Only 1 Day in Hue? : What is The Perfect Itinerary for experience and exploring temples & tombs

Guides and tips from Uncle ‘Hello’ and Must See in Vietnam Team


Once the historic capital city of Vietnam, Hue remains one of the country’s most interesting cities to visit. A fraction of the size of cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Hue isn’t as hectic, but still has plenty to offer visitors. This city is an essential stop on any Vietnam itinerary because of its centuries worth of cultural and historical significance. (UNESCO HERITAGE)

Though it’s an important destination in Vietnam, you don’t need a long time to see the sights. The best things to do in Hue tend to revolve around the city’s imperial history, with countless temples and tombs to explore and experience. With our Hue itinerary you’ll know exactly what to do in Hue in 1 day to make the most of your time. Afterwards, you’ll feel like you’ve really seen Hue and be ready to move on to your next great destination in Vietnam.

Recommendation: Hue can also be visited on a day trip from Da Nang or from Hoi An, so if you are short on time and are not heading further north, consider booking a guided tour instead of DIYing it. With a guided day tour you will get to see all of the best attractions in Hue without having to worry about transportation or finding accommodation for the night.

Best Time to Visit Hue

Weather may be the biggest factor when working out the best time to visit Hue, as Vietnam is a tropical country which experiences a rainy season. Rather than worrying about crowds of tourists, you really want to keep the weather in mind when planning your trip.

Thanks to its climate, Hue is known for being cooler and wetter than many other places in Vietnam. Winter months like February and March can often have quite cool weather, while December and January are considerably wetter. Neither of those forecasts are really ideal for being outdoors sightseeing. For the warmest and driest weather, you’ll want to visit between April and August, although it can get quite hot in summer much like elsewhere in Vietnam.

The worst time to visit is between September and November. At this time of year Hue and the rest of Central Vietnam experiences their heaviest rainfall and occasional typhoons. That kind of weather has the potential to ruin any hopes you have of sightseeing.

How to Get Around Hue

When visiting Hue you’re going to need to move around a bit to get yourself to the city’s different attractions. While you won’t have too much problem walking about the sights within the old Imperial City, the rest of Hue is a different story. After all, walking for hours in heat, humidity, rain, or all three is not much fun.

Beautiful woman with Vietnam culture traditional dress ,Grand stairs in Imperial Khai Dinh Tomb in Hue, Vietnam

To reach attractions around Hue that are beyond walking distance, you have a few options open to you. One is to simply rent a bicycle and cycle to the temples and tombs you want to see. But keep in mind that Hue has some hills along with plenty of traffic and that humid climate, so cycling is not for the faint-hearted. 

A less strenuous alternative is to hire a motorbike or taxi. If you hire a driver for the day, be sure to agree on prices clearly up front, on one off taxi trips you should insist on the meter being on.

For the tombs in particular, many people decide to hop aboard a half-day tour, as it really simplifies getting between each of them.saravutpics / shutterstock.com

A good option, as suggested by Uncle ‘Hello’ is to lease a Cyclo … the cyclists are very friendly and speak good English

Where to Stay in Hue

Figuring out accommodation is often the first thing travelers do when they decide to go somewhere, but that means understanding the layout of the destination. Thankfully, understanding where to stay in Hue couldn’t be easier as the layout of the city is quite straightforward.

Most visitors will find themselves staying in the city center opposite the Hue Citadel. Therefore, the best places to stay in Hue are ones that not only put you close to the river but are going to make you feel comfortable and ready to explore.

Finding affordable accommodation in Hue won’t be a problem. Uncle ‘Hello’ has recommended us for a great stay in Hue Central, to stay at the Hong Thien Ruby Hotel This three star hotel is located in a small quiet alley in the ‘Western District’. The owners are so nice and very warm … and it is very clean and good value for money. Tell the owner that you found them from Must See In Vietnam. 😉

Another approach you might want to consider is Airbnb, as it too has affordable places to stay on offer.

For more accommodation options in Hue check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.

