June 21, 2020

City Guide: See the Best of Hue in 3 Days Without a Guide

In recent years, Vietnam has amazed people with how it has risen from its war-torn days into becoming a strong Southeast Asian economy and a top tourist destination. More and more cities of this majestic country have become favourite destinations of travellers from all over the world who are in search of a paradise experience that’s inexpensive and historical at the same time. Among these cities is the beautiful Hue.

Hue served as the imperial capital until 1945, which makes it an important part of the country’s history. It was the political, cultural, and religious centre of the country known for its historic values. The city is revered until now and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What to see in Hue

Hue: landmark in Hue with a man on a motorbike

Hue brims with a lot of stories and buildings that have played a role in Vietnamese history. Its being the former Royal Capital has left the city with tombs, pagodas, and complexes of monuments that bring in tourists from all over the world. But history is not all that you can find in Hue because it also features some of the best and wildly beautiful beaches in Vietnam such as the Thuan An and Lang Co beaches. You can also find mineral hot springs like Thanh Tan in Phong An.

Best time to visit Hue

To determine the best time of the year to visit Hue, you should consider its weather. And since it is located in a tropical monsoon zone, it is one of the country’s cities with the most rainfall. However, the rainiest months fall from September to January with the heaviest rains in November. Most tourists find March and April as the best times to visit Hue.

Hue has endless options for sightseeing but if you want to just cover the most important sights in the city and spend the rest of your Vietnam vacation in other cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, then, three days is good enough. There are many ways to explore it but one thing we can assure you is that you can wander around Hue without a guide if you just know where to go. Thus, we recommend this 3-day itinerary that shows you the best in Hue without a guide. Check it out!

Day 1 Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue Citadel and Army Museum, Street Scenes, An Dinh Palace, Dong Ba Market, and Forbidden City

hue Imperial Citadel

Just like visiting other cities, it’s important not to waste any time and start off early in the morning. We suggest starting at 7 o’clock in the morning when not a lot of locals are out in the streets. Rent a bike or hire a cyclo, a traditional mode of transportation in most Vietnamese cities, and go around the enticing streets of the Imperial City. Make a stop at Tịnh Tâm lake Tịnh Tâm lake, Hiển Nhơn gate, Nguyễn Văn Trỗi park, and the twin ponds of Tấn Miếu and Võ Sanh.

Then, proceed to the Thien Mu Pagoda, which is about 6 miles away, by crossing the Tran Tien Bridge. You’ll be delighted to see one of the most beautiful and atmospheric pagodas in all of Vietnam. One of the stories that make this pagoda famous is that of the monk who travelled to Saigon in 1963. He burned himself in a busy street and was known to have come from this pagoda.

Hue: Thien Mu Pagoda from a distance

From here, head back east to the citadel where you can spend about two hours exploring the ruins. Make sure to venture out into the complex’s edges to see original buildings in decline. Then, it’s time to hop back on your bike and pedal your way to the Army Museum. You can’t expect the place to fully represent the wars Hue had been in, especially during the Vietnam War, but it is certainly worth visiting whenever in Hue.

For lunch, we suggest going to Lac Thien Restaurant located near the Citadel’s main entrance that serves delicious Vietnamese dishes.

Fill your afternoon with more stops as you visit the An Dinh Palace where you can find the Royal fine Arts Museum. The Palace was commissioned by Emperor Khai Dinh and served as the residence of Emperor Bao Dai.

For your last stop, head to the Forbidden City. As it turns out, Beijing is not the only one with a Forbidden City. In Hue, no civilian was allowed to enter it. It’s a beautiful walled city sitting inside a huge fortified citadel complex right by the Perfume River banks. Several bridges link the citadel to the rest of the city and a large moat running all the way around its perimeter is visible.

Hue: Forbidden City gate

Of course, you cannot miss visiting the Dong Ba Market where you can buy souvenirs and haggle with prices with the vendors.

Hue: Dong Ba Market street food

Day 2 Tombs of Hue and the Perfume River, Tomb of Gia Long, Tomb of Minh Mang, Tomb of Tu Duc, and  Tomb of Khai Dinh

Nice shot of the Tomb of Gia Long

Spend the second day of your excursion exploring the beautiful tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty, which are scattered in the southern part of Hue.

Your first stop should be the Tomb of Gia Long who was the first emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. It is located some 20 kilometres to the south, right on the banks of the Perfume River. In the middle, you can find the mausoleum of the King and Queen Thua Thien, an area of worship on the right, and the Bi Dinh on the left.

Then, see next the Tomb of Minh Mang located about 12 kilometres to the southwest of Hue. The tomb sits on Cam Khe Mountain and is the only tomb built after the death of a sovereign. It is an architectural complex of 40 works that’s dominated by rivers and mountains. You will love its development, which includes a lotus lake, floral garden, common house, and a pine forest.

Hue: Tomb of Minh Mang stairs

Continue the tomb excursion by visiting next the Tomb of Tu Duc. You’ll be amazed by its architectural complex that includes the Tu Du Cemetery. You wouldn’t believe how imposing this tomb is that it became the second Imperial City.

Tomb of Tu Duc on the lake

The last but not any less beautiful is the Tomb of Khai Dinh. From afar, you’ll think it’s a European castle. Its architecture brings together the features of contemporary, ancient, oriental, and western fine art.

Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh from afar

Day 3 Lang Co Beach

Hue: white sand beach of Lang Co with an umbrella

You deserve to unwind and relax in paradise on your third day in Vietnam. We highly suggest going to Lang Co Beach, which is located in the centre of Vietnam. Get ready to enjoy 10 kilometres of a totally virgin beach with a magnificent panorama. Your senses will surely be captured by the tropical forests on the mountains and the marsh Lep An in the area.

There are so many things you can do on Lang Co aside from swimming. Enjoy playing volleyball, scuba diving, fishing, and tasting delicious shellfish dishes. You can also see boulders, lakes, cracks, torrents, streams, and everything ‘wild’ here.

Of course, you can also choose other beaches in Hue such as the Thuan An Beach.

Hue is definitely a great place to explore. You won’t have any regrets visiting it. The best part is that you don’t even have to hire a guide to explore it. All you need are your camera and the openness to see the beautiful world of Hue.

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