6 Things to Do in the Imperial City of Hue, Vietnam

Hue is a charming city in central Vietnam that lies along the banks of the Perfume River. It’s one of the cities in Vietnam that has a long and vibrant history since it used to be the home of the country’s ruling dynasties. In fact, the city was Vietnam’s capital for more than a hundred years.

As you explore the city of Hue today, you’ll come across a number of historic ruins and ancient buildings, most of which have been restored to its original glory. If you want to learn more about Vietnam’s history while exploring interesting ancient architectures, then the Imperial City of Hue is the perfect destination for you. Below are some of the best things to do in Hue.

1. Wander Along the Imperial Citadel

Most visitors would come to Hue for the Imperial Citadel. This building was built in the early 1800 during the time of Gia Long who as the first Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. For several years, the Imperial Citadel served as the seat of the Imperial Government and has played a crucial role in Vietnam’s notorious history. During the 20th century, the citadel was heavily bombed, as a result of the French and American wars.

Nowadays, the sprawling complex is just a shadow of what it used to be. Because of the war, the citadel’s pavilions, temples, gates, and walls were significantly damaged. There are still a handful of buildings that you can explore inside the citadel. You can still see some of the walls and gates and some parts have been beautifully restored such as the banquet halls.

2. Check Out the Imperial Tombs


Since Hue used to be the Imperial Capital for more than a hundred years, most of Vietnam’s former Emperors are buried here and have tombs dedicated to them. Most of these tombs can be found along the Perfume River.

One of the most popular Imperial tombs in Hue is the tomb of Khai Dinh. The ornate tomb has its own unique appeal and is slightly different from the designs of the tombs of other emperors. His tomb lies on a mountainside, which opens to the spectacular views.

Another tomb not to miss is the tomb of Tu Duc, also known as the Khiem Tomb. It’s said that this tomb was built before the emperor’s death and took to years to be completed. The tomb is beside a lake and has a nice pavilion.

3. Visit the Thien Mu Pagoda

The Thien Mu Pagoda overlooks the beautiful Perfume River and a truly wonderful place to visit. Also known as the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady, the pagoda features a 7-tiered tower that was built around the mid-1800s. Nowadays, the pagoda is still being used as a working monastery and offers an incredible view of the lake.


Aside from admiring the beautiful views, visiting the pagoda will also give you an opportunity to witness monks in training and going about their monastic duties. It’s highly recommended to visit the place early in the morning to avoid the huge tourist crowds.

4. Explore the Museum Of Royal Antiquities

When visiting the Imperial Citadel, don’t forget to check out the Museum of Royal Antiquities. In fact, the entrance fee of this museum is included in the ticket that you’ll purchase to enter the citadel.

You’ll discover a lot of interesting things as you explore this museum. It houses relics that were obtained during the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty. The museum is located just outside the walls of the citadel, so it’s hard to miss the museum when visiting the citadel.

5. Join a Royal Banquet

Although joining a banquet dinner might be a bit touristy, but it’s an interesting activity to take part in during your visit to Hue. During the evening banquet, you’ll be dressed up like a Vietnamese royalty and dine along with other tourists. You’ll be treated to traditional music and other activities similar to what the royals used to do.

The Royal Banquet dinner is also a must for foodies since you’ll be served with traditional Vietnamese dishes, including those dishes that the royals used to it. These dishes are also garnished with vegetables and fruits that were intricately carved to form interesting shapes, such as birds, flowers, etc.

6. Pedal Through the Countryside

After exploring the citadel, tombs, and pagodas, take time to explore the countryside of Hue by joining a bicycle tour. With this tour, a knowledgeable local will be your guide as you pedal your way towards the rice fields, local villages, and markets. You’ll also learn a lot of interesting things along the way and get a closer look of the locals’ way of living.

If riding a bike is not for you, there are other tours that you can join in Hue, such as taking a boat cruise along the Perfume River and exploring the central market with a local guide.

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