The Imperial City of Hue 

The imperial city is located in the Thua Thien Hue province of Hue. It is a prominent historic sight. 

The moat and ten ornate gates guard the palace and maintain its integrity. It’s called The Citadel. The imperial city is located inside the citadel. 

The South Gate, called the Meridian Gate, is the main entrance. At the very centre of the Imperial City, you will find the Purple Forbidden City. This is where the emperor’s consorts lived. The city has multiple royal courts, temples, gardens, and residential houses of ministers and mandarins of that time. 

The entire layout of the city faces the Perfume River. Four outer courts, 14 inner courts, one beautiful garden, a royal residence, and a couple of pavilions are inside the Imperial City. There are six temples, including The Mieu shrine, an ancestral temple of the Nguyen Dynasty. It is the home to the tallest flagpole in Vietnam. 

You can easily walk around here for 3 hours to visit everything. The ticket price for a tour guide service at Hue Imperial Palace (Citadel) is 200,000 VND/ticket/turn and the Ticket price for a tour guide service at 1 of 3 royal tombs of Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, Minh Mang is 150,000 VND/ticket/turn. 

To visit the area around the Citadel and all the tourist attractions inside the Citadel, you can avail the Tram service. Female drivers will pick up tourists at Nguyen Hoang bus station and take them to Hue Heritage City.

The Perfume River

While planning a trip to Hue, Perfume River must be added to your list. The Perfume River is around 80 kilometres long, looking like “a silver sword upright to the sky”. 

First named after the sweet scents of tropical flora and fauna, it quickly rose to prominence as a trade route linking Hue to nearby towns and villages. The famous Trang Tien Bridge is on the Perfume River. It is an iconic structure in Hue that enhances the river’s picturesque beauty. 

The river is also known as the Hương River. The river’s path is adorned with various villages, including the Bang Lang village and the Bang Lang fork. Each contributes to the cultural tapestry and historical legacy of the region. 

One way to explore the green water of the river is by taking a river cruise. Along the river, tourists can visit Da Vien, Phu Xuan, and Truong Tien Bridges, cross the Tomb of Minh Mang, Hon Chen Shrine, Thien Mu Pagoda, and finally bathe in the sea. 

Traditional dragon boats are commonly used to offer tourists a unique experience along the Perfume River. To experience the subtle fragrance and captivating scenery, one must visit the Perfume River in the autumn season. Flowers from orchards upriver from Huế fall into the river water giving the river a perfume-like aroma. 

The cost of visiting the Perfume River can vary depending on the specific activities and experiences you choose to partake in. Prices for river cruises may range from approximately 200,000 VND to 500,000 VND or more per person, depending on the package and the tour operator.

Incense Village

Housed at the foot of the Vong Canh Hill and by the Perfume River, Thuy Xuan Incense Village is one of the most ancient craft villages in Hue’s ancient capital city. 

Incense Village Hue is an offbeat attraction known for its exquisite production of handcrafted incense. In travel guides, Thuy Xuan Incense Village is presented as ‘a world of colours.’ From the entrance of the village to the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, bundles of colourful incense sticks are lying on the roadside. 

It is a delight and intensely local experience to explore the Thuy Xuan incense village. The locals will always guide you on how to make the local incense by hand. Incense Village Hue also serves as a destination for souvenir shopping. Visitors can explore the local shops and discover a variety of items such as fans, traditional crafts and oil paintings. 

One of the best-selling stores in the village is Di Hoa. Thuy Xuan incense is reasonably priced on the market. Some popular products, like cinnamon incense, are priced at around 40,000 VND per bundle. Agarwood incense can range from 80,000 to 200,000 VND per bundle. If you come here on a sunny day, the blue sky makes for a perfect background for the Instagram picture!

Bun Bo Hue

Bun Bo Hue is a spicy, soul-warming noodle soup that captures the very essence of Central Vietnam. It features rice noodles, beef, and broth, along with pork knuckles, crab sausage, and other toppings. The noodles have a perfect texture from a blend of rice flour and tapioca starch.

To enhance the flavour, a touch of shrimp paste and lemongrass is added to the Bun bo Hue broth. It’s spicy, savoury, sour and sweet all at once – both balanced and in your face.  This Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup is believed to be one of the dishes of the royal family in the former days. The strong flavour profile of bun bo Hue is linked to the local climate and culinary tradition. 

Due to cultural integration, Bun Bo Hue is no longer limited to just breakfast. It can be enjoyed at any time. When ordering, you can specify the toppings you prefer. Before eating, it’s recommended to taste the broth to see if it meets your flavour preferences.  Both vegetarian and vegan versions of “bun bo hue” are available, especially in areas with significant Buddhist populations. They use tofu, mushrooms, and other plant-based ingredients while omitting any animal-derived products in the broth.

