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1 day in Hue, Vietnam

1 day in Hue, Vietnam

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When we visited Vietnam, we (unfortunately) had a tight itinerary. We only had 1 day in Hue – but this was enough even to glimpse the depths of Hue’s history.

We heard from other travelers that Hue was a little boring. After all, compared to big cities like Saigon or Hanoi, Hue is quiet in comparison. But not every city in Vietnam can be bustling like Hanoi or Saigon!

We found Hue to be peaceful and filled with ancient history. And while it wasn’t our favorite place in Vietnam (that title belongs to Hoi An), Hue is still worthy of including in your Vietnam Itinerary!

1 day in Hue - imperial city 2

Why visit Hue?

Hue (pronounced “hway”) was the former capital of Vietnam during the Nguyễn dynasty.

When we think of Vietnam today, we might think of crazy traffic, rice fields or the nón lá (conical straw hats). What we probably don’t think of is palaces, grand dynasties or powerful emperors.

Visiting Hue will change that for you, and add a little bit of royalty (and history) to your trip!

As the formal capital of Vietnam, Hue is filled with centuries of history and has tombs, and it’s own imperial city. If you want to learn more about Vietnam’s history or if you love architecture, I would highly recommend a visit to Hue (even if it’s just for 1 day!)

 

About the itinerary: 1 day in Hue

Now, before we get started, the order of your itinerary depends on what is most convenient for you. For us, our itinerary order was dependent upon the weather.

We visited Hue in November, which meant it was raining (remember flooding can happen here!) so the order of the sites was hugely dependent on whether it was raining.

Visiting the tombs involves a lot of walking outdoors, so we did this during the half of the day that wasn’t forecasted for rain, and we sought shade when it was raining by visiting the Imperial City. Here, there is undercover shade like the theatre or other exhibits.

I’m going to list this itinerary in the order we used – but feel free to flip it around if the weather isn’t playing nice!

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1 day in Hue: Morning

If your hotel doesn’t include breakfast (or even if it does!) Start the day with a traditional breakfast like Bún bò Huế.

1 day in Hue - bun bo hue

Once you’ve filled up, next is tomb “hopping”: yes, I am aware this sounds slightly morbid, please excuse me 😉

1. Hue tombs: Tomb of Khai Dinh

Khải Định was the Emperor of Vietnam (from 1916). He was not known for being particularly popular with the people of Vietnam – mainly due to his close work with the French government at the time (due to France’s occupation of Vietnam).

Constructed in anticipation of Khải Định’s death, you can see European architectural influences here (including some glass mosaic work)

The tomb is located on a hill with lots of steps, so make sure you bring shoes you’re comfortable walking in!

For this reason, we chose to visit when it wasn’t raining – you wouldn’t want to lose your footing here!

Address: Khải Định, Thủy Bằng, Hương Thủy, Thừa Thiên Huế 530000, Vietnam
Opening hours: 7 am – 5:30 pm
Entry fee: 20,000 VND / 0.85 USD (for single ticket)
Duration: 30 min – 1 hr

1 day in Hue - Khai Dinh Tomb

2. Hue Tombs: Tomb of Tu Duc

Emporer Tu Duc’s tomb is probably one of the grandest in Vietnam. There was so much labor and extra taxation involved in the building of this tomb that there was even an attempted coup!

Despite the copious amount of blood, sweat, and tears that went into the building of the tomb, it is an incredibly peaceful place to visit.

There’s even a lake here with a small island for the emperor to go fishing (Tu Duc lived in the buildings here while he was alive).

After all that work, Emporer Tu Duc did not end up being buried here – after his death; he was buried in secret in Hue. The 200 servants that were involved in his burial were all beheaded to keep his burial place secret from potential robbers.

Address: 17/69 Lê Ngô Cát, Thủy Xuân, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
Opening hours: 7 am – 5:30 pm
Entry fee: 20,000 VND / 0.85 USD (for single ticket)
Duration: 1 – 2 hrs

1 day in Hue - Tu Duc tomb building

3. Hue Tombs: Tomb of Minh Mang

Minh Mang was the second emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty, and his tomb was planned during his reign, but built by his successor, Thieu Tri. The tomb is known for its forest setting.

Address: QL49, Hương Thọ, Hương Trà, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
Opening hours: 7 am – 5:30 pm
Entry fee: 20,000 VND / 0.85 USD (for single ticket)
Duration: 1 – 2 hrs

1 day in Hue: Afternoon

After some lunch, it’s time to visit the Imperial City and the Thien Mu Pagoda.

Thien Mu Pagoda (or “Pagoda of the Celestial Lady”)

This 7-story pagoda was built by Emperor Thieu Tri in 1844 and sits on the Hà Khê hill. The grounds also have statues of large turtles which are said to symbolize longevity.

