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Hue Vietnam

[2022] Hue, Vietnam travel blog: places of interest, tourist map, how many days to stay?

Travel-to-Hue

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Historical in-depth, rich in culture, massive ancient architecture – those are features that can be seen when you travel to Hue – the ancient capital of Vietnam. 

Talking about my trip, I travelled to Hue during May and spent 4 days 3 nights here. It was an amazing experience. I love the ancient buildings, I love the peaceful vibe when walking along the Perfume riverbank, I love the delectable food, etc. Highly recommend you to visit Hue when travelling to Vietnam.

From what I experienced, I will share with you all I know about Hue in this blog post including the best time to go, a list of places of interest in Hue, a tourist map of Hue, and how many days to stay in Hue, Vietnam? etc.

You may also like: 5 Money-saving tips when travelling to Hue

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Travel to Hue- Vietnam

1. About Hue

Where is Hue?

Hue city is the capital of Thua Thien Hue Province situated in central Vietnam. The city is located 90km away from Danang city and 8km from the South China Sea coast.

Brief history

Hue was a part of Cham Kingdom in the 4th century AD until 1306 when the King of Champa ceded 2 Cham prefectures to Vietnam in exchange for marriage to a Vietnamese princess. The area was known as Thuan Hoa region – the South furthest region of Vietnam at that time.

In the 17th century, Vietnam went into a civil war between Nguyen lords and Trinh Lords – the 2 facto ruling families in Vietnam. While Trinh lords ruled North Vietnam, Nguyen lords chose Thua Thien – a northern territory of Thuan Hoa to be their family seat and ruled South Vietnam. In 1687, Nguyen lord – Nguyen Phuc Thai – commanded to build a citadel in Phu Xuan – a village in Thua Thien province.

In 1788, after Tay Son Rebellions, Phu Xuan became the capital of Tay Son dynasty under the reign of Quang Trung (later known as Emperor Nguyen Hue).

In 1802, Nguyen Anh – later known as Emperor Gia Long – a successor of the Nguyen lords – seized Phu Xuan and unified the country. He reconstructed the citadel and made it the Imperial City capital of Vietnam.

The year 1945 was a landmark in Vietnam’s history when Emperor Bao Dai – the last feudal emperor of Vietnam – abdicated after the 143-year reign of the Nguyen Dynasty. He handed power over to the newly established government -the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

In 1968, Tet offensive was launched by the forces of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam – Viet Cong and North Vietnamese People’s Army of Vietnam. It is the bloodiest massacre during the Vietnam – American war causing thousands of deaths and the destruction of historical buildings.

Nowadays, Hue is one of the most famous travel destinations in Vietnam with a lot of historical relics, especially the Citadel complex and the royal tombs.

When is the best time to visit Hue?

The weather in Hue is very extreme and divided into 2 distinct seasons: dry and wet season.

The dry season (February- August): In this season, the temperature may vary between 35-40 Celcius degrees and it can be separated into 2 periods:

  • The months from February to April are considered the BEST TIME to visit Hue as the weather is quite cool with little or no rain. 
  • In contrast, the period from May to August should be avoided because it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the stone. Especially during June and July, it could reach a peak of 41 Celcius degrees…I believe that you can imagine how it is, right?

The rainy season (August- January): This is the low season for tourism in Hue as the weather is so unpredictable. Temperature ranges from 18 – 20 Celsius degrees. There are successive rain and even storms/ floods during this season. If you travel to Hue during this time, it’s necessary to bring a raincoat with you.

To conclude, the best time to visit Hue is from February to April because of the pleasant weather. However, you can still travel to Hue in the other months as long as you check the weather forecast beforehand.

Talking about my trip, I paid my visit to Hue in May. The weather was pretty hot, especially during noon time (from 11 am to 3 pm). However, I still enjoyed my trip because I tried to visit the places of interest in Hue in the early morning or afternoon to avoid the heat and bring sufficient water with me.

Read more: 5 useful money-saving tips when travelling to Hue

2. How to get to Hue, Vietnam?

As it is located in the central of Vietnam, there are multiple ways to get to Hue from any location in Vietnam. You can travel to Hue by plane, train or bus.

By flight

Phu Bai airport is located 15km away from Hue city centre. There are direct flight routes from/to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Dalat and Danang operated by Bamboo airways, Vietnam airlines, Vietjet Air, Pacific airlines and Hai Au Aviation.

By train

It’s quite convenient as the station is situated in the city centre (2 Bui Thi Xuan street) where most of the places of interest in Hue are located. There are many trains stopping at Hue train station every day. An overnight train can be a good option if you travel to Hue from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh.

