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One Day in Hue Vietnam: Best Things to Do in Hue in 1 Day

If you are a history buff or like to learn more about the recent history of Vietnam, Hue is the place you want to be.

Pronounced ‘hway’, Hue is an ancient city that was once Vietnam’s capital for 150 years. The city was the centre of the bloodiest battle and massacre during the Vietnam War. During the Battle of Hue, 80% of the city was destroyed. When you visit Hue, you will see how the city has restored the Imperial City and other famous temples.

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One Day in Hue Vietnam: what you need to know

Before you spend a day in Hue, take a look at some of these travel tips first:

  • Hue is a safe city for female solo travellers. I wandered around Hue alone during the day and night and didn’t have any issues.
  • Best time to visit Hue is during dry season.
  • Plan your solo trip to Hue with the following festivals and events:
    • Hue Festival (April/May/June every 2 years) – see live performances, Hue Poetry Festival, boat races, human chess, and kite flying contests throughout the week of this biannual celebration.
    • Wandering Souls Day (early September) – visit Buddhist shrines to see monks pray and perform ceremonies.

How to get to Hue Vietnam

Air

Many domestic and international flights arrive at Phi Bai International Airport, which is 14km south of Hue. From the airport, the best way to get into Hue City is by prearranged private transfer.

And if flying to Phi Bai International Airport is not an option, you could also fly to Danang International Airport, which is 95km south of Hue.

Train & Bus

Vietnam Railways and Private Railway companies offer train services across the country. They have soft sleepers, hard sleepers and soft seats. Book your ticket online or buy it from a local travel agency.

There are also long-distance sleeper buses from the north, like Hanoi, and the south, like Saigon. Prices and timing are very similar to the train schedule.

Bus transfer and private car transfer

Many shared bus transfer and private car transfer options exist if you travel within Central Vietnam. They travel between Hue to Hoi An (which includes stops at tourist sites like Hai Van PassLang Co Beach and Marble Mountain) or Da Nang to Hue.

Related Post – Everything you need to know about Hai Van Pass

How to get around Hue Vietnam

It is possible to walk around the ancient city of Hue. But you can always order a Grab bike (Grab car is not available in Hue) via the app if you feel the distances are too far.

Another fun way to get around Hue is with a cyclo. The cyclo rider might offer you a ride if you walk around Hue. Make sure to negotiate before you get on the cyclo.

Or you can rent a scooter. It is very affordable for visiting tourist sites outside the city centre. And don’t worry, traffic is not as crazy as Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.

1-Day Hue Itinerary Attractions Map

All the attractions in Hue are pinned on the interactive map below. Red pins are all the must-see Hue attractions and are part of my Hue 1 day itinerary, while the blue pins are other things to do in Hue if you have more time or want to switch up the itinerary.

I organized all these attractions into an efficient itinerary. All you have to do is follow the numbered pins and read the description for each attraction.

What to Do in Hue in One Day

1. Eat bun bo hue for breakfast

Start your day in Hue with a hearty breakfast by eating a bowl of Bun Bo Hue at Quán Cẩm – Bún Bò Huế.

Bun Bo Hue is Hue beef noodle soup, and it is made with beef, pork knuckles and vermicelli noodles in a beef broth. The traditional one includes pork blood. Try it if you are adventurous, or try one with a crab meatball (which is what I had). So good!

It is an awesome breakfast (but you can eat it for lunch and dinner too).

2. Hue Imperial City

Most people visit Hue and will visit the Hue Imperial City. A walled enclosed citadel houses the Imperial family shrines, gardens and villas. The Imperial City is 2 by 2 kilometres and is surrounded by a moat and perimeter wall that is about 2.5km in length.

Even though the Royal Palace suffered from the effects of three wars, the city of Hue puts a lot of effort into restoring and preserving these important historical sites. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993 and is one of the best highlights in Hue.

The Imperial City is quite big and has many gates, temples, inner courts, gardens and pavilions. Exploring all of them could take a while, so I listed several highlights you shouldn’t miss. This list follows the suggested walking route (in the pamphlet provided when you purchase your ticket).

Imperial Residence, the Imperial City, and the Forbidden Purple City and related royal palaces.

  • Stage of Flag – Ky Day (Hue Flag Tower) the national flag of Vietnam flies on top of the tower that was constructed in 1807.
  • Meridian Gate or Ngo Mon Gate – the main gate is located at the south side of the Imperial City
  • Nine Dynastic Urns – each urn carved the proper name symbolizing the emperors after their death.
  • Cung Dien ThoDien Tho Palace. the largest palace system in the Forbidden City that still remains today. It was formerly the home of the mothers and grandmothers of the Nguyen emperors. Over 20 large and small architectural works of various style are spread across Dien Tho Palace’s areas of about 17,500 sqm. 
  • Kien Trung PalacePurple Forbidden City. Red corridor in the Forbidden Purple City. The heart of Hue Imperial City. It includes many structures within the innermost citadel
    • Khon Thai Palace
    • Dien Can Chanh or Can Chanh Palace. this is where the emperors governed the court, welcomed foreign ambassadors, and hosted royal banquets. with a platform approximately one meter high and an area of approximately 1,000 sqm, this palace is the largest and most exquisite wooden construction in Hue Historic Citadel. 
  • Thai Hoa Palace – at the heart of the historic citadel, it serves as the venue for many rituals of the Nguyen Dynasty. Undergone several renovations but the architectural layout and decorations are still well preserved. 
  • Thai Binh Pavilion – detailed mosaics

Address: Thanh Pho Hue, Thua Thien Hue | Hours: 7:30am-5pm | Admission: 200k VND

3. Try Salt Coffee at Afternoon Coffee

There is a really beautiful old coffee house near the north exit of the Imperial City. The coffee house is in a two-story house with traditional wood furniture.

Grab a seat at the second floor facing the Imperial City and try salt coffee, a special coffee originated in Hue. It combines regular coffee with a frothy cream made with fermented milk and condensed milk. Mix well and enjoy.

Address: 44 Dang Thai Than, Thuan Thanh, Thanh pho Hue, Thua Thien Hue | Hours: 7am-10pm

4-6. Visit the Tombs of Tombs of Emperor Minh Mang, Khai Dinh and Tu Duc

Hue has seven royal tombs. And out of the seven, the Tombs of Emperor Minh Mang, Tu Duc, and Khai Dinh are the most impressive.

  • Mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang – see impressive architecture and serene gardens at the junction of two tributaries of the Perfume River surrounded by rolling hills
  • Khai Dinh Tomb – see mosaics, statues and the blended French and Vietnamese architectural style at the final resting place for Emperor Khai Dinh in the Chau Mountains
  • Tu Duc Tomb – lush gardens, scenic lake, it is the final resting place for Emperor Tu Duc. See the intricate design and well-preserved pavilions.

It costs 420k VND to see Imperial City and two of the three tombs. Or pay 530k VND to see all four sites.

And there are several ways to see the royal tombs outside of the city centre of Hue:

  1. Book a car tour – many tours include these three tombs and also Thien Mu Pagoda.
  2. Rent a scooter and visit the tombs on your own – scoot around Hue and see the tombs at your own pace.
  3. Hire a bike and driver to take you around – many bike drivers (regular drivers or Grab drivers) will offer to take you around to see the tombs.
  4. Take a dragon boat tour – a 5-hour boat ride includes 6 stops along the Perfume River. I was offered 350k VND for this trip. Go to the harbour and boat owners will offer you different deals. Make sure you negotiate the price before getting on the boat.

7. Dong Ba Market

Dong Ba Market is

As Anthony Bourdain calls it “the greatest soup in the world.”

Address: Phu Hoa, Thanh Pho Hue, Thua Thien Hue | Hours: 3am-11pm | Admission: free

8. Boat ride on the Perfume River

Take a boat cruise on Perfume River from Bến thuyền Tòa Khâm.

Go to the harbour and vendors will approach you and will invite you on the boat.

100k VND for 1 hour boat ride or 350k VND for 5 hour boat tour including 6 stops along the way.

Address: 49 Le Loi, Phu Hoi, Thanh Pho Hue, Thua Thien Hue | Hours: 6:30am-11pm

9. Try local food at Madam Thu Restaurant

Food in Hue plays an important role in local culture and lifestyle. When you are in Hue, have dinner at Madam Thu Restaurant. It is an exceptional restaurant with all the unique Vietnamese dishes you can only find in Hue.

Madam Thu Restaurant offers a platter of nine unique starters that are known in Hue. It is the perfect dish for a solo traveller. Here’s what you will try:

  1. Banh Khoai – Hue crispy stuffed rice pancake
  2. Nem Lui – Hue grilled pork skewers with lemongrass
  3. Banh Uot Thit Nuong – grilled pork wrapped in wet rice paper
  4. Banh Nam – flat steamed milky rice dumpling with shrimp and pork
  5. Banh Loc – clear crystal shrimp and pork dumpling
  6. Banh Beo – steamed rice pancakes with shrimp and pork
  7. Banh Ram It – sticky rice dumpling
  8. Cuon Tom Thit – fresh spring rolls with pork and shrimp
  9. Nem Ran – deep-fried spring rolls

Address: 45 Vo Thi Sau, Phu Hoi, Thanh pho Hue, Thua Thien Hue | Hours: 8am-10:30pm

10. Hue Night Walking Street

On Friday and Saturday nights from 7 to 11pm, the streets around Hue Night Walking Street are closed for pedestrians only. Vendors set up stalls on the streets where you can buy trinkets and bars extend their bar further into the street.

Address: Chu Van An, Phu Hoi, Thanh pho Hue, Thua Thien Hue | Hours: 24 hours | Admission: free

Other attractions for your Hue itinerary

While Hue Imperial City is definitely the highlight of the city, there are other things you can do and see around Hue. If you want to switch up the itinerary or stay an extra day, here are a few more things to do in Hue:

  1. Thien Mu Pagoda or Heavenly Lady – the 7-story Buddhist temple overlooking the Perfume River. It was built in 1601 and it is the tallest pagoda in Vietnam
  2. Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities (50k VND) –
  3. Tomb of Emperor Gia Long (150k VND) –
  4. Tomb of Emperor Dong Khanh (100k VND) –
  5. Tomb of Emperor Thieu Tri (50k VND) –
  6. Thuy Tien Lake Abandoned Water Park

Where to stay in Hue as a solo traveller

If you stay overnight in Hue or will be in the city for a few days only, I highly recommend staying at a hotel east of the Perfume River and near Hue night walking street. Here are some places I stayed while I was in Hue:

  • The Chum Boutique ($) – a small boutique hotel with 12 eclectic rooms. Many eateries and coffee shops around and close to Hue night walking street.
  • Alba Spa Hotel ($$) – a contemporary hotel close to walking street. Comfortable room and free use of jacuzzi pools at the spa.
  • Senna Hue Hotel ($$$) – I didn’t stay here and wish I did. The 5-star hotel looks luxurious and also close to walking street.

Looking for tours around Hue? Check out some of these experiences:

Is Hue worth visiting?

I feel like many people skip Hue because it is not as well known as other cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Hoi An. And these are typically the cities that people visit.

But I really enjoyed Hue. I like smaller cities where you can walk around everywhere and experience the local culture. Even though some of the tourist spots are outside of the city and would require some type of transportation, it is still pretty easy to get around even if you don’t drive or travelling on your own.

Hue is such an underrated city that has so much charm and culture. So I hope you will consider adding Hue to your itinerary. Whether you stay overnight or visiting the city as a day trip, I think it’s definitely worth visiting.

Let me know in the comments below if you find this itinerary helpful or if you have any questions about visiting Hue.

Thank you for reading my Hue itinerary

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Vietnam:

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 20+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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