What to do in Hue, Vietnam? Anybody backpacking Vietnam with an eye on Hue will ask this question. There’s a lot to do, and with the exception of the price of the motorbike you should definitely get, a lot of it is free! And everybody knows that backpackers love free.
Hue’s citadel is so impressive and actually pretty huge. Surrounding the citadel is a thick, ancient stone wall so impressive it would bring even Donald Trump to tears. A moat surrounding the wall adds so much to the setting that at some points, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. It’s free to just drive or walk over the bridges crossing the moats and the web of streets. I can’t even count the number of times I followed the road alongside the wall, just staring at it in wonder.
Hue’s Forbidden City
In Hue’s Citadel, there is another wall surrounded by, you guessed it, another moat. Behind this wall is the very center of the citadel: The Forbidden City. This, you have to pay an entrance fee. I hear it’s supposed to be somewhere around 50,000 dong, but as with everywhere else in Vietnam, foreigners are going to be charged a higher price. In this case, it’s probably going to be more like 70 or 80,000. Who knows, maybe that is the actual price and 50,000 is a rumor. Inside are a lot of ancient buildings and tombs. Because I’ve visited so many places similar to this, I explored the forbidden city by a drone instead of on foot.
Thuan An is Hue’s primary beach that nobody really goes to. And I mean NOBODY. It’s a shame because the area has so much potential. The beach isn’t the prettiest, but the good news is that hardly anybody is there. That means you don’t have to pay anything to get in and you’ll get an entire area to yourself. That is sometimes ideal for those backpacking Vietnam. The water doesn’t look bad, but the beach itself is a bit dirty. Directly next to the water is okay, but further back is pretty much piled with garbage. I passed over so many bottles, shoes, old clothes, and everything else in between. For a nicer beach, you can head over to Hoi An. Just be warned that there are more tourists. It takes about 30 minutes to get to Thuan An beach on a motorbike.
Countryside by Motorbike
At first, I didn’t know what to do in Hue, Vietnam. One of my favorite things to do anywhere in this beautiful country is rent a motorbike for the entire day and just drive around the countryside. Hue was no different. It was well worth it too. Vietnam is an incredibly beautiful place with tons of bright green rice fields, rolling mountains, and wildlife. Hue is no different, with the exception of the roads. They’re more interesting, and the main roads are actually smooth, something I found to be rare in Vietnam. You can rent a motorbike for 100,000. For 60,000, you can fill up your tank, go anywhere, and probably have a good amount left. I’d start with half a tank, depending on how far you think you’ll go.
Dong Ba Market
If you’re wanting to get some souvenirs, people watch, or practice your bargaining skills, go to Dong Ba Market. It is also alongside the river just minutes from the main backpacker’s area. If you’ve never been to a market like Dong Ba, then you definitely need to work this into your schedule. It’s fascinating, intimidating, and even pretty hilarious at times. There are a ton of jewelry shops, but who knows if it’s real. I really doubt it, but I guess you never know.
Tombs and Pagodas
There are a ton of these in Hue, but they’re pretty scattered. Sometimes, while randomly driving, you’ll see one. If you’re really interested in this, it’s easy to find a map of all of them and plan a route or tour through them. Your hotel will probably give you a map, and if you ask about the tombs and pagodas, they’ll probably be happy to help you out and circle them to make things easier.
Hue, Vietnam is a pretty small place. The population is around 344,000 and a lot tinier than Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. That means your options on sites may be limited compared to larger cities. Some people backpacking Vietnam do Hue as a day trip from Da Nang. But I don’t think a day is enough. Take at least two to explore this city and surrounding scenery. Maybe even join some of the workers in the rice fields to truly experience their daily life.
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Check out this DJI Phantom Drone video and tour Ninh Binh, Vietnam from above! Everything looks different and in this case, more beautiful, from the air.