The most famous Bun Bo Hue restaurants in Hue are: Bun Bo Hue O Phuong, Bun Bo Hue O Cuong–Chu Diep, Bun Bo Hue O Hoa, Quan Cam, Bun Bo Hue Ba Tuyet and Bun Bo Hue Ong Vong.

Salt Coffee 

Iced milk coffee is popular in Saigon, and aromatic egg coffee is well known in Hanoi. 

The Hue Imperial City is remembered for its unique Hue salt coffee. Drinking salt coffee was a morning ritual for many local Hue people. Cà Phê Muối, which translates to “Salt Coffee” in Vietnamese, might sound a bit confusing, but there’s no salt in the coffee itself. Surprisingly, the salt is mixed into the creamy froth on top, taking the flavour to a whole new level. 

Cà Phê Muối had its beginnings in 2012, thanks to Mr. Phong and Mrs. Huong, a lovely couple in Hue. They dreamt up this unique coffee creation to give their little coffee shop a special touch. This coffee drink is welcomed and appreciated by the local people of Hue and tourists alike. Although the recipe is quite simple, not everyone can make a delicious and standard cup of salt coffee. 

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Brew coffee using a Phin Filter method
  2. Whip heavy cream, milk & condensed milk & white salt until foam thickens.
  3. Fill a glass with ice and pour coffee. Add condensed milk to sweeten. 
  4. Add salted whipped cream on top and garnish with pink salt.

If you’re planning a trip to Huế, must visit Cà Phê Muối spot and some local favourites.

Dong Ba Market

Dong Ba Market is a bustling shopping centre in Hue, Vietnam. It has a wide variety of goods ranging from traditional clothing and food to souvenirs and jewellery. Both Vietnam dong and US dollars will be accepted. 

Dong Ba Market opened in the daytime, about 12 hours from 6.00 am – 6.00 pm. But the best time to experience Dong Ba is from about 3 pm. Because this period is a good time for bargaining for the price of goods of the day. 

The market includes a 3-storey building in the centre, called the bell floor, surrounded by rows of houses forming a U-shaped belt. The 3rd floor of the bell tower is for fabric and clothes stands. The 2nd floor is the place to sell handicrafts as souvenirs when travelling to Hue. 

When asking the locals where to buy the best cultural gifts and souvenirs of Thua Thien Hue to bring home, every single one will point you to Dong Ba market. The best souvenirs to buy are ‘Nón Lá’ (conical hats with poems woven onto them), me xung (Hue traditional candies), Truoi berries, Tuan tea, tom chua (Hue Sour Shrimp), lotus seed of Tinh Tam Lake, etc. 

Bargain, bargain and bargain! 

It’s the first tip at Dong Ba Market that even residents have to apply. Start bargaining from half the price, especially if you’re a foreigners. If one’s lucky and good at bargaining, Dong Ba Market can offer the best price. You cannot miss a meal at Dong Ba Hue market with many attractive local dishes, including Com Hen (clam rice), Bun Bo Hue, Banh Loc, and Banh Nam. 

Sweet soup is one of the famous local foods in Hue that is made of beans, sugar, and other types of flour and fruits. Tourists can find many places to taste sweet soups. If you want to buy food to bring back to taste at the hotel or in the car, you definitely cannot ignore the dry food stalls, selling a lot of candies, cakes, dried squid, dried shrimp, and dried beef.  

You can spend a few hours to half of the day to go shopping at this site. Avoid coming there on the first day of the Lunar New Year since very few shops are open. Normal operations often fully restart after the third day of the New Year. The market here is quite crowded, so you need to pay more attention to your personal belongings. There’s a bus station inside the market where tourist buses often park. Thus, it’s convenient for travelling there by bus or car as well. 

Thien Mu Pagoda

The Thien Mu Pagoda is arguably the most well-known pagoda in Hue. It is distinguished by its antique architecture, sanctity, and mythology containing numerous secret historical tales. 

Nestled on Ha Khe Hill, about 5 kilometres southwest of the city centre of Hue, it is situated at the end of Kim Long Road. Thien Mu Pagoda welcomes tourists from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm every day. It is advised that you visit this location in the morning to easily enjoy the tranquil atmosphere. If you want to participate in some traditional cultural activities and enjoy delicious vegetarian food, you can visit Thien Mu Pagoda on some special occasions such as the 1st or 15th day of any lunar month or Tet holiday. 

The most striking feature of the pagoda is the Phuoc Duyen tower. This octagonal tower has seven storeys (2m high). It is dedicated to a Buddha who appeared in human form. It is the highest stupa in Vietnam. 

To the left of the tower is a pavilion sheltering an enormous bell. It is famous for its great size, which is 2.5m high and 3,285 kg weight. To the right of the tower is a pavilion containing a stela. It is set on the back of a massive marble turtle, a symbol of longevity. 

Besides, there are several popular works of art inside the pagoda, which are of great captivation to tourists. Its picturesque location, fascinating history, and serene ambience make it a must-visit destination for travellers exploring the Hue region.

