Memory Space: Remembering Prolific Vietnamese Artist Le Ba Dang in Hue’s Newest Art Gallery

Le Ba Dang Buddha

June 2019 mark the opening of Hue’s newest art gallery Memory Space; a collection of works prolific Vietnamese artist Lê Bá Đảng. As Hue refines its reputation as the cultural heritage capital of Vietnam, Memory Space might be Hue’s most impressive gallery to date.

Who is Lê Bá Đảng?

Born in 1921 in Quang Tri (60 kilometres from Hue), Lê Bá Đảng grew up in a fairly wealthy family during the last feudal dynasty and the French colonial period of Vietnam. Once finishing his primary education at 18, he sensed a desire to move to France and worked in a French factory producing arms and munitions. During the second world war, he found himself twice in police custody and sentenced to time in refugee camps and prison. It wasn’t until after the end of the war that France was a more friendly environment to his migration. He soon after enrolled into an art course in Toulouse. It was here that Lê Bá Đảng's natural talent for art was acknowledged and developed.

art in Hue

When Lê Bá Đảng reached his thirties, art galleries around France began to hold his exhibitions. His first works were heavily inspired by recollections of country and self-identity. Family portraits, agricultural settings and scenes from wartime Vietnam made up a large proportion of his work.

By the 1960s and 1970s, his work received invitations for exhibitions further afield in Europe and the USA. He became more experimental with the forms his art took. The themes darted between the realities of war and the surrealism of mythology.

Once Vietnam had reached reunification, Lê Bá Đảng returned to his home town in Quang Tri to help in bringing his community back together.

Gallery art Hue

With the unfortunate death of his son at the start of the 1980s, Lê Bá Đảng’s art took a shift closer towards existentialism and the worth of life. As he got older, these existential pieces became more worldly, space-dimensional and even spiritual.

On his passing in 2015, a funeral was held in paris as well as several locations around Vietnam. 

Lê Bá Đảng’s art demonstrates a pursuit to a greater understanding of the meaning of life. While his work goes beyond our own world and into fictitious realms, he frequently incorporated beliefs of his native country of Vietnam such as the kitchen God Ong Tao and depictions of Buddha.

The Story of Lê Bá Đảng's Memory Space

gallery art hue

During his lifetime, Lê Bá Đảng expressed a vision for a space that would serve for the creativity and imaginations of those that wondered the dimensions of art. A paradise for artists to meet and discuss not only the works of Lê Bá Đảng but the works and ideas of other artists too.  Although Lê Bá Đảng’s passing in 2015 left his dream unfulfilled, his assistant Mrs Le Cam Te made it her own undertaking. She has spent the past 4 years working tirelessly to bring the artist’s vision to reality.

With the support ofLê Bá Đảng’s wife Mrs. Myshu, Mrs. Cam Te began by acquiring the spacious land atop of a hill in Huong Thuy, Hue. After numerous discussions with architects and designers, the main building of Memory Space was carefully constructed to closely resemble the shape of one Lê Bá Đảng’s paper artworks. To bring the new gallery closer to the ideals of an ‘artists’ paradise’, Mrs. Cam Te put extra emphasis on the shrubbery of the landscape to provide additional spaces for the conversations and meetings of guests to Memory Space.

While the main exhibition at Memory Space consists of works by Lê Bá Đảng entrusted and given to Mrs Cam Te over the final years of the artist’s life, there are plans to host temporary exhibitions and performances from the local Hue art community. We are very excited to see what the future holds for Memory Space.

How to Get to Memory Space: Le Ba Dang

Memory Space: Lê Bá Đảng is some way out of the city, closer to the Abandoned Waterpark and Khai Dinh Tomb. At the time of writing, there is no google maps marker or website. This google maps link is approximately where it is located. Around this area you will see signs directing you to the Memory Space: Lê Bá Đảng museum.

Opening times are 8:00-12:00 and 14:00-18:00.

Artist Hue Vietnam Le Ba Dang

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 đâyJoin 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: https://huegrittour.com/registration-explore-hue/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: https://huegrittour.com/registration-explore-hue/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: https://huegrittour.com/registration-explore-hue/
 
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: https://huegrittour.com/registration-explore-hue/
 
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.
 
.

Guide to Places to Visit between Hue, Danang and Hoi An

Hue Grit Tour Danang Hoi An
So you already know that central Vietnam is the best, right? Hue, Danang and Hoi An is a route regularly traveled by visitors to Vietnam. But most people don’t realize that there is so much to visit outside the cities. The 120 kilometers between Danang to Hoi An offer plenty of opportunities to visit lagoons, beaches mountains and some interesting characters along the way.We have included some locations of interest as well as some travel options at the bottom of the page. If we’ve missed something out, tell us in the comments below!

Hue to Danang: Lagoons, Mountains and Springs (Oh My!)

The distance between Hue to Danang is around 100 kilometers and takes between 2-3 hours. Most people head straight down highway one to Danang. What you should consider is everything on offer in between. Get up as early as possible and hit the road!

