Best of Hue Rusty Compass

An independent travel guide to Hue with candid reviews and recommendations. No sponsored content, no advertorial.

Best of Hue


Last updated 04 Sep 2012

The best things to do during a visit to Vietnam's former imperial capital, Hue.

While Hue is home to more historical sites than any other place in Vietnam, travellers that focus only on the monuments often leave disappointed. Give Hue some time. 2 - 3 full days if possible and try and engage with its romance, its evocative river location, its tree lined streets and its people. Hue is deeply embedded in Vietnam’s recent and not so recent history and it’s one of the few towns retaining a uniquely Vietnamese mystique that hasn’t yet been bulldozed - though this looks likely to change.

Here’s our best of Hue -

Walk and cycle
Bao Quoc Pagoda
Photo: Mark BowyerBao Quoc Pagoda, Hue
Hue’s tree lined streets, picturesque riverside setting and some nice colonial era architecture make it one of the best places for walking and cycling in Vietnam.

Imperial ruins

These are a must - if not the highlight you might expect them to be. The citadel is fascinating and the tombs of Minh Mang, Tu Duc and Khai Dinh are definitely worth a visit. You’ll enjoy them all the more by bike. If time allows, you’ll likely have Gia Long’s more remote tomb all to yourself if you make the effort to get there. And the boat trip and the rural scenes make it very worthwhile.

Imperial cuisine

Hue has its own distinctive cuisine that is totally unlike anything else you will eat in Vietnam. Perhaps the most popular dishes are Banh Khoai - a Vietnamese pancake and Bun Bo Hue - a spicy soup. There are many other specialties, said to be the legacy of the punctilious imperial kitchen. The most authentic of these dishes are to be found in small quan -  streetside stalls and local restaurants.

Atmospheric streets and architecture

Bach Dang St,Hue,Vietnam
Photo: Mark Bowyer, Mark BowyerOld streets of Hue
Hue’s old tree lined streets are changing way too fast - but the atmospheric rows of shophouses and the lanes with tiny pre colonial temples and pagodas are still there to be discovered.

Pagodas, churches, schools and colleges

Hue’s days as a political capital may have past but it remains one of Vietnam’s most important spiritual centres. Buddhist pagodas are found throughout the town and in the surrounding countryside. Thien Mu and Tu Hieu are amongst Vietnam’s most atmospheric and historic pagodas. The city’s architecturally bizarre Catholic cathedrals were also embroiled in the upheaval of Vietnam’s twentieth century politics.

Hue is also home to prestigious and historic schools - the most important of which - Quoc Hoc or National School - counts Ho Chi Minh, Vo Nguyen Giap and Ngo Dinh Diem among its former students.
Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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