Hue (Chan May Port) , Vietnam | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Hue (Chan May Port) , Vietnam

Hue (Huế) (sounds much like huh-WAY) is in the central region of Vietnam and is the former imperial capital.

Hue is intimately connected to the imperial Nguyễn Dynasty, based in Hue, which ruled from 1802 to 1945 when Emperor Bao Dai abdicated in favor of Ho Chi Minh's revolutionary government. The city went through tough times during what is known locally as the American War, when it was conquered by the Viet Cong and held for 24 days. During that time, they executed around 1,000 people suspected of sympathizing with the South. After a ferocious assault, US and South Vietnamese forces retook the city.

Hue is easy to get a grip on. The main landmark is the

Perfume River

(Hương Giang), with the old city and the citadel on the north side and... Read more

Hue (Chan May Port) , Vietnam


Hue (Huế) (sounds much like huh-WAY) is in the central region of Vietnam and is the former imperial capital.

Hue is intimately connected to the imperial Nguyễn Dynasty, based in Hue, which ruled from 1802 to 1945 when Emperor Bao Dai abdicated in favor of Ho Chi Minh's revolutionary government. The city went through tough times during what is known locally as the American War, when it was conquered by the Viet Cong and held for 24 days. During that time, they executed around 1,000 people suspected of sympathizing with the South. After a ferocious assault, US and South Vietnamese forces retook the city.

Hue is easy to get a grip on. The main landmark is the

Perfume River

(Hương Giang), with the old city and the citadel on the north side and the newer city, including most hotels and restaurants, on the south side. Much of the riverside has wisely been done up as a pleasant promenade and park dotted with bizarre sculptures. The famous tombs are further south in Hue's outskirts.


Hue's weather is infamously bad: the Truong Son Mountains just to the south seem to bottle up all the moisture, so it's usually misty, drizzly, or outright rainy. Things get even wetter than usual in the winter rainy season, especially from February to the end of March. To be safe, bring an umbrella any time of year. Don't forget to bring a sweater and jacket in winter as it can get rather chilly, with temperatures falling to as low as 8°C at night. Alternatively, when the sun makes an appearance for a day or a week, it can reach 30°C.

It's usually quite dry during the summer months when the temperature can reach the high 30s. Summer rains can be heavy but brief and often arrive unexpectedly, whereas February rains can last for weeks. The best description for the weather in Hue would be "changeable."

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Hue (Chan May Port) , Vietnam: Port Information

Cruise travelers visit Hue on a cruise tour. Their liners dock at Da Nang or at Chan May.

Get around Hue (Chan May Port) , Vietnam

By taxi

Like other Vietnamese cities, Hue is flooded with cyclos and motorbikes, as well as a few meter taxis. Taxi drivers are usually honest, but make sure they turn the meter on. Some meters run incorrectly (showing up to 10 times the distance actually traveled), so ensure you have a rough idea of the distance to your destination. If the meter is running too quickly, at the destination pay an estimate of the fair price and insist on calling the police if the driver will not accept the estimated non-meter price. The driver will back down. 

With cyclos and motorbikes, all of the usual disclaimers apply: negotiate a price ahead of time and don't be afraid to walk away if they're asking too much. Many of the motorbike drivers double as pot dealers, and you may be offered to buy marijuana along with your ride.

By bike

Hire a motorbike and join the locals as they careen across the bridges and along the main roads at a leisurely pace. 

Cycling is also a good option, with plenty of bikes available.

For a motorbike with driver, small hotels have connections to freelancers. You may be lucky to have an English speaking guide for all 6 tombs (the 7th tomb is inaccessible) including those locked and forgotten for lack of tourist interest, plus three temples, and the emperor's arena for one day and still have time in the early afternoon for a beer and some Vietnamese do-it-yourself spring rolls and the famous Hue pancakes. The DIY spring rolls and pancakes are not free, but they simply worth it.

By cyclo

A cyclo is the local version of the trishaw, with the passenger in front of the cyclist. Be prepared to haggle for reasonable prices as cyclo drivers tend to quote indiscriminately. It's a good idea to agree on your price before you go. Also, make sure this is a return price and not one-way. Of course, if you want to change your itinerary after you're already on the way, you should discuss how this might affect the agreed price with your cyclo driver right away. Otherwise, you may get a rude surprise when you arrive at your final destination, and the driver tries to charge you an exorbitant amount. While most of the cyclo drivers in Hue are fair and can be quite helpful, there are a few who are very unscrupulous.

