Hue Craft Festival 2019: Top 5 Highlights Not to Miss

It is my favourite state-sponsored event and thus my favourite time of the year, Hue Craft Festival 2019! From the 26th April to 2nd May 2019, the People’s Committee of Hue will be hosting the city’s annual festival, celebrating a combination of traditional practices and regional disciplines. While 2019 isn’t on as epic scale as the 2018 and upcoming 2020 festival, Hue Festival 2019 (known titively as Hue Crafts Festival 2019) still promises multiple showcases worthy of your curiosity and amusement. We’ve stripped down the Hue Festival programme to highlight five events worth going to:

Hot Air Balloon Festival

balloons at festival


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For three days, Hue is going to have numerous colourful hot-air balloons flying around the Citadel and you have the chance to get in one! Operators are selling tickets for visitors to get a rare first-hand, (non-flycam) birds-eye of the imperial city for a small sum, or a large one depending on how long and how far you want your balloon to go. For tickets, send us a message and we will point you in the right direction.

Ham Nghi Open Space
27th – 29th April 2019

Hue Craft Festival

hue crafts at Hue Festival


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The main event. The big whopper. 350 craft stalls. More than you can point a stick at. Everything from unicorn sculptures to peanut candy. Go have a gander. See if you can find a new mantelpiece or something to crown your living room table. Lots of weaving, lots of wood furniture, some pottery, some silk and some lanterns for good measure.

Tu Tuong Park
April 26th – 2nd May 2019

Vietnamese Traditional Medicine Exhibition

Yay! I love the wonders of Vietnamese traditional medicine and practices. This is top of my list. Alongside herbal medicines, there are also treatment services available on site. Whirl by and learn more about traditional Vietnamese medicine.

Quoc Hoc Square
20:00  30th April 2019

A Showcase of Vietnamese Gastronomy

culinary food
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A small exhibition of food presentation that will get your tummy rumbling. food from all regions of Vietnam that looks too good to eat. Get your cameras at the ready. #instafood.

26th April-2nd May 2019
Thuong Bac Park

Portrait Exhibition: Vietnamese Heroic Mothers

Artist Dang Ai Viet travelled from north to south to paint the portraits of over 200 hundred mothers whose children passed during the battle for the reunificaiton of Vietnam. The exhibition will be showcased throughout the Hue Festival.

25th April – 7th May 2019
Ho Chi Minh Museum
07 Le Loi Street

For a festival programme head to the Hue Festival building here or the Hue Festival’s official website.

Finished: ‘Explore Hue with Tim Doling’ a Talk on Hue History for a Global Audience 29/09/2018

Interview Hue Grit Tour

This Event has Ended.

Thank you to everyone that came along! It was a fantastic evening.


Local History for a Global Audience

Tiếng việt dưới đây Join us for this exclusive event! Historian Tim Doling will be holding a talk on the rich history of Hue and Vietnam’s last line of emperors; the Nguyen Dynasty. In support of his new publication ‘Exploring Hue’, Mr Doling will guide us through the numerous landmarks of the former royal capital accompanied with a riveting narrative that will intrigue history enthusiasts and the general audience alike. This event is perfect for; historians and historyphiles, culture vultures, students, scholars, the tourism industry, Hue residents, expatriates living in Hue, tourists and anyone with an interest in Hue or history.

An Evening Talk

The talk lasts for around 90 minutes and will conclude with the opportunity for audience members to ask questions to Mr Doling. Refreshments will be prepared for the end of the talk. Please register to confirm your attendance: Mr Doling’s book ‘Exploring Hue’ will also be available for purchase at 350,000VND per copy. We look forward to seeing you there! Explore Hue Tim Doling Hue Grit Tour

The Details

Explore Hue with Tim Doling Illustrated Talk on Hue and the Nguyen Dynasty A unique insight into local history for a global audience 17:30, 20 Le Loi. Learning Resources Centre. Saturday 29th September Talk given in English. Suggested donation of 50,000VND Register here: Co-hosted by: The History Faculty at the University of Hue and the Hue Grit Tour  With support from: Learning Resources Centre and DDC Education.

