The ancient city of Hue (pronounced 'whey') in central Vietnam was the capital of Vietnam during the Nguyen Dynasty at the beginning of the 19th Century, and during the Vietnam-US war some of the most intense conflicts occurred in this region.
One of Hue’s main tourist attractions is the spectacular riverside Hue Citadel or Royal Palace of the Imperial City, built according to the practices of ‘feng shui’. Such is Hue’s historical significance that it is recognised today as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Although Hue is not strictly a coastal city, beach lovers will not be disappointed as there are several good beaches like Thuan An, less than 15 minutes away – you can even cycle there! In short, Hue is a perfect location to explore the cultural heart and soul of the Vietnamese people while still having easy access to the beach.
Under an hour away there are several more beach options. The likes of Lang Co and Canh Duong Beach are perfect for day trips. Just over 650km south of Hanoi and almost 1,100km north of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hue is well served by all forms of transport – including bus, rail and air.
Thien Mu Pagoda:
Built on a hill overlooking the Perfume River, 4km southwest of the Citadel, this pagoda is an icon of Vietnam and as potent a symbol of Hue as the Citadel. The 21m-high octagonal tower, Thap Phuoc Duyen, was constructed under the reign of Emperor Thieu Tri in 1844. Each of its seven storeys is dedicated to a manushi-buddha (a Buddha that appeared in human form).
To the right of the tower is a pavilion containing a stele dating from 1715. It’s set on the back of a massive marble turtle, a symbol of longevity. To the left of the tower is another six-sided pavilion, this one sheltering an enormous bell (1710), which weighs 2052kg and is said to be audible 10km away.
The Imperial Enclosure is a citadel-within-a-citadel, housing the emperor’s residence, temples and palaces and the main buildings of state within 6m-high, 2.5km-long walls. Today much of it is in ruins. What’s left is only a fraction of the original – the enclosure was badly bombed during the French and American wars, and only 20 of its 148 buildings survived. Restoration and reconstruction of damaged buildings is ongoing.
This is a fascinating site, worth exploring for half a day. However, as there's only very limited information available (some in English and French) and signage is very poor, it's difficult to know exactly where you are at times.
Expect a lot of broken masonry, rubble, cracked tiling and weeds as you work your way around. Nevertheless it's enjoyable as a leisurely stroll and some of the less-visited areas are highly atmospheric. There are little cafes and souvenir stands dotted around.
We've organised the sights inside the Imperial Enclosure as you'll encounter them inside the compound, beginning at the Ngo Mon Gate entrance and moving anticlockwise around the enclosure.
Tomb of Tu Duc
This tomb, constructed between 1864 and 1867, is the most popular, and certainly one of the most impressive of the royal mausoleums. Emperor Tu Duc designed it himself, for use both before and after his death. The enormous expense of the tomb and the forced labour used in its construction spawned a coup plot that was discovered and suppressed.
The tomb, enclosed by a wall, is on the far side of a tiny lagoon. It’s a drab grey monument and the emperor was never interred here – the site where his remains were buried (along with great treasure) is not known. To keep it a secret from grave robbers, all of the 200 servants who buried the king were beheaded.
Hue - small town, quiet and has characteristic of a former capital, has long been a favorite destination of tourists both domestic and foreign. Not only attract visitors by the tour schedule palace, mausoleum system, temples and the famous historic, but also by the extremely tasty dish of Hue, by romantic of Huong river.
Bun Bo Hue(Hue style beef vermicelli)
Bun bo Hue or more detail, Bun bo gio heo (beef and pig's knuckle vermicelli) is a popular Vietnamese soup vermicelli dish, and one of the most typical foods of Hue, Vietnam.
Fine combination of ingredients make the food famous; the broth is prepared by simmering beef and bones for a long period of time, after that a large range of different spices containing lemon grass and chili are added in. Shrimp paste holds no less importance. Hue people usually add thin slices of beef shank, chunks of boiled oxtail, and pig's knuckles or pork into the bowl.
The specialty is commonly served with a plenty of herbs like sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro sprigs, onions, and sliced banana blossom. Thinly sliced purple cabbage or iceberg lettuces are used in case of lacking in banana blossom. It is highly recommended for tourists to add a few of shrimp paste directly into the soup.
The name means “clam rice” — a rather understated label for a chaotic bowl of contrasting colors, tastes and textures: rice or rice noodles, tender stir-fried clams, crisp pork cracklings, peanuts, bean sprouts, julienned green apples, glass noodles, fried shallots and herbs, with a bowl of hot clam broth that you can add as you wish. This dish is easily found walking or motoring around Hue, especially along the three-block Truong Dinh Street, and at the corner of Nguyen Thai Hoc and Ba Trieu, where a vendor sets up shop outdoors under a series of tarps strung with lights.
