4 Jan 2016   |   Lists

Top 10 Things to Do in Hue, Vietnam

Traveling in Vietnam’s big cities can be exhausting. There’s the incessant motorbike traffic, a dearth of greenspace and altogether too much to do. But traveling in Hue, now that’s another proposition altogether. In many ways, time spent in what once was the imperial capital of Vietnam is like a trip back in time.

Here are our top 10 suggestions on what to do while in Hue:

Take a walk down Le Loi Street

A quick stop from the Hue Railway Station, Le Loi Street is a chock-a-block with colonial French architecture. This tree-lined street along the Huong River is decorated with riverside parks and sculptures made by local and international artists. Some other great stops on the way are MGallery La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa, Quoc Hoc High School, the Imperial Monument, Le Cercle Sportif and Truong Tien Bridge.

Ride a cyclo through the city

One of the iconic images of daily life in Hue pictures a local woman perched on a cyclo on her way to the bustling market. These three-wheel bicycles made their debut during the French colonial period and are still a popular mode of transport today.

Meditate at Tu Hieu Zen Monastery

Known as the root pagoda of the world famous Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, the Tu Hieu Zen Monastery is tucked away amongst an oasis of lotus ponds and bamboos. Not only is Tu Hieu a place of practice for Buddhism and meditation, it also houses more than a dozen graves of Nguyen Dynasty eunuchs.

Savor delicious Hue food in Dong Ba Market

Much of the Dong Ba Market caters to locals, which is what makes it a food-lover’s paradise.  At the heart of this emporium, there’s a mixture of goods sold — from hardware items to fabrics, clothes, jewelry and more. And the same goes for food! Their bun bo (Hue beef noodles) and che (a local dessert) are just a few of the local favorites. 

Dine on Huong River

Also known as the Perfume River, a sunset cruise on these waters shows off the beauty of the local citadel, riverside temples and tombs. Local chefs from MGallery La Residence Hue host a sunset dinner cruise featuring champagne and traditional Vietnamese fare.

Visit Nguyen Dynasty tombs by motorbike

The Nguyen Dynasty’s seven imperial tombs in Hue are scattered along Huong River to the west of the city. Most of these tombs are a complex of temples, pavilions, stele houses, and mausoleums. Although the tomb of the Nguyen Dynasty’s first emperor, Gia Long, is 15km south of the city, it is the most captivating historical site due to its unique integration of nature and architecture. For something a little closer, the imperial tomb of Emperor Minh Mang rests amongst a lake of lotus flowers and is a reflection of noteworthy Chinese architectural designs in its monuments, statues and gardens.

Watch the sunset from Vong Canh Hill

Vong Canh Hill attracts young locals for picnics among the pine trees. Vong Canh, which means “view watching” in Vietnamese, offers a picturesque panorama of the Huong River. What’s not to love about a sampan on the water at sunset.

Cycle to Thanh Toan Bridge

Hue’s quiet countryside and historical monuments make for a scenic cycling trip through canals and rice paddies all the way to the Thanh Toan Bridge. About 7km east of Hue, this tile-roofed bridge was built in the 18th century and is known for its Japanese-style design. 

Trek Bach Ma National Park

During the colonial era, Bach Ma was a getaway for French colons looking for an escape from the sultry lowlands. Some of their villas remain, in various states of dilapidation and repair. More than 1,400 species of plants thrive in this mile-high environment. 

Relax in Lang Co Bay

Listed in “The Most Beautiful Bays in the World” Collection, Lang Co Bay is a natural complex of beaches, lagoons, rivers, and mountains. Lang Co Bay is best when visited during dry season from April to July.