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Best way to spend 24 hours in Hue – What to do & see?

Best way to spend 24 hours in Hue – What to do & see?

Home Travel Blog Best way to spend 24 hours in Hue – What to do & see?

Best way to spend 24 hours in Hue – What to do & see?

If you have only 24 hours in Hue, don’t worry! This charming Vietnamese city has plenty to offer, and with a well-planned itinerary, you can cover most of the must-see attractions. This guide provides a step-by-step plan to help you make the most out of your Hue day tour. Whether you’re traveling solo or with friends, this Hue in one day itinerary will ensure you experience the best of the city.

24 Hours in Hue – What to Do and See?

Start a day exploring the charms of Hue Imperial City

Begin your day early by heading to the Hue Imperial City, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This vast complex was the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty and is filled with palaces, temples, walls, and gates. Start your day early to beat the crowds and the heat. The Imperial City opens at 8 AM, and arriving at this time will give you a peaceful and unhurried start to your exploration.

The Imperial City is divided into several key sections, each with its own unique attractions. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure you don’t miss any highlights:

  • The Flag Tower: Your journey begins at the imposing Flag Tower, the tallest flagpole in Vietnam, standing as a proud symbol of Hue.
  • Noon Gate (Ngo Mon Gate): Walk through the main entrance to the Imperial City. This grand gate, reserved for the emperor, is a stunning example of ancient Vietnamese architecture.
  • Thai Hoa Palace: Continue your tour to the Thai Hoa Palace, also known as the Palace of Supreme Harmony. This was the ceremonial hall where the Nguyen emperors held court. Marvel at the intricate wooden columns and the throne room.
  • Forbidden Purple City: Next, head to the Forbidden Purple City, the emperor’s private residence. Although heavily damaged during the wars, it still offers a glimpse into the royal lifestyle.
hue imperial city mazin gate
Transfer to the past time at Hue Imperial Citadel

Starting your Hue in one-day journey with the Imperial City sets the stage for a day filled with history and culture. As you walk through this ancient citadel, you’ll gain a deep appreciation for the grandeur and complexity of Vietnam’s last royal dynasty.

Take a dragon boat on the Perfume River and stop at Thien Mu Pagoda

After exploring the majestic Hue Imperial City, the next step in your 24 hours in Hue itinerary is to take a serene dragon boat ride along the Perfume River. This tranquil journey not only offers stunning riverside views but also leads you to one of Hue’s most iconic landmarks, the Thien Mu Pagoda. It’s an ideal way to balance the day’s exploration with moments of peace and reflection.

Boarding the Dragon Boat

The dragon boats are a popular and traditional way to experience the Perfume River. These boats, adorned with dragon motifs, offer a comfortable and scenic ride.

  • Where to board: Head to the Toa Kham Boat Station near the Truong Tien Bridge. This is the primary departure point for dragon boat tours.
  • Departure times: Boats typically start early, around 9 AM, but it’s best to check with your hotel or a local tour operator for exact schedules and to book your tickets in advance.
Dragon boat to Thien Mu Pagoda
Dragon boat to Thien Mu Pagoda

Enjoying the Perfume River

Once aboard, sit back and relax as you glide along the gentle waters of the Perfume River. The boat ride is a fantastic way to enjoy the natural beauty and observe daily life along the riverbanks.

  • Highlights along the way:
    • Lush greenery and traditional Vietnamese houses
    • Riverside temples and pagodas
    • Local fishermen and their boats

Arriving at Thien Mu Pagoda

After approximately 30 minutes on the river, you’ll arrive at the Thien Mu Pagoda. This seven-story pagoda is one of the oldest and most significant religious sites in Vietnam. Take your time to explore the serene surroundings of the pagoda. Enjoy the well-maintained gardens filled with bonsai trees and flowers. Visit the car relic that transported Thich Quang Duc to Saigon, where he famously self-immolated in protest in 1963.

Tips to note: As with all religious sites, it’s important to dress modestly. Shoulders and knees should be covered. While photography is allowed, be respectful of worshippers and avoid using flash inside the shrine.