"Bánh canh Bà Đợi"
Banh Canh Located on Dao Duy Anh street, at the end of a small alley, there is a “bánh canh” shop that is not signed. It is operated in family, few employees so that guests have to wait a bit long time, patrons therefore call the shop is Mrs.Waiting shop (bà Đợi). The resraurant’s broth is quite different which is fresh, flavored because of natural aroma of shrimps.
When one bowl of bread soup (bánh canh) is served, you can see egg rolls together with fresh crispy shrimps and eat with pepper, salt, lemon, chili sauce and chopped scallions on the table although the broth itself is enough tasty for you. Therefore, visitors rarely leave leftover broth in bowl of bread soup at this restaurant.
Hue is a major Buddhist centre so its vegetarian food is well-known. Unlike vegetarian food in Western countries, Hue chefs aim to replicate the taste of dishes such as roast pork cooked with fish sauce, chicken salad, beefsteak, grilled meat roll, pork bolognese, chicken and so on.
It’s a fascinating concept, but far away from the attitudes of foreign vegetarians who are mostly motivated by health or ethical concerns. If you're particularly interested in Hue cuisine, let us know, and we’ll arrange a local expert to provide you with more detailed information, and teach you how to cook it, if you wish.
Grilled pork vermicelli, Hue wet rice paper
A special feature of this two dishes lies in grilled meat. It is marinated enough, fragrant, meat slice is soft and it has special and different flavor from other areas. Sauce served with this dishes is also fit your taste, very delicious. You can enjoy them at Kim Long area, on the way to Thien Mu pagoda.
Nem Lui (Grilled chopped meat)
Finely ground beef and pork, plus shredded pork skin and fat, garlic, sugar and fish sauce are formed into sausages around stalks of lemongrass, grilled over charcoal and set in front of diners. This is serve with half-moons of rice paper (for wrapping around the meat), to which you add sliced lettuce, cucumbers and trai va (a green fig unique to the region), lightly pickled strings of carrot and green papaya, cold rice vermicelli and a pile of herbs. Many restaurants’ menus offer nem lui, along with a selection of banh, spring rolls and maybe a grilled meat and vermicelli dish.
Hue's cakes: banh beo, banh bot loc, banh khoai
"Bánh Bèo": "Bánh Bèo" (Steamed rice discs topped with shrimp) are a type of small steamed rice pancakes. They usually feature a dimple in the center, which is filled by shrimp, scallions and mung bean sprouts.
"Banh bot loc"(Filtered tapioca dumplings) is stuffed with a more generous portion of shrimp and pork than banh loc goi, then boiled rather than steamed, and served under a dense layer of chopped green onions and crispy fried shallots, along with nuoc mam pha, to be spooned over the top.
Banh khoai (delicious pancake) is so much like Banh xeo (sizzling pancake) since they both are made from rice flour, water, turmeric powder, added slivers of fatty pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and then pan fried. In Hue, Banh khoai is placed open-face instead of being folded in half like Banh xeo.
Nhat Le’s sticky rice cake
This is a famous dish in Hue and originated from Nhat Le streets in Royal Citadel, where focusing dozens of baking place.
Sticky rice cake is scented, quiche because of skillfull flavor combination between beans, meat (fat and lean) with sticky rice and spices like pepper, onion. The long time eating, the more hunger for it.
Trai Va Salad
As mentioned, Hue is home to a particular green fig, trai va, that’s not grown in any other part of the country or outside of it. It has a lightly sweet flavor and a pronounced astringent quality that makes it an excellent foil for fatty meats and spicy dips. The fruit is boiled to soften it, then peeled, thinly sliced and served on the garnish plate for nem lui, or as a component of a salad, to be dressed with Hue hoisin sauce or a dab of salty fermented shrimp paste.
Hue's sweet pudding
Chè (sweet pudding) is one of the three typical images of Huế summer. Huế is said to have thirty-six kinds of chè. However, the actual figure is much higher. No other city in Vietnam has as many varieties. Huế people, wth their skill in food preparation, make hundreds of strange, delicious, and nutritious chè varieties.
Places to eat street food in Hue
1.Restaurant Tinh Tam at 27 Tinh Tam or No.4 Chu Van An
2.Restaurant Thien Phu at 26 Phan Chu Trinh
3.Banh Canh Ba Doi: No. 9 Nguyen Trai and No. 34 Ngo Gia Tu
4.Rice, mussels: located in Truong Dinh Street (14h to 18h Open.)
5.Delicious pancake Hong Mai
Address: Dinh Tien Hoang, Hue
6.Delicious pancake Lac Thien
Address: 6 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hue
Sweet pudding Hue's Royal
Address: 31 Nguyen Hue
Address: 17 Hung Vuong, Hue
Address: 68 Nguyen Hue
Sweet pudding "Sao"
Address: 60 Phan Chu Trinh