2 Days in Hue Vietnam

Hue is not as famous as Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, but historically it was the home of the Vietnamese Emperors. Because of this, its a worthwhile stop for any history buff traveling to Vietnam.

If you’re following our suggested Vietnam Itinerary, you’l arrive in Hue on the overnight train from Hanoi around 9 AM.

Day 1: Arriving in Hue

The city of Hue is quite small, situated all along the river. To see the sights, you can walk, hire a motorbike or hire a cyclo (rickshaw driven by a person on a bicycle) or take a cruise along the river which stops at many of the popular spots.

Hue Imperial Palace
Stroll up and across the river to visit the Imperial Palace. You’ll need a couple of hours to see everything in this massive, well-preserved palace. Try to map out your plan of attack when you arrive so that you can make a loop through the square area. Be sure to visit the restored section where the Emperor’s mother lived to see how the sections of the palace area were divided into multiple mini-towns.

Captured US military vehicles
Whether or not you want to visit one of the many museums, you have the option of checking out some the captured US military vehicles right outside of the palace walls. The helicopters, tanks and planes are on display on the side of the road. I found this to be one of the more prominent displays of the country’s history and, as US citizen, found it to be thought provoking and worthwhile to visit.

Thien Mu Pagaoda

After your palace visit (there are also mini-cars that you can hire to drive you throughout the palace if you’re not up to the walk), grab a ride up the river to the Thien Mu Pagaoda. This is typically shown as the most famous landmark in Hue. Overlooking the river, check out the carvings on the entry gate and their interesting (and in some cases, sort of funny) expressions.

Happy Hour!
After your day of walking head back toward the city center and get to Happy Hour. The DMZ Bar has some decent deals for Happy Hour and some great people watching from the tables set out front. There are a lot of small bars and restaurants in this area to try something new as well.

Day 2: The Tombs around Hue

Today is for exploring the area outside of Hue. Rent a motorbike for the day for $6 (you can also rent a motorbike that has a driver or a private car if you prefer). Your hotel should be able to set you up with a rental but there are also many shops along the streets of Hue to find one.

Minh Mang Tomb
Head south of the city to visit the tomb of Minh Mang, about a 30 minute ride. This massive tomb is has some intricate and beautiful landscaping that makes it a must-visit. The ground are a great place to quietly enjoy a coffee. Because it is spaciously laid out, even when there are a lot of tourists it still feels peaceful.

Khai Dinh Tomb
Head back north to the tomb of Khai Dinh. This only about a 10-15 minute ride. This tomb is grandiose in scale and contains some incredible carvings and paintings within the tomb. It is difficult to grasp just how imposing the structure is from pictures. Built into the side of a hill, as you climb the steps the tomb’s detail and scale don’t make their full impression until you’re standing beside one of the huge obeslisks.

Tu Duc Tomb
From here, you’ll head on to Tu Duc Tomb, about a 30-minute drive. This shrine is being refurbished but still contains a bit of the original combined with sections that look fairly new. Walking the grounds here, over the tiny bridges and amongst the shrines is quite incredible. Hopefully you visit when the flowers are in bloom and are able to take in the full experience.

Tiger Arena
When you head back to Hue you can stop off to see the Tiger Arena if you’d like. Because its undergoing restoration in 2018, you can really only walk around the outside. It is an interesting sight because it is where they used to put a tiger and an elephant into the arena to fight each other, which seems a bit crazy. However, these days there’s not much to actually see when you visit there.

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