The Perfect 1-Day Hue Itinerary

You may only need 1 day in Hue to see the main sights, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to experience. After you’ve been around the city to all the best places to visit in Hue, there’s more to find in its lesser-known corners and beyond. Yes, from Hue it’s possible to explore all the other exciting destinations that call this part of Vietnam home. But to start, there are the many different parts of the Imperial Citadel and Imperial Tombs.

Uncle ‘Hello’ the best and most Friendly Tourist Guide in Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue.

With that crucial bit of travel advice taken care of, let’s move along to our Hue travel itinerary which will show you how to see the best of Hue in one day.

Structures of Hue Citadel Complex

Imperial City

There’s no other way to start a visit to Hue than with its most important landmark, the Đại Nội Citadel. Dwarfing the modern city of Hue, this vast citadel was from where the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty ruled from 1802 to 1945. As the capital of the Vietnamese Empire, you can imagine there are some pretty major landmarks to be found behind the walls of the Imperial City.wawri / shutterstock.com

People in traditional costumes walk under an archway in the Imperial City of Hue, Vietnam.

Before you get to any of the sights within the Imperial City, the first thing you come across is the incredible citadel fortifications that protected it. After passing several protective moats, you’ll walk past the high-flying Vietnamese flag and enter the mighty Meridian Gate. While it’s only the main gate to the citadel, the gate and its upper pavilion set the tone for this UNESCO world heritage site. Further in, structures like the Cung Diên Thọ Palace and Hien Nhon Gate help impress the beauty and importance of this spot.

Sadly, the conflicts of the 20th century in Vietnam did their fare share of damage to the city and some landmarks are no more, while others bear obvious scars from the wars. Very little of places like the Forbidden Purple City are left to be seen today. Being such a big site, we’ve broken down the main attractions separately below.Chris Howey / shutterstock.com

To Mieu (Temple of the Generations), Citadel, Hue, Vietnam

To Mieu Temple Complex

One of the most monumental attractions in the citadel is the complex around the To Mieu temple which has beautiful gates and quiet courtyards around it. The temple itself is dedicated to ten emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty, with the rooms inside displaying their portraits and assorted personal items. There are also nine dynastic urns, meant to represent the power of the first nine emperors, which run to the nearby three-tiered Hien Lam Pavilion.Jakrit Jiraratwaro / shutterstock.com

Hue Royal Museum of Antiquities

The citadel is also home to a museum that covers Vietnam’s imperial past and the art of that era. Called the Hue Royal Museum of Antiquities, its other name which is the Huế Museum of Royal Fine Arts may be more appropriate as it mostly focuses on artifacts from the 19th century onwards. Still, this free museum features exhibits on the city’s imperial history during the Nguyen dynasty, while also displaying art of the Champa people.

Hue Museum of Royal Fine Arts. a famous Historical site in Hue, Vietnam
Thien Mu Pagoda, historic temple in the city of Hue in Vietnam. Phuoc Duyen Tower.

https://cf025d9b9d0667f0ba3ab846475728e9.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlbeibaoke / shutterstock.com

Thien Mu Pagoda

Moving away from the Imperial City and along the bank of the Perfume River, we reach the ever-popular Thien Mu Pagoda. Best known for its seven story pagoda, the Pagoda of the Celestial Lady as it translates, is a historic Buddhist temple. Climbing the stairs that lead up from the river, you’re treated to nice views of the river and the city from the pagoda gardens. As should be expected, there are plenty of images and statues of Buddha here, but also a large and centuries-old stone turtle with a carved tablet on it. Despite the importance of the imperial citadel, it is this pagoda that people see as the symbol of Hue.Cezary Wojtkowski / shutterstock.com

omb of Khai Dinh with Manadarin honur guard in Hue, Vietnam

Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh

The city of Hue is also surrounded by quite a number of imperial tombs, where emperors from the Nguyen Dynasty have been buried. Among the many tombs to past emperors, three are the most commonly visited, with the Tomb of Khải Định perhaps the most popular. This mausoleum to the twelfth Emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty was completed in 1931 and is lauded for its mix of Western and Eastern architectural styles.S-F / shutterstock.com

With multiple terraces, you must climb up staircases to see the tomb, going past dragon sculptures and intimidating stone statues that stand guard. The trip is worth it though when you see the costly and luxurious design of the tomb’s interior. With elaborate glass and porcelain decorations all over, this kind of over the top design is hard to put into words.

