The historic capital of Vietnam, Hue is a mecca for history buffs. The Perfume River (Song Huong River), so-called because of the fragrant aromas released by riverside flowers, provides a convenient way to combine travel and sightseeing for time-pressed travelers. Here’s how to make the most of a 1-day stay in Hue.
Morning: Travel Back in Time
Dedicate your first morning to discovering Hue’s ancient history: as the former seat of the Nguyen Dynasty, Hue boasts some of the best preserved examples of imperial architecture in Vietnam. Top attractions—including the The Citadel (Da Noi), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Forbidden Purple City, and the Thien Mu Pagoda—are far enough away from one another to be best visited on a sightseeing tour, which saves time and the trouble of navigation. After, immerse yourself in local life at the Dong Ba Market, where more than 7,000 locals go to barter on a daily basis.
Afternoon: Royal Tombs and Classic Cuisine
For more history, spend the afternoon exploring the Imperial tombs of Hue, renowned throughout Asia for their ornate grandeur. Dedicated to Vietnamese emperors such Minh Mang and Tu Duc, each tomb has a distinctive character established by lavish architecture and landscaped gardens. Exploring each with a guide offers insight into the significance of each. If you’d rather delve deeper into Vietnamese cuisine, Hue is a great place to try a cooking class. Master the basics of classic dishes such as pho (noodle soup) and learn more about Vietnamese cuisine.
Night: Cruise the Perfume River
There’s no better place to enjoy the sunset than from a boat on the Perfume River (Song Huong River). For magical photo opportunities and traditional Vietnamese entertainment, book an evening cruise. You can choose between a fine-dining experience accompanied by Vietnamese folk performances or a simpler cruise by traditional dragon boat. Alternatively, experience the casual nature of Vietnamese cuisine during a street food tour, which allows you to overcome the language barrier and make sense of the diverse dishes on offer.