5 Minute Guide to Hue, Vietnam

5 Minute Guide to Hue, Vietnam

Hue, Vietnam

Hue

From the airport:

There is an airport, Phu Bai (HUI), about 12km from Hue, and you’ll pay around 250 000 Dong (max.) for a taxi.   There are some other options, for example private shuttle vans and the Vietnam Airlines shuttle bus from the airport to its office in Hue.

However, you’ll probably arrive in Hue either by bus or train, especially if you’re travelling the country north to south (or south to north).

The train station isn’t in the centre of town, and when you arrive you’ll see some cafes (handy if you’re hungry and ready for breakfast) and taxis, whose drivers are ready and waiting to take you to your hotel.

train station Hue
You’ll arrive here if you come to Hue by train

However, if you have some energy, and your luggage is either not too heavy or on wheels, why not walk to your hotel?  It’s a nice walk, along the river, plenty to see, lots of photo opportunities and places to sit if you need a rest.  Depending on where your hotel is in Hue, and how fast you walk, and how often you stop, the walk from the train station can take from 20 minutes to more than an hour – but it could be a welcome change after spending the night in a cramped sleeper train.

If you arrive by bus, the location of your arrival could be anywhere, but will probably be in the main part of the town.  Make sure you have a detailed map on hand so you know how to get to your hotel.

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Hotels:

We’ve stayed in this hotel, the Nhat Le Hotel, which I recommend.  It’s cheap, and the rooms are extremely clean, and big, and some of them have balconies.  But there are so many choices of hotels in Hue, especially in the ‘tourist’ part of town, so do a search and find one that suits your budget and is in the area you’d like to stay in.  I use Booking.com for accommodation and  if you use this referral link for your next booking on Booking.com we’ll both get a reward!

hotel room
Our hotel room – it’s big enough to dance in

Getting around:

Hue is quite big, but getting around on foot is possible – when it’s not too hot.  In the summer it can be unbearably hot outside so in that case why not take a cyclo?  There seems to be less cyclos now than when we were there the first time in 2008, but you can still find them – or they’ll find you.  And of course if you can’t get around easily there are taxis available everywhere (both 2 and 4 wheels).

You can also hire a bicycle from your hotel and take a 2 wheel tour of Hue.

girls on bike
Hire a bicycle, but take an umbrella in case of sun (or rain)

Food:

The choice is endless.  The most famous local dish is Bun Bo Hue, which is a noodle soup with slices of beef and chili oil.  There are many delicious dishes to choose from in Hue: Nem Lui, sweet minced pork on bamboo sticks; Banh Khoai, which is a pancake filled with bean sprouts, shrimp and pork; Bun Thit Nuong, which is barbecued pork with vegetables and noodles; Banh Beo, sticky rice with shrimp and pork with a sweet fish sauce dip.

We found this type of fried, crispy ‘pancake’ called Banh Trang Trung at the night market near the river.  When we’re in Hue, it’s our dinner every night.  It’s simply divine.

gallette Hue
Banh Trang Trung – heavenly
gallette 2
You use scissors to cut it into individual portions
Crispy fried noodles
Crispy fried noodles with vegetables
preparing night market
Setting up for the night market

Street food is abundant in Hue.  You can get food at any time of the day from hot soups, sandwiches and various other goodies.  If you see a ‘café’ with tiny plastic chairs and filled with local people – go there and eat.  You won’t be sorry.

street eating
Eat in places like this – it’s going to be good
olive eating in the street
You can find street food everywhere
street food
Always eating in Hue – this time it’s banh bao
foothpath food
Not only street food in Hue – there’s also ‘footpath food’

Shopping:

Most tourist shopping is on the south side of the river, with shops open until 9 or 10pm.  Shopping malls Vincom and Phong Phu Plaza should have everything you need.  In Phong Phu Plaza you’ll find the Big C supermarket, and because it’s quite far from the tourist hotel area, it’s mostly for the locals.  Which means it’s cheaper than shopping in the more convenient areas of Hue.

pineapple woman
She’ll prepare a fresh pineapple for you to eat on the go

There’s also the famous Dong Ba market which I absolutely recommend for shopping and eating.  Everything’s reasonably priced (bargaining/haggling is expected) and the food is exceptional (if you can look past the seemingly unhygienic conditions).  And there’s a more western shopping complex right next door to the market, complete with a supermarket, if you prefer a different shopping experience.

food Hue Olive
Food in the market
market
Part of Dong Ba market
market 1
Plenty of fresh produce in the market

Finally there’s the night market on the bank of the Perfume River near the bridge Cau Truong Tien.  Apart from souvenirs, you’ll find a variety of tasty Vietnamese street food and fresh fruit.

boats and market
The night market and dragon boats

Sightseeing:

There’s a lot to see in Hue, but some of it is out of town and you’ll need a taxi or other type of transportation to get there.

There’s the Citadel, the Perfume River, the Emperors Tombs, pagodas and more.  The Citadel is a UNESCO site, and contains hundreds of monuments and ruins – it’s a must see. And there are boat trips on colourful dragon boats, day and night.  Just head down to the river and you’ll find someone selling a river tour.

citadel
The entrance to the Citadel and Imperial City
imperial city ruins
Some ruins
imperial city
Beautiful building in the Imperial City

Quirky:

An open-air ‘tea house’ built around a huge tree which we found randomly while walking on the north side of Hue.  It’s full of men drinking tea (hot tea in winter), and beer or other drinks.  So we sat and had some tea, and when we asked to pay, they told us it was free.  We don’t know why.

tea place
The open-air tea house
cold tea
Cold tea on a hot day

Recommended for:

Almost everyone will appreciate the delights of Hue.  Might be a bit tiring for small children.  3-4 days is probably enough to see all the sights and try all the tasty dishes.

incense drying
Incense drying in the sun

Top tip:

For a quiet stay in Hue, find a hotel away from the main tourist strip.

Fix the price for your cyclo or taxi ride in advance, and make sure it includes the return trip or you might find yourself paying double just to get back to the centre of town.

toilet sign
Free public toilets
boat
Traditional boat

Go to Hue, enjoy all it has to offer.  I’m sure you’ll want to go back again and again.

~ Cheryl

Don’t miss my other 5 Minute Guides: Amsterdam, Hanoi, Berlin, Vilnius, Munich and Paris.

 

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Anindya
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Quite an absorbing read, your Vietnam tour story…..lovely pictures, bring out the much natural sides of a new place to explore and discover…..thanks for sharing.

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