Have lunch in a local restaurant

After your morning of exploration at the Hue Imperial City and a peaceful boat ride to Thien Mu Pagoda, it’s time to satisfy your hunger with a delicious lunch. Hue offers a variety of dining options, from bustling street food stalls to elegant eateries. For a truly authentic experience, choose a local restaurant known for its traditional dishes.

Top Recommendations:

  • Quan Hanh: Located at 11 Pho Duc Chinh Street, this popular restaurant is known for its tasty bun bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup) and banh beo (water fern cakes).
  • Les Jardins de La Carambole: Situated at 32 Dang Tran Con Street, this restaurant offers a beautiful colonial setting and a mix of Vietnamese and French cuisine.
 Ancient Hue restaurant
Grab a lunch at Ancient Hue restaurant

What to Order

Hue’s cuisine is characterized by its balance of flavors and use of fresh ingredients. Here are some must-try dishes:

  • Bun Bo Hue: This iconic spicy beef noodle soup is a must-try. It’s made with beef, lemongrass, and a rich, flavorful broth.
  • Banh Khoai: These crispy pancakes are filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts, and are usually served with a side of fresh herbs and a tangy dipping sauce.
  • Com Hen: A unique dish made with baby clams, rice, and an array of fresh herbs and spices.
  • Nem Lui: Grilled pork skewers served with rice paper and a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs.
Try Hue cuisine
Try Hue cuisine

Visit the Tu Duc’s tomb – One of the most famous Hue attractions

This Vietnamese imperial tomb, built for the Nguyen Emperor Tu Duc, offers visitors a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle and architectural prowess of the Nguyen Dynasty. Here’s how to make the most of your visit to this iconic site during your one day in Hue.

Getting to Tu Duc’s Tomb

The tomb is located about 5 kilometers southeast of Hue city center, nestled amidst lush greenery and tranquil surroundings. Here’s how to reach it:

  • By motorbike or taxi: The most convenient way to reach Tu Duc’s Tomb is by motorbike or taxi. The journey takes approximately 15-20 minutes from the city center.
  • Organized tours: Many local tour operators offer guided tours to Tu Duc’s Tomb as part of their Hue day tour packages.

Exploring the Tomb Complex

Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by the grand entrance gate leading to the tomb complex. Here are some highlights and features you can expect to see:

  • Xung Khiem Pavilion: This pavilion was used by Tu Duc as a retreat for reading and writing poetry. It offers scenic views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Honours Pavilion: Visit this structure to see the altar where Tu Duc’s spirit is worshipped, along with offerings of food and incense.
  • Luu Khiem Lake: Take a stroll around the serene lake, which is dotted with lotus flowers and surrounded by lush vegetation.
Tu Duc timb
The tranquility at Tu Duc tomb

Pop into incense village

Whether you’re a history buff, a culture enthusiast, or simply seeking a memorable experience during your Hue day tour, don’t miss the chance to pop into the incense village and discover the secrets behind this age-old craft. Here’s how to experience the sights and scents of the incense village:

Finding the village

The incense village is located just outside the city center of Hue, making it easily accessible for visitors. Here’s how to get there:

  • By motorbike or taxi: The most convenient way to reach the incense village is by motorbike or taxi. The journey takes approximately 15-20 minutes from the city center.
  • Organized tours: Some local tour operators offer guided tours to the incense village as part of their Hue day tour packages.

Exploring the village

Upon arriving at the incense village, you’ll be greeted by the sight of artisans at work, shaping and molding incense sticks using traditional techniques. Here’s what you can expect to see and do:

  • Witnessing the Production Process: Take a stroll through the village and observe the various stages of incense production, from mixing the fragrant ingredients to rolling and drying the sticks.
  • Hands-on Experience: Some workshops allow visitors to try their hand at making incense sticks under the guidance of skilled artisans. It’s a fun and educational activity for all ages.
  • Shopping for Souvenirs: Browse the village’s shops and stalls to purchase locally made incense sticks, as well as other traditional crafts and souvenirs to take home as mementos of your visit.
  • Cultural Insights: Engage with the local artisans and learn about the significance of incense in Vietnamese culture and religious practices.
Local artisan at incense village
Local artisan at incense village

Visit Dong Ba market

Dong Ba Market, a vibrant hub of activity where you can experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of this historic city. From fresh produce to local delicacies and handmade crafts, this market will offer a sensory feast for you. Located along the northern bank of the Perfume River, it is easily accessible from the city center. Here’s how to get there:

  • By foot: If you’re staying in the city center, you can easily walk to Dong Ba Market. It’s located near the Truong Tien Bridge, a landmark in Hue.
  • By motorbike or taxi: Alternatively, you can take a short motorbike or taxi ride to the market if you prefer not to walk.