Thuan An Beach

beach, local food, fishing town

Ice Cream Vietnam Hue Grit Tour Danang

Lagoon at Thuan An Fishing VillageThe drive from Hue to Thuan An leads you east towards the coast. 15KM makes it a short drive to this sleepy beach town. If you’re keen on an early dip in the sea, stop off and strip down. Otherwise, Thuan An is also home to popular food banh ep. Which will make for a light breakfast or brunch. Thuan An has a few things going on with some other places to check out around here. Check our blogpost on Thuan An for more information. Once you are done, take the road south (road 49B) which meanders between farming land, lagoons and beaches. Certainly more scenic than the highway!

Google Maps Link: Thuan An Beach.

An Bang Cemetery: Valley of Tombs

Unique tombs combining old traditions and new money

an bang tombs Vietnamese Grit Tour

Oriental graveyards may be nothing new if you’re travelling through South-East Asia but the Valley of Tombs (Nghĩa Trang An Bang in Vietnamese) in An Bang Village is especially unique. After the American-Vietnamese war, many families from this area were torn apart. Some family members left the country while others remained. As elder relatives passed away, family living abroad sent money back to support the construction of their tombs. Since Vietnam has a tradition of showing great respect to those who have passed on, it is not unusual for a lot of money to be spent on rituals and burial processes. The Valley of Tombs is possibly one of the most extravagant in the region. Tombs are more akin to small temples with immense detail on each one to emphasize their significance. Some cost as much as 2,000,000,000 VND (88,000USD) to construct. Note that many include influences of foreign decor, possibly from the countries that relatives now live in. If you explore thoroughly enough, you may find some empty graves at the cemetery. These are for ancestors that have yet to pass away. Spooky!

Google Maps Link: An Bang Cemetery

An Bang Beach

Local beach, local seafood

Opposite the City of Tombs is An Bang beach. Not to be confused with the An Bang beach in Hoi An. Very makeshift restaurants serving back-to-basics seafood. The newly-constructed beach shack/bar will provide a place for a quick swim in the sea and one of the best fish salads (gỏi cá) I’ve ever eaten. Don’t be disheartened by the term fish salad, these are sashimi-like strips of fish with mango and spices rolled up into a spring roll. Delicious and cheerfully-cheap.Google Maps Link: An Bang Beach

Truc Lam Pagoda and Bach Ma National Park

Wildife and stunning landscapes. Beautiful pagoda.
Bach ma Truc Lam pagoda Hue Grit Tour Danang
Continue south around the beautiful Cau Hai lagoon and you’ll reach the Tu Hien bridge (Cau Tu Hien) where the lagoon meets the sea. There’s some discreet beaches around here if you have the time to spare. Continue further until the QL49B joins with the highway and backtrack to Bach Ma mountain. If you are an avid trekker and a wildlife enthusiast, a walk around Bach Ma mountain may be just for you. Boasting hundreds of unique flora and recently discovered species of monkeys and deer. It may be worth spending the night camping at Bach Ma mountain if you have the time. At the bottom of this article are links for companies that can organise this.Bach Ma also has it’s own pagoda. 15 kilometers into the mountain is a monastery sitting on a hill at the foot of a lake. You’ll need to take a small bus to the lakethen take a boat to get to the pagoda. the Buddhist totem on the jungle-like islet in the centre of the lake is enchanting. The strand of Buddhism practiced at Truc Lam Bach Ma arrived from India via China 300 years ago and thus differs from the Buddhism more commonly practiced in Vietnam. The monastery happily takes in people who are looking to meditate. We don’t have any contact details for this but we are advised to just turn up and stay as long as you want.Google Maps Link: Bach Ma National ParkGoogle Maps Link: Bach Ma Pagoda

Elephant Springs

Refreshing fresh-water pools. chill time.
Elephant Springs Hue Grit Tour
Elephant Springs (Suối Voi in Vietnamese) is a popular location with tourists both domestic and international. Around halfway between Hue and Danang on highway 1, it features several pools of fresh water. Plenty of jumping points into the deep water too. Easy Riders often bring guests here on their ride between Hoi An and Hue. A lot of travelling Vietnamese also stop here for a boozy chicken lunch and a paddle in the springs. Really busy during the summer breaks, quieter in periods out of summer vacation. Both atmospheres are enjoyable providing how easy-going you are. A lot of huts serve food and drink but often charge for using the space. Clarify with the staff before getting comfortable.Google Maps Link: Elephant Springs

Lang Co Village

Seaside. Beach. Lagoons. Views.
Lang Co Hue Danang Grit Tour
An optical precursor to the famous Hai Van Pass. Lang Co Village is idyllic. A stretch of land no wider than a kilometer wedged between lagoon and sea. The Lagoon is calming at points away from the highway. It’s idle waters only interrupted by the tug of a fishing-boat engine. Lang Co is beautiful, no matter the time or season.Lang Co also has a fantastic range of seafood restaurants. I guess bad seafood is hard to come by around these parts. There are a few restaurants such as Viet Long Lang Co which extend into the lagoon on stilted huts. However, we prefer the gritty integrity of Susu restaurant. A local family-owned restaurant favoured by truck drivers driving up and down the country. Susu restaurant really know how to put on a feast. Their fried squid and claypot fish is a must. Susu first. Lagoon instagram after.Google Maps Link: Lang Co