On foot

Hue is quite compact, so you can reach most of the restaurants and the citadel easily on foot. Mr. Cu at Mandarin Cafe has prepared a free walking tour brochure and map. Make sure to stop by his place at 24 Tran Cao Van St to pick up your free map (and enjoy some delicious banana pancakes). You'll need to arrange transportation to reach the emperors' tombs.

What to see in Hue (Chan May Port) , Vietnam

The historical monuments of the city have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

  • Ho Chi Minh Museum, 6 Lê Lợi, ☎ +84 54 3520-445. Closed Su. Contains photos and information on Ho Chi Minh as well as the history of Hue in photographs. Free.
  • Imperial Citadel

    (Đại Nội). Daily, 06:30-17:00. The former imperial seat of government and Hue's prime attraction, this is a great sprawling complex of temples, pavilions, moats, walls, gates, shops, museums, and galleries, featuring art and costumes from various periods of Vietnamese history. Thanks to its size, it is also delightfully peaceful, a rare commodity in Vietnam. The citadel was badly knocked about during fighting between the French and the Viet Minh in 1947, and again in 1968 during the Tet Offensive, when it was shelled by the Viet Cong and then bombed by the Americans. As a result, some areas are now only empty fields, bits of walls and an explanatory plaque. Other buildings are intact and a few are in sparkling condition. For the rest, while restoration has been going on for 20 years, there is still quite a long way to go. Allow several hours to see it properly.
  • Ngọ Môn. The main southern entrance to the city, built in 1833 by Minh Mang. The central door and the bridge connecting to it were reserved exclusively for the emperor. Climb up to the second floor for a nice view of the exquisite courtyard. The Ngo Mon Gate is the principal entrance to the Imperial Enclosure. The emperor would address his officials and the people from the top of this gate.
  • Thái Hòa Palace. The emperor's coronation hall, where he would sit in state and receive foreign dignitaries.
  • Trường Sanh Residence. Translated as the "Palace of Longevity," the Truong Sanh Palace was the residence of King Tu Duc's mother, Empress Tu Du, under the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century. It lies in Tu Cam Thanh, one of the two major parts of the Hue Citadel. While not officially open to the public, it is possible to enter the grounds and should be seen, as even in its overgrown state, it's beauty is recognizable.
  • Forbidden Purple City. Directly behind Thai Hoa Palace, but it was almost entirely destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive and only the rather nondescript Mandarin Palaces on both sides remain.
  • Hue Jungle Crevice. When the Viet Cong briefly overran Hue, they rounded up 3,000 of Hue's citizens and officials. Fearing the prisoners would slow them down their hot retreat, they tied them up and pushed the people over the cliff into the crevice.
  • Phu Bai Airport. A must-see if you are interested in the earlier conflicts, back when the airport was a dirt strip. During the Vietnam War, an American garrison was assigned there and built up the airport with concrete bunkers, a paved airstrip, and a few other luxuries. The airport was vital in keeping Hue supplied during the Easter Offensive of 1972 when "Charlie jumped the line". The airport retains the original buildings built by the Americans; however, they have been retrofitted for use by the Vietnamese.
  • Thien Mu Pagoda

