Situated in the very center of Vietnam, about 600 miles away from Sai Gon, Hue is a charming imperial city which is considered to be the royal period witness offering a numerous of precious leftovers and lively evidence from Nguyen Dynasty. Hue was Vietnam’s capital until 1945 and today there is a growing number of foreign and domestic tourists wish to put Hue into their travel bucket list.
Where to go
The first impression that visitors can easily notice is peaceful and quiet streets in this royal city even at nighttime. That is because visitors don’t usually pour into the street, instead, they are charmed by the night market along the bank of Perfume river, enjoying Vietnam’s traditional folk music on a boat cruise or getting lost in magnificent royal architectures reappeared in impressive historic stories.
Imperial Citadel is Hue’s spotlight where the Emperors ruled the country and his family lived ages ago. The complex presents huge exterior walls with several gates leading to the Imperial Enclosure and the Purple Forbidden City. Please take note that the complex is incredibly huge, therefore, having a local guide showing you around is the best way to discover this area without being exhausted. Or else, buy yourself a guidebook before planning to head to the Citadel is certainly not a bad idea.
The complex Tomb of Emperors located along Perfume river is directly built on the side of the mountain taking eleven years to complete. It is the perfect blend of Eastern and Western architecture. Ways available to visit these spots are either hiring a bike, a motorbike taxi to get around or paying for a boat cruise tour floating along Perfume river and stopping at some most impressive tombs.
Thien Mu Pagoda is another famous destination for Hue visitors, the pagoda view scene from the nearby river is incredibly iconic. If you have been to temples so many times then Thien Mu is still worth a visit because this pagoda is dated back to one thousand six hundred years ago with charming historic architecture. Even if you don’t often pray to Buddha, but when you do, make sure to ask for good health and a safe trip.
Hoa Chen Shrine is another highlight which offers 10 different constructions lying on the side of Ngoc Tan mountain facing stunning Perfume river. It is also the only Shrine in Hue proposes the association between a royal ceremony and conventional belief whose decoration got its peak in the late 19th century.
Perfume river and Ngu Binh mountain are two magnificent presents bestowed by nature to Hue. The spectacular combination has been regarded to be the representation of this beautiful city for ages. Vong Canh Hill is also an ideal place for travelers to catch sight of a “real” Hue represented in the tomb of emperor complex and poetic Perfume river from above.
Riding a bike, getting out of the city center to discover Hue’s imposing surroundings is definitely the choice of various tourists when visiting Hue. Recommended locations can be listed out including Bach Ma mountain; Lang Co, Thuan An, Canh Duong beaches, Lap An, Voi stream, etc.
Wandering around streets in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, “Mon Hue” restaurants must be caught in sight at least several times which simply proves that Hue is the center of billions of local food specialties that are famous around Vietnam and considered to be the heaven of people with sweet teeth. The reason for its fame dated back to hundred years ago when Hue’s cuisine was specifically cooked to serve royal families; however, it’s also due to the popular local food.
Mussel rice – a delicious and cheap dish that you can get for less than 0.5$, is one of Hue’s specialties representing Hue’s characteristic. Tourists can easily catch a glimpse of mussel rice almost everywhere on the street, which is available in small restaurants, food stands or even a vendor with her small yoke baskets and a pole walking around or sitting on the pavement.
Noodle can be found at every single corner in Vietnam, you might try Pho in Hanoi and Sai Gon and now it comes to Bun Bo Hue. In practice, Hue’s beef noodle is Pho but it is a much more sophisticated and advanced dish with small meatballs, pork’s broth spotting on the white and dedicated noodle. It definitely leaves tourists the best taste of Hue in a small steaming bowl of noodle.
Nem Lui is somewhat as similar as juicy charcoal grilled pork sausages wrapped in a blanket of rice paper with fresh and pickled veggies for the extra kick of flavor. The art of wrapping nem lui is quite easy, you add all the greens and protein together then roll and dip into a small bowl of specified fish sauce.
Banh Beo is a very well-known snack in Hue which is usually served a dozen at a time in a flat winnowing basket with a small bowl of sauce neatly arranged in the center. It is a set of thin and round cakes made from a mix of powdered rice and manioc decorated with shrimps, a small piece of pork skin as the toppings.
Banh Khoai is also worth a try which somewhat looks like Banh xeo in Hanoi (shrimp crepes) with a perfect combination of rice flour mixed with the yoke to make the pancake then added shrimp and other delicious fillings. Along with regional herbs, Banh Khoai is rolled in a rice paper and served with a typical sweet peanut sauce to bring out the best flavor.
When to travel
The best time to plan a visit to Hue is probably in the spring when the weather is quite moderate and cool starting from January to the end of February. Another ideal time to head to this city should be at the end of April and in the beginning of May when there takes place a huge festival attracting not only domestic travelers throughout Vietnam but also foreigners. This period is the perfect time for anyone who wishes for a chance to explore Hue’s natural, historic beauty and observe its cultural values at the same time.