Here are some common destinations from/ to Hue by train:

From/to Hanoi train station (Le Duan street): 13 hours

From/to Ho Chi Minh train station (1 Nguyen Thong street): 19 hours

From/to Danang train station ( 791 Hai Phong street): 3 hours

By bus

There are 2 main bus stations in Hue: The northern bus station, the Southern bus station. They offer routes from/to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Danang, Hoi An, etc.

In addition, some bus operators have their own pick-up points in Hue city centre such as Hanh Cafe, Sinh tourist, Phuong Trang, etc. Those buses also operate routes from/ to most of the famous destinations in Vietnam.

Travel note:

  • If you travel from Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh, it’s better to take a flight to save time.
  • You can take a day trip from Hoi An to Hue (vice versa), the total transportation time is around 2,5 hours.
  • Bus is the cheapest option of all.

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3. How to get around in Hue, Vietnam?

Here are some recommended ways to get around in Hue:

By foot

Walking around the city is a great way to dive into the culture and see the local life. In addition, there are many places of interest in Hue which are very close to each other. Thus, there is no reason not to spend some time exploring Hue on foot.

Here are some recommended routes to walk:

Truong Tien bridge – Dong Ba market – President Ho Chi Minh memorial house – Nguyen Dinh Chieu walking street.

The Imperial City – this area is super large, you need the whole day to discover this place.

By motorbike

Driving a motorbike to explore places of interest in Hue is really convenient and cheap (but only recommended for young people).

Motorbike rental service in Hue costs around 100.000 – 150.000VND/day (not including petrol). Most of the hotels/ hostels offer trustworthy motorbike rental services, but the price might be a little bit more expensive than outside providers (about 50.000 – 100.000 VND more).

I myself rented a motorbike from Minh & Coco service provider. The price was 100.000 VND/day, the bike was good, no problem during my trip. Here is their phone number: (84) 914 099 806, you can call them 1 hour before, and they will bring the bike to your place ( passport/ drive license need to be provided as proof).

By taxi/ grab

Taxi is available 24/7, however, be careful of scam taxies. Always look for those brands: Mai Linh taxi, Thanh Do taxi, Thanh Loi taxi.

In addition, grab is also a good alternative. This is an application that allows you to book car transfers (even motorbikes) in Southeast Asian countries. The fare will be displayed on the app, so you won’t have to be worried about scam taxis anymore.

By cyclo

I was quite surprised when seeing many cyclo on the street in Hue. The price is more expensive than other means of transport because it’s mostly provided for tourists. If you want to find a cyclo driver, just go to Le Loi street, I saw many drivers over there.

Bear in mind that the cyclo drivers in Hue are very persistent (quite annoying for me), if you don’t want to take the ride, just simply ignore them, no eye contact, no need to show friendliness.

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Cyclo in Hue

4. Places of interest in Hue, Vietnam

Places of interest in Hue during daytime

The citadel complex

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Ngo Mon Gate- The Imperial Citadel

Needless to say, the citadel complex is one of the most worth-visiting places of interest in Hue.

The complex was erected in 1804 by order of Emperor Gia Long, but not until 1833, the entire complex was completed under the reign of Emperor Ming Mang.

It is located on the North bank of the Huong River and has 3 main parts: Hue Capital Citadel, Royal Citadel and Forbidden Citadel.

  • The Capital Citadel was built from 1805 to 1832 for the purpose of protecting the 2 inner parts with 24 bastions. It has 10 entrance gates and covers a circumference of 10km.

  • The Royal Citadel was constructed from 1804 to 1833. The entire area is covered by a 4-metre brick wall, consisting of more than 100 fascinating architectural works such as the Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, Trieu Mieu, Thai Mieu, Hung Mieu, the Kham Van Palace, etc. This area functioned as an office for the Emperors where they worked and had meetings with the Mandarins. In addition, there is also a worshipping area where places alter ancestors of the royal family.

  • The Forbidden Purple City which is the most inner part of the complex was erected in 1804. It was the place where the royal family stay and relax.

As the area is extremely big, so you need to spend a whole day discovering all parts of it. 

Opening hours:

Monday – Sunday: 8:00 – 17:30

Thursday: 8:00 – 22:00

Entrance ticket: 200.000VND/ adult, 40.000VND/ kid (can buy at the entrance gate)

Travel note:

  • It’s cheaper to buy the combo ticket of 4 attractions including the Imperial City and 3 Royal tombs at the price of 530.000vnd/person (this ticket is valid within 2 days), instead of 650.000vnd when buying one by one. There are also other combo options that you can see HERE.