Hai Van Pass

Winding roads, top panoramics, mountain meets sea.
Hai Van Pass Danang Hue Grit Tour
Racist homophobe Jeremy Clarkson and cronies came to Vietnam and proclaimed Hai Van Pass to be one of the most beautiful roads in the world. Kind of like Anthony Bordain saying that the best banh my is in Hoi An. Henceforth, Vietnam gained another entry on the flashbacker bucket list. Don’t let a cynical bald man like me put you off. The pass’s fame has generated a lot of money and local authorities have take extra care in maintaining the roads. Hai Van Pass is a stunner. Higher points provide fascinating panoramic views of both Lang Co and Danang.Most people don’t take time to explore the mountain. There are a few hidden roads that lead off to more exclusive viewpoints. The easiest trail to find lies right at the top of the highway behind the old war bunker. While this path is incredibly steep it takes you to several view points where Danang and Lang Co can be seen from great heights. If you’re travelling through twice and haven’t got the energy to do the Hai Van pass again, there is a shuttle bus that can take you and a motorbike through the mountain.Google Maps Link: Hai Van Pass

Leper Beach (Bãi Xoan)

desolate settlement, secluded beach, cove.

Nestled into a cove on Hai Van’s southside is a small beach that used to be home to Danang’s leper colony.  Resettlement of the colony happened in the 2000’s to make way for a resort but for now owns the beach is empty and hardly visited. Definitely for the most adventurous of travelers looking for secluded beaches with an ominous past.

Google Maps Link: Leper Beach

Nam O Beach and Nguyen Tat Tan Street

the road easier traveled.

danang bike trip hue grit tour buy sell rent
As you approach Danang, it’s worth turning off the highway and taking the quieter and more spacious beach road towards Danang named Nguyen Tat Thanh. It’s seldom used by anyone other than those desperate to escape the traffic in and out of Danang. The nearest corner of Nguyen Tat Tan street from Danang is Nam O beach. Nam O was where the American ground troops first landed into central Vietnam. Unsurprisingly, like those infamous opening scenes from the film Apocalypse Now (which was based on an area in the Mekong Delta), Nam O is considered by many of Danang’s residents to be the city’s finest surf break. Once more, this beach is now in the possession of developers and will eventually be off limits.Google Maps Link: Nguyen Tat Thanh Street

Danang to Hoi An: The Route Well-Traveled

Danang to Hoi An is around 30KM as the crow flies. While there isn’t as much as you might expect between Danang and Hoi An, there are still some places of interest.

the Dragon Bridge and Danang’s Other Bridges.

modern engineering and architectural landmarks
Danang has a total of five bridges over the Han River. Some old. Some new. Others minor works of stylistic architecture. Completed in 2014, The dragon bridge has become the city’s lead mascot over recent years. Every Saturday and Sunday around 8PM the dragon’s head breathes fire and sprays water. It’s not the most spectacular display of pyrotechnics but still impressive considering it serves as a bridge.

Son Tra Pensisula

Adventures on monkey mountain
Son Tra Peninsula Hue Grit Tour

Son Tra Peninsula is a day trip in itself. Firstly, Linh Ung pagoda where Lady Buddha (67ft tall) looks over Danang akin to Christ the Redeemer does in Rio Di Janeiro. There’s also numerous beaches dotted around the peninsula which host bamboo huts and restaurants selling seafood. A steep drive to the top of Son Tra and you’ll find Ban Co peak which delivers a breathtaking panoramic view. The Son Tra Peninsula hosts the city’s Intercontinental Resort. If you’ve got the money to splurge, treat yourself. Known to foreign visitors as monkey mountain, Son Tra has garnered international attention for being the residence of a rare breed monkey called the Red Shanked Douc. Some people have seen the monkey, others haven’t. If you’re a budding Steve Irwin, then let the search begin! I forgot to mention there’s a 1,000 year old banyan tree too.

Google Maps Link: Son Tra Mountain

Tam’s Pub

Burgers and old tales
Tma's pub hue grit tour danang
Tam has been a Danang institution since the 1990’s. She spent her childhood and teenage years living through the American-Vietnamese war. Her tales of survival and working with the US army have captured the hearts and attention of Danang residents and travelers alike throughout the years. The endless amounts of photos that decorate the wall are testament to her popularity. There’s even a few of Jimmy Buffet! Speaking of burgers, there was once a time when Tam could claim to have the best burgers in town and the only surfboards available to rent. Nowadays, competition has grown rapidly and Tam’s inability to keep up with the market has left her receiving less customers and generally ignored by travel guides. Sadly, Tam lost some of her pizzazz when she suffered a stroke in early 2018. Nevertheless, she’s more than keen to show you old photos of Danang and Hue before and during the war. She can still crack a good story too.Google Maps Link: Tam’s Pub

Hoa’s Place and Ngu Hanh Son

marble mountain and beach side hostel
Heading further south towards Hoi An on Vo Nguyen Gap street is Ngu Hanh Son. a small collection of marble and limestone mountains. This area was once a primary resource for marble-related creations around Vietnam, most famously Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum in Hanoi. Today, the collection of mountains serve less as a source of marble and more for tourists to hike around it’s caves and peaks. There are a few pagodas nesteld into the mountain too. Ngu Hanh Son isn’t peaceful; it’s usually crowded with tour buses and hawkers. Needless to say, it’s amusing to be on top of the mountains knowing that once stood American GI’s while their enemy hid in the caves below.Beach side of the road opposite Ngu Hanh Son is Hoa’s place. Hoa was a marine with the American’s during the war and his chilled out demeanor makes him popular with his guests. Hoa and his wife run a homestay which doubles up as a restaurant and a bar. His homestay was relocated in 2013 to make space for the mass resort development in the area. His new location stands a stone’s throw from the beach but what was once a quiet retreat outside the city is now surrounded by resorts and other businesses. Nevertheless, Hoa is a charming host and he has kept prices to a minimum in order to continue attracting the Bedouin travelers that have always frequented his business.Google Maps Link: Hoa’s Place & the Marble Mountains