About Tim Doling

Hue History Grit TourTim Doling has spent most of his professional career in the cultural sector undertaking cultural projects in Asia, Africa and Europe for UNESCO, the British Council and Visiting Arts. Since the 1990s He has been living in Vietnam and working on various projects around South-East Asia. As well as working as a translator and cultural tourism consultant,  Tim has returned to historical research and has authored multiple books on Vietnam including the Railways and Tramways of Vietnam (2012) and the history-heritage guidebooks Exploring Ho Chi Minh City (2014), North West Vietnam (2010) and North East Vietnam (2010). At the time of writing, he is currently preparing for the 2nd edition of Exploring Ho Chi Minh City and Exploring Hoi An and Danang. Read our interview with Tim Doling here: Please register to confirm your attendance here. ‘Explore Hue with Tim Doling’ Event page here. Tọa đàm Khám Phá Huế và Triều Nguyễn cùng Tim Doling.
Sự kiện mong muốn mang đến những tri thức thú vị tới mọi tầng lớp khán giả.
Thời gian và địa điểm: 17h30 Thứ 7 ngày 29 tháng 8 năm 2018 tại Trung Tâm Học Liệu Huế, 20 Lê Lợi.
Ngôn ngữ trình bày: English
Chi phí quyên góp gợi ý: 50.000 VND
Vui lòng đăng ký tại:
Tọa đàm Khám Phá Huế và Triều Nguyễn cùng Tim Doling.
Sự kiện mong muốn mang đến những tri thức thú vị tới mọi tầng lớp khán giả.
Thời gian và địa điểm: 17h30 Thứ 7 ngày 29 tháng 8 năm 2018 tại Trung Tâm Học Liệu Huế, 20 Lê Lợi.
Ngôn ngữ trình bày: English
Chi phí quyên góp gợi ý: 50.000 VND
Vui lòng đăng ký tại:
Giới thiệu về Tim Doling
Tim Doling đã dành phần lớn sự nghiệp chuyên môn của mình trong lĩnh vực văn hóa, thực hiện các dự án văn hóa ở châu Á, châu Phi và châu Âu cho UNESCO, the British Council ( Hội đồng Anh) và Visiting Arts. Từ những năm 1990, ông đã sống ở Việt Nam và làm việc trên nhiều dự án khác nhau ở khu vực Đông Nam Á. Cùng với tư cách là nhà dịch thuật và tư vấn du lịch văn hóa, Tim đã quay trở lại nghiên cứu lịch sử và viết nhiều cuốn sách về Việt Nam bao gồm the Railways and Tramways of Vietnam (2012) ( tạm dịch Đường sắt và Đường xe điện Việt Nam) và the history-heritage guidebooks Exploring Ho Chi Minh City (2014) ( tạm dịch Sách hướng Khám phá Lịch sử-Di sản Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh). Tại thời điểm viết bài, ông hiện đang chuẩn bị cho phần 2 của Khám phá Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh và Khám phá Hội An và Đà Nẵng.

Things To Do in Hue: 10 Pro Tips and Activities From a Hue Resident

There’s a general misconception with backpackers on the banana pancake trail. Hue allegedly has nothing to offer it’s visitors except for a citadel and an abandoned waterpark. Let me tell you that those people are quite simply banana pancakes. There’s plenty of things to do in Hue.

Hue food tour grit
Dessert along the Huong River.

Hue is definitively the place to get to grips with real Vietnam; it’s the country’s capital of culture! Hue demonstrates the country’s past, present and future in equal measures. All of this can be accessed much easier than larger cities such as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.

Beachside afternoon dining

While people may argue that Hoi An is a better representation of Vietnamese culture, it simply isn’t. The town is a 21st century tourist construct, built upon the age-old orientalist perceptions of east Asia and today permeates a sculptured culture to please the tourist masses (an academic agrees with us!). Hoi An has some incredible history but all this has been swallowed up by the density of what it has become. Is Hoi An more pleasant than Hue? Disputably so. Is Hue more ‘real Vietnam’? Undoubtedly yes.

10 Things to Do in Hue

1. Serendipity in the Hue Citadel

Hue citadel can be described in three parts; the imperial city, it’s surrounding citadel and the city beyond the citadel walls. The entrance to the imperial city comes at a steep 150,000VND per person. The imperial city is impressive but information for visitors is sparse and disappointing. If you’re there for the history, it’s best to hire a guide or do some research before visiting. The Hue citadel surrounding it is equally enjoyable to investigate if you’re short on cash.

