Hue is one of the few cities in Vietnam that has a romantic, slow living pace. When people talk about Hue, they usually think of a peaceful town, where there is not much to see but the old citadels and many tombs of Vietnamese emperors. However, Hue has more than just tombs to offer! From the white sand beaches of Lang Co to the romantic Tam Giang Lagoon, there will always be something to explore. This article is designed to provide you an itinerary for one day in Hue.
Many people who travel around Vietnam by bike or car usually choose Hue as one of their destinations because it’s located in the middle of Vietnam. Besides, who wouldn’t want to miss the peaceful atmosphere of a historical city? Once you enter Hue, you will see the calm of this city reflected in the way the locals communicate with you. They always smile and talk with a soft voice, which makes them sound like they’re singing. I think this can be explained by the history and culture of the city. As Hue used to be a Citadel of Vietnam, the royal way of behaving still influences the people.
Not to mention that this city is famous for having good food. I’m talking about the significant bun bo Hue (spicy beef noodle soup), the colorful sweet soup, and banh beo! Check out this article here for a comprehensive look at the food you should not miss. Well, it’s easy to say that you can always find food in every corner of Hue, which makes the food-loving traveler like me feel like I’m in paradise! Here is how I make the most of my 24 hours in Hue.
7:00 AM – Grab a Banh Mi and Café for Breakfast
I can’t start my day without drinking a cup of Vietnamese coffee and a banh mi, especially when I have to wake up early! It was lucky because at the beginning of the alley where my hostel was located, there was a cool coffee shop called Root Coffee. The creative decor of their shop immediately drawn me in: they took advantage of the broken motorbikes to decorate the room. If you love motorbikes, you will want to move to this place forever! There is an open-air zone on Ground floor and 2nd floor upstairs. I love their Vietnamese coffee because it is not too sweet and it smells fantastic. My cup of coffee costed only 15k ($0.7).
Next to Root Coffee is banh mi Dong Ba. This small shop is always packed with many people. The owner said that her customers are mainly officers and students. They need something they can eat quickly to get enough energy for the morning. Anyway, the taste of banh mi at Dong Ba is an explosion! The harmony of savory pate, smooth butter, fatty meat, and a little chilly spice is exactly how I want to begin every morning. I had 2 banh mi that morning! I can confidentially say that Banh Mi Dong Ba is the best banh mi in Hue.
Address: 43 Ngo Quyen, Vinh Ninh, Hue
Business hours: 7 am – 10 pm
Phone number: 090 351 86 86
Price: 8.000 – 30.000 VND ($0.4 – $1.37)
Banh Mi Dong Ba
Address: 45 Ngo Quyen, Vinh Ninh, Hue
Business hours: 6 am – 11 am and 3 pm – 8 pm
Phone number: 0934938586
Price: 10.000 – 15.000 VND ($0.4 – $0.9)
8 AM – 8:30 AM – Visit Thien Mu Pagoda
(Pagoda of the Celestial Lady)
After having breakfast, it’s time to drive to Thien Mu Pagoda. It takes around 15 minutes to drive from Root Coffee to Thien Mu pagoda (the distance is 5.5 kilometers).
Vietnamese people usually say that: “If you come to Hue without visiting Thien Mu Pagoda, it means you have never been to Hue.” On the northern bank of the Perfume River, Linh Mu Pagoda is the soul and symbol of Hue. The pagoda was built on top of Ha Khe Hill in 1601 in honor of the sacred Celestial Lady, to pray for the prosperity of the country. Many people come here to pray for their love life because rumor has that their wish will come true! 😉 Besides the historical significance, the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady has stunning architecture and beautiful views of the Perfume River.
- Dress appropriately when visiting the pagoda: skirts or pants that cover the knees for woman and pants for men. Sleeveless tops are not allowed! So if you still want to wear your tank top, I recommend bringing a jacket.
- Bring small change in order to pay for the parking lot.
- There is a boat tour that takes you to this pagoda from the other bank of the river. If you stay longer than 1 day, maybe you should consider asking your hostel to help you reserve a tour.
Thien Mu Pagoda
Address: Kim Long, Huong Hoa, Hue
Opening hours: Early morning till 5 pm
Parking fee: 3000 VND ($0.14)
9 AM – 9:30 AM – Visit the Tomb of Khai Dinh Emperor
Visiting the royal tombs is another thing you shouldn’t miss when traveling to Hue. Since I didn’t have much time in the city myself, I randomly chose to stop by a tomb on my way to Lang Co beach. Turns out it was my best decision ever! Khai Dinh tomb is the one I chose because it’s on the way from Thien Mu Pagoda to Lang Co beach.
If architecture is something you are passionate about, you will be amazed by the beauty of Khai Dinh tomb. This tomb is the final resting place of King Khai Dinh. Compared to other tombs in Hue, Khai Dinh tomb is much smaller (177 x 48.5 meters). But it has the most unique design and it took a long time to build.