    . Perched on a bluff over the river and housing some very fine gold and silver Buddha images. The Thien Mu Pagoda overlooks the Perfume River and is the official symbol of the city of Hue. Thien Mu means "elderly celestial woman," and refers to an old legend about the founding of the pagoda. Brimming with opportunities for great photos. Free.
  • Tombs of the Emperors. 08:00-17:00. Another of Hue's great attractions are the Tombs of the Emperors, on the Perfume River south of the city. They are accessible by taxi or bike from the city, but the best way to see them is to hire a river boat and go for a cruise. Plan to make a full day of it. 
Group tours include an excellent lunch aboard the boat but do not include admission or the cost of a motorbike from the wharf to each tomb. Choose a tour with as few stops as possible. Some companies lard up their itineraries with visits to silk farms and a few pagodas, promising to fit everything in neatly, however, tour companies aren't noted for their time management, and you'll wind up rushed along and frustrated for at least one of the tombs.
All of the tombs can be walked to from the wharves in anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour. The paths are mostly obvious, but you still probably shouldn't try it without a map or a terrific sense of direction. Most of the tombs are open from 07:30 or 08:00 to 17:30, depending on the season. Tour groups arrive around 10:00 and leave around 15:00 in order to get back before dinner, so plan accordingly to avoid the crowds. You'll be glad you did.
The tombs are also easily reached by bicycle, although there is a shortage of good maps of how to reach them. Ask your hotel about bicycle rentals and maps, and be cautious about the crowded and potentially potholed roads. This is probably the most inexpensive (and enjoyable, if you enjoy cycling) way to reach the tombs. Along the way you will meet many darling Vietnamese children who like to practice their English by shouting "F--- you!" and other English expletives at passing foreigners.
The tombs themselves are worth the cost and effort. They mostly date from the late 19th or early 20th centuries, when the emperors had been reduced to figureheads under French colonial rule and had little else to do than build themselves elaborate tombs. The finest of them are the Tomb of Tu Duc, the Tomb of Minh Mang and the Tomb of Khai Dinh, all of which are excellent examples of Vietnamese Buddhist aesthetics and architecture. The older ones have been allowed to crumble into picturesque semi-ruin, although some are now being restored.
Tombs from oldest to newest:
  • Tomb of Gia Long (20 km). The most remote of the tombs, quiet and fallen into disrepair as Gia Long, the first Nguyen emperor, was notoriously despotic.
  • Tomb of Minh Mang (12 km). In this opulent complex, the main buildings are arranged on an east-west axis, including a courtyard surrounded by warrior statues and several temples and pavilions. Several bridges cross two lakes before the axis ends before the vast burial mound (which is circled by a fence). The mausoleum features large gardens and lakes: a pleasant place to sit and relax. If you're dropped off by boat note that there is a stretch of souvenir sellers to navigate during the short walk to the mausoleum entrance.
  • Tomb of Thieu Tri (8 km). Built in 1848. This emperor and his wife were the most revered and loved throughout the country. Although he only ruled for 7 years, he was the most sorely missed. In a time of strife and economic problems, he was careful with the country's treasury and improved his people's living standard. His last wish was to be placed in a tomb that was not extravagant, parting ways with the tradition of creating lavish final resting places for emperors.
  • Tomb of Tu Duc (7 km). Built between 1864–1867, the complex served as a second Imperial City where the emperor went for "working vacations". Tu Duc's contemplative nature and poetic spirit are reflected in the landscape and arrangement of the 50 buildings that at one time stood here. A vast, sprawling complex set around a lake, with wooden pavilions and tombs and temples dedicated to wives and favored courtesans (Tu Duc had 104 to choose from). The courtesans' quarters are in ruins, with only outlines and crumbling walls left amid waves of overgrown grass and silence, but other areas are stunningly well-preserved. The emperor's tomb itself, tucked away in the back, is surprisingly modest. The final courtyard is nearly empty with just a stone coffin in the middle. (The tombs of Empress Le Thien Anh and Emperor Kien Phuc, who briefly ruled in 1884, are also here.) Try to dodge the crowds for this one.
  • Tomb of Dong Khanh. Built in 1917. In March 2014, this tomb was closed to the public for renovation.
  • Tomb of Khai Dinh (10 km). Dating from 1925, this is the best preserved of the lot and, while comparatively compact, quite grand at first sight. While it follows the classic formula of forecourts leading up to the tomb of the emperor, complete with statues in attendance. Architecture buffs will spot some European influences. The tomb itself is completely over the top with incredibly detailed and opulent mosaics of cavorting dragons. Try to get to this one early, as it is a favorite stop for Asian tour-bus groups. Also, you may want to leave the tourist path and head up the hill on the right side of the tomb, where a small temple stands. You will have a great view of the tomb and the valley it faces.