Abandoned Water Park

Hue Abandoned Water Park is a captivating realm frozen in time. Located just 8 kilometres from Hue’s city centre, the water park is called Ho Thuy Tien. It is situated around Thuy Tien Lake and has been abandoned for well over a decade. 

The park closed its doors in 2006, just two years after its unveiling. Today, it is a crumbling playground for adventurous backpackers impervious to health and safety risks. 

Originally built in 2000, the project did not achieve the desired business results and was forced to close. The abandoned water park in Hue is filled with mysterious tunnels, eerie slides, and forgotten structures. The highlights of the park include the aquarium with the dragon, the amphitheatre, the empty pools and the abandoned water slides. You’ll also find a car that resembles Arthur Weasley’s Ford Anglia.  

The combination of the eerie atmosphere, the forgotten history, and the beauty of nature reclaiming the area make visiting this park an unforgettable experience. 

Bach Ma National Park

Bach Ma National Park is a heaven on the ground for nature lovers. 

The name Bach Ma means “White Horse”, named after the white cloud around the mountain top. At an average height of 1,450 meters and only 10 kilometres from the sea, Bach Ma has a very pleasant climate. 

Bach Ma comprises three zones: a strictly protected core area, an administrative area and a buffer zone. It retains a quite good amount of immense primaeval forest with diverse flora with 2,147 species and fauna with more than 1,500 species. 93 species appear here on the Vietnamese Red List and Global Red List. 

The park housed important species such as the Asian elephant, white-cheeked gibbon, and red-shanked douc langur. It also protects important bird species, like the Vietnamese crested argus, Annam partridge, and Edwards’ pheasant. They were thought to be extinct. Bach Ma is right in the middle of Hue and Da Nang City, it is easily accessible from these both cities. 

From the gate at the foot of the mountain, you can go ahead to find the highest point of Bach Ma National Park Hai Vong Dai (the sea observatory). Here you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the mountain ranges, the vast landscape and the immense ocean from all sides. There are 2 ways to reach here. The first way is taking a van drive on the road to the peak. Another way is trekking on foot. This is really challenging and only suitable for the real trekkers. 

The best time to visit is from December to April of the next year (dry season). As soon as you step foot in Bach Ma, you must have the spirit to conquer all of Bach Ma’s beauty. Do Quyen waterfall is the most impressive waterfall in Bach Ma National Park. It is the national park’s most beautiful and majestic waterfall almost 300 meters tall. To make the journey more exciting, you can ascend over 600 steps to the base of the waterfall. The beauty of the waterfall, as seen from its base, is worthwhile.

 Bach Ma Peak, also known as Vong Hai Dai, is 1,448 meters above sea level and is the highest point in Bach Ma National Park. Here, you will visit Vong Hai Dai, which offers a panoramic view of mountains, lagoons, and villages such as Lang Co Beach, Hai Van Pass, Truoi Lake, Cau Hai Lagoon, and Chan May Port. 

At the foot of Linh Son Mount, Truc Lam Bach Ma Zen Monastery is an additional highlight of your visit to Bach Ma. After climbing 172 steps to the Three-entrance Gate, an open view of the surrounding structural works will enchant you. Exploring Bach Ma National Park, travellers cannot ignore the tranquil beauty of Ngu Ho Lake. Water pours from a height of six meters, forming a massive water curtain that shines silvery-white in the sunlight, creating a charming scene.  

Travelers can have a chance to taste many delicious dishes at Bach Ma Village in Bach Ma National Park at a reasonable price. Some of those are “Ca Tre Nuong” (grilled catfish), “Ga Nuong La Mac Mat” (grilled chicken with Vietnamese curry), “Banh Bot Loc” (pork and shrimp dumpling), “Banh It Tran” (Vietnam sticky rice dumpling), “Bun Bo Hue” (Hue style beef noodle) etc.

Elephant Springs 

Elephant Springs or Elephant Waterfall in Hue (Suối Voi in Vietnamese) is famous for its huge elephant-shaped rocks, cool water and fresh air. 

This natural spring is located 53 kilometres outside of Hue. The area consists of various natural swimming pools with clear and cool water. There is a rock that looks like an elephant that owes its name to the source. 

This picnic spot is suitable for summer trips because the weather is very nice and cool at the time. With the ticket to the Elephant Springs from 50,000 – 220,000 VND / person, you can rest, and watch the whole big waterfall, the majesty of a diverse primeval forest. The large bath is called Elephant Pool. 

It lies between two waterfalls and is cool and clear enough to see the bottom. There are a few places where you can change clothes. Locals also offer changing booths in exchange for a small fee. The best time to visit is between January and September. At that time local vendors set up thatched-roof stalls selling delicious chicken and snacks. It is a great chance for tourists to enjoy the local cuisines in Elephant Springs.  Specifically, grilled frogs, fish, and snails steamed in many different ways.

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