My first impression of the tomb was “This place is rich and luxurious.” The interior of the tomb is unique because its architecture is a fusion of East and West. It harmonizes class and modernity. The most amazing thing about this tomb is the main temple, where you will be overwhelmed by the detailed and colorful mosaics and engravings of dragons on the wall and the ceiling.
Khai Dinh Tomb
Address: Khai Dinh, Thuy Bang, Huong Thuy
Opening hours: 7am – 5pm
Entrance ticket: 100.000 VND ($4.6)
11:30 AM – 1:30 PM – Swim at Lang Co beach
Finally, it’s beach time! Don’t forget to pack your swimsuits as we will head to one of the most attractive beaches in Vietnam. 67 kilometers away from the city center is an empty white sand beach. It’s a great idea to spend a few hours relaxing on the beach, swimming in the jade blue ocean, reading a good book, or sunbathing as you also think about Hue’s ancient tombs. The beach is always empty, it gives me the feeling that I own the white sand. Doesn’t that sound appealing? There are some restaurants that sell good seafood at a reasonable price. You can have lunch with some good dishes while listening to the ocean’s songs.
- It is a bit tricky to find the way that leads to the beach since Google map tells you to go through somebody’s house. You should ask the locals to show you the way. If you drive from Hue, the beach is on your left side.
- In case no one understands English, you can ask: “Bien Lang Co o dau?”. They will guide you.
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM – Visit the Imperial City of Hue
After the lunch break, it’s time to go back to the city to visit the Old Citadel. The complex has around 140 buildings, which will take you around 3 hours to explore every corner of its maze. The Citadel was where the royal family of the Nguyen dynasty lived and conducted administrative work. In 1804, Gia Long King decided to build the new palace and citadel. It was in use until the abdication of King Bao Dai in 1945, which ended the monarchy in Vietnam.
I decided to spend just one hour in this citadel. My strategy was to pick out some popular sites such as Ngo Mon – one of the four main gates, Thai Hoa Palace, Dai Trieu Nghi yard – where the King hosted the important ceremonies, and the Mieu – where the Vietnamese worship the kings of the dynasty. Walking around the Citadel to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of a once capital of Vietnam is truly memorizing.
Hue Old Citadel
– Summer: 6:30 AM – 5:30 PM
– Winter: 7 AM – 5 PM
– Adult: 150.000 VND ($7)
– Children: 30.000 VND ($1.36)
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM – Watching the Sunset in Tam Giang Lagoon (optional)
Sunset on Tam Giang Lagoon provides one of the most romantic moments, to the point that it has become immortalized in many poems and songs. Many friends have told me to go there to “Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset” like a lyric of Taylor Swift’s song. Therefore, I bought some snacks and drinks and drove 30 kilometers to the lagoon, even though I was a little tired after a long day full of activities.
But the amazing scenery was worth my effort. It was the first time ever in my life that I saw a purple sunset with a good view from Tam Giang Bridge. The magnificent spectacle got me feeling like the scene was a masterpiece by a talented artist who spent his whole day to playing with watercolors and perfecting his brushstrokes. If you have time, try to take a slow boat tour with a local and go net-fishing with them. Have some dinner with freshly caught fish there before you head back to Hue city.
6:30 PM – Relaxing with a Massage
There is nothing better than treating yourself with body massage after a tiring day. It’s time to take advantage of the good massage services in Hue. However, you should be careful when choosing a reliable spa because the dark truth is there are many places that offer “extra services”. Here are some places I recommend:
Hue Shining Spa (Serene Shining Hotel)
Address: 57/5 Nguyen Cong Tru street, Hue City
Phone: 0234 3935 887
Business hours: 10:00 AM – 22:00 PM
Price range: From 345,000 VND ($16)
Cherish Spa (Cherish Hotel)
Address: 59 Ben Nghe, Phu Hoi Ward, Hue City
Phone: 0234 3943 943
Business hours: 10:00 AM – 22:00 PM
Price range: From 331,000 VND ($15)
Pansee Sense Spa (Gold Hotel Hue)
Address: 28 Ba Trieu, Phu Hoi, Hue City
Phone: 0943 321 077
Business hours: 10 AM – 11 PM
Price range: Start from 440,000 VND ($20)
7:30 PM – Late Dinner (Bun Bo Hue) and Explore the City by Night
Hue spicy soup is one of the world-famous Vietnamese foods. It will be one of your biggest regrets if you miss tasting it here. The hot and a little spicy bowl of noodles contain a lot of protein and some greens to please your taste buds and boost your energy. After your meal, you can wander around to experience mysterious Hue by night. If you don’t know where to find bun bo Hue, take a look at this article for a few suggestions!
From my personal experience, I think I was a little rushed to spend just one day in Hue. There were so many things I wished to see but I only had a little time to explore. Therefore, I recommend staying for a couple more days! However, I hope you find this article helpful and that you make wonderful memories in Hue city. Don’t forget to share your Hue experience in the comments below!
If you enjoyed reading this article and would like some more fun info about what to see, do and eat (and a bunch of interesting cafes!) in Vietnam, follow us at the Christina’s blog!