25 Best Things To Do In Huế, Vietnam - Updated 2021

things to do in hue
Matthew
Matthew
Updated

Located in central Vietnam, Hue is a breathtaking metropolis that boasts a breathtaking cityscape and rich cultural heritage. From 1802 to 1945, Hue was the national capital of the country and was the seat of Nguyen Dynasty rulers. Aside from its fascinating culture, Hue is home to period architectural wonders, including the 19th-century Đại Nội Citadel - characterized by its strong stone walls. The intricate Mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinn is also found in this city, as well as Mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc. If you are planning to visit this captivating place and indulge in its offerings, here is a list of the best things to do in Hue, Vietnam. Feel free to browse below.

1. Admire the Nine Holy Cannons

Nine Holy Cannons
Source: Photo by Flickr user upyernoz used under CC BY 2.0

Nine Holy Cannons, plus the Nine Dynastic Urns and Bronze Cauldron, are the most valued treasures of the Nguyen Dynasty. The bronze structures, each weighing about 10 tonnes (11 tons) and stretching 5 meters (16 feet) in length, were the emblem of protection for the kingdom and the palace, although they were never used. These wondrous works of art still standing today were created in the early 19th century under Emperor Gia Long and are a figure of curiosity among tourists and locals, especially history enthusiasts.

Nine Holy Cannons

Address: P, Thành phố Huế, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

2. Pay religious homage at Nam Giao Esplanade

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Deep in the heart of the 25-acre (10-hectare) Nam Giao is this esplanade, one of the most important religious sites during the Nguyen Dynasty. It was the grounds where rulers made sacrifices of animals to the deity Thuong. The holy festival involved a regal procession and required the monarch to undergo three-day fasting in the Fasting Palace on-site. Although the ceremony was stopped in 1946, it was revived in 2006, and it’s now celebrated along with the Festival of Hue. Learn about the religious practices of that era and look out for the esplanade’s three terraces representing human, earth, and heaven.

Nam Giao Esplanade

Address: Trường An, Thành phố Huế, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam

3. Try out local cuisines on the Hue Lady Rider tour

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Hue Lady Rider on Thursday, May 1, 2014

Enjoy Hue’s gastronomic scene, learn new recipes, and commune with the locals with Hue Lady Rider, a unique tour. Unlike other trips, you’ll ride with a lady on a scooter around the city, tasting the very best of local specialties. Some of the menu’s delicacies include Hue beef noodle soup with shrimp and lemongrass paste, Banh khoai, a local pancake with a flavorful sauce, and more. The journey will start at the entrance of your accommodation and end there, after the rewarding outing.

Hue Lady Rider

Address: 47 Lê Lợi, Phú Hội, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế 470000, Vietnam

Website: Hue Lady Rider

4. Take some photos with the Nine Dynastic Urns

Nine Dynastic Urns, Hue
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user dronepicr used under CC BY 2.0

The Nine Dynastic Urns, facing Hien Lam Pavilion and close to Mieu Temple, are whimsical artworks built during the Nguyen Dynasty around the mid 19th century. These invaluable treasures represent the timeless era and the beauty and unity of Vietnam. Plus, each of the urns represents a Nguyen emperor and features different decorations - 18 images, carved vertically. These images have different themes, from nature to weapons. All of the photos - 162 in total - depict Vietnam’s scene during the Nguyen Dynasty. You can’t miss a picture with these unusual objects during your tour of the city.

Nine Dynastic Urns

Address: Lê Huân, Phú Hậu, Thành phố Huế, Phú Hậu Thành phố Huế Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Opening hours: 8am - 5:30pm (daily)

5. See ancient treasures at An Dinh Palace

Palais An Dinh à Hué
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jean-Pierre Dalbéra used under CC BY 2.0

This impressive palace, gracing An Cuu Canal’s shores, was once called home by two Nguyen Dynasty emperors - Khai Dinh and Bao Dai. Eventually, in the 20th century, this iconic castle became the residence of the country’s two last queens - Nam Phuong and Tu Cung. Although most of the venue’s structures were destroyed during the war, there are still treasures that you must see, including a bronze sculpture of Khai Dinh inside Trung Lap Bower. Other highlights here include Khai Tuong Pavilion and the appealing main entrance.

An Dinh Palace

Address: 179 Phan Đình Phùng, Phú Nhuận, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Opening hours: 7am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 2 - 7 USD

6. Explore the holy Thien Mu Pagoda

Thiên Mụ Pagoda Hue, Vietnam
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Clay Gilliland used under CC BY-SA 2.0

From its impressive seven-story Phuoc Duyen tower, which is Hue’s unofficial symbol, to the legend surrounding this Buddhist temple, Thien Mu Pagoda is one of the most admired places of worship in the city. It also called Linh Mu Pagoda, depending on who you ask, and is located in Huong Long village, on the Perfume River’s northern shores. Before the sanctuary was built, a story was told of an older woman, who stood on its ground and prophesied about its construction by a lord. Lord Nguyen Hoang later erected the temple, whose name translates to ‘Heaven Fairy Lady.’

