm

Entrance Fee– $6.50 USD.  Again, this tomb is one from the combo ticket.

I was about done with tombs at this point, but I still had one more left so I persevered.   And I’m so glad that I did.

Tu Duc Tomb

Tu Duc was the fourth and longest reigning Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty.  This is the largest and most luxurious tomb in Hue.  The carefully manicured grounds are beautifully laid out.   This is a 30-acre manor equipped with its own lake and a private island where the Emperor could hunt small animals.

Address– Tu Duc Tomb, Lê Ngô Cát, Thủy Xuân, Thành phố Huế, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam

Visiting Hours– 7 am- 5:30 pm Daily

Entrance Fee– $4.25 USD Also part of the combo tomb ticket.

Still need more tomb action?  Here’s a few more.

Thieu Tri Tomb

Simple and modest and took the shortest amount of time to construct.

Address– Thủy Bằng, Hương Thủy, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam

Visiting Hours– 7 am- 5 pm Daily

Entrance Fee– $1.75 USD

Duc Duc Tomb

Makes me think of duck, duck, goose.   Anyone else?  No?  Ok, moving on…

Address– Phường Phước Vĩnh, Thành Phố Huế, Tỉnh Thừa Thiên Huế, An Cựu, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Visiting Hours– No hours are listed.

Entrance Fee– $1.75 USD

Dong Khang Tomb

The smallest of the Hue Tombs.

Address– 8 Đoàn Nhữ Hải, Thủy Xuân, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Visiting Hours– No hours are listed.

Entrance Fee– $1.75 USD

 

 

Thien Mu Pagoda

This beautiful pagoda of the celestial lady sits on the banks of the Perfume River and is said to be the unofficial symbol of the city.   It has seven tiers and inside is a 7,250-pound bell that when rung can be heard from miles away and is the voice of Hue.

It was erected at the beginning of the Nguyen reign making it the oldest Pagoda in Hue.

This is a peaceful and quiet place to escape the city.  There is an impressive amount of gorgeous bonsai trees and several monks walking about.

Please dress accordingly with covered knees and shoulders.

I just liked it because it’s a faint pink color.  Also, a great spot to watch the sunset.

Entrance is free.

No visiting hours are posted.

Address– Hương Hòa, Thành phố Huế, Hương Hòa Thành phố Huế Thừa Thiên Huế 532761, Vietnam

HUE RESTAURANTS- WHAT TO EAT

Being that Hue used to be the capital city of Vietnam and was home to the royal court, it has had many years of experience refining its famous food dishes.   There’s definitely a rich culinary history and no doubt that the Emporers and the company they kept ate very well.   Let me tell you about a few of the best dishes Hue has to offer.

 

 

Bun Bo Hue- Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

Similar to Pho, just way better.  The soup is typically made with thick rice vermicelli noodles and has a strong lemongrass flavor.  Thin slices of beef shank, oxtail and pig knuckles (pretend you didn’t just read that) can all be found in this bowl of spicy yumminess.

Typically served with a side of lime wedges, sprouts, onions, mint, basil and more chili so you can spice to your liking.  I just dump all that goodness right into my bowl.

Everyone will have their own variation of this, which makes it exciting to try at a few different places.

The best place to get Bun Bo Hue– Nina’s Cafe- I loved Nina’s Cafe.  I ate here twice.  They make the best Bun Bo Hue and their veggies were clearly fresh.  The cafe is adorably quaint and the staff is very attentive.  It is a bit tricky to find because it’s down a side alley.  If google maps can’t get you there, just ask someone.

Address– 16/34 Nguyễn Tri Phương, Phú Hội, Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế 530000, Vietnam

Hours of Operation– 8 am -10 pm Daily

Price for a bowl of Bun Ho Hue– $1.25 USD

Banh Khoai Hue- Pan Fried Crepe

This actually translates to happy pancake.  It’s so delicious that it will make you and your stomach both very happy.  This reminded me a lot of the crispy pancakes that are famous in Hoi An, only Hue does it slightly different.  The same concept though.

Made with a rice flour batter and then deep fried to make it into a crispy pancake.  The pancake is filled with egg, shrimp, pork, carrots, onions, and bean sprouts.  When you fold the pancake over all the ingredients, it resembles a smiley face.  See happy pancake.

