Hue Tourist Attractions: A List of What You Can See in Hue

Hue is among the most visited tourist cities in Vietnam for travelers (nearly 5 milions of visitors a year). It’s firstly known for a series of fine constructions built by kings that was in Unesco world heritage site. Local cuisine here is special, flavourful and diverse, and some local dishes are loved by people nationwide and worldwide (such as the beef noodle soup). Other famous things of Hue are the Perfume river, folk music, ao dai – the long dress, the conical hat, and even speaking dialect of local residents. 

In this article, all tourist attractions in Hue are introduced. By that, travelers can know where they go to visit and learn about the city. The list includes must-see places, hidden gems, and non-touristy spots. Because of being the former capital city of Vietnam, Hue has a massive collection of historical sites. For that reason, almost the most popular sightseeing places are related to history. The Imperial city is the dream for travelers who are interested in Vietnamese history.

Read also:

  • Hue Monthly Weather and Seasons
  • The Best Time to Visit Hue
  • Hue Food Specialties
  • Hue Private Car and Driver

Table of content

The Complex of Hue Monuments – Main Attractions

Hue is the ancient capital city of Vietnam, a seat of power for Nguyen emperors from 1802 to 1945. During this period, there are so many buildings constructed for political, religious, cultural, defending and burial purposes. In 1993, the best preserved sites amongst them were inscribed by Unesco as a world heritage site, with name ‘Complex of Hue monuments’.  

To sightsee the main sights of the complex, visitors need to follow a dress code in which those who wear too-short garments won’t be allowed to go in (such as bikini, shorts above knees, shirts showing airmpit or navel, etc).  

Here is the list of places within the Complex of Hue monuments:

The Imperial citadel (Old city), Imperial city and Forbidden purple city: a huge compound including hundreds of buildings, such as the Flag tower (Ky Dai), the Noon gate (Ngo Mon), Thai Hoa palace, Temple for Nguyen emperors (The Mieu), Dien Tho residence, Truong Sanh palace, the Royal theatre (Duyet Thi Duong), gardens, etc and thousands of treatures like the Nine holy cannons, the Nine dynastic urns, the Throne or poems on the structures 

– Long An palace (nowadays the Museum of royal antiquitie): the only palace outside of the Imperial city

– Thien Mu pagoda: the oldest Buddhist temple in Hue, see details in https://centralvietnamguide.com/thien-mu-pagoda-hue/

– Tombs of Nguyen kings: Minh Mang tomb, Khai Dinh tomb, Tu Duc tomb, Gia Long tomb, Thieu Tri tomb, Dong Khanh tomb, Duc Duc tomb

– An Dinh palace: a mixture of western and eastern architectural styles, see details in https://centralvietnamguide.com/an-dinh-palace

– The Imperial academy (Quoc Tu Giam): the former Historical and Revolutionary Museum, close to the Noon gate

– The Royal arena (Ho Quyen): the only arena of Vietnam today where the elephant and the tiger fights but the tiger always wins 

– Tinh Tam lake and the Imperial library (Tang Tho Lau)

– Temple of Literature: near Thien Mu pagoda, retains the main three-arched gate and 32 memorial steles from all royal examinations of Nguyen dynasty

Dong Ba Market

This is the largest traditional market in Hue city, a popular spot for shoppers. During the day, visitors will see a variety of products to buy, including local specialty foods (candies, dried seafood, fish sauces, shrimp sauce, nuts, etc), ready-to-wear clothings, jeweleries, accessories, household goods (bowl, chopsticks, etc). If like to try local foods, bun bo – the beef noodle soup, nem lui – grilled pork skewers, banh xeo pancakes or che – sweet soup are all delicious and of special flavours. Outdoors, there are street vendors selling fresh vegetables, fruits, egg, flowers, spices, animals, flavors, and more. 

To get there, travelers can travel by a car, taxi, bicycle, motorcycle, cyclo, bus, boat and walking. From the Hue city centre, the best walk to Dong Ba market is by Truong Tien bridge spanning the Perfume river. The Imperial citadel – a must see is not far from these places.