An Bang Beach (Hoi An)

Tourists’ Paradise
An bang beach Hoi An Danang Grit Tour
The beach road to Hoi An was once relatively quiet and ran through a couple of tiny villages. While the villages remain, the road encompasses several resorts and multiplexes. Furthermore, most tourist transportation has opted to take this route rather than the highway.While there isn’t really anything of note between Ngu Hanh Son and Hoi An, there are a few beaches. The most popular one now being An Bang beach which usurped Cua Dai of it’s title of being Hoi An’s number one beach location. An Bang has grown so much since I first visited. From being a few seafood restaurants and scanty beach bars, An Bang has received overwhelming investment from private businesses that sell everything from luxury ice cream to fusion tacos. It’s far from being anything like the other beaches mentioned in this article but excels in lavishness and decadence.Google Maps Link: https://goo.gl/maps/A1YjX7RYEqK2

Beyond Hoi An

the adventure resumes!
Mural village hue grit tour
There’s a lot more on offer beyond Hoi An as you head further south. The new and stunning Cửa Đại bridge, Vietnam’s heroic mother monument and Tam Thanh graffiti village. They are all worth a day trip if you’re planning a few days or more in Hoi An.

How to Travel Central Vietnam

Motorbike Purchase and Rental

Despite the dangers and risks involved with driving your own bike in Vietnam, there isn’t really any substitute for the autonomy you get with your own motorbike. Travel is truly best served in your own time. Please consider the risks involved, especially if driving for the first time.Motorbike purchase in HueMotorbike rental between Hoi An and Hue

Easy Rider

Easy riders are available in abundance throughout Hue, Danang and Hoi An. Most are flexible in their itineraries and give an extra touch as local tour guides. Sometimes can be annoying in their demeanour but sit down and have a beer with one to see if he or she is the right fit for you.Easy Riders between Hoi An, Danang and Hue:Amazing Easy Riders

Private Transport Hire

Depending on your group size, there are a a variety of transports available. There are cars, vans, jeeps and people carriers available. Once again, many are available to provide a custom-fit package to suit your needs. One negative of private transport hire is the limit a roof can have when so much of central Vietnam’s charms come in it’s landscapes. Consider this when booking your transport.Private Transport hire between Hoi An, Danang and Hue:Tours From Hue

Train

Obviously, the train is very restricted in what you can experience on this route. One upside is that the tracks meander around the Hai Van pass and give a unique perspective to the set of mountains. Unfortunately, the train only serves Danang and Hue which means you will require another means of transport if you’re planning on heading to Hoi An. Check times and book tickets at least a few hours before you plan to leave. Cheaper to buy at office than online.Google maps:Hue Train Station Danang Train Station

VIP bus

travel in luxury with HAV travel. between 6am and 6pm, the company offer shuttle buses between Danang and Hue that take no longer than 2 hours. Comfortable reclining seats are great for sleeping through the journey. Wifi included. The bus goes through Hai Pass rather than over meaning you’ll miss the majority of spectacles on your trip.HAV Travel

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.

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.

The Clandestine History of Vietnam: Interview with Historian Tim Doling

Hue history then and now grit tour

Vietnam’s History

I first came across Tim Doling in 2014 when I discovered the facebook group ‘Saïgon Chợ Lớn Then & Now’. As well as one of the groups founders, Tim frequently contributes to the history group which now boasts more than 6,000 members. He has also started other ‘Then & Now’’ groups for different cities in Vietnam. The groups’ popularity stems from their broad appeal. light in text and grand in photography. The images submitted as ‘present day’ try to replicate the frame of the image that accompanies them from the past. where everything is moving at breakneck speeds, It’s hard to grasp the rate of development in a country like Vietnam but ‘Then & Now’ act as worthy records. Members only need a slight interest in the concept of change to find submissions fascinating.

Where Tim’s facebook groups lack written context, his publications excel in narratives of Vietnamese history. The Railways and Tramways of Việt Nam (2012) and Exploring Hồ Chí Minh City (2014) are two of Tim’s books that sought light on information previously unavailable to the western public. His writing is academic, yet engaging and digestible. Tim’s work provides a bridge for non-native readers to learn about Vietnam’s history in a country that still has so much to uncover for itself.

As a resident of Hue, I was extremely excited to find out that Tim had completed and published Exploring Hue in spring 2018. I bought a copy as soon as I could and was impressed about how much I learnt in the first 100 pages compared to the first 7 years of actually living in Vietnam. I got in touch with Tim to talk more about his new book, the fascinating history of the imperial city, Vietnam’s clandestine relationship with it’s past and what the future holds for one of the world’s fastest developing countries.