Address: Hương Hòa, Thành phố Huế, Hương Hòa Thành phố Huế Thừa Thiên Huế 532761, Vietnam
Opening hours: 8 am – 6 pm
Entry fee: free
Duration: 30 min – 1hr

1 day in Hue - thien mu pagoda

Imperial City of Hue (The Citadel)

If you have a short period in Hue, this should be at the top of your Hue itinerary.

The Imperial City was one of our favorite places to visit in Hue. The Imperial City is UNESCO World Heritage listed, making it a beautiful glimpse into the past emperors of Vietnam.

1 day in Hue - imperial city

Many visitors compare the Imperial City to the Forbidden City in Beijing. And while the Forbidden City is grander and flashier, the Imperial City is incredibly peaceful to visit. It lacks the large crowds that flock to the Forbidden City and this allows you to spend time admiring the architecture.

We spent a few hours here, exploring the various parts of the palace – make sure you check out the theatre (you need to remove your shoes before entering)

Address: Thành phố Huế, Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam
Opening hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm / Thursdays 8 am – 10 pm
Entry fee: 150,000 VND / 6.45 USD
Duration: 2 – 3 hrs

1 day in Hue - imperial city theatre

1 day in Hue: Evening 

Have a break back at your hotel – after all you’ve earned it!

But when you’re ready for dinner, make sure you avoid Phố Đi Bộ (Hué Night Walking Street) which is filled with tourist-focused businesses and western restaurants and bars.

If you’re after something local, I highly recommend Hanh Restaurant, where both tourists and locals alike rub shoulders over a Vietnamese meal. If you’re at a loss of what to order (we were!) make sure you get the tasting menu for 120,000 VND (5.16 USD) per person. The tasting menu is excellent value (you get 5 plates to share) and included local and Vietnamese favorites.

Address: 11 Phó Đức Chính, Phú Hội, Tp. Huế, Phú Hội, Vietnam
Opening hours: 9 am – 9:30 pm

1 day in Hue - hanh

Shopping in Hue

While we didn’t have enough time to explore the local shopping boutiques, we did have time to visit the Healing the Wounded Heart shop.

Healing the Wounded Heart sells products made by local disabled artisans and sells homewares (like baskets placemats) and jewelry.

Some of the products are also made by recycled products (like cans or bottle labels). Shopping here is a great way to support local artisans and buy products made from recycled materials!

Address: 23 Võ Thị Sáu, Phú Hội, Thành phố Huế, Thừa Thiên Huế, Vietnam
Opening hours: 7 am – 9 pm

 

Where to stay in Hue

We stayed at the Scarlett Boutique Hotel, which despite being an incredibly beautiful hotel, was very affordable. It was a convenient place to stay – walking distance to everything we needed (including Phố Đi Bộ, Hué Night Walking Street) but quiet enough that you couldn’t hear traffic in the evenings.

The hotel also offers complimentary breakfast – you get to select whatever you want from a buffet spread they have (mix of Asian and Western options) and select something from their made-to-order menu. We got each ordered a steaming bowl of the famous Bún bò Huế (Vietnamese rice noodle soup and beef). Check out TripAdvisor reviews here

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1 day in Hue - hotel

 

Getting around Hue:

The Imperial City is accessible on foot from Hue – it’s about a 15min walk from the main city area.

Most of Hue’s tombs are not walking distance from the city (unless you want to walk over an hour in humid weather!)

The best way to visit them is either via bicycle or motorbike (if your skill set allows) or via car.

1 day in Hue - Tu Duc tomb 2

When we were in Hue, we used Hue Friendly Cars – a local private car/guide service (note: this post is not sponsored) We had a great experience and used them again to travel the Hai Van Pass from Hue to Hoi An. Their cars are clean; their drivers are friendly (hence the name!) and affordable. If you want to read more, check out their TripAdvisor reviews here.

Note: Hue does not have a ride share service (unlike Saigon or Hanoi where rideshare apps like “Grab” are available). To get around you will need to organize a taxi or pre-book a tour guide. If you are worried about getting ripped off, your best bet is to organize this with your hotel.

We loved our time in Hue – it was a great stop on our short 2 weeks in Vietnam.

If you love history and architecture, Hue is the perfect addition to your Vietnam itinerary.

I’d love to hear from you – are you visiting Hue?

How long are you visiting for?

Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

Psst – are you planning a trip to Vietnam? Here are some helpful links for you…

Heading to Hue, Vietnam?  Book your accommodation now!
Don’t forget to pick up a guidebook: this is my favorite Vietnam guidebook
Want more Vietnam tips?
 Check out my posts here

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