  • The whole area is extremely large, you may need to spend 1 whole day to explore all parts of it. It’s very easy to get lost, so bring a map with you or take a guided tour. And don’t forget to wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

Royal tombs

In the past, King was considered the son of God or son of heaven, thus, his tomb will be constructed to the West of the capital citadel, representing the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. This is the reason why all the royal tombs in Hue are situated to the West of the citadel.

There are a lot of royal tombs in Hue including those of the Nguyen lords, Emperor Quang Trung (Tay Son dynasty) and Emperors under the Nguyen dynasty. However, Minh Mang tomb, Tu Duc tomb and Khai Dinh tomb (all are under the Nguyen dynasty) are the 3 mostly-visited tombs.

All the tombs were chosen and designed by their owners before they passed away. Each of them has a distinctive architectural style showing the owners’ characteristics and personalities.

  • Minh Mang tomb
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Ming Mang tomb Hue
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Minh Mang tomb – Hue places of interest

Minh Mang – the 2nd Emperor of the Nguyen dynasty – was one of the greatest Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. It took him 14 years to find the perfect location for his tomb which is at the foot of Kim Phung mountain. The tomb was then built by his successor (Thieu Tri Emperor) from 1840 to 1843. 

Minh Mạng tomb has a whole area of 500ha, consisting of 40 historical structures such as palaces, shrines, pavilions, etc.

Regarding architecture, the tomb has wonderful harmonization between nature and architectural works.

Address: Huong Tho, Huong Tra, Thua Thien Hue

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 7:30 – 17:00

Entrance ticket: 150.000VND/ adult, 30.000VND/children

  • Tu Duc tomb
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Tu Duc tomb – Hue places of interest
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Tu Duc Tomb in Hue

Tu Duc ruled the country for over 35 years since 1848 – the longest-reigning Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty.  He excelled at philosophy, Oriental history and literature, yet had not succeeded in protecting the country from outside invaders.

His tomb was completed after 3 years in 1864. Like a great poet, he designed his tomb as a fairyland with poetical features. When he was still alive, Emperor Tu Duc often came here to work, compose poems, read books, etc.

Address: Thuong Ba, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue 

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 7:00 – 17:30

Entrance ticket: 150.000VND/ adult, 30.000VND/children

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  • Khai Dinh tomb
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Khai Dinh tomb
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Khai Dinh tomb – Hue

Khai Dinh was the 12th Emperor of the Nguyen dynasty, reigning from 1916 to 1925. The construction of his tomb took 11 years to complete from 1920 to 1931.

When I came to Khai Dinh tomb, I couldn’t stop myself from saying “WOW”. It is absolutely majestic and distinct from other royal tombs in Hue. Despite being one of the smallest tombs compared to those of his predecessors, the tomb is much more costly and elaborate-designed.

To fund its construction, Emperor Khai Dinh had to apply the addition 30% taxes on the citizen. The tomb is the intermingling of Western and Eastern architectural styles with details from Vietnam, France, China and Japan.

Address: Khai Dinh street , Thuy Bang, Huong Thuy, Thua Thien Hue

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 7:00 – 17:30

Entrance ticket: 150.000VND/ adult, 30.000VND/children

Travel note: There are not many food stalls nearby the tombs, and the food is not even good, yet not worth the price. I recommend you bring your own lunch.

Dong Ba market

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Visit Dong Ba market – Best things to do in Hue

Dong Ba market is the biggest market in Hue which has been presented for over 100 years. Having been devastated twice in 1885 and 1967 by the French and American army, relatively, the market was then rebuilt and upgraded as today’s scale.

This market has so much to offer, from souvenirs, local signature food, clothes, etc., so if you want to buy some gifts back for your family and friends or to taste the local cuisine, this is a perfect place to do that.

Address: Phu Hoa, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 6:30 – 20:00

Travel note: Avoid visiting Dong Ba market at noon (from 11:00 – 15:00), because all the stalls are closed, and it’s scorching hot as well. I suggest you come before 11:00 or after 4 pm.

Thuy Xuan incense making village

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Thuy Xuan incense making village

In Hue, the consumption of incense is very high. The main reason is that Hue is the Buddhist capital of Vietnam with a vast number of pagodas. In addition, if you notice, they worship spirits everywhere, even on street corners. Therefore, the incense-making village still develops and makes a good profit until today.

Coming to Thuy Xuan village, you can see the beautiful rainbow of coloured bamboo sticks along the road and experience an incense-making class with the local artisans (tour provided by some travel agencies). 

Thien Mu pagoda

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In front of Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue

Located right next to the Huong River, Thien Mu pagoda has a picturesque view from the entrance gate to the river. It is the oldest pagoda in Vietnam which was erected in 1601 on the order of Lord Nguyen Hoang – the 1st Nguyen Lord.