Hue history

Exploring Hue: Interview with Tim Doling

What gave you the inspiration to write Exploring Hue?Huế was high on my list of places to write about, because although it’s a major tourist destination, I felt that most visitors only see a tiny fraction of what is there and go away without a real understanding of the city’s history. I already had lots of notes from all of my previous trips to Huế, and people kept asking me if they could borrow them, so I thought that I should publish a full book.How long did it take to complete Exploring Hue?I have visited Huế many times since 1989 (when cattle still roamed the grounds of the Imperial City), but the actual process of writing this book took exactly two years, 2015-2017. Most of the writing was done from my home in Saigon, but the process involved several extended research trips to Huế. In between times I was carrying out extensive research of local and international sources, I also benefited from the generous cooperation of the Huế Department of Culture and Tourism, which supplied me with a lot of Vietnamese documentation and introduced me to key local experts who were all extremely helpful with their time and knowledge. I was also lucky that one of the department’s staff, Mr Trần Văn Dũng, is an expert on Huế and spent much time advising me and assisting me with the text.Every research trip made during this period had to be extensively preplanned, so that I knew exactly what I had to go and do in advance of my arrival. Each trip involved very intensive travel around the province, with write-up sessions each evening on return to Huế.Personally, I’ve taken particular interest in the histories of Thanh Thai and the Hac Bao fighting unit when reading Exploring Hue. Are there any particular characters or buildings that have further sought your interest?That’s a very difficult question to answer as there are so many fascinating stories surrounding so many Huế personalities and heritage sites. Yes the Thành Thái story is fascinating, particularly as only now is the real history beginning to emerge from behind the myths which have for so long been accepted blindly. The story of Thành Thái’s father Dục Đức and his two equally unfortunate successors is also fascinating, that too is only now coming to light, having been shrouded for years beneath the “official history” of the years 1883-1885. I’d love to do more research on some of the great mandarin families of the late 19th century, but sadly will probably never have the time as I must move on to other areas.If there are three locations or artifacts in Hue that you would consider solid evidence for any tourist to visit the city, what would they be?My two favourite areas which are largely overlooked at present are the North of the Citadel where visitors can learn about the history of the Ngự Hà Canal, and the Gia Hội quarter which contains numerous Chinese assembly halls and princely residences. But I also love the royal tomb circuits – my personal favourite is the one which leads to the Gia Long Mausoleum and also incorporates numerous other Nguyễn lords’ and queens’ tombs. Stunning scenery and fascinating history.In your book, you’ve mentioned how many historical sites, such as the tombs built before 1802 and some French colonial buildings, are not protected by UNESCO and are thus being lost through decay and demolition. It felt like you resisted writing emotionally about the loss of these landmarks. Do you think there will be any change in the future regarding Huế’s or UNESCOS policy and these buildings will be saved?Where pre-1802 structures are concerned, I think we have to be realistic, Huế Monuments Conservation Centre already has a massive and very costly task just maintaining the key heritage sites inscribed on the UNESCO list, it does its best with limited funds, and at present a more general programme of restoration involving all of the pre-1802 relics is beyond its capacity. It is lucky that the Nguyễn Family Council is there to provide some basic maintenance of the other sites, but I hope that by finally putting these sites firmly on the tourist map it will help draw attention to the need for additional funds to preserve and interpret them properly.There is however a real problem concerning the lack of recognition and protection of Huế’s colonial and post-colonial buildings – just as in Saigon, many important structures have already been lost and the destruction is still ongoing. The demolition of the old colonial villa in its front yard by the “Heritage Hotel” a few years back is a case in point.My chapter on the city centre tries to introduce what’s survived in the hope that the authorities will recognize its potential value and prevent further destruction.I was very pleased to read a recent Vietnamese article talking about some colonial era buildings which are now being considered for listing as heritage sites, including La Residence Hotel, so maybe things are starting to change.Huế recently received it’s first Vincom Centre. Regarding other cities and their socio-economic developments, how will this affect Huế’s socio-cultural history and do you think there will be any difference in how Huế responds to development in the future compared to other cities in the county?I’m sure that the Vincom Centre will be a very useful addition to the city. No-one ever suggested that Huế should not develop as a modern and prosperous city, and modern shopping centres and commercial developments are part of that. The problems start when these new commercial developments begin to spring up in the historic core at the expense of important heritage structures, which is precisely what’s been going on in Saigon. Once built heritage has gone, it’s gone forever, and the visitors who came here hoping to see it will not return.
tim doling exploring hue