See full details in https://centralvietnamguide.com/dong-ba-market-hue

Truong Tien Bridge

Truong Tien bridge was built in 1899, in the reign of Thanh Thai king, making it the first bridge spanning over the Perfume river. It’s 400 meters long, used for motorcycles, bicycles and cyclos thoughout the day. Cars are prohibited in several hours. Those who walk can go on walkways at two sides, and view from the river. One of the best spots to see sunset in Hue is here. At night, the bridge becomes colorful and lightful thanks to hundreds of lights.

Please see further information in our visitor guide to Truong Tien bridge

The Perfume River (Song Huong)

This gentle river flows through Hue city. It’s 30 kilometers long, starting from the confluence where Ta Trach and Huu Trach rivers meet, near Minh Mang tomb, and encounters the sea in Thuan An. Its name originates from the story of Nguyen Hoang lord or a local custom in which people make herb and flower water and then pour into the river. Over time, the Perfume river has inspired generations of Vietnamese artists and emperors. The most famous bridge spanning it is Truong Tien bridge. In Hue city centre, many visitors love walking in forest-like parks and promenades along its banks, and for locals, there are perfect places to do exercise, relax or avoid the heat. 

Many travelers love traveling on the Perfume river by the dragon boat. Popular rides are between the city, Thien Mu pagoda, Hon Chen temple and Minh Mang tomb.  

You can see more information in our travel guide to the Perfume river in Hue

Night Walking Streets in Hue

Hue city is home to a couple of evening walking streets, including the ones in the Backpacker area, in the Imperial city, and Hai Ba Trung street. Generally, all of these places open from Friday to Sunday, and of course, traffic is blocked during the days. Visitors can see venues and vendors selling local food, local specialties, local beer (Huda), souvenirs and gifts. Lots of local people come to the walking streets, so the atmosphere is vibrant and little chaotic, kind of different to usual Hue. Most pubs and bars in the Backpacker area, around Chu Van An, Pham Ngu Lao and Vo Thi Sau streets. Visitors shouldn’t miss Hue’s walking areas if looking for something to do at night. 

See further details in our complete guide to Hue night walking streets

Thuy Tien Lake Waterpark (Hue Abandoned Water Park)

9 km southwest of Hue city centre, Thuy Tien lake waterpark – the first of Hue city opened in 2004 and closed a few months later. Until today, it’s still abandoned although the ownership and projects are changed several times. In the middle of the park, there is a huge dragon embracing a ball. It’s used as an aquarium, and now, becomes a popular instagrammable spot. In the surroundings, facilities of the old amusement park are still seen, such as water slides, pools, amphitheatre, villas.     

Please see full information in https://centralvietnamguide.com/hue-abandoned-water-park/

Fact: Thuy Tien lake waterpark is known by people in the world after a mention by an American news magazine as one of the most scary places on the plant. It’s usually known as ‘the Hue abandoned waterpark’ by young travelers.

Thanh Toan Bridge

6,5 km away from Hue city centre, Thanh Toan bridge was built in 1776, by a lady borned in the same village. She is the wife of a high-ranking official in Vietnam’s government at that time. After her death, local people worship her inside the bridge and celebrate a festival. Spanning a small canal, the bridge itself is not long, made by wood and covered by yinyang tiles. It’s amongst the last traditional bridges that have survived in the country. That’s why it’s praised as a national historical relic.

From the city, travelers can get a car, taxi or ride a motorcycle or bicycle. We recommend getting around the village to see temples, pagodas, rice fields, market, and life of people in countryside.

Please read more details in https://centralvietnamguide.com/thanh-toan-bridge

Vong Canh Hill (aka the Bunkers Hill)

Not far away from tomb of Tu Duc emperor, about 4 km from the city, Vong Canh hill is a prime viewpoint to enjoy the natural scenery of Hue. From its top, visitors will see a long stretch of peaceful and poetic Perfume river with boats moving on, rural villages, hills with forests and mountains. The view is absolutely panoramic and inspirational. Some military bunkers are built here in the French and American wars. 

Don’t miss out Vong Canh hill in the trip to see royal tombs! It’s not only great to take pictures, but also take a rest and immerse into an untouched nature.

