With more tourist sites on offer than most of Vietnam’s destinations, it is a wonder anyone has time to fit it all in. The Citadel is the main event, a palatial residence built for Emperor Gia Long that covers a large portion of the city and provides a sweeping view of the area from the 37 metre flag tower. Notice the cannons next to the tower, the first line of defense on the fortified structure.
For the macabre at heart, there are a number of famous tombs and mausoleums throughout, perfect places to pay your respects or simply take in classic architecture and regal furnishings. With traditional dynastic surroundings rubbing elbows with French influenced opulence, the collection of burial sites is one of the big draws in town.
Further out, you can find dazzling beaches, relaxing hot springs, well designed pagodas and the largest lagoon in all of Southeast Asia, Tam Giang-Cau Hai. Fed fish by four different rivers, the lagoon in turns helps over half a million locals feed themselves.
Keep going north to the DMZ, the political line between North and South Vietnam. There’s not a lot to see here anymore, but picture lines of turrets and tanks fiercely guarding the border.

What to See in Hue

Royal Fine Arts Museum

Royal Fine Arts Museum

Housed in the An Dinh residence, a decorate building of French architectural influence, the Hue Royal Antiquities Museum has more than 300 relics in its showroom – the royal family tea sets are particularly beautiful. The residence was built in 1908 by King Khai Dinh and presented to his son the last reigning emperor, King Bao Dai.

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Incense and Conical Hat Village

Incense and Conical Hat Village

Near the tomb of Tu Duc, make sure you stop by this roadside village and observe how locals make sandalwood and cinnamon incense as well as traditional Hue conical hats. Colourful stalks of incense are bunched together, and sample pieces are lit so that there is a pleasant aroma in the air.

Read More
The Citadel

The Citadel

The Citadel is Hue’s main attraction, having served as the primary residential estate of the royal family and hosting the main buildings of state. Built by Emperor Gia Long in 1804 on auspicious ground (determined by royalappointed geomancers), the Citadel is a colossal structure that sprawls out over the vast majority of the city centre. The squareshaped foundation is surrounded ...

Read More
Khai Dinh’s Tomb

Khai Dinh’s Tomb

A celebration of Vietnamese grandeur and French-opulence, this elevated tomb site is simply spectacular. The stone steles, bodyguard statues and stairs leading up to the altar create an ethereal ambiance when combined with the mountainous view. Inside the main chamber, mosaic tiles and gold decor produce a breathtaking effect. Built into the natural slope of Chau Chau Mountain, this tomb ...

Read More
Lang Co Beach

Lang Co Beach

Down the opposite slope of Hai Van Pass lies the sleepy beach town of Lang Co, a picturesque outpost consisting of a long strip with resorts and street vendors. Fishing is the main industry in Lang Co and the nearby lagoon supplies plenty of catches. Dine at one of the many beachfront restaurants and sample their livelihood. You may be ...

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Dong Ba Market

Dong Ba Market

While many aspects of this market seem typically Vietnamese, it remains a cultural symbol in Hue, particularly as it showcases traditional delicacies and crafts. Purchase sweet sesame Hue cakes or seek out bronze, pottery and ceramics. Not for the fainthearted, you’ll see jars of tom chua – shrimp preserved in chilli and ginger – everywhere.

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Tu Duc’s Tomb

Tu Duc’s Tomb

Encapsulating the Feng Shui principles and Imperial design befitting an Emperor, Tu Duc’s tomb is set in a narrow woodland valley, with a lake, pond and the usual temples, pavilions, stele house and sepulchre. It is a favourite among visitors, and it’s easy to become romantic about the “Emperor Poet” amidst such beauty.

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Thien Mu Pagoda

Thien Mu Pagoda

Translating to “Heavenly Lady”, this pagoda is named after an old woman who prophesized that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist temple. Lord Nguyen Hoang thus ordered its construction in 1601. One of the oldest of Hue’s pagodas, this is an iconic must-visit sight, especially during sunset.

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More What to See Venues

Thien Mu Pagoda

Thien Mu Pagoda

Translating to “Heavenly Lady”, this pagoda is named after an old woman who prophesized that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist temple. Lord Nguyen Hoang thus ordered its construction in 1601. One of the oldest of Hue’s pagodas, this is an iconic must-visit sight, especially during sunset.

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Hot Spring My An

Hot Spring My An

The natural springs of My An have been turned into a very affordable resort-like area that abounds with locals. The My An complex includes several ponds of hot mineral springs. A fantastic place to revive, it’s also a good alternative to sightseeing during bad weather.

