Vietnam: A Tour of Hue


HIGHLIGHTS

01 PERFUME RIVER
02 THIEN MU PAGODA

03 IMPERIAL CITY
04 ROYAL ANTIQUES MUSEUM

05 DONG BA MARKET
06 TOMB OF MINH MANG

07 TOMB OF KHAI DINH
08 CRAFT TIME


Located in central Vietnam is the former capital known as Hue. In this article I’ll be covering my experience of doing a one day guided tour of this city.


Hue, Vietnam

HOW TO BOOK

We booked our tour through our hotel: Cherish Hotel. We actually weren't planning on doing a tour in Hue originally, but while we were waiting to check-in one of the workers there asked us what we had planned. He then told us that the best way to do everything we wanted to was by doing a guided tour.

He showed us all the places we would be able to see on a map, which was actually a lot more than what we had planned. Most of the places were spread far apart so we figured that paying for a tour would be more cost effective than having to pay for separate taxis.

We also had the option to be a part of a bigger group or paying a little more to be in a smaller group of less than 12 people. We chose the latter that way we could have a more intimate experience vs waiting on a group of 50+ people. We were so happy we did this at the end of the day because we were able to see and do more things and also learned a lot from our tour guide!

If you’re interested in doing a guided tour I highly recommend contacting A Travel Mate Co., which is the tour company we used. You can also ask your hotel for tour recommendations as well.

Hue, Vietnam

WHAT TO BRING

If you know that tombs and the Imperial City are a part of your tour schedule, make sure to dress appropriately as some of these places are still very traditional / conservative. In order to be respectful of the culture, try to make sure to not wear super short shorts, skirts with hemlines that go above your knees, or shirts that bare your shoulders.

I know Vietnam gets super hot and humid so it’s almost unavoidable to not wear any of these kinds of clothing which is why I highly recommend bringing a scarf with you. Having a scarf on hand is super helpful because you can easily tie it around your waist as a make-shift long skirt or drape it over your shoulders for a more modest look.

I also recommend bringing some extra cash, your passport, and a reusable parka / raincoat / umbrella with you (because you never know when the rain will strike in Hue).

Passion Fruit

IS FOOD INCLUDED?

I think it really depends on the length of your tour but if you sign up for a full day tour, food usually will be included. At the beginning of your tour, the tour guide should ask if you have any dietary restrictions. If they do not, make sure to let them know beforehand.

Our tour guide took us to a restaurant that had menus in both Vietnamese and English (super helpful!). One of the waiters could also speak a little English, which was nice since my Vietnamese isn't great at all. We had a set course (price was included in our total tour cost) of food local to Hue. Overall, the food was pretty good but probably not the most authentic experience.


01 PERFUME RIVER

We started our day at 8am sharp. Our tour guide picked us up in a large van from our hotel and then we headed off to the first stop of the day: the Perfume River. The Perfume River received it’s name because of the sweet scent emitted from the flowers that would fall into the water during Autumn. It was really peaceful floating down this yellow-brown river and seeing other fishing boats pass by. After about 20 minutes we reached our next destination.

Perfume River in Hue, Vietnam
Perfume River in Hue, Vietnam
Perfume River in Hue, Vietnam

02 THIEN MU PAGODA (PAGODA OF THE CELESTIAL LADY)

Thien Mu Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady, is one of Hue’s most famous landmarks. This seven-story pagoda sits on Ha Khe Hill along the northern bank of the Perfume River. In the past, people came to this pagoda to pray to the Celestial Lady for the prosperity of their country but now they come to pray for their love life.

Before you leave, make sure to take some time to walk around the surrounding area. You’ll find beautiful architecture, a garden of bonsai trees, and a small pond full of catfish.

Thien Mu Pagoda - Pagoda of the Celestial Lady in Hue, Vietnam
Hue, Vietnam
Hue, Vietnam
Hue, Vietnam

03 IMPERIAL CITY

So. Much. History. Also this place is huge. I think we only explored a third of the entire area. This is also one of the places where my scarf came in handy to tie around my waist. It was nice having a tour guide explain the history behind this previous capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site. I feel like I learned a lot more than reading the short descriptions on the signs around the area.

Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam
Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam
Koi fish
Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam
Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam
Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam
Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam

04 MUSEUM OF ROYAL ANTIQUITIES

Our next stop after exploring the Imperial City grounds was the Museum of Royal Antiquities. Unfortunately we weren’t able to take pictures inside the museum, which is a bummer because some of the relics inside were absolutely amazing. Some things that I really loved seeing were the intricately carved wooden furniture used by past emperors and a pair of silk robes.

Outside area of the Museum of Royal Antiquities

05 DONG BA MARKET

The one word that comes to mind whenever I think of Dong Ba Market is congested. I wasn’t really a fan of this market because the walkways were very narrow, sellers kept pressuring me to buy things, and it seemed pretty easy to get lost inside.

It was, however, very interesting to see all the things that you could buy. We only did a brief walkthrough and were advised to keep our valuables close to us since pick-pocketers are common at this market. If we had more time I probably would’ve bought some fruit :)

Dong Ba Market in Hue, Vietnam
Dong Ba Market in Hue, Vietnam
Dong Ba Market in Hue, Vietnam
Dong Ba Market in Hue, Vietnam

06 TOMB OF MINH MANG

Tucked away in the forests of Hue is the tomb of Minh Mang, the second emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. The combination of nature and architecture here was beautiful. There are multiple temples and gateways that lead you towards the the tomb itself. The tomb only opens once a year on the anniversary of emperor Minh Mang’s death.

Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue, Vietnam
Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue, Vietnam
Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue, Vietnam
Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue, Vietnam
Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue, Vietnam
Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue, Vietnam
Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue, Vietnam
Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue, Vietnam
Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue, Vietnam

07 TOMB OF KHAI DINH

If you’re like me and love architecture then make sure that the Tomb of Khai Dinh is on your list! Khai Dinh was the twelfth emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty and was unfortunately unpopular with the people of Vietnam due to this close ties to the French government. His tomb is one of the most elaborate tombs in Vietnam. You can definitely see Europen influences. If you look closely at the walls you’ll see that the flowers and other imagery are made of broken glazed ceramic pottery.

Tomb of Khai Dinh in Hue, Vietnam
Tomb of Khai Dinh in Hue, Vietnam
Tomb of Khai Dinh in Hue, Vietnam

08 CRAFT TIME

The last part of our tour took us to a small family run shop that makes incense and conical hats. It was really cool to see how these common items were made. After a brief demonstration, we were able to try making our own incense. It’s actually quite hard rolling the clay-like substance onto a tiny stick! Having this as our last stop was a great conclusion to our tour.

Hue, Vietnam
Hue, Vietnam
Hue, Vietnam

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps provide insight of what a tour in Hue is like. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need more suggestions on things to do!

 

XO,

Tina