Things to Do in Hue Grit Tour
Imperial City inside the Hue Citadel

Take a stroll through the various lakes and pavements that encompass the imperial city and you can find great food, friendly people, quirky establishments and remnants of history’s presence. The 200 year-old building hosting a cafe is lavish and can be accessed without paying the entrance fee. The labyrinth of hawkers and shops in the 100 year-old Dong Ba market is fun to get lost in. There’s even a restaurant that sells seaweed in edible varieties. There might not be tonnes of things to in the citadel but there’s plenty to explore. For a detailed guidebook to the history of Hue and the citadel, we suggest picking up Exploring Hue by Tim Doling which is available from Phu Xuan/Phuong Nam bookstore (two names, same bookshop). If you’re looking for a tour guide, we can help you find one. Contact us!

1. Hang outs at Hue’s Abandoned Waterpark

Due to it’s Instagram-appeal and minor Jurassic Park vibes, Hue’s abandoned waterpark is a quick riser on every backpacker’s list of things to do in Vietnam. #wanderlust. Truth be told, what more could you ask for when making a day trip out the city? the abandoned waterpark is a great place to recreate and more so to procreate. I’m not playing devil’s advocate here but I’m pretty sure that it would top any hostel story you encounter after you visit Hue.

Things to Do in Hue Grit Tour
Thuy Tien Lake: Hue’s abandoned waterpark

Plenty of space for a picnic here. Bring sandwiches and a sugarcane juice. At the time of writing, some local fellas guarding the premises in an attempt to keep curious visitors out. Be nice and charming. If they don’t let you in, take another route.  if they ask for an entrance fee, it’s your call. Remember your actions will impact future visitors. Think local, act global, yada yada yada. Check out our article For a better informed and more prosaic piece about Hue’s abandoned waterpark. If you don’t get in. No biggy. The banana pancake hype makes it seem way better than it really is. #coldfact. Maybe try #3 for an instagram substitute.

3. Visit Vietnam’s longest Graffiti Wall in Hue.

Growing hip-hop collective Block Party hosted international graffiti jam ‘Meeting of Styles’ in 2018. The result? a 820-metre wall that now features fantastic graffiti art from all over the world. Be sure to crawl under the fencing at the beginning of the wall to get to the other side.

Things to Do Hue Grit Tour

Hue’s graffiti wall is only a few kilometres country drive/ride from the abandoned waterpark. So why not kill two things to do with one trip? Here’s our article on the graffiti wall for more information.

4. Take an Alternative Tour in Hue

It’s tough engaging or understanding a culture, especially one that is so different than the one you come from. Have you found yourself walking in squares not sure what you’re doing or why you’re even visiting an area? Undecided on what things to do while you’re in Hue? Struggling to choose what to eat or even where? You want to get out of the tourist traps but don’t know how. I’ll admit, when traveling, these are the conundrums I face regularly.

Grit Tour Hue Vietnam Karaoke
Hue Grit Tour

The Hue Grit Tour is designed with people like you and I in mind. It’s a multi-purpose tour; an adventure of firsts, several challenges and a period of cultural understanding. Join us at the deep end on the Hue Grit Tour for a plunge into Vietnamese culture.

5. Get Out of Town and Hit Hue’s Beach

Want to experience Vietnamese seaside culture? Get to Thuan An Beach! 12 kilometers out of town is a bit of a stretch but if you’re in need of some seaside adventure, the trip is worth it.

things to do in hue grit tour
Thuan An Beach. 12km from Hue

There’s a few places to check out from the public beaches, the bus cafe and the lavish Beach Bar. A few places for accommodation and plenty of seafood bites. Check out our article on Thuan An beach for things to do there.

6. Eat Hue Food: Hue’s Distinguished Range of Vietnamese Cuisine

The Jury’s still out on where the best Vietnamese food is in the country but Hue has arguably the most distinguished local food in Vietnam. Restaurants around the country try to imitate Hue food or simply gentrify it, Hue is where Hue food is best.

Hue food tour grit
Popular local dish banh khoai

Eating is the most obvious activity on any things to do list, but are you eating how it should be done? Be warned that eating  is only half the experience. We suggest taking a food tour so you know where to eat, how to eat and why the food is eaten in Hue. Don’t go to trip advisor eatery for your Hue experience. A city’s cuisine can’t be summed up into a tourist restaurant!