It will be served with a side of fresh veggies and typically a peanut sauce for dipping.

The best place to get Banh Khoai– Madame Thu Restaurant.  This restaurant has amazing small plates so you can taste a few different local favorites.  I also got the veggie spring rolls and they were very tasty as well.  The staff was really knowledgeable about the food and how it’s traditionally eaten.  The waitress literally helped me to put together my first happy pancake.

Address– 

Hours– 8 am-11 pm Daily

Price for Banh Khoai Hue– $2 USD

 

Banh Beo- Rice Cake with Shrimp

This fun little dish is typically eaten as a snack and is a popular street food.  However, its growing popularity has made it available in a lot of restaurants as a meal.  The cake part is made of rice and tapioca flour and has the texture of a noodle.

They come out on a giant round tray with about 15 tiny little dishes with the cake on the bottom and then dried shrimp, crispy pork skins and scallion oil on top.  On the side will be a fish sauce with chilies and spices for dipping.

I had to be shown how to eat these, I had literally NO IDEA what I was doing.   The adorable little Vietnamese woman just giggled at me and then happily showed me how this all goes down.

So you take a spoon and scrape the bottom of the dish to loosen the slimy rice cake (think jello shot), add some sauce to the top and then just slurp it down like you’re shooting an oyster.

Best place for Banh Beo– Hang Me Me- I know, great name right?   How do they come up with these names?  It cracks me up.  This restaurant was a popular locals spot and always had a man sitting outside on the sidewalk who will chat your ear off.   He’s the reason I came in here and I’m glad I did.

Address– 14 Võ Thị Sáu, Phú Hội, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Hours– It says 24 hours online but I absolutely cannot confirm this.  I’m in bed by 8 pm.

Price for Banh Beo– $2.50 USD

Com Hen/ Bun Hen- Mussels and Rice

This is a traditional breakfast food in Hue.  Although you will see people eating it at any time of day.  Basically, it’s rice with little baby mussels on top.   Com Hen is with rice.  Bun Hen is with vermicelli noodles.

The mussels come from the banks of the Perfume River, so it doesn’t get much fresher than that.   On top will be peanuts, sesame seeds, crispy pig skin, basil, chili and lots of fresh greens.

It’s a truly fantastic mix of flavors and textures. It’s traditionally a pretty spicy dish so beware.  It’s not at all too fishy with the mussels, they work together really well with the spice and the peanuts.

The best place to get Com Hen/ Bun Hen– Quan Nho- a tiny little favorite among the locals with little plastic tables and chairs.  Almost always packed full of Vietnamese people eating bowl after bowl of Com Hen.

Address– 28 Phạm Hồng Thái, Vĩnh Ninh, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Hours– 6 am- 11 pm Daily

Price for Com Hen– $1 USD

Banh Trang Trung- Vietnamese pizza

This pizza is made of crispy rice cracker made with egg, pork pate, scallions, and fried shallots.   Then topped with a spicy chili sauce.

Eating this hot and fresh pizza can be difficult, but the best way is to have them cut it up for you which they will do with a pair of dirty scissors.

The best place to get Banh Trang Trung–  This is definitely a street food and I suggest you get it from any local vendor you pass while out exploring.   It’s not at all filling so even if you just ate dinner, stop and order a Banh Trang Trung anyways.

Address– All over on any main street or down back alleys.

Hours– All hours of the day, more vendors at night though.

Price for Banh Trang Trung– $.50 USD

 

 

Cay Coffee

This was an adorable little coffee shop/ hang out.  It was located really close to Shark Homestay where I was staying, so coincidentally I spent a lot of time here.

They have the cutest interior and nothing was left undecorated, so it’s very visually stimulating.  It’s run by an artist and you can purchase the random art that is on display. The music they play is a mix of Indy rock favorites, which is right up my alley.

I loved everything about this cafe but what I loved the most were the prices.  Everything was so cheap but still delicious.  They have a great selection of teas, coffees, cocktails, and beer.  So there’s something for everyone here.