Working with Vietnamese History

It would appear you rediscovered your passion with history while based in Vietnam. What took you away from history to more cultural-based projects and what brought you back to it while in Vietnam?Unless you are a teacher/academic or author, being a historian is not really a viable career. I had a long and enjoyable career in theatre and the arts, and now I’m retired I am lucky enough to be able to go back to being a historian again, by researching and writing about the place I live in. What makes it so rewarding here is that Việt Nam is only now beginning to rediscover aspects of its history which for years have been lost.On an international level, there are several leading academics doing pioneering work on the history of Việt Nam, but much of that material never reaches a general audience.Meanwhile, here in Việt Nam there are also many specialized historians working at both a national and local level, unearthing important details about the history of the country on a daily basis, but comparatively little of the valuable work they do ever gets translated into English.Having been involved in tourism in Việt Nam since the 1990s, I can see that there is a big gap between the needs of the sophisticated modern cultural tourist and the “tourist experience” currently on offer. And one of the most obvious inadequacies is history. So I suppose I see my task as that of a facilitator, bringing the best of both international and local scholarship together in the form of English language guidebooks. Given the number of places I would still like to research and write about, it looks like I have a job to keep me busy for many years!Knowing each culture has its own relationship with its history, how do you feel Vietnamese history differs from other countries and cultures you’ve worked with? Also, how do you feel about the writing process in this regard? Did you have approach writing Exploring Hue differently?Of course every culture has its own unique history, the big difference here is that for a number of reasons Vietnamese history not being transmitted effectively through the medium of English to the many visitors who are keen to learn about it.By trying to fill a gap in the provision of information, I hope I can help in some small way to encourage understanding and appreciation of Vietnamese history and most important remind the authorities of the potential value of Vietnamese heritage as a tourism and general economic resource.Exploring Huế was intended from the outset to be both a general introduction to the Nguyễn dynasty (which has hitherto been poorly documented) and a more detailed overview of the incredible built heritage of Huế (of which most visitors only see a fraction).
Khai Dinh Tomb Exploring Hue

Vietnam and It’s History

How would you describe your perception of Vietnamese history and that of the board of tourism in Vietnam? Would you say there are any disparities?

Like a number of local historians, I feel that the Vietnamese tourism industry currently fails to meet the expectations of the sophisticated modern tourist when it comes to the provision of historical information, and particularly the interpretation of the natural and built environment.

When I first came to Việt Nam in 1989-1990, the tour guides were working with the very restricted historical information which was deemed acceptable at that time, and as western tourists began to arrive in the 1990s they began to improvise as best they could, trying to make things more interesting. This is when the various myths began to appear which have since become accepted as truth on Wikipedia and elsewhere – like Eiffel designing and building the Long Biên and Trường Tiên bridges in Hà Nội and Huế and the Post Office in Saigon, like the servants who carried the emperors’ bodies to the mausoleums all being killed to ensure secrecy, etc etc.

I feel that the tourist authorities fail to understand that fascinating stories can be woven around much of Việt Nam’s built heritage (including colonial and post-colonial structures) and that these can be used to develop attractive cultural tourism products, yet the history syllabus of the tourism schools does not touch on this. Meanwhile the authorities everywhere are giving the green light to developers to destroy the very thing many high-paying cultural tourists come here to see. I often quote the deputy manager of a big hotel in Saigon who told me back in 2014 “The problem with Saigon is that there’s nothing to see.”

I have had the pleasure of working with some excellent tour guides in Việt Nam, but where history and heritage is concerned, they have all had to supplement their skills through self-study. Sadly, many others leave tourist school woefully under-equipped to interpret the fascinating story of their country to foreign visitors.

With Huế in particular, I also feel that its geography and topography is ideal for the development of independent travel, but I am aware that there’s still a certain amount of resistance to letting foreign travellers access certain heritage sites without a licensed guide. This is an issue all over Việt Nam, not just in Huế. The logic seems to be that a guidebook like mine, packed with historical data and with GPS coordinates and instructions on how to get to each site, is a potential threat to the livelihood of local tour guides, but I believe that there is room for both guided and independent travel.

What inspired you to begin the facebook group Saigon and Cholon Then and Now? Are you surprised by it’s popularity? Have there been any difficulties with the facebook group?

I started Saigon-Chợ Lớn Then & Now back in 2014 together with Brian Letwin of Saigoneer, mainly with the aim of encouraging interest in local history and highlighting the rapid pace of change in the built environment, particularly the ongoing loss of built heritage. Today it’s run by myself and Tom Hricko and we have not encountered any difficulties.

It’s great to see how it has become so popular, obviously Tom and I always try to ensure that it remains a non-political space. The same applies to the Đài Quan sát Di sản Sài Gòn – Saigon Heritage Observatory group, of which I was also one of the founders.

Another point about Saigon-Chợ Lớn Then & Now is that, compared to the availability of other old photographs, there is a disproportionately large resource of old images taken by US military personnel in the 1960s and early 1970s, so we always try to ensure that there is balance in the type of historical images used.

Interview Hue Grit Tour

Tim and His Plans for the Future

I lived in HCMC from 1995-1997 (after marrying my wife Nhung, a former classical ballet dancer whom I had met while her company was performing in Thailand), then after a few years in the UK we came back and lived in Hà Nội from 1999-2004 (where my daughter was born). We returned again in 2010, and have been here in HCMC ever since.I love the optimism and friendliness here, and my research gives me many opportunities to get to know so many people all around the country from all walks of life. Perhaps that’s what I enjoy most about the whole process of researching and writing books.I read that you’re planning to do an Exploring Danang and Hoi An for your next publication, what other projects do you have in mind or are currently working on?I am currently two thirds of the way through “Exploring Đà Nẵng and Hội An,” but it has been on hold for a year or so due to other work. At present I am completely rewriting Exploring Hồ Chí Minh City, which will be republished later this year in larger format and with much more information, including a new chapter on Biên Hòa. I also plan to write a guidebook on the Mekong Delta provinces, hope to begin the research this Summer.

A big thanks to Tim for taking the time to answer our questions. His new book ‘Exploring Hue’ can be found at stores around Vietnam.

Huế Then & Now Facebook group.

Saïgon Chợ Lớn Then & Now Facebook group.

