A cannon salute in Hue. Photo by VnExpress/Ngan Duong.
The flag tower at the Imperial Palace, where the salute is rendered by cannons, was built in 1807 during the reign of Nguyen Dynasty king, Gia Long.
The Hue government has revived the salute, firing four shots at 8:30 p.m. every Sunday, and 21 shots on Lunar New Year Eve or other special occasions like foreign national leaders’ visits.
Hue’s famous cuisine
Sweet soup with roast pork. Photo courtesy of bakewithme2016.
Visiting Hue is to embark on a cuisine journey. The ancient town in central Vietnam is well-known for both its imperial cuisine and the contemporary creativity of its street foods.
One of the most well-known dishes in Hue is roast pork sweet soup. This unexpected pairing of sweet soup and savory pork offers a unique experience. Some recommended stalls are Mo Ton Dich, Hem and Ngoc Hien sweet soup shops.
If you want a late supper, a wide variety of snacks is available, from Hue beef noodles at Hanoi Street to banh mi, the Vietnamese sandwich, at the famous Truong Tien bread stall near the town post office, which remains open until 2-3 a.m.
Taking a cyclo ride
A unique method to go around is the cyclo, which is a cross between a bicycle and a rickshaw. The vehicle has been in use since French colonial times. Though no longer common as a means of transport, a cyclo trip remains an interesting experience for tourists visiting Hue.
Cyclo drivers also double up as tour guides to further enhance tourists’ experience, introducing to them many of Hue’s famous destinations like Truong Tien Bridge and Dong Ba Market.
Tourists can chat with the cyclo drivers, most of whom can hold a basic conversation in English. A one-hour ride costs VND50,000-125,000 ($2.2-5.4) depending on the distance and pickup spot.
Walking along Huong River
As night falls Truong Tien Bridge is lit up, making for a splendid sight, and a stroll along the Huong (Perfume) River is highly recommended.
Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street, which is along the southern bank of the river, is off-limits to vehicles and has stalls selling all kinds of stuff and street art performances.
Hue’s nightlife at the ‘Western Street’ (Pho Tay). Photo by Vnexpress/Ngan Duong.
Another exciting experience is the nightlife on Pham Ngu Lao, Chu Van An and Vo Thi Sau streets, which is popular with foreign tourists. The live-music bars, pubs, restaurants, and coffee houses are most crowded at 9-11 p.m.
During weekends vehicles are prohibited from entering the streets from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m, allowing the thrills to spill out into the street.
Music aboard boat on Huong River
Another unique Hue experience is Hue folk singing on tourism boats on the Huong River. Hue folk singing is a variation of the Hue royal court music, and is played on traditional musical instruments with the singers dressed in ao dai, the traditional long dress.
It was recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage five years ago by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
A one-hour show costs VND100,000–150,000 ($4.3-6.5) per person.