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Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

The strip that once officially separated North and South Vietnam was anything but de-militarized. During the American War, the South side of the DMZ was the locale of some of the country’s bloodiest battles. Still haunted by mines and ordinance, the area is home to the Vinh Moc tunnels and famed Khe Sanh town which may hit a nostalgic note ...

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Lang Co Beach

Lang Co Beach

Down the opposite slope of Hai Van Pass lies the sleepy beach town of Lang Co, a picturesque outpost consisting of a long strip with resorts and street vendors. Fishing is the main industry in Lang Co and the nearby lagoon supplies plenty of catches. Dine at one of the many beachfront restaurants and sample their livelihood. You may be ...

Read More
Hai Van Pass

Hai Van Pass

As the old saying goes, sometimes the destination is the journey itself. It's hard to argue with that wisdom when travelling from Danang to Hue, a scenic stretch of highway along the coast. Out of the city, you can cut straight through the range with the Hai Van tunnel, but we recommend going the scenic route and taking Hai Van ...

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The Garden Houses

The Garden Houses

Hue’s garden houses are illustrious examples of grand dynasties past. Each is built with traditional old timbers, featuring typical brick roofing of Hue, and set amidst beautiful landscaped gardens. Houses are privately owned, usually by descendents of the royal family. Popular examples are An Hien, Ngoc Son, Lac Tien, Y Thao and Tinh Gia Vien.

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Tu Hieu Pagoda

Tu Hieu Pagoda

This pagoda epitomizes the tranquil setting one expects of a Buddhist place of meditation and learning. On the slope of a sleepy hamlet, Tu Hieu was founded by Zen master Thich Nhat Dinh in 1843. It was financially supported by eunuchs in the imperial court in the latter part of the 19th century and their graves are ensconced within its ...

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We Visit Suoi Voi (Elephant Springs)

We Visit Suoi Voi (Elephant Springs)

The Elephant Springs make for an excellent break in your journey from Hue to Da Nang or vice versa. Packed out with Vietnamese during the weekend, the drive into the springs takes you through vibrant jungle. The springs are a series of small waterfalls and ponds, and remain in pristine condition.

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Huyen Khong Son Thuong Pagoda

Huyen Khong Son Thuong Pagoda

This modern pagoda is not in the guidebooks. A favourite among locals, to get there you must ascend the slope of the Cham Mount, which is lined with fir trees and eucalypts. This peaceful place of worship is dedicated to the principles of Theravadic Buddhism, although its surrounds also provide a romantic backdrop for young couples.

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Minh Mang’s Tomb

Minh Mang’s Tomb

In the spirit of the world’s great wonders, the Minh Mang tomb complex is one of immense beauty and symmetrical genius. Be willing to take your time exploring this site; there are 40 constructs (palaces, temples, pagodas and pavilions) that lead up to the surrounding wall of the sepulchre. Minh Mang was renowned for his antipathy to European penetration of ...

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National School

National School

This colonial inspired building, which is painted in rich pink and cream, was the school of Ho Chi Minh and other notable Vietnamese scholars. The building has been impeccably restored since its foundation in 1896. To this day, the school is reserved for high-achieving secondary school students.

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Bach Ma National Park

Bach Ma National Park

Another favourite holiday spot during the French colonial era, Bach Ma National Park remains a landscape of uncompromised beauty despite having suffered the brunt of several wars. It is also host to several endangered species such as tigers, leopards and the local antelope (sao la). Park rangers are extremely helpful and well-versed in English. Conservationists were further rewarded for their ...

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Perfume River

Perfume River

Hue’s majestic Perfume River is intrinsic to the city’s livelihood and a visit would be incomplete without a boat trip. Both long boats and colourful barges can be rented, with the most common route from the main city centre to Thien Mu Pagoda. The longer journey to Gia Long's tomb is delightful.

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Thuan An Seaside

Thuan An Seaside

This beach is set on a lagoon near to the mouth of the Perfume River. Void of tourists, this can make for a pleasant seaside experience. The water is clean and the locals friendly, although a Western face may attract attention from the food peddlers. Beware of big buckets brewing Nuoc Mam (fish sauce) - the smell is overpowering.

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The Citadel

The Citadel

The Citadel is Hue’s main attraction, having served as the primary residential estate of the royal family and hosting the main buildings of state. Built by Emperor Gia Long in 1804 on auspicious ground (determined by royalappointed geomancers), the Citadel is a colossal structure that sprawls out over the vast majority of the city centre. The squareshaped foundation is surrounded ...