The highlight of the pagoda is Phuoc Duyen tower which was built in 1884 under King Thieu Tri’s command. The tower has seven storeys (21 meters high), each of which is dedicated to Buddha statues. It is known as an unofficial symbol of Hue city which has often been the subject of Vietnam folk rhymes.

Address: Huong Hoa, Hue  city, Thua Thien Hue

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 8:00 – 18:00

Entrance ticket: free

Thien Lam pagoda

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Thien Lam pagoda in Hue
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Thien Lam Pagoda

Thien Lam pagoda is a Buddhist pagoda located on Quang Te hill. It is also known as “the lying Buddha” or “the standing Buddha” pagoda owing to the two statues in the pagoda which are the lying Buddha statue with 7m long and the standing one with 8m high.

The pagoda is founded in 1960 by Most Venerable Ho Nhan. While most pagodas in Vietnam follow the Mahayana sect of Buddism*, Thien Lam Pagoda follow the Hinayana sect which is popular in countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, etc. Therefore, you can clearly see its difference at first sight.

*After the death of Buddha, Buddhism is separated into 2 sects called Hinayana and Mahayana.

Address: 54 Le Ngo Cat, Thuy Xuan, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue

Entrance ticket: free

An Hien garden house 

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An Hien garden House in Hue
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Inside An Hien garden house in Hue

An Hien garden house demonstrates typical Hue architecture for the noble in the past. The house was erected in the 19th century influenced by Feng Shui philosophy.

Before 1895, the first owner of An Hien garden house was the 18th daughter of Duc Duc Emperor – the 5th Emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. It had been transferred to several owners. Not until 1936, did Madam Dao Thi Yen inherited the house after her husband – Nguyen Dinh Chi (a provincial chief at that time)- passed away, she owned the house for the longest period until 1997. 

Address: 58 Nguyen Phuc Nguyen, Huong Long, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 7:00 – 18:00

Singing performance: 9:00-10:15 or 15:00-16:15 everyday

Entrance ticket: 35.000 VND/person

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President Ho Chi Minh’s Memorial house

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Inside Ho Chi Minh Memorial house

Although it’s not one of the most famous places of interest in Hue, I highly recommend this place, especially for history lovers.

It was the house where Ho Chi Minh stayed during his childhood from 1895 to 1901. In 1894, Nguyen Sinh Sac (Ho Chi Minh’s father) passed the Huong exam in Hue and proceeded to the Hoi exam (upper level) but he failed. Then, he decided to study at Quoc Tu Giam school to prepare for the subsequent Hoi exam held in the next 3 years. Therefore, he convinced his family to move to Hue and rented a house near Dong Ba market (at 112 Mai Thuc Loan).

In 1993, the house was recognized as National Historical Relics which stores memories of President Ho Chi Minh. Inside the house, you can see an altar worshipping Ho Chi Minh’s parents and some antiquities that his family used during that time. 

Address: 158 Mai Thuc Loan, Phu Hau, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue

Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 7:00 – 11:00 and 13:30 – 16:30

Entrance ticket: free

An Dinh palace

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An Dinh palace in Hue (source: Picfair )

The palace was first constructed in 1902 under Thanh Thai’s reign. Later, in 1917, Emperor Khai Dinh spent his own money to refurbish the palace following the modern architectural style. Originally, it had about 10 works, consisting of the wharf, main gate, Trung Lap Pavilion, Khai Tuong House, Cuu Tuong theatre, etc. At the moment, only 3 of them remain intact which are the main gate, Trung Lap Pavilion and Khai Tuong House. The palace is a masterpiece with the perfect blend of Asian and European styles.

Address: 179 Phan Dinh Phung, Phu Nhuan, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 7:00 – 17:00

Entrance ticket: 50.000VND/adult

Thuan An beach 

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Thuan An beach -Hue places of interest

Although Hue has other more beautiful beaches, Thuan An beach is the best option if you travel to Hue for only 4 days or less because it’s the nearest, yet less touristy.

Thuan An beach is located 15km away from Hue city centre. It takes about 30mins to reach the beach by motorbike. However, I got lost and was able to reach the right place after 1 hour. Tips for you is that when searching on Google Maps, you should type in a specific address (hotel name, restaurant, etc.), do not search for “Thuan An beach”, it’s too general and google map cannot lead you to the right place.

Where to stay on Thuan An beach?

There are not many hotel choices around this area. Last time, I stayed at Nha nghi Gia Bao which is very close to the beach (3 mins walking). I just came and book directly with the price of 300.000vnd for a triple room – a very good price for a clean room and friendly host.