Saigon Heritage Observatory Facebook group.

Tim’s website Historic Vietnam.

Tim works with tour guides on occasion to which you can get more information from here.

Hue Grit Tour

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.

Hue Food: 10 Local Dishes You Must Try When You’re in Hue, Vietnam

Dessert Vietnamese Hue

10 Hue Foods You Must Try

Regional specialty dishes are often overlooked by visitors travelling Vietnam. While pho and banh mi are world-renowned as Vietnamese food, there are some less-discovered creations awaiting your enjoyment in every province of the country. This is especially true for local Hue food. The city’s cultural heritage and long-standing affluence has produced foods that solely belong to the area yet celebrated around Vietnam. To spare you the search and mind-boggling google translations, here is a guide of 10 local Hue foods you have to try. Although the majority include meat, There are vegan options available around the city. If you want to pack as much in as possible during your time in Hue, why not take a deepdive into the food scene with a Hue Grit Food Tour? We not only show you where Hue’s best local food is but tell you how to eat it and the social-historical context of each dish. Check out our tripadvisor if to see we’re the best Hue food tour the city has to offer!

The Noodles, the Rice & the Meat

1. Bun Bo Hue: Hearty Noodle Meat Feast

noodles hue vietnam bun bo hue best food
/>If pho vacates it’s title of ‘most famous Vietnamese noodle dish’, I’m sure that bun bo hue would be next in line. A direct translation would be ‘beef (bo) vermicelli noodles (bun) from Hue’. Bun Bo Hue is a meat feast. It’s primary ingredients, beef brisket, oxtail, pig knuckles and congealed pig’s blood are stewed in a huge pot along with lemongrass and some chili then served with veggies and leafy greens. It might seem too much for one dish but foodies find themselves ordering more. Best eaten on colder days for central heating at the back of a packed hole in the wall.

2. Com Hen / Bun Hen: Majestic and Appetizing

Com Hen Hue Grit Tour Local Food
One of the more gracious entries to the local Hue food list. Com hen translates into baby mussels (hen) and rice (com). The dish’s supporting cast include fresh produce (starfruit, green mango, banana leaf,variety of herbs) and fried treats (pork rind, peanuts). Com hen can be served dry or wet depending on your preference. Chili relish, shrimp paste and fish sauce are the usual sauces to accompany com hen. vermicelli noodles (bun hen) is also an optional substitute for rice. One serving is usually too small for a whole meal, be ready to order more. Com hen has a unique spot in the culinary history of Vietnam. Read our article about the dish and it’s relationship with the city here. Can be eaten at any time of the day and any time of the year but best on a warm day with a cooling lemon juice.

3. Bun Thit Nuong Hue: Sassy Tropical Tongue-Melter

Bun Thut Nuong Hue Food Tour
Another tasty Hue noodle dish. Unlike bun bo hue, bun thit nuong is a food served dry and cool. When hot soup-based noodle dishes don’t work in sweltering heat, bun thit nuong is the answer. Grilled pork and vermicelli noodles topped with papaya, scallions, leafy greens, herbs and crushed peanuts. An optional tablespoon or two of fish sauce. The result is an explosion of flavors perfect for a light meal. Best eaten on a scorching summer day.

4. Nem Lui: Aromatic Grilled Beef Spring Rolls

pork skewers best food Hue Grit Tour

Grilled ground pork skewers are nothing new but when those skewers are made from lemongrass, nem lui holds itself up pretty well. Another Hue food now found nationwide. As with all Vietnamese street foods, Nem Lui isn’t a one-trick pony. Straight from the grill, you should take the meat off the skewer, wrap it in rice paper with greens (to make something akin to a spring roll) and dunk into it’s accompanying sauce before taking a bite. Only after taking these steps, you’ve reached Nem Lui nirvana. Best to eat as an evening snack, street food straight from the BBQ. Nem Lui can be found with the sense of smell, most BBQs selling Nem Lui waft the aromatic combination of lemongrass and grilled eat through the street. We can’t find a vegetarian Nem Lui in Hue but Lien Hoa has mecan on bamboo which is mildly similar and damn tasty.

The Banhs (savoury cakes)!

5. Banh Khoai: the Hue Pancake

Banh Khoai Vietnam Hue pancake
If you’ve tried banh xeo and loved it, banh khoai is it’s local hue food cousin and you don’t want to miss it. A rice-flour savoury pancake filled with pork, shrimp and beansprouts. Sometimes with quail eggs too! Served sizzling hot from the frying pan with a side of starfruit and local herbs. A spoonful of peanut sauce on top of the banh khoai adds the 4th dimension to the flavour-packed dish. Experiment with the quantities of the condiments to get the balance right. Unlike banh xeo, these aren’t rolled up. Eat them straight from the bowl. It’s a greasy affair so roll up your sleeves. Best eaten as a sundowner/evening snack.

6. Banh Beo Chen: Your Edible Beer Buddy

Hue Grit Tour Banh Beo Chen
Banh beo is quite simply a jelly-like savoury cake consisting of rice flour and tapioca. Topped with pork rind, grated shrimp and finely chopped onions. Servings usually come in batches meaning it’s best shared with a friend or two. When eating banh beo, drip some onion oil on top then dig it out from it’s dish with a spoon. Best eaten as a snack any time of the day. Always great with a shared conversation and a beer to compliment the spice.