Read More
Khai Dinh’s Tomb

Khai Dinh’s Tomb

A celebration of Vietnamese grandeur and French-opulence, this elevated tomb site is simply spectacular. The stone steles, bodyguard statues and stairs leading up to the altar create an ethereal ambiance when combined with the mountainous view. Inside the main chamber, mosaic tiles and gold decor produce a breathtaking effect. Built into the natural slope of Chau Chau Mountain, this tomb ...

Read More
Gia Long’s Tomb

Gia Long’s Tomb

Due to its distance, few venture out to the marvelous tomb of Emperor Gia Long, who reigned until 1820. Surrounded by old pine forests on the west bank of the Perfume River, this tomb has a regal atmosphere and classic design. Spectacular views complement this significant monument. Gia Long was the first of the Nguyen dynasty emperors. After more than ...

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Thanh Toan Bridge

Thanh Toan Bridge

The sister bridge to Hoi An’s famed Japanese bridge, this bridge is arguably more distinct. It has Chinese and Japanese features, with a rare squared timber arch speckled with ancient ceramics. Note the calligraphy inscription in ancient Vietnamese and Chinese script. The bridge is difficult to find but the countryside trek worth it. The bridge spans a canal in the ...

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Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

Unlike its Saigon counterpart, this cathedral in Hue combines distinct Oriental features with French architecture. Notably, the spire is similar to a Buddhist pagoda. Hue locals may refer to this as Francisco Cathedral but all other references use the title Notre Dame. For architectural aficionados, it is worth taking a peek at this delightful church.

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Duc Duc Tomb

Duc Duc Tomb

Emperor Duc Duc’s burial ground is a small complex that also includes the graves of Emperors Thanh Thai and Duy Tan. Interestingly, Duc Duc was imprisoned by the court for being a Francophile and he died after reigning only three days. The tomb site is modest but possesses enigmatic charm. With similar names it is easy to confuse Duc Duc ...

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Tu Duc’s Tomb

Tu Duc’s Tomb

Encapsulating the Feng Shui principles and Imperial design befitting an Emperor, Tu Duc’s tomb is set in a narrow woodland valley, with a lake, pond and the usual temples, pavilions, stele house and sepulchre. It is a favourite among visitors, and it’s easy to become romantic about the “Emperor Poet” amidst such beauty.

Read More
Royal Fine Arts Museum

Royal Fine Arts Museum

Housed in the An Dinh residence, a decorate building of French architectural influence, the Hue Royal Antiquities Museum has more than 300 relics in its showroom – the royal family tea sets are particularly beautiful. The residence was built in 1908 by King Khai Dinh and presented to his son the last reigning emperor, King Bao Dai.

Read More
Hon Chen Temple

Hon Chen Temple

This underrated temple is one of Hue’s most interesting. Followed by a devoted number of Cham descendents that worship the Goddess Ya NA, this temple houses some unique artefacts and colourful designs. Its location on the Perfume River by Jade Cup mountain make a visit here all the more pleasant.

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Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature

Temple of Literature was established by the Nguyen emperor, Gia Long. It comprises a rectangular area with an austere gateway marking the entrance and 32 stone steles held within, bearing the names of academics. The Nguyen emperors were noted for their strongly held belief in the teachings of 5th Century BCE Chinese philosopher, Confucius. Several ‘temples of literature’ were built ...

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Tam Giang-Cau Hai Lagoon

Tam Giang-Cau Hai Lagoon

This lagoon system spans over 70km, making it the largest in all of Southeast Asia. The brackish coastal lagoon is fed by four different rivers (O Lau, Bo, Huong and Truoi rivers) and is one of the most important sources of fish (and therefore protein) in the area. Approximately half a million people make their livelihood from the lagoon.

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Tiger Arena

Tiger Arena

Ho Quyen, or the Tiger’s arena, is the Asian version of a Roman coliseum. It was exclusively used for entertaining the Emperor’s and nobility. An unusual find in Southeast Asia, this temple was last used in 1909 but the structure remains well-preserved. Here, distinguished spectators would watch elephants, tigers and leopards battle one another in the ring.

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Dong Ba Market

Dong Ba Market

While many aspects of this market seem typically Vietnamese, it remains a cultural symbol in Hue, particularly as it showcases traditional delicacies and crafts. Purchase sweet sesame Hue cakes or seek out bronze, pottery and ceramics. Not for the fainthearted, you’ll see jars of tom chua – shrimp preserved in chilli and ginger – everywhere.

Read More
Incense and Conical Hat Village

Incense and Conical Hat Village

Near the tomb of Tu Duc, make sure you stop by this roadside village and observe how locals make sandalwood and cinnamon incense as well as traditional Hue conical hats. Colourful stalks of incense are bunched together, and sample pieces are lit so that there is a pleasant aroma in the air.

Read More

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