A convenient location in central Vietnam makes Hue an ideal launchpad for exploring farther afield. Three days in the city allow you to do justice to all of Hue’s historical attractions and discover some of Vietnam’s most spectacular natural scenery. Here’s how to divide your time.
Day 1: The History of Hue
Devote your first day to the history of Hue—which dates back hundreds of years and culminates in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Citadel (Da Noi)—on a city tour. Travel back in time during stops at the Thien Mu Pagoda and the Tomb of Minh Mang, and then cruise by dragon boat along the Perfume River (Song Huong River). This afternoon, tour the Tam Giang Lagoon, the largest lagoon in Southeast Asia. Tours tend to return after dark, when the street-food stalls of Hue walking street are in full swing, so grab a snack on the recommendation of your guide.
Day 2: The Wonders of Central Vietnam
Venture farther out on your second day. History buffs can delve deeper into Vietnam’s military history on an excursion to the demilitarized zone (DMZ), home to the Vinh Moc Tunnels, while families can spend the day at the Ba Na Hills, a