Thuan An Beach: The Best Beach of Hue

The nearest beach from Hue is Thuan An beach (the distance is 15 kilometers). It lies on an extremely long sand-dune spit that stretches 40 kilometers from north to south. On the weekend, local people come here to go swimming, eat seafood and play sports. Compared to Da Nang’s beaches or Hoi An’s beaches, this strip of fine sand is less touristy. Accommodation options are limited but there are more restaurant choices. Half way from Hue to Thuan An beach, travelers can consider to experience outdoor and indoor Japanese-standard onsen at Kawara hotel (or My An hot springs). Read more details in https://centralvietnamguide.com/thuan-an-beach-hue

Near Chan May port, Hue has several nice beaches, such as Lang Co beach, Canh Duong beach, or Loc Binh beach.

Thanh Tan Hot Springs

Thanh Tan hot springs is 30 km away from Hue. It’s famous for on-site hot springs (at the hottest spots, possible to boil eggs) nestled in the forests of Phong Dien nature reserve. To enjoy this natural quality, swimming pools, bath rooms, onsen, spas and other leisure faciltiies are built. Here, visitors will have tons of fun with the longest free zipline in Asia (560 meters long) or challenge themselves with high wire. Back to history, the springs were found by French people. 

We highly recommend Thanh Tan hot springs for families and travelers who like activities good for beauty and health. A half day is minimum to complete everything here. Please read full details in https://centralvietnamguide.com/thanh-tan-hot-springs

Bach Ma National Park

Bach Ma national park is one of the richest forests in Vietnam. It’s some 40 km southeast of Hue city (in the direction to Da Nang). Besides a high level of biodiversity, this park is the former hill station of French colonists who stay here to beat the heat and relax. It’s popular as same as Ba Na hills station before the colonial period ends in 1945. 

Travelers can hike or use the transfer service to reach the top of Bach Ma national park (around 1,500 meters above sea level). Around there, trekking trails go to extremely dense forests, streams, clear pools and very tall waterfalls. It’s possible to go swimming into the pools in the summer, so visitors shouldn’t forget swimsuit. 

We highly recommend Bach Ma national park for travelers who love nature, trekking, hiking, outdoor adventures or just want to escape from the city. See everything in https://centralvietnamguide.com/bach-ma-national-park/.

Craft Villages in Hue

Hue city and surroundings is known for many traditional handicrafts, such as Thuy Xuan incense sticks and conical hat making village by Tu Duc tomb, Thanh Tien paper flower making village, Bao La bamboo knitting village, Sinh folk paintings village, Phuong Duc bronze casting village, Phuoc Tich pottery village.

Amongs them, the most famous village is Thuy Xuan where colorful incense sticks (for worship) and Hue-style conical hats are handcrafted. Visitors stop here to take pictures, learn about the tradition and try their hands in making an incense stick. 

Buddhist Temples in Hue

Buddhism is the most popular religion in Hue. Around the city, there are about 300 Buddhist temples constructed by the kings and residents, giving it the nickname ‘city of pagodas’. This is followed by thousands of monks, nuns, believers and followers, a large number of vegetarian restaurants, great traditional vegeterian foods, and various festivals (like the Buddha’s birthday).   

The best known Buddhist temple in Hue is Thien Mu pagoda (also oldest). It stands on the top of a low hill by the Perfume river and its a brick tower is one of unofficial emblems of the city. This pagoda is a must in any Hue city tours and day trips from Da Nang or Hoi An. 

Other famous and important Buddhist temples in Hue are Tu Hieu pagoda, Tu Dam pagoda, Bao Quoc pagoda, Dieu De pagoda, Huyen Khong Son Ha pagoda, Huyen Khong Son Thuong pagoda, Thien Lan pagoda.

Museums in Hue

The Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities

The Museum of Royal antiquities (Long An palace) is the most important museum in Hue city. Established in 1923, it’s also the first museums in Vietnam. It’s home to around 11,000 artifacts and several of them are the national treasure, such as imperial dragon robe, throne, etc. Additionally, Champa kingdom’s remains and exhibition about Ham Nghi king are also seen. Read more information here.

