The Complex of Hue Monuments :: Travel Guide

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Get There

By plane:

Hue’s international “Phu Bai” airport fields daily flights to and from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, but flights are quite often disrupted by poor weather during the rainy season (Mid October – Mid December). The majority of flights are Vietnam Airlines but Jetstar Vietnam also runs a flight or two from Ho Chi Minh City and once a day to Hanoi. The airport is 15 kilometers away from the city center and should cost no more than 180,000VND by taxi (30 minute ride). There is also a bus that will take you into the city & even drop you at your hotel for 40,000VND. The airport facility has recently been renovated.

Danang’s airport, only two hours away by car now that the Hai Van Tunnel is open, is busier, and has more connections.

By train:

Several trains a day to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang (4 hours) etc. The journey down south through the Hai Van Pass is particularly scenic, and from Danang you can take a taxi or motorbike to Hoi An.

A second-class sleeper ticket from Ho Chi Minh City on the much superior ‘express’ SE2-SE6 train to Hue costs between 588,000 & 740,000 dong depending on the level you’re on (1,2 or 3). Be warned the beds are quite hard, as there is not much of a matress (about half an inch thick), and it is placed over a plastic bench/seat. You can get other train types, but the little extra you pay is worth it several times over. It offers a wonderful travel experience. The traveler gets to sit, lie and sleep in a very small cabin for 23 hours with five other people (nearly always Vietnamese), eat four plain but tasty and filling Vietnamese meals, listen to a fine selection of Vietnamese pop songs on the PA, and see some incomparably beautiful countryside, particularly in the last section between Da Nang and Hue. It’s an excellent way to see the country and meet ordinary Vietnamese, who are unfailingly friendly and helpful, even to travelers who have not bothered to learn a word of their language. The trip is especially recommended if you like babies.

Buy your tickets at the train station, it can be worth your effort. Hotels often over charge by doubling the prices (at least US$80 for softsleeper), often using excuses like it’s high season or that they have to buy it at the black market. On the other hand it saves you dealing with the surly station staff.

By bus:

Public buses from all the bigger cities (including frequent services to Hanoi and Saigon) connect to the main bus station (Bến Xe Phía Nam and Bến Xe Phía Bắc). Most open tour buses include Hue in their itinerary, connecting to Hoi An or Da Nang to the south (4-6 hours) and Hanoi to the north (13-16 hours). The overnight Hanoi route is popular with locals, but beware of motion sickness among them.

  • Sinh Café, 7 Nguyen Tri Phuong St, [1]. Direct buses from Hoi An cost US$4 and leave twice daily: the 08:00-12:00 service stops at the Marble Mountains and makes the trip in 4 hours, while the 13:30-16:30 service manages the trip in three. Buses to Hanoi depart at 17:30 every day (US$9) with stops in Dong Ha and one or two other places.

From Vientiane You can book a sleeping or sitting bus for 180,000Kip (sleeping is the same price as sitting) to Hue or continue to Da Nang from the Southern Bus Terminal. The trip takes 15 hours to Hue so the sleeping bus is the better choice. Departure time for just Hue/Da Nang is 7pm although at Vientiene’s southern bus station you’ll also see other options heading south and you could probably take those as well.

You’ll have a couple bathroom stops (bathrooms not necessarily available) and at least 2 or 3 eating stops.

They’ll try to arrive at the Lao Bao border crossing before it opens at 7am. Here is where they’ll collect everyones passports to get stamped out of Laos. Everyone needs to include a 15,000Kip fee (foreigners may end up getting asked for 30,000Kip) so have that ready in your passport ahead of time. You’ll also have several ladies asking if you need to change any money. They’ll come in the bus or roam around the bus stop. Be careful and shrewd with them. If you just hand them some kip without establishing what rate your getting or not even bother to count how much you gave you’ll end up with a lousy 50% or 1:1 rate so you’ve lost half your cash! (Probably best not to exchange anything as you’ll have no chance to actually buy anything with your Dong until you reach your destination. However, you might no be able to exchange your Kip when you’re in Hue. So plan ahead!)

Meanwhile, as this is going on you’ll be served some Vietnam coffee. All meals and the coffee break should be included in your ticket price and then you have to pay for anything additional that you order.

Once you reach Hue you can get dropped off before the actual Hue bus station and maybe save yourself having to ride into town on a hired motor bike. (Oct. 2010)

Get around

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: trips start at 15,000 dong for the first 2km and tick upward at 11,500 dong/km. Some meters run incorrectly (showing up to 10 times the distance actually travelled), so ensure you have a rough idea of the distance to you 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. A metered trip out see two tombs, with waiting time, should come to around 300,000 dong (US$18).

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. No trip in Hue should cost more than 20,000 dong.

By bike:

Hire a motorbike and join the locals as they swarm across the bridges and along the main roads at a leisurely pace. They’re available for around US$5/day from hotels and shops.

Cycling is also a good option, with plenty of bikes available for no more than US$1/day.

By cyclo:

A cyclo is the local versions 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 absolutely 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. Be aware that while most of the cyclo drivers in Hue are fair, and can be quite helpful, there are a few who are very unscrupulous. If you agree on the price as “100”, make it very clear that you are agreeing on 100,000 Dong, and not 100 US dollars!

On foot:

Hue is quite compact, so you can reach most of the hotels, restaurants, and the Citadel easily on foot. Mr. Cu at Mandarin Cafe has prepared a free walking tour brochure & map. Make sure to stop by 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, though.

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