Upon arriving at Dong Ba Market, you’ll be greeted by a bustling scene of vendors selling a wide array of goods. Start your exploration by wandering through the fresh produce section, where vendors sell a colorful assortment of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Hungry shoppers can satisfy their cravings at one of the many food stalls and restaurants scattered throughout the market. Sample local specialties like bun bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup) or banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) for a taste of authentic Hue cuisine.

Don’t forget to explore the stalls selling handicrafts, textiles, and souvenirs. From handmade ceramics to traditional conical hats (non la), you’ll find plenty of unique treasures to take home as mementos of your visit.

Dong Ba market
Stroll for a walk at Dong Ba market

Tips for visitors: Don’t be afraid to negotiate prices with vendors, especially when purchasing souvenirs or non-perishable items. While some vendors may accept credit cards, it’s always a good idea to carry cash in smaller denominations for easier transactions.

A little cafe chilling at night

When the sun sets over Hue, the city turns into a beautiful blend of lights and shadows, creating a perfect atmosphere for a relaxed evening at a café. Whether you want to unwind after a day of sightseeing or find a cozy spot to experience the city’s nightlife, Hue has many charming cafes to choose from. Here’s how to find the perfect spot:

  • Exploring the City Center: Wander through the streets of the city center, where you’ll find an array of cafes tucked away in historic buildings and alleyways.
  • Checking Reviews: Consult online reviews or ask locals for recommendations to discover hidden gems and popular hangouts.
  • Following the Crowd: Look for cafes with a bustling atmosphere and plenty of patrons, as these are often indicative of good food and ambiance.

Some cafes in Hue have live music in the evenings, which adds a nice touch to your cafe visit. You can pick a cafe with outdoor seating to enjoy the city views and see the landmarks lit up at night.

Chill out at Mat Biec coffee
Chill out at Mat Biec coffee

Frequently asked questions

Is 1 day in Hue enough?

While Hue may be a small city, it has a lot of culture and history to offer. You can see the main sights like the Imperial City, Thien Mu Pagoda, and Tu Duc’s Tomb, and also try the local food and relax at cafes, all in just 24 hours. Spending more time would be nice, but one day in Hue is enough to experience its charm and beauty.

Read more: What to do in Hue? 6 Hidden Gems & Tips to explore the authentic Hue

Where to go next?

After spending 24 hours in Hue, there are several options for your next destination. If you’re continuing your journey through Vietnam, consider visiting the nearby ancient town of Hoi An, known for its lantern-lit streets and historic architecture. Alternatively, you can head south to the vibrant city of Da Nang, home to beautiful beaches and modern attractions like the Golden Bridge. For those short on time, Hue day tours from Hoi An are also available, allowing you to explore both cities in one trip.

How to get to Hoi An from Hue?

Traveling from Hue to Hoi An is relatively straightforward, with several transportation options available:

  • By Bus: The most budget-friendly option is to take a bus from Hue to Hoi An. Buses depart regularly from the Hue Bus Station and take approximately 4-5 hours to reach Hoi An.
  • By Train: Another popular option is to take the train from Hue to Da Nang, and then transfer to a bus or taxi to Hoi An. Trains offer scenic views of the coastline and are more comfortable than buses, although they can be slightly more expensive.
  • By Private Transfer: For convenience and comfort, consider booking a private transfer from Hue to Hoi An. This option allows you to travel at your own pace and stop at attractions along the way.

Spending just 24 hours in Hue might seem short, but with this carefully crafted itinerary, you can really get to know this historic city. You’ll have the chance to visit ancient royal sites and immerse yourself in the lively local culture, making your day in Hue a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you’re planning a quick visit or looking for a Hue day tour from Hoi An, this guide ensures you won’t miss the highlights.

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