Ho Chi Minh Museum

Ho Chi Minh president lived in Hue twice, the first time from 1895 to 1901 when he was 5 to 11 years old, and the second time from 1906 to 1909 when he was 16 to 19 years old. For that reason, there are many places, people, memories and things related to his life. This Ho Chi Minh museum informs visitors all of them. It’s close to the Hue railway station, the Hue high school for the gifted, the Hue provincial hall and by the Perfume river.  

Hue War Museum

The current location of the Hue war museum is on Dien Bien Phu street, on the way from the city to Nam Giao esplande. Former museum was inside the Imperial academy next to the Imperial city and forbidden purple city. Here, visitors will see American air force’s aircrafts, tanks, weapons and reminders about life and work of the communists in the Vietnam war.

The Hamburger Hill (A Bia Hill)

80 km west of Hue city centre, by the Laos border, the Hamburger hill (or Hill 937) by Americans or A Bia hill by Vietnamese is associated to the Battle of Hamburger hill in 1969. It’s fought by the US army and the army of Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) and the People’s army of Vietnam (North Vietnam). This is one of the heaviest battles in whole Vietnam war. Today, the Hamburger hill is a must-visit place in tours from Hue to Ho Chi Minh trail or the DMZ.

Phuoc Tich Ancient Village

Phuoc Tich ancient village is 45 km from Hue, near the border of Quang Tri province. It’s established in 15th century at the confluence of two rivers flowing down from Truong Son mountains. This village has more than 25 traditional-style garden houses that were built hundreds of years ago. Local residents here are farmers, fishermen, and pottery makers. In 2009, the government inscribed it to be a natural heritage, the first in central Vietnam. If visit, travelers will see a real countryside and ways of life typical to Hue region. See more information in https://centralvietnamguide.com/phuoc-tich-ancient-village.

Thuy Bieu Ancient Village

Thuy Bieu ancient village sits on a bend of the Perfume river, 6 km west of Hue city downtown. The soil here is fertile, so local inhabitants grow fruits, vegetables and flowers, especially grapefruit. Many traditional wooden houses and family chapels are preserved well by the owners. Visitors like cycling around this village to enjoy the peacefulness, see gardens, and learn about rural ways of life (like cooking, making incense, etc). Read more information here.

An Hien Garden House

On the way from the city to Thien Mu pagoda, this 1934-built house is a typical traditional house of Hue. It’s made by timber (columns, furniture, rooms), and covered by local tiles that are made to adapt local extreme climate. A waterlily pond and a screen are set in the front of the house (from the entrance gate) to protect the family from bad elements, according to fengshui principles. In its garden, there are fruit trees and flowers. Visiting An Hien house actually allows people to know how residence of a local family is. Owners are very welcoming and invite guests to drink hot tea. Ticket price is 35,000 VND. 

Huyen Tran Princess Temple

9 km towards the mountain of Hue city, this temple was built in 2006 to worship Huyen Tran princess who married Cham king to build up her father nation’s friendship. After the wedding in 1306, Hue city was belongged to Vietnamese people. Because it’s not touristy, visitors enjoy a sense of serenity.

Tam Giang Lagoon

The Tam Giang lagoon is a system of coastal lagoons stretching around 70 km along the coastline of Hue city. It’s largest in Southeast Asia. The most popular spot for travelers is ‘Chuon lagoon’ that is 10 km from the city downtown. Here, local people take a boat ride to floating bamboo restaurants to eat seafood and catch cool breezes. During the summer, sunset is really kool. In some tours, travelers follow a local fisherman to learn about how to catch or trap fishes (crabs, etc) by traditional methods. It’s really interesting. The specialties of Chuon lagoon area are rabbitfish pancake and rice wine.

Bao Vinh Ancient Town

Bao Vinh ancient town is the international trading port for former Hue capital city (like Hoi An). Today, there are a few houses and temples remaining, around the market. When visitors come here, it’s interesting to see local life and a diversity of local products.

Sites in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

 The Demilitarized zone was established after the 1954 Geneva Conference when Vietnam was devided into two separate territories. The Vietnam war ended in 1975, and then this zone no longer existed. Today, veterans and travelers who are interested in the conflict come here to see and memorize. Main sites are Hien Luong bridge and river, Quang Tri citadel, Vinh Moc tunnels, Khe Sanh combat base, Long Hung church, Bo De school, the Rockpile, the Camp Caroll, etc.

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