7. Banh Ram It Hue: Devils’ Delight

Banh Ram It Hue Grit Tour
This one is a personal favourite. Banh ram it is a triple-layered circular stack of varying textures. At the cake’s base is a crispy, deep-fried rice cracker. Sitting above is a rice dumpling stuffed with pork and shrimp. Topped with scallions and minced shrimp. Not so different from banh beo chen but more filling, more crisp. All in bitesize pieces, that’s if you have a big mouth like me. Best eaten as a snack at any time of the year.

8. Banh Trang and Banh Ep: Vietnamese Pizza

Vietnamese Pizza Hue Grit Tour
Two local hue foods that are highly popular with students are banh ep and banh trang. Banh ep is a soft thin pancake with vegetables and spicy condiments to be rolled up into a spring roll and eaten fresh off the smoker. Banh Trang is a fried rice cracker topped with herbs luminous sauces and meat. People refer to this as Vietnamese pizza but prepared to be heart broken because this thing doesn’t include a doughy base or elaborate cheeses. The best street-food stalls selling banh ep and banh trang are usually sat beside student dormitories and open until very late at night. Although Hue claims it as it’s own, banh ep actually comes from nearby Thuan An beach.

The Sweet and Fruity

9. Va Tron: Exclusive Local Fruit

Vietnamese salad Hue Grit Tour
There aren’t many fruits and vegetables on this list of Hue foods but this entry makes up for it. Trai va (fig) is particularly special because it only grows in Hue and rarely outside of the region. It’s an unusual fruit since it doesn’t has the properties you would associate more with a vegetable. It’s freshy and savoury. Sometimes brown and sometimes pink. It is used in local salads, soups and even as a meat alternative. Lots of restaurants with larger menus have Va Tron. If you’re feeling unsure, go to the vegetarian address below. I dare you, carnivore.

10. Che & Chè Bột Lọc Thịt Heo Quay: Sweet Dessert for All the Family

che hue grit tour best local food in hue

The only Vietnamese pudding on this list. Che is not only a popular Vietnamese dessert but all over South East Asia. While Che comes in plenty of varieties, Hue has it’s own take on the regional favourite. Chè bột lọc thịt heo quay is a sweet flour dumpling topped with ginger and a porky surprise within! Certainly one of Hue’s stranger local foods. Nevertheless, if you’re not keen on the meaty addition to your dessert, try another of the many che varieties on offer. Some stands boast more than 20 varieties. If you’re a sweet-toothed kind of human being, challenge yourself to try them all. Me? I would rather take a cigarette to conclude a food gorge. Excuse the cough.

What Other Local Food is Out There?

Finding Hue restaurants is only half the challenge. Knowing how to eat them can be just as difficult! Want a guided culinary adventure? Join us on the Hue Grit Tour! We’re more than happy to show you around and how these foods are eaten!
These aren’t the only dishes available in Hue. In fact, this is just a cornerstone of the Hue culinary experience. If you’re an adventurer. Get out to the streets of Hue and dive deep into the endless amounts of restaurants and street food available.

Looking for a homely lunch? Check out Nha Cafe.

More inclined to some buddhist-leaning vegetarian food? Visit our list of best vegetarian restaurants in Hue.
There are also plenty of fantastic seafood restaurants. Others also serve some very bizarre dishes. Both of these will be covered in future articles.

Have you visited Hue already? Which foods did you try? Which dishes were unforgettable? Are there any you’re trying to forget? Comment below.

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.

 

Photos by Ana Fortuna.

Beach Of Hue: Thuan An Fishing Town. The Allure of the Sea

beach hue grit tour thuan an

Thuan An Beach for 2019

Thuan An is Hue’s closest beach. Around 15KM from the city centre, it isn’t as tourist-convenient as the beaches that serve Hoi An or Danang but it’s charm and the variety on offer makes it a worthy day trip. Thuan An is a small fishing village with a population of around 21,000. While a resort and some villas have cropped up, Thuan An has retained it’s strong cultural identity tied closely with the sea. Ultimately, this means cheap seafood, cheap beer, strips of sparsely-populated beach and an authentic culture to discover!
(more…)

Video: Hue, Vietnam. History and incredible drone shots by Citizens of Everywhere

Citizens of Everywhere Hue Grit Tour
Video Still: Tu Do Sports Stadium

Hue was recently visited by vloggers Citizens of Everywhere. The young travelling historians crafted together a bitesized 2-part mini series of Hue. In the series, Aaron and Adam detail some of the more unique facts and landmarks dotted around the city. There are also some top-quality drone shots in the video. Watch the video below!

Video: History Lessons in the Old Capital

Read more “Video: Hue, Vietnam. History and incredible drone shots by Citizens of Everywhere”

Competition May 2018: #SticktheGrit. Winners Announced!

competition hue grit tourFor May 2018, we at Hue Grit Tour had an instagram competition and the competition has come to a close. Considering the competition lasted an entire month, we only had five entries. Considering that we had five prizes on offer it’s great that every entry won! It also great to see entries include three different continents and four different countries. Downside is, it was a bloody PR disaster. Nevertheless, we had great fun organizing it and we learnt some valuable lessons. See below for the winning entries!

Read more “Competition May 2018: #SticktheGrit. Winners Announced!”