Follow in the footsteps of emperors in this graceful former capital known for its riverside pagodas, lavish palaces and sophisticated cuisine.

Hué’s seductive air of gently faded glory is unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere in the country. The Nguyen dynasty held sway here for almost 150 years until 1945, filling their imperial capital with grand palaces, gardens, temples and tombs. Fire, war and cyclones have left a considerable mark on this regal city, but the UNESCO-listed remains still provide a fascinating insight into its past magnificence.

Take a ride on a colourfully decorated dragon boat along the Perfume River, stopping to see the glorious sprawling mausoleums of 19th-century rulers such as Minh Mang and the celebrated seven-storey Thien Mu pagoda. Stroll or pedal through the vast walled citadel, then step past the imposing main gate into the heart of the Imperial City, where you can visit palaces with gleaming lacquered interiors, ornate temples and a stunning reading pavilion that’s one of the few surviving parts of the royal family’s inner sanctum. It’s not all about the architecture, however; there’s a distinctly courtly flavour to some of the local culinary specialities. Sip on herby, liquorice-scented royal tea in riverside cafés or try one of the varieties of sweet soup on offer at food carts in Dong Ba Market and the streets beyond.

Call us about how to make Hué a highlight of a perfect Vietnam holiday packed with discoveries.

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Hue’s Highlights in a Day

Vietnam’s former capital, which is set on the banks of the Perfume River, is a surprising city that doesn’t seem to get the same attention as Hoi An, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. This full-day exploration, available from Hoi An, Danang or Hue itself, gives you the perfect chance to uncover its charms. The tour starts off at the Minh Mang Tomb, the tranquil final resting place of a 19th-Century Nguyen Dynasty leader. Next up is the towering Thien Mu Pagoda which has seven ever-decreasing storeys, followed by a trip back along the river on a traditional dragon boat. The highlight of the day is the visit to the sprawling walled Citadel and the Imperial City, the former capital of Vietnam. The last stop of the tour is the buzzing Dong Ba market, Hue’s centre of trade.

• Duration: full day
• Time: 8am to 6pm
• Daily departures from Hoi, Danang or Hue
• Operates year-round
• Private experience

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Get to know Hue and those all-important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.


GMT +7 hours


Vietnamese Dong


16½ hours (excluding stopover time)  


Vietnam is a multi-religion state with Buddhism as the leading religion.



Where is Hué?
Hué is in central Vietnam, a few miles inland from the coast on the banks of the Perfume River. About 9 miles from the city, Phu Bai Airport has a handful of flights to Hanoi (1hr 15 min) and Ho Chi Minh City (1h 30 min) daily, while Danang, 65 miles away, offers a wider choice of destinations, including Cambodia and Laos. This ease of access earns it a place on almost every itinerary, from an Indochina overview to the highlights of Vietnam.

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Getting around
With much less traffic than in the main cities, cycling is an enjoyable way to explore Hué. Pedalling slowly between the sights along the quiet banks of the Perfume River, stopping to watch the passing boats – another relaxing transport option – leaves plenty of time to absorb the timeless atmosphere. If you’d rather save your energy, hop in a generously sized cyclo and meander between the highlights in style. The bustling, interest-filled streets around Dong Ba Market in the town centre are best explored on foot. For longer trips, opt for taxis or private transfers.

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Perfume River
The tranquil Perfume River divides the city into northern and southern parts with most of the hotels, restaurants and cafes to the south. A boat trip on the river is a great way to take in some of the city's main attractions. Pass houseboats, sampans and dragon boats, and experience an authentic feel of life in Hué.

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Temples, Pagodas and Tombs
Experience Vietnam's imperial past by exploring the beautiful pagodas, tombs and temples that are dotted along the river. The historic Thien Mu Pagoda is a beautiful, iconic temple and, at seven storeys high, the tallest in Vietnam. Experience the majesty and symmetry of the Tomb of Minh Mang, located on the west bank of the Perfume River, or head south to explore the Tomb of Tu Duc which was designed by Emperor Tu Doc himself and used as a summer palace. This impressive complex has a tranquil setting by a lotus-filled lake and is made up of palaces, pavilions and a courtyard lined with mandarin, horse and elephant statues.

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Imperial City
The remains of the Imperial City where royalty once lived used to be cut off from the ordinary people by moats, mighty walls and cannons. After the fall of the Nguyen dynasty in 1945, the citadel was damaged by everything from termites and cyclones to fire and military attacks, leaving it a shadow of its former glorious self. Despite that, it remains a fascinating place to explore, and restoration work is helping to preserve the surviving buildings.

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Military history
A day trip to the historic Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) will lead you to the settings of some of the American War’s bloodiest battles, to Camp Carroll – one of the largest US Marine Corps’ bases – the Truong Son National Cemetery and the Vinh Moc Tunnels, where a whole village decided to try and wait out the conflict underground.

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Food & drink
Hué’s royal history has left its mark on the local cuisine, with a host of specialities you won’t find anywhere else, as well as enticing variations on national favourites. Seafood is a popular ingredient, found in dishes such as cơm hen, a punchy rice dish made with baby clams, starfruit, green mango, herbs and spicy sauces. Graze your way around the street-food stalls in and around the city’s colourful Dong Ba Market trying snacks such as crispy rice pancakes filled with prawns; jelly-like ‘royal cakes’ with a range of savoury toppings; and a shot of caramel-flavoured salt coffee (ca phe muoi).

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