What to do in Hue (Chan May Port) , Vietnam

  • Blind Massage, Kiet/Alley 180 Phan Boi Chau (Off Phan Boi Chau St on the right up the hill about 1 km past the train tracks (look for a small blue sign in English)). At the institute for the blind. All of the staff work and live in this facility and speak a little English. This is where the locals go. 
  • Hai Van Pass Motorbike Tour. Many tour companies and hostels offer "Top Gear" motorbike tours over the Hai Van Pass, through Da Nang and over to Hoi An. For someone who knows how to properly operate a motorbike or scooter, this can be a very rewarding experience. Keep in mind that you will usually go through Da Nang at around rush hour in the afternoon, which can be very hectic and potentially dangerous if you are an inexperienced rider.
  • Hue Amazing Homestay Riders, 21 Pham Ngu Lao street, ☎ +84 912630219. A real adventure on the off beaten track from Hue to Hoi An by motorbike. Professional and funny guides/drivers (drive by yourself also available). 
  • Hue Day Tour. Including the citadel, 3 tombs, and a garden house. Tour available at many hotels. Entrance cost is not included and money will be asked on the bus. Buffet lunch included. You can choose to only visit some of the places if you want. "Best" tomb is probably last one, Tu Duc.
  • My An Hot Spring and Spa (7 km from Hue on the way to Thuan An Beach). The water here has a high sulfur content, purported to have health benefits.
  • Thanh Tan Hot Springs (About 13 km from Hue center). Similar to My An, but without the odor of sulfur. This site is surrounded by woods, which are pleasant to explore. Has graduated sections. Start with the cool section and work your way up. The hottest section is actually closed off, as it is too hot to bathe in. There are also private pools for 2 or 4 people and a swimming pool. There is a tiny restaurant on site. This is also where the local bottled Thanh Tan mineral water comes from.
  • Backstreet Academy (On demand bookings of one of a kind cultural activities!), Hue, ☎ +84 979 545 707, e-mail: 8 AM-10 PM. An alternative tour experiences platform, they enable locals to offer authentic and unique activities to travelers such as cooking Vietnamese Cuisine with a local family, paper lantern workshops, traditional music instruments and even a course where you can make your own traditional paper masks or leather products with local craftsmen. A social enterprise, they work with many underprivileged people who either serve as hosts or facilitators/guides. A great way to interact with local people and take in the culture.

What to eat and drink in Hue (Chan May Port) , Vietnam


Hue is famed for its imperial cuisine, originally prepared for the emperor and his retinue. Although the emphasis is more on presentation than taste, an imperial banquet is well-worth trying.

The most famous local dish is bún bò Huế, a noodle soup served with slices of beef and lashings of chili oil. Another tasty local treat is sesame candy (mè xửng), which is peanutty, chewy and quite tasty if fresh.

  • Nem lui is a dish of sweet, minced pork around bamboo sticks grilled over hot coals.
  • Banh khoai is a "pancake" filled with bean sprouts, shrimp and pork.
  • Bun thit nuong is barbecued pork served with vegetables and noodles.


  • Banh Bao (Corner of Ben Nghe and Nguyen Tri Phuong). A street vendor who sells wonderful Banh Bao.
  • Bun Bo Hue, 11B Ly Thuong Kiet (Far from the river on the S bank). Small and very local. This eponymous eatery specializes in its namesake dish.
  • Bun Cam, 38 Tran Cao Van St. 06:00 until they run out of the soup. This is the real thing, local, not adapted to the Western palate. Try it with their chili sauce. The lady sitting behind the soup cauldron is Cam, the cook, and namesake of the business. She only speaks Vietnamese, but just look in the pot, as the locals do, The price varies with how many different things you choose.
  • Bún Cha Hà Nôi, 20 Nguyen Tri Phuong. This family-run restaurant only serves original Hanoi-style bun cha: a dish with pork spring rolls, some meatballs, cabbage and carrot sauce with hot peppers, and bundles of noodles to dip in the sauce. As with all Vietnamese dishes, the hungry may have to order twice. Nice atmosphere while keeping the genuine atmosphere of a local restaurant. 25,000 dong.
  • Quán Bánh Khoái Hạnh, 11 Phó Đức Chinh (Between Ben Nghe and Tran Quang Khai), ☎ +84 54 3833 552. This is a family restaurant where locals come to eat Hue specialties. Cheap and very good. 
  • Banh Khoai Hong Mai, Dinh Tien Hoang – Nguyen Bieu corner (Inside the Purple Forbidden City). Pancakes, nem lui (minced pork grilled with lemongrass on coal) and banh beo recommended.
  • La Carambole, 19 Pham Ngu Lao, ☎ +84 5 4381 0491. Serves French food, Vietnamese food, and pizza. Quite touristy.
  • Mandarin Café, 24 Tran Cao Van. The owner is a good photographer and many of his pictures hang on the wall. The food is good with local and Western favorites.
  • Phuong Nam Cafe, 38 Tran Cao Van, ☎ +84 5 4384 9317. A nice little restaurant with decent, but very cheap food and excellent fruit shakes.


