Imperial Grandeur in Ancient Hue
Ancient tombs that crumble in the hills. Time-honored artistry and culinary traditions. And jungled mountains that roll right into the sea. Hue and its surroundings have so many stories to tell and things to do that it should be a highlight in any trip through Vietnam, yet so many people pass it by. However, now that Hue has made Discovery Channel’s list of 5-must visit places in Southeast Asia, it’s just a matter of time before it begins to receive the international acclaim it so rightfully deserves.
Formerly the seat of power as well as the political, cultural, and religious center of Vietnam from 1802-1945, Hue’s imperial capital was badly damaged after the fall of the Americans during the 2nd Indochinese War. However, with a little bit of imagination and time spent, the city will unfold and blossom before your eyes like a lotus pond in spring, revealing a destination filled to the brim with historical wonders and authentic experiences.
As Anthony Bourdain once said, “All the senses are engaged here.” So come and see what he meant – whether it’s part of a much longer Vietnam tour or an in-depth Hue city exploration, we’ve got you covered!
Hue is known for its collection of widely admired UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered throughout the city. The Imperial Citadel stands firm in the center of the city, alongside the Perfume River, as a testament to the strength of the Vietnamese people to overcome any obstacles or hardships in their path.
The forbidden city, a remarkable cluster of buildings that reflects Vietnam’s history over the past two hundred years, is at the heart of the citadel. But after you’ve spent a few hours absorbing history – including royal concert halls, colonial administrative buildings, and bullet holes from the war – make sure you explore the rest of the neighborhood too! Here, garden houses have been converted into leafy coffee shops and serene lakes are hiding around every corner.
History buffs and culture lovers will love our 4-day historical journey through the best of Hue’s sights and sounds, including juicy tidbits on what life was like in the regal courts of the Nguyen Dynasty.
Commemorating the dead with grand structures is an important part of Hue culture, spurred by the Nguyen Emperors that once held Hue as their capital. It’s not surprising then that the Nguyen dynasty royal tombs steal the tourism show, each one different while offering a unique window into this fascinating period of Vietnam’s history.
Gia Long tomb is the oldest, the least visited, and the most atmospheric while Minh Mang tomb is the grandest, reflecting the strength and power of his empire as well as his strong Confucianist beliefs. Thieu Tri’s tomb sees the least number of visitors and is in the worst shape, while Duc Duc’s tomb is found in the city center, small and humble, perhaps due to his suspicious death after reigning only 3 days. Unlike the others, Tu Duc blends harmoniously with the nature around it and has a rural, wild vibe complete with its own lakes, while Dong Khanh offers sweeping countryside vistas and architecture with slightly gothic undertones.
Finally, the penultimate king before the communist takeover, Emperor Khai Dinh, made his mark by fusing – with an arguable degree of success – Eastern and Western architectural styles in his final resting place.
Why stop at just Hue? Check out our itinerary featuring the incredible UNESCO World Heritage sites within Vietnam’s imperial city and Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park.
Beloved Anthony Bourdain was always quick to admire Vietnamese cuisine and its strong identity without the need for “pomp and circumstance”, as he called it. But nowhere caught his attention quite so much as Hue and its traditional bun bo hue dish, a fragrant noodle soup delicately balancing sweet, spicy, and salty flavors.
The concoction may have been created due to the city’s royal legacy. The Nguyen kings were a demanding dynasty and they wanted special dishes crafted just for them. Fortunately, the secret got out, giving us regular people access to these regal delicacies on Hue dinner cruises, food tours, and classic noodle stalls.
Take your taste buds on a journey and experience this devotion to tradition on our 7-day central Vietnam gourmet tour which passes through Hue and Hoi An.
Most visitors to Hue come for the citadel and the tombs, but miss out on the stunning nature and traditional villages found throughout the province. Popping green rice paddies and enormous Tam Giang lagoon (the largest in Southeast Asia) sit sandwiched between mountains that stretch to Laos and a bright blue sea.
Cycling tours are becoming increasingly popular in Hue as the city and countryside are relatively flat and well-marked. For those who love a challenge, conquer the Hai Van pass between Da Nang and Hue with us on our Hoi An to Hue Adventure!
An hour south, mountainous Bach Ma National Park offers hiking trails and trekking tours to waterfalls and panoramic vistas of the East Sea, mountain ranges, and jungles.
Dive deep into Vietnam’s magnificent landscapes and warm culture with these destination-focused itineraries designed to take you further into the country. Or mix and match to create the adventure of a lifetime.
Our Hue Tours
7 days | Active From 16,100,000 VND
Bring the whole family along to central Vietnam on this 7-day package featuring the best of ancient Hue and rugged Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. Travel back in time to the age of emperors as you voyage down the Perfume River in a dragon boat to crumbling tombs and cycle to ancient villages to learn ancient art crafts. Then, trek through the jungle to Nuoc Not and Paradise Cave for a true explorer’s adventure.
8 days | Active From 23,300,000 VND
Work up a sweat in central Vietnam with this challenging 8-day itinerary through ancient Hue and the wonders of Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. Travel back in time to the age of emperors as you cycle through crumbling tombs, traditional villages, and forbidden cities in Hue. Then, head through the DMZ and spend a night in the jungle before trekking to the fairy’s caves, Hang Tien, known as the biggest caves in the Tu Lan Cave System.
7 days | Culture From 15,400,000 VND
Dive into central Vietnam’s major UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Hue and Hoi An on this 7-day cultural journey. Start in regal Hue, discovering crumbling tombs, forbidden cities, charming villages, and dreamy lagoons before heading down the Hai Van Pass to the ancient town of Hoi An and its enchanting city center and tropical countryside.
4 days | Active From 9,400,000 VND
Work up a sweat in Vietnam’s ancient capital, Hue, on this 4-day adventure through crumbling tombs, regal Citadels, dreamy lagoons, and lush National Parks. Spend the days cycling along the poetic Perfume River and trekking through Bach Ma National Park’s mountain peaks, waterfalls, lakes, and dense jungles while resting your head at the illustrious Pilgrimage Village at night.
4 days | Culture From 7,900,000 VND
Explore the traditional and cultural heart of Vietnam’s ancient capital, Hue, on this 4-day historical adventure through crumbling tombs, regal Citadels, charming villages, and dreamy lagoons. Spend the days cycling along and cruising down the poetic Perfume River while resting your head at the illustrious Pilgrimage Village at night.
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