In the vicinity, there are 2 other homestays which, I think, are affordable as well. In addition, there is a luxurious option is Ana Mandara resort, one double room here may cost around 1.700.000vnd.

Where to eat in Thuan An beach Hue?

If you are a seafood lover, this is your show. There is a myriad of local seafood restaurants for you to choose from, all of them are chock-full of customers and reasonably priced. We had had a full stomach and paid only 200.000vnd/person. 

Places of interest in Hue at night

Song Huong floating restaurant 

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Song Huong Floating Restaurant in Hue
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What we ordered in Song Huong floating restaurant

This restaurant is one of the iconic symbols of Hue. It looks gorgeous from the outside with changing colours every minute.

I like the vibe in this restaurant, not only does it provide a nice view of the Huong River and Truong Tien bridge, but it also offers live music and tasty food. We ordered beer and some seafood and it costs around 200.000vnd/ person. 

Address: Le Loi, Phu Hoi, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue

Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: all day

Hue night walking street

Hue night walking street is a new place of interest in Hue which was officially opened in 2017. It makes the city become more exciting and dynamic at night. There are bars, local restaurants, live street performances, souvenir stalls, etc. on this street.

Address: Vo Thi Sau, Pham Ngu Lao, and Chu Van An street

Opening hours: Friday – Sunday: 18:00 – 2:00

Nguyen Dinh Chieu walking street

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Nguyen Dinh Chieu walking street

Do not mistake this walking street and the one above. They are 2 different walking streets in Hue.

Nguyen Dinh Chieu walking street which is situated next to the Perfume River is extremely beautiful when the sun is down. Taking a walk along the street, you can watch street performances for free, have a drink at a café next to the romantic Perfume River or just simply enjoy the scene in front of Truong Tien bridge.

Address: Nguyen Dinh Chieu street, Hue city, Thua Thien Hue

Opening hours: Friday – Sunday: 16:00 – 22:00 (open all day on Sunday)

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Dragon boat on Perfume River

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Dragon boat in Hue

Taking a dragon boat ride in the evening and enjoying the melody of Hue songs on the boat is one of the best things to do in Hue. In the past, this boat is solely for the King to transport, but today, the locals have transformed it into an interesting experience for tourists.

You can buy the ticket online or just go along the walking street, there will be a lot of people approaching you to sell tickets. For the price, you can see it HERE.

Travel note: In April, there will be an annual festival which lasts for 6 days and has a number of intriguing performances including dancing, fashion show, street parade, etc. All of those performances aim to show the tradition and culture of Hue. So if you are planning your trip to Vietnam during this time, don’t miss Hue.

5. Travel itinerary & tourist map of Hue, Vietnam

Hue travel itinerary 4 days 3 nights

DAY 1: Explore the city centre

Morning: Discover The citadel complex.

Afternoon: Explore Dong Ba market, Nguyen Dinh Chieu walking street.

Evening: Take a dragon boat trip.

DAY 2: Discover farther places of interest in Hue

Morning: Visit Minh Mang tombs, Khai Dinh tombs, and have lunch.

Afternoon: Head to Tu Duc tomb, Thuy Xuan incense making village, Thien Lam pagoda.

Evening: Go to Thuan An beach and stay 1 night there.

DAY 3: 

Morning: Sunbath at Thuan An beach – Hue, check out homestay and go to Thuan An market for breakfast.

Afternoon: Back to Hue city, visit An Hien garden house, Thien Mu pagoda, and President Ho Chi Minh’s Memorial house.

Evening: Have dinner at Song Huong floating restaurant, walk to Hue night walking street.

DAY 4: 

Morning: Have a walk inside the 3rd February Park, visit An Dinh palace, and check out the hotel.

Tourist map of Hue, Vietnam

Here below is the tourist map of Hue, Vietnam with the incorporation of the above itinerary. Each day’s activities will be marked in different colours.

6. How many days in Hue is enough?

Hue is a famous destination in Vietnam with a lot of ancient buildings. Therefore, a 1-2 day trip to Hue is definitely not enough.

Depending on what you want to visit, you can decide how many days in Hue is enough for you. To visit some famous places of interest in Hue, I recommend at least 3 days and 2 nights.

Regarding my trip, I spent 4 days in Hue and I wish I had more time to experience more. 

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Alright, above is all you need to know about Hue which includes the best time to go, a list of places of interest in Hue, a tourist map of Hue, and how many days to stay in Hue, Vietnam? etc. I hope it helps you out in planning your trip.

Share your thought and experience travelling to Hue below.

Enjoy your trip! 

You may also like: 5 Money-saving tips when travelling to Hue

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