  • Hot Tuna, 37 Vo Thi Sau (Corner of Vo Thi Sau & Chu Van An), ☎ +84 5 4361 6464. Recommend the chicken breast with mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes. Duck also quite nice. 
  • Japanese Restaurant, 34 Tran Cao Van, ☎ +84 5 483 4457. This Japanese restaurant serves excellent food for a relatively good price.
  • Không Gian Xưa, Điện Biên Phủ St. A nice place to enjoy delicious local cuisine in a well-designed traditional style building.
  • Ong Tao, 31 Chu Van An, ☎ +84 5 482 3031. Excellent traditional Hue food, try the meat rolls (wrapped in mint leaves) or the fried spring rolls. Incredibly crunchy. Not too crowded, kind of hidden on the first floor. Don't miss it. All dishes (have small and big versions, so you can order a few.
  • Paradise Garden Restaurant (Nha Hang Vuon Thien Dang), 17 Le Loi St (In front of Saigon Morin Hotel), ☎ +84 5 4838485. 07:00-23:00. Expensive, nice setting, not very authentic, but still good. Cheap by normal standards obviously. The live music is good. 


  • Ancient Hue Royal Cuisine and Gallery, 104/47 Đường Kim Long, ☎ +84 5 435 90902, e-mail: One of the biggest restaurants in Hue. Prices are good, food is excellent, extremely clean. All is served by a professional staff, international experienced chef. It is also a complex of ancient houses among huge garden area. Nice food carvings.
  • Tinh Gia Vien, 20/3 Le Thanh Ton, ☎ +84 5 452 2243. Wonderful old Hue-style nha vuon garden villa on a quiet side street, formerly the residence of a princess, converted by a bonsai enthusiast into a restaurant serving imperial cuisine. There are three set menus. All have 11 courses and are guaranteed to fill you up. The food wins full points for presentation but is unfortunately somewhat toned down for the foreign palate.


The people of Hue have a strong tradition of eating vegetarian food, so vegetarian restaurants are more common in Hue than in the rest of Vietnam. On the 1st and 15th of every lunar month, vegetarian restaurants are packed full of patrons for dinner and it may prove difficult to find a seat. Vegetarian restaurants are the cheapest places to eat, after street vendors.

  • Com Chay (Vegetarian Rice) (Near the river on the newer side). Simple, but good and cheap vegetarian meals.
  • Lien Hoa, D Le Quy Don (On the grounds of the Lien Hoa pagoda, across from the football stadium). Monks and nuns frequent this restaurant during lunch. A small shop near the door sells Vietnamese language Buddhist texts, prayer beads, and icons.
  • Quang Tinh, 91 Vo Thi Sau. Very simple place. Menu of noodles and rice.



  • B4 Bar-Café, 75 D Ben Nghe. A charming Belgian-Vietnamese owned bar, with a welcoming interior and free pool.
  • Brown Eyes Chillout Bar-Club, 56 Chu Van An, ☎ +84 5 482 7494. Happy hour, 17:00-22:00. Live DJ, free pool table and a good vibe. Not far from Pham Ngu Lao, but they offer to pay for taxis from hotels for parties of four persons or more. Stays open till the last one passes out. No cover.
  • Café on Thu Wheels, 1/2 D Nguyen Tri Phuong. It's a little bar owned by the charming lady Thu.
  • DMZ Bar & Café, 44 D Le Loi. Stays open late.
  • Sinh To Place, 30 Ben Nghe. Shop for drinking ice tea, coffee, smoothies, and juices. Local prices (they are published on a board). Try rau má juice: reputed to be very good for your health.
  • Vy Da Xua, 131 Nguyen Sinh Cung St (East on Le Loi, about 2 km past the causeway). Enjoy a delicious cup of Vietnamese coffee, or any beverage, in this beautiful setting. The traditional beam house is surrounded by a garden and a small stream where you can hear birds and restful music.
  • Why Not?, 21 Vo Thi Sau, ☎ +84 5 482 4793.
  • Garden river Bar coffee, 1/7 nguyen cong tru Hue, ☎ +84 54 6555 999, e-mail: 7 am-10h30 pm. New Bar coffee in the center of hue,

