A day off in Hue of a local one

Strolling Bao Vinh Town in Hue city. Duc Hoang & Thang Nguyen Quang/ The Hue of Hue

Open your eyes at 5:30 a.m and hop on your beloved bike, it's time to stroll the ancient city, have a cup of warm homemade soymilk, and head up to the riverside’s trial to greet the sun. That is how a young local person starts their day off in Hue.

Here are the rest, check them out t for some clues about the local vibe!

Huong River and Thien Mu Pagoda. Photo by Hiroyuki Oki/Designboom

  1. First off, cycling or walking alongside the river to Thien Mu at 5:30 am

And please don’t miss the freshness of the early morning breeze inside the old citadel. It’s ideal if you live inside the imperial, if not, pass by a take a stroll, and you’ll spot both the lively and peacefulness of the local life at once. Promise that the experience will delight all the senses, no matter how many times you've experienced it. The beautiful scenes of the old relics, of the hundred years old trees, of the smiles from the locals, are for the eyes to be pleased. Your nose will sense the smells of morning dew, thousands of trees and flowers, early bun bo, hot nut milk, and freshly burned incense. Your ears will hear the sound of birds and early crickets, the voices of the vendors, and the bike sound as a local cycling pass by.

Da Vien Bridge, near the riverside walking trail. Photo by Quinny Quynh

Once arrived at the riverside trail (it’s located on the Northern bank of the river, the side with the royal palace), you can travel along the bank from Truong Tien Bridge to Thien Mu. You don't have to worry about the traffic on the main road because this trail is made only for joggers, runners, and cyclists. The morning river will be full of cool breeze, a glorious sunrise, and as many green colors as you could imagine. The green comes from the river reflections, the bed of grass, and all types of trees and flowers. It surely is among the freshest ways to start your day off.

Note that the city got public bicycles for rent in the major spots across the center, you can check the details information via this link.

Bun bo Hue at a street vendor. Photo by The Hue of Hue

  1. Have your breakfast at 7 a.m. at a street food vendor

We as the locals have breakfast from around 7 a.m to 8 a.m every day. On a day off, the time is slightly later than on working ones, but it’s not much of a difference. After watching the sunrise and cycling alongside Huong River, your stomach should be screaming as you smell the tempting smell of the morning food vendors sitting on the pavement of the small road inside and surrounding the citadel. The food options range from the famous Bun Bo Hue, Banh Mi, Sticky rice (the meat one and the vegan options, which are corn sticky rice, green/black beans sticky rice, Gac fruit sticky rice), mussel rice and noodles, Banh Canh (Thick noodle soup), Banh Uot (steamed thin rice-flour pancakes).

If you want to pick a vendor, go to Chi Lang street, just outside the citadel, you will find plenty of options for your morning meal. For more information on how to eat like a local, check this out!

An early local cafe opens at 4 a.m on Chi Lang Street. Photo by Tom Hoang

  1. Coming to the local cafes - 2 hours

After breakfast, it’s coffee time! You have two choices for coffee time, first off is to have coffee before 5a.m at a vendor cafe that opens for those who have to wake up early for work. Coming to this early cafe, expect to see mostly elderly people who have early morning exercise routines or those who work in the major markets or ports before dawn. You can find those vendor cafes on Huynh Thuc Khang Street, Pham Hong Thai Street, Vy Da village (Nguyen Sinh Cung Street), Chi Lang Street, Phan Dinh Phung, and Phan Chu Trinh street. Don’t be surprised if you find cafes opened for exclusive groups of people, such as cafes for Red-whiskered owners to come and show their pets, cafes for chess players, cafes for bicyclists, cafes for antique’s owners, or cafes for artists. It might sound not very suitable for those who don't have such hobbits to come to the place, but Hue people will be nice and very open talking to you (in Vietnamese) if you are truly interested and respect their hobbles!

The tranquil space at Chuon Chuon cafe Photo by Tiem Ca Phe Chuon Chuon

Most cafes open around 7 a.m, you can pick whatever you find convenient or suit you. Some of the most recommended ones that offer good drinks, coffees, and services are T Roaster, Hue T Roaster, Nha Ben Ho Cafe, and Chuon Chuon Cafe. Coming to those cafes, you will have the chance to see young generations of Hue enjoying their day off with friends, which is a fun way to experience the local lifestyle, too. If you want to know both the old and young streams of life in this land, it’s recommended to go to both types of cafes mentioned above.