7. Drink a Coffee Kick to Great Music at Cafe 054

If you’ve become irritated with the constant rotation of shitty pop songs during your travels to Vietnam, then Cafe 054 is right up your street. Great music, easy vibes, pool table and great people!

Hue cafe tour tours Vietnam
the homies of cafe 054.

Cafe 054 plays a collection of hip-hop and electronic-related music that will keep you happy over a drink or two. Soft drinks, budget cocktails and beer available. Be sure to try out the cafe’s signature drink the coffee kick. The cafe is run by some of the local hip-hop community and they are more than happy to tell you some more things to do in Hue.

8. Tomb Raider: Quest for the Royal Tombs

Hue was the capital of Vietnam for around 150 years (1802 to 1945) and the monarchy went through plenty of emperors during this era. Most travel websites count 6 or 7 royal tombs in Hue but they are WRONG. Technically speaking, Hue has tombs for 11 of the 13 Hue emperors and for the 9 Nguyen lords that preceded them. There’s also Prince Nguyen Phuc Hong Cai who was neither a lord nor an emperor but has a mausoleum for fathering three of Hue’s emperors.

Things to Do in Hue Grit Tour
Tomb of Minh Mang in Hue

Most tourists buy onto package tours which only include the more popular tombs of Minh Mang, Thu Duc and Khai Dinh . All mausoleums are accessible to the public but can take up to 2 whole days to see them all. Get a motorbike, bicycle or rent a private car driver and go catch ’em all! We once again recommend a tour guide since information at the tombs is sparse. Prices for each tomb range from 40,000VND to 100,000VND. You’ll be lucky to find an ATM near a tomb so go prepared to spend heavy.

Most blogposts about the tombs seem inadequate. The best around is here. We’ll make sure to write a one soon!

9. River Wander and Boating on the Huong River

The Huong River is the soul of Hue. When the Citadel was built, geomancers recommended it’s location on the river’s bend for it’s defensive attributes and the balance in feng shui provided by Hen island and Da Vien island. Com hen is a local dish that encapsulates the history of the river with it’s blend of baby clams and local produce. Hen Island is worth visiting for it’s islet culture and fame for com hen.  Le Loi street and Trang Hung Dao street run along the river’s opposing banks. Both have numerous shops and stalls set up that bring small pleasures and things to do for their visitors.

things to do in Hue Grit Tour
a makeshift cafe overlooking the dragon boats on the Huong River.

Behind the Ho Chi Minh museum lies a makeshift cafe; a great place to watch the day pass with the river breeze. Boats are available for rent by the hour for numerous uses including karaoke parties, cultural shows or a means to get to various landmarks. If you’re exhausted, river drifting might be the perfect. If you’re looking to rent a boat on the Huong River, the Dragon Boat company are reliable, responsive and flexible.

10. Night Prowling on Hue Walking Street

To my own dread, Hue authorities announced the opening of Walking Street; the part-time pedestrianization on the streets surrounding the tourist area in late 2017. Comically titled ‘Pho Tay’ (westerner street) by local residents, rental prices on buildings have sky rocketed since it’s inception. Strangely enough, walking street has transformed the area into a bizarre hybrid of ‘fashionable’ Vietnamese beer drinking restaurants and a few nightclubs for local millenials. Although walking Hue street still retains numerous tourist traps, it has become a focal point for the amalgamation of Vietnamese culture and the population’s desire for modernity. This area is fast moving; restaurants and bars close as quick as they open. It’s hard to keep track on what’s happening there.

things to do in Hue Grit Tour
Sunset view from Midtown Hotel’s sky lounge

Walking Street is transport-free from 6pm until 11pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not so many things to do but plenty to drink and eat. Midtown Hotel’s rooftop bar is a great place to watch the 18:00 sunset. Tevet bar is a lively millenial restaurant for barfood eats. Ta coffee shop’s balcony is fun people watching, as is the intersection between Vo Thi Sau and Chu Van An streets. Brown Eyes and Factory club for the party, burger shack for drunk food on the way home.

Hue Grit Tour

Why wait? Book now!
Want to know more? Check out the itinerary.
Looking for some gritty tips? head over to the blog.
Have some questions to ask? Contact us.