Address– 26 Võ Thị Sáu, Phú Hội, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Hours– 6:30 am- 11:30 pm Daily

Price for a coffee– $1 USD

Price for a beer– $.50 USD

Mr Good Tea- My All time favorite tea shop

I first fell in love with Mr. Good Tea when I was in Da Nang.  It’s a tea shop that is all over in Vietnam.  I love the bright yellow colors and the mustache in the logo and all over in the shops.  A-plus for branding!

They do all kinds of teas from fruit tea to bubble tea to milk tea and everything in between.  I’ve tasted just about every single menu item.  I have been known to skip meals and have a second tea instead.  

I love this place!  Two locations in Hue, so no excuses.

Address- 108 Nhật Lệ, Thuận Thành, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

7 Bến Nghé, Phú Hội, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Hours- 7:30 am- 11 pm Daily

Price for a tea-  $.85 – $2.25 USD 

Mr Good Tea shop in Hue, Vietnam

HUE WEATHER- WHEN TO VISIT

Weather in Hue can be described in two seasons- wet and dry.  When it’s hot in the dry season, It’s very hot.  During the rainy season, it can get very cold with the rain and humidity.  The mountains to the west trap the rain in the rainy season and the heat in the hot season.  It can be unpredictable and miserable at times.  I broke the seasons down a little further below.  

 

January to April

This is the best time to visit.  The rain subsides a bit and the temperatures stay in the 68-75 degree range.   It can still drop pretty low at night so make sure you have a jacket or long sleeve handy.  There still can be rain during these months so always have a parka or umbrella as well.

March to August

These are real scorchers in Hue with the hottest temperatures in the 100-degree range and still very humid.  It’s still known to rain from time to time during these months, so you should still pack a rain jacket.  This is also the peak time for tourism so prices sky rocket and places book up in advance.  Bring your sun screen people!

September to December

Beware of monsoon season.  Can be very wet and humid which can put a damper on things (literally).  This is when prices are lowest and crowds are minimal to none.  If you enjoy wearing a parka then this is your dream time.  Take note that some attractions close down during these months.  Check online if there are specific places that you don’t want to miss.

WHAT TO BRING TO HUE

There are a few things I would suggest packing when you’re headed to Hue.  For the most part, everyday essentials can be found in the many shops, however, there are a few things I wouldn’t leave home without.

Sunscreen–  It’s so expensive to buy here, you’ll save money if you bring it from home.  There isn’t any shade when you’re exploring the tombs and the Citadel.  Sunscreen is a must!

Proper clothing for temples–  For men, this means t-shirts and long shorts.  Although, they are far more lenient on men.

For women, this means shoulders completely covered ( I always carry a large scarf in my bag) and legs covered past the knees.  Absolutely no short dresses, short shorts, tube tops, low cut cleavage showing tops or spaghetti straps.

Please, please, please don’t be one of those girls who sees someone else not following the rules and take their lead.  Sometimes these things aren’t enforced, but that doesn’t mean that the culture should be disrespected.  You wouldn’t want anyone coming and disrespecting your culture.  Don’t be that person.  No one likes that person.

Umbrella– This goes even if you’re visiting in the hot and dry months because there is NO SHADE when you’re out exploring the sites.

Rain jacket and parka–  I would say have a fold up rain jacket no matter what time of year you visit because you never know when it will start raining here.  The parka is more for the wetter monsoon months.  There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a rainstorm without a jacket or parka

Comfortable walking shoes–  You will be doing a lot of walking.  The Citadel is ginormous and so are the tomb grounds.   Don’t make the mistake I did and wear flip-flops with no support.  Stupid, so stupid.

A FEW EXTRAS NOT TO FORGET

A healthy appetite– The food here is amazing!  Don’t miss out on some of Vietnams culinary masterpieces.   There are plenty of Western food options, but branch out and try the local food, you won’t regret it.  I promise.

Great sense of adventure– because what’s all this for, if not for a great story full of beautiful memories.

So there you have it.  All my tips and suggestions.  Now you’re more than prepared to experience this city that will leave an ancient little mark on your heart.   Enjoy your adventure!

READ MORE: Headed north from Hue?  Don’t miss the amazing Paradise Cave.

With Love from Julie

 

 

SHARING IS CARING!  

Hue, Vietnam travel guide Pinterest pin
Hue, Vietnam travel guide Pinterest pin
Hue, Vietnam travel guide Pinterest pin