A family-like course in Hue. Photo by 1986’s Bistro & Cafe

  1. Lunch —rice/vegetarian restaurants with family

Lunch is often the time for resting with family in Hue. Because most people in Hue live with their family, lunchtime is home time, when all members gather to have a good chat while enjoying home-cook meals. It’s ideal if you have locals as friends, so you can come to their house and have a warm-hearted family dining time. If not, no problem, you can come to one of these restaurants to enjoy the home-cook vibes in Hue: Chạn Restaurant, Thanh Lieu Vegetarian Restaurant, and San May Vegetarian.

Green space makes tombs like Dong Khanh Tomb a great noon resting spot. Photo by The Hue of Hue

  1. Noon rest/ napping

Sure that after taking lunch, Hue locals have a good napping time before doing anything in the afternoon. The rest time might take up to one or two hours of sleep. Because of the early morning routine, it’s required for the locals to have their noon rest. If you have your homestay/hotel rooms, it’s nice to go back and rest for an hour. If not fonding of coming back to the house, picnicing at some of the places like hills to enjoy nature is also a thing that a local do. The cool places to spend your noon time are Vong Canh Hill, Gia Long toms, Dong Khanh Tomb, the Purple Forbidden Palace, and Tu Hieu Pagoda. Those places offer quiet atmospheres, and plenty of tree shades, and the listed locations are worth visiting if you want to have your spiritual or cultural exploration in Hue. For more information on the best heritages of Hue, check out this article!

Leafy Dumplings, a must-try dish in Hue. Photo by Trip Zone

  1. Snacking time

For locals, their afternoon starts with light snacks before heading up to exciting activities. Being long known as the land of food, Hue is heaven for foodies with very affordable and delicious street food. Some light snacks that are fond by most locals are special leafy dumplings Beo, Nam, Loc; the signature noodle, Bun hen; and the Vietnamese famous, Banh My. Besides the savory dishes, you can also have some sweet treats, such as sweet soups. Signature sweet soups in Hue are beans, coconut wrapped in casava flour, corn, banana with coconut, and grass jelly. You can check this article for the locations of those dishes.

Hai Duong Beach. Photo by Bien Hai Duong

  1. Swim on the Huong River or chill on Hue's pristine beaches and watch the sunset

Close to nature is what locals bear in everyday living. Thus, most of the local leisure activities revolve around the parks, the hills, the lakes, the beaches, the mountains, and the river. The favorite daily activity that is easy to do within the city is cycling/walking alongside the river and taking a dip in it. Some people swim, some paddle, some float for relaxing, and all of them wear life jackets. Watching the sunset from the river is a fantastic experience, which is very different from the land, which makes this activity even more worth trying. You can swim in most parts of the river from Da Vien bridge to upstream. It’s safe to swim where others people also do. Notice that you must have your life jackets, which can be easily bought or rented at the swimming spots.

If locals want a small getaway, they ride to the local beach and enjoy their sunset there. The nearest ones are Thuan An and Hai Duong beach. However, Hue has so many pristine beaches to visit, you just have to ride/drive a bit further. If you only have a couple of hours on the beach, it’s recommended to go to Thuan An or Hai Duong, which are approx 20 km from the city center.

Bun Bo Hue at a night vendor. Photo by The Hue of Hue.

  1. Have dinner with friends

It’s time for vibrant nightlife! But first, a local must recharge their energy for the long night ahead. The day off is an ideal opportunity for buddies gathering, thus we use this occasion to have a yummy dinner with friends. Then, together we'll go to a cozy live-music bar.

The best options for dinner can be Bun Bo Hue, Banh Canh (Thick noodle soup), Bun Thit Nuong (Grilled pork vermicelli), and Rice dishes. More information on where to eat and what to eat in Hue are in this article.

It’s also fun if you prep your meal beforehand, and eat your dinner right on the river bank, the hill, or the beach from where you watched the sunset.

  1. Nightlife party/ chill

The way some locals chill the night is not like what the young people do in the big city or the west. Some of us choose a gentle night vibe with jazz or soft rock music performances and some glasses of cocktails, wine, spirits, or beers.

Sweet bars in Hue that offer good live music are Be Cafe and Cochincung Bar. For more vibrant music, check out Brown Eyes.

Late night Banh Mi. Photo by The Hue of Hue

  1. Late night snack

To end the night, let’s go back to the street with your pals and enjoy some yummy late-night snacks. There are around three to four hubs for those who love Banh Mi, sweet soups, Bun Bo Hue, Sticky rice, local leafy dumplings, sweet potato, and corns grilled, and many more hot dishes like noodles. The places that offer diverse choices of night food are the walking street beside Trang Tien Bridge, in front of Dong Ba market, Truong Dinh street, and in front of the Thua Thien Hue Province Post Office on Hoang Hoa Tham street. For more details on the food guide in Hue, check out this article!

There it is, a day off like a local! Wish you have a chance to soon experience the best things in this land.