    You can enjoy your drink and listen music near to the river inside the amazing garden.


There are lots of small cafés (quán cafe) in Hue. Going out for coffee is a favorite local pastime. Most Hue people wouldn't think of starting the morning without meeting friends over a glassful. Most coffee shops open for business in the morning, close down from about 10:30 or so until late afternoon, then open again for the after-work and evening crowds. Do try the local style, iced, either with condensed milk, or black, which means with sugar. In the south, the iced coffee comes in a tall glass with lots of ice and lots of syrupy milk. In the central area, the glass is much smaller and the coffee is usually stronger. If you don't look Vietnamese, you may be served a weaker coffee, or if you order cafe nong (hot), they will also give you an extra glass of hot water to pour in. Do try your coffee first, to taste it the way the locals like it. Something like an iced, sweet espresso, with chocolatey overtones. 

  • La Beaute, 87 Vo Thi Sau (Near Nguyen Cong Tru). 12:00-22:00. Lovely cafe on a quiet side street and therefore still unspotted by the LP crowd. Atmosphere with soft music and green bamboo around and half the prices than in the tourist area 200 m around the block. Lots of different coffees and cakes, where especially the very recommendable coffee with cacao flavor is not easy to find in Hue. 
  • Sidewalk Coffee (Opposite 30 Bach Dang St). 05:30-10:00. Go local and try some delicious early morning coffee with chocolaty overtones, hot or iced, while watching river life on the canal. The woman who brews it up also offers banh mi, French bread with your choice of fillings. Another woman shares the same area of pavement and sells very reasonably priced banh canh, a popular local breakfast soup. A real plus here is the cleanliness. The coffee glasses are spotless. After your coffee, you can continue walking along Bach Dang to reach 2 famous local pagodas, both nearby.

Shopping in Hue (Chan May Port) , Vietnam

Embroidery is a traditional craft of Hue and framed embroidery can be purchased in many shops in the backpacker area of Hue.

  • Healing the Wounded Heart Shop, 23 Vo Thi Sau St, ☎ +84 5 4383 3694. 08:00-22:00. A humanitarian project of the Spiral Foundation. This shop sells eco-friendly handicrafts made by disabled artisans in Hue. Many of the products are made from recycled items, including recycled soda cans and recycled telephone wire baskets. All net proceeds fund heart surgeries for poor children in the Hue area.
  • Hope Center, 20 Nhat Le St, ☎ +84 5 4351 1511. 08:00-22:00. The Hope Center offers disabled and disadvantaged people a place to learn and work. Garment manufacturing is the mainstay. However, a range of handicrafts is also made. In particular, the beautiful handwoven cloth by A Luoi women is unique in its design and manufacture. Scarves, handbags, purses, and handcrafted jewelry are for sale. Well-worth a visit.

Safety in Hue (Chan May Port) , Vietnam

  • Be suspicious of locals asking where you are from and then claiming to have family living there as this can be a scam: they will ask you to sit down for lunch/dinner with them and talk. After eating they will offer to pay for the meal and just ask that you buy them a local bottle of wine to drink at their temple. 
  • Hue is a safe city. However, at night all cyclo-drivers, especially in Pham Ngu Lao area, should be avoided. There are recent cases in which travelers have been mugged, beaten and robbed by these people. During the day a ride should be fine, but at night, especially when they say it's free or "up to you", avoid them at all costs.

Language spoken in Hue (Chan May Port) , Vietnam

Vietnamese is the official language. English is spoken in tourist places.


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