What to do in Hue in 1 or 2 days?
- on Oct 7, 2019       By: BN
Hue, the former capital of the Nguyen Lords, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is one of Vietnam's most captivating destinations. In 1 or 2 days you can discover all the cultural and natural treasures of the ancient Vietnamese feudal city nestled in an exceptional natural setting.
Visit Hue in 1 day
Admittedly, one day in Hue might not be enough to truly soak up everything it has to offer, but you can still have a pretty good overview of the last royal capital of Vietnam. During this day of discovery, a visit to the old imperial citadel is truly essential. The emblem of excellence of Hue that sheltered many emperors of the Nguyen dynasty offers travellers a very beautiful historical and cultural heritage experience. Built according to the principles of geomancy, geography and astrology, the whole place exudes an incredible natural harmony. You will notice the military defence techniques based on the stronghold model of Vauban. Hue citadel is part of the ensemble of monuments of Hue which were registered on the world heritage list of UNESCO. It takes at least two hours to visit, and despite having suffered during the Vietnam War, including being subject to American bombing, Hue citadel remains one of the most beautiful cultural jewels in Vietnam.
By bike, by car or on a cruise on the Perfume River, you can go to the other cultural sites of Hue: the Thien Mu pagoda or pagoda of the Celestial Lady which stands proudly on the hill of Ha Khe, on the left bank of the Perfume River, 5 km from the old imperial city. The Thien Mu pagoda, the most famous and the oldest in Hue attracts visitors with its high octagonal tower of 7 floors evoking the 7 reincarnations of Buddha. It was founded in 1601 on the ruins of a temple of Cham origin dedicated to Shiva by the lord Nguyen Hoang of the Le dynasty. The entire Thien Mu pagoda stretches for over two hectares on a promontory with magnificent views of the countryside and the mountains surrounding the famous Perfume River.
From the Celestial Lady's pagoda, you can then explore the Tu Duc Royal Tomb, the farthest tomb from the city of Hue. The tomb of Emperor Tu Duc lies in a narrow valley, in the middle of an immense pine forest, 8 km from the centre of Hue, on the eastern bank of the Perfume River. The place also served as a country residence where the emperor liked to compose poems especially to express his faults and regrets. He loved to go there to walk around and forgot the worries of national affairs and his family problems. The Tu Duc tomb is famous for its beauty and its enchanting natural setting that reflects the romanticism of the ruler.
If you have time, you can also visit one of the many garden houses. They are home to the old feudal mandarins with a history of about 200 years. This is a unique form of ancient garden with a harmonious combination between the architecture of the housing and the surrounding garden. In the evening, you can attend a performance of Hue’s royal court music. It’s a fascinating show that will allow you to better understand the culture of a city deeply attached to its artistic traditions. We also advise you to participate in a royal dinner. During this royal dinner, you will have the opportunity to appreciate the extreme complexity of this type of music, to admire the magnificent silk costumes of the troupe of artists and to enjoy a gastronomic experience that is definitely quite exceptional. Don’t worry though, royal dinner or not, the cuisine of Hue is extremely unique and delicious! Here, the food is raised to an artistic level and is considered one of the best cuisines in Vietnam.
Visit Hue in 2 days
You can start your second day in Hue by discovering the vibrant market of Dong Ba, the largest in the city of Hue. It's a treat to stroll along the colourful stalls. You can also see many boats which bring the goods produced in nearby villages, truly a vivid scene to behold. At the market, you will be able to appreciate some of the most beautiful conical hats of Vietnam, famously synonymous with the whole country. The day can then be devoted to discovering another imperial tomb. The choice of Khai Dinh was distinguished from other royal tombs, due to its architecture being totally different from that chosen by his predecessors. Khai Dinh had indeed chosen a particular aesthetic mixing an abundant Asian style with European elements. It’s a very ostentatious style for this tomb which is close to kitsch with the many tiled mosaic surfaces made from expensive imported porcelain. Or maybe you would prefer Ming Mang tomb located outside the city on Mount Cam Ke, 12 km from Hue. In a romantic space, like the ruler, the tomb consists of an architectural ensemble forming 40 monuments like palaces, pavilions, temples and more. The Minh Mang Royal Tomb is undoubtedly the most beautiful of all and is in total harmony with its water features, fountains, adjoining gardens and pine forest. Visiting one of the two royal tombs is also an opportunity to visit one of the nearby handicraft villages that are an important part of Hue's cultural heritage. There are many villages around Hue perpetuating the crafting traditions inherited from the good times of the emperors.
The second day of vacation in Hue can also be dedicated to the discovery of the Tam Giang Lagoon, the largest lagoon in Southeast Asia, which is an almost perfect natural habitat for fishing and aquaculture. And why not enjoy the most of summer, from April to September, on the beautiful beaches of Hue. These are a great place for you to experience the pleasures of the idyllic beaches of Hue.
>> Hue Imperial city - A to Z Travel guide
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