Thien Mu Pagoda

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

Opening hours: 8am - 6pm (daily)

Price: Free

7. Pay tribute to Hue’s ancestor at Hien Lam Pavilion

Hien Lam Cac pavilion
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Bernard Gagnon used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Hien Lam Pavilion, once the highest structure in the imperial city, standing at 56 feet (17 meters), is an important monument of the Nguyen Dynasty. In the early 19th century, the three-floor structure is one of the most preserved buildings of the old city. The staircase of the first level, with appealing handrails, is divided into three segments. The one in the middle is only reserved for the emperor. Presently, this place functions as a site where locals pay tribute to their former monarchs and ancestors, and it’s a must-see for every traveler.

Hien Lam Pavilion

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

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

8. Learn about Confucianism at the Temple of Literature

Lascar Entrance to The Temple of Literature (Van Mieu)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jorge Láscar used under CC BY 2.0

Emperor Gia Long built the Temple of Literature in the early 19th century to commemorate Confucianism’s scholars. Confucianism has been practiced for many centuries in many Asian countries, including Japan, China, and Korea, and many temples were constructed for this purpose. In Hue, the holy place was erected on the serene shores of the Perfume River, west of the old town, and it features lots of historical and architectural wonders to explore. During the war, many of the venue’s sections were damaged, but some still stand, from four of the river’s striking pillars to the worshipping hall.

Temple of Literature

Address: Đường Văn Thánh, Hương Hồ, Hương Trà, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Price: 1 USD

9. Check out the abandoned Thuy Tien Lake Water Park

Ho Thuy Tien water park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Kris Martyn used under CC BY-SA 4.0

What started as a promising amusement park turned into a terror-invoking site called Thuy Tien lake Abandoned Water Park. The 124-acre (50-acre) park, which now lies in total ruins, initially opened in 2004. At the time of its debut, many of the park’s structures were uncompleted, and eventually, it became a failed project. And although it changed ownership many times, none could actualize it to the glory we all hoped for. What was meant to be recreational lawns have now turned into a grazing ground for neighboring farmers. Even the entrance path is covered in grass, and the villas resemble ghost towns. One of the most impressive features is the dragon head, standing tall in a green lake’s center.

Thuy Tien Lake Abandoned Water Park

Address: hồ Tiên, Thủy, Thủy Bằng, Hương Thủy, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietna

Price: 1 USD

10. Dance the night away at No1 Karaoke - Beer Club

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by No1 Karaoke - Coffee on Thursday, December 31, 2020

After a long day exploring Hue’s cultural and historical attractions, No1 Karaoke - Beer Club offers you a perfect atmosphere and other treats to decompress. This lively spot is one of the first in the city to combine a cafe and a karaoke club. You can enjoy a creative cup of coffee in the morning or dance till the early morning in the central hall with professional DJs, quality sounds and lighting effects, and knowledgeable bartenders. The club also hosts special events such as friends’ night out and birthdays in its well-decorated karaoke rooms. The venue is a popular destination for fun-seeking youngsters from within and neighboring towns. Although, this place might be a bit pricey.

No1 Karaoke - Beer Club

Address: 72D Hai Bà Trưng, Vĩnh Ninh, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 6am - 2am; Sun: 6am - 12am

11. Learn about the area’s history at the Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities - Bảo tàng Cổ vật Cung đình Huế on Thursday, November 12, 2020

Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities, one of the first museums in the country, is a must-see for every history enthusiast. It was founded in 1923 to preserve the area’s ancient relics. Within, you’ll find striking Cham sculps, glass paintings, musical instruments used in festivals, and attires, most of which belonged to the royalties. Long An Palace, one of the major exhibition halls in the center, was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites in 1993. It’s considered one of the country’s most appealing royal buildings.

Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities

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

Website: Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities

Opening hours: 7am - 5:30pm (daily)

Price: 2 - 6 USD

12. Admire the historic Meridian Gate

Meridian Gate, Hue
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user used under CC BY 4.0

Meridian Gate, considered Hue imperial court’s best traditional architecture, is the imperial city’s main southern entrance. It’s the largest of the four major gates of the location, and during the Nguyen Dynasty, only the kings can walk through it, and mostly during important occasions. The passage has the same name and resembles the first gate of Beijing’s Forbidden City. Aside from its beauty and importance in the old era, it was also here that the Nguyen Dynasty ended in 1945.

Meridian Gate

Address: Phú Hậu, Thành phố Huế, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam

Website: Meridian Gate

Opening hours: 7am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 7 USD

13. Explore the galleries at the Hall of the Mandarins

Hue Sity, Vietnam (8104940737)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Aleksey Gnilenkov used under CC BY 2.0

Hall of the Mandarins is one of the Nguyen Dynasty’s surviving structures, used by mandarins for festival food preparation and as offices. The venue, located next to Thai Hoa Palace, features two halls facing each other - one for the military Mandarins and the other for the administrative. The one on the right highlights many striking relics of the old era, a Buddha sculpture and images, including that of the coronation of Vua Duya Tan, the boy king. You can also check out the two refurbished galleries in the Can Chanh Palace’s ruins on-site.

Hall of the Mandarins

Address: Lê Huân, Phú Hậu, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Opening hours: 8am - 5:30pm (daily)

14. Stroll around the gorgeous Cơ Hạ Garden

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Appreciate various flowers in this ancient, revived garden, one of the five royal yards in the citadel, built around the mid 19th century. The 6458-square-foot (600-square-meter) spot was abandoned in the early 20th century but restored to its glory between 2016 and 2017. Your esthetic journey will begin from the entrance, where you’ll be welcomed by striking vegetation on both sides. While walking through the magnificent landscape with a variety of precious plants and fragment flowers, you’ll be met by the views of Minh Ho, a lake in the location’s center. Over the water body, there is Kim Nghe Ngoc Dong bridge, where you can climb and take Instagram-worthy pictures.

Cơ Hạ Garden

Address: Đoàn Thị Điểm, Phú Hậu, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Opening hours: 8am - 5:30pm (daily)

15. Unwind at Vong Canh Hill

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

If you’re traveling with your partner, you can’t miss sharing some romantic moments in this gorgeous spot, found 4.3 miles (7 kilometers) from Hue’s center. It boasts the best views of the Perfume River and, combined with its landscaping with green grasses, fruit gardens, and shady pine trees, creates an ideal atmosphere for recreation activities such as picnicking and camping. And aside from the views of the river, Vong Canh Hill also overlooks Huong River and the villages along its shores, and Hon Chen temple.

Vong Canh Hill

Address: 102 Huyền Trân Công Chúa, Thủy Biều, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

16. Explore the beautiful city of Hue (from USD 56.0)

If you want to see the beautiful city of Hue but do not know where to start, this Hue city tour package by Viator might pique your interest. It is an eight-hour exciting adventure that includes lots of top attractions and landmarks in the city. Throughout the tour, you will swing by royal palaces and historic tombs of prominent people. In Dong Ba Market, you will not only be able to immerse in the culture of the Vietnamese people, but you will also get to ride a dragon boat to Thien Mu Pagoda. A visit to Hue Royal Antiquities Museum is included in the itinerary. On top of those, a delicious lunch is prepared for guests.

Hue City Full-Day Tour

Duration: 8 hours

10 reviews

17. Visit fascinating tombs of past rulers of Hue (from USD 22.0)

Hue is a captivating city that was once the capital of Vietnam. It enchants tourists from all over the world for its vibrant culture and rich history. Royal palaces and historic tombs are testaments to the city’s fascinating past. This tour package was curated for tourists who like sightseeing and checking out iconic landmarks. It is a private driving tour that will take you to the tombs of prominent Vietnamese emperors like Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, and Mien Khang. A side trip to Thien Mu Pagoda also awaits participants of the tour. Differently abled guests need not worry as this tour is wheelchair-friendly.

Hue sightseeing Tombs and Pagoda with private driver

Duration: 4 to 6 hours

2 reviews

18. Go on a food trip (from USD 30.0)

If you are the type of tourist that typically spares a huge fraction of your vacation for food, then this street food tour might interest you. There is nothing more exciting during vacations than getting to try local culinary delights–and this activity ensures just that. With this tour that takes place in Hue Imperial City, guests will be guided to must-try local restaurants and they will be able to gorge on delicious specialties that they won’t find anywhere else in the world. Aside from tasting these gastronomic delights, participants can also learn tips from chefs on how to craft these local favorites.

Half-Day Guided Street Food Walking Tour at Hue

Duration: 5 hours

1 review

19. Learn to cook local specialties (from USD 56.0)

Another interesting thing to do for culinary enthusiasts who are on a holiday in Hue is to join a cooking class. This tour package is no regular cooking class. The venue will be on a stunning dragon boat with picturesque sceneries from Perfume River as the backdrop. Led by a professional chef, participants will be cooking mouthwatering local Vietnamese fares. Before all the cooking, guests will be taken to Dong Ba Market to score some fresh ingredients that they will be using for the fun-filled activity. Plus, a sumptuous Vietnamese lunch is included in the tour package.

Hue Cooking Class on Dragon Boat Including Hotel Pickup by Cyclo

Duration: 5 hours

1 review

20. Marvel at the beauty of the Vietnam sunset from Perfume River (from USD 8.0)

Perfume River is one of the most majestic natural wonders in Hue and it snakes through different well-trafficked points in the city, including Truong Son Mountain, downtown Hue, and Bang Lang Fork. Lots of tourists go on a boating cruise along the river as this delightful activity is a big part of Hue’s enchanting culture. If you want to experience this magical activity, join this tour package and get to see the beauty of Hue from the waters. The highlight of the adventure is the sight of breathtaking Vietnam sunset. Snacks and drinks are included in the package.

Sunset on Perfume River in Hue

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

21. Travel back in time at the Imperial City

Vietnam, Hue, Imperial City of Hue, Meridian Gate
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Vyacheslav Argenberg used under CC BY 4.0

Nestled within Hue’s citadel, the Imperial City is a historic place that was once where the seat of Vietnam’s government is located. It is an enormous complex that is filled with a myriad of edifices of bureaucracy and legislative branches. Aside from the buildings, this place holds centuries of history in Vietnam. This complex was home to the first emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty - Gia Long. Some of the possessions it has now used to belong to the Siam Dynasty of Thailand and Khmer Dynasty of Cambodia.

Imperial City

Address: Thành phố Huế, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam

Opening hours: Fri - Wed: 8am - 5:30pm; Thu: 8am - 10pm

Price: From 7 USD

22. Score some locally made souvenirs at Dong Ba Market

Dong Ba Market
Source: Photo by Flickr user Francisco Anzola ... used under CC BY 2.0

If you like sightseeing, city walks, food tripping, and shopping for local products, Dong Ba Market should be included in your Hue adventure itinerary. This bustling public market is one of the oldest commercial centers in Vietnam. It houses hundreds of different local businesses that sell varying goods. Here, you can shop for fresh meat, vegetables, spices, and even local culinary specialties. Aside from these, you can also buy handicraft items and souvenir products at Dong Ba Market. If you want to witness the try Vietnamese spirit, Dong Ba Market is the place to be.

Dong Ba Market

Address: 2 Trần Hưng Đạo, Phú Hoà, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam

Opening hours: 6am - 6pm (daily)

23. See interesting art pieces that belonged to the city's Imperial past at Huế Museum of Royal Antiquities

Offering tray for royal domestic use in Hue, Nguyen dynasty
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Daderot used under CC0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Huế Museum of Royal Antiquities is one of the many attractions in the city that you should not miss. It is a haven for art enthusiasts and regular people with an appreciation for everything aesthetically pleasing and historically relevant. Most of the art pieces here are a nod to the city’s imperial past. Here, you’ll find various exhibits that feature a multitude of valuable antiques, including porcelain works, golden sculptures, old photographs, paintings, and other treasures of the past.

Huế Museum of Royal Antiquities

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

Website: Huế Museum of Royal Antiquities

Opening hours: 7am - 5:30pm (daily)

24. Stop by the historic Hue City Demilitarization Zone (from USD 92.0)

stop by the historic hue city demilitarization zone

Indulge in Vietnam’s fascinating past and see first-hand its Demilitarized Zone that will make you feel like traveling back time. The Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone is an area that separated South Vietnam and North Vietnam in the past. It is a historic place where you can see the battleground demarcation that was a result of the First Indochina War. Aside from a visit to the DMZ and an acquired knowledge of the country’s past, participants of this tour will also get to visit ethnic villages in the area, try local cuisine, and marvel at the beauty of Vietnam’s countryside.

Hue: Full-Day Demilitarized Zone Tour

Duration: 9 hour

10 reviews

25. Check out the seven-story Thien Mu Pagoda (from USD 46.0)

Indeed, Hue is known for its remarkable architectural landmarks, and there is just a myriad of these attractions scattered across the city. One of them is Thien Mu Pagoda, also known as The Pagoda of the Celestial Lady. It is characterized by its seven-story facade. This historic temple is unofficially the symbol of Hue. It is nestled on Hà Khê hill, where you can not only admire the intricacy of this architectural wonder, but you will also be treated to stunning city views. Join this tour and get to visit other attractions, aside from Thien Mu Pagoda, such as Perfume River and Dong Ba Market.

Hue: Thien Mu Pagoda by Dragon Boat

Duration: 3 hours

2 reviews

Fall in love with Hue

Hue is a beautiful city in Central Vietnam that boasts a majestic cityscape where the metropolis is accentuated by the stunning Perfume River. Aside from its beauty, Hue charms tourists with its rich culture and fascinating landmarks. If you want to see what this city has to offer anytime soon, let this list of the best things to do in the city be your guide in your upcoming adventure.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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