Interior of Tomb of Khai Dinh in Hue, Vietnam
Minh Lau pavilion and Trung Dao bridge at Minh Mang Emperor Tomb in Hue, Vietnam

https://cf025d9b9d0667f0ba3ab846475728e9.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.htmlmaodoltee / shutterstock.com

Tomb of Minh Mang

The largest and farthest of the three is the immense walled tomb for Emperor Minh Mang. Not only are there courtyards, temples, and pavilions, but also lakes and woodland which give the place a very natural and soothing atmosphere. Despite its large scale, there is plenty of detail to be admired in the gardens and temples which make up this tomb. Interestingly, it only took three years to build the mausoleum, even with all the buildings, bridges, and gardens.Oleskaus / shutterstock.com

Tomb of Tu Duc in Hue, Vietnam

Tomb of Tu Duc

The last of the three big tombs is the final resting place of Emperor Tự Đức, finished in 1867. Before he was buried here, the emperor would often frequent the complex and work from there instead of the imperial citadel. Visiting the Tomb of Tự Đức, you do get to learn more about the man, particularly the 100+ wives and courtesans that he had. In fact, there are temples in the complex dedicated to some of them. In some ways this is the most modest of the three mausoleums, but quite intriguing nevertheless.worradirek / shutterstock.com

Have More than 24 Hours in Hue?

Just because you can visit each of the main attractions in Hue in a single day, doesn’t mean you can’t stay longer. Some of Hue’s smaller, lesser-known attractions won’t fit in your first day’s itinerary, plus you have Vietnam’s central coast on your doorstep. Basically, you won’t have any problems finding things to do if you stick around. To help with that, here are a few ideas if you have more than 24 hours in Hue.

Tu Hieu Pagoda, an ancient yet still functioning buddhist temple and one of the tourist attraction in Hue, Vietnam

1. Other Temples of Hue

Even though we’ve covered a couple of the better known temples in Hue, there are many more to be explored. Often, the temples that lie further from the city center are the ones that receive fewer visitors, so these temples can be a nice break from all the tourists.

The two main temples that we’ve yet to mention are the Tu Hieu Pagoda and Huyen Tran Princess Temple. The Tu Hieu Pagoda has been an active temple since 1843 with monks still residing there to this day. Overlooking the Perfume river, you’re able to enjoy not only the pagoda here but the surrounding scenery of the area.

Then there’s the Huyen Tran Princess Temple, a delightfully scenic temple complex. Home to a monastery, multiple shrines and orchards, there’s plenty to see here. But of course, the main attraction is the vibrant temple to Huyen Tran which rests at the top of a long staircase, lined on either side by dragons.marie martin / shutterstock.com

That’s an overview of Hue in a day. If you’re looking for other places to visit in Da Nang, Hoi An, Hui an other places in Vietnam, then don’t miss out.

Beautiful Ladies wearing traditional Costumes
Uncle ‘Hello’ is taking pictures / videos of this One Day Experience !

Our sources for our articles are from Must See in Vietnam Reporters, Local-Insider www.Local-Insider.com, Vietnam Expresshttps://www.E.VNExpress.net, https://www.the crazy tourist.com, https://www.roadaffair.com/ and the No 1 Vietnam Travellers Podcast website https://www.whataboutvietnam.com

If you are planning a trip in Da Nang, Hoi An & Hue, we warmly suggest you to contact Uncle ‘Hello’ for an unforgettable Experience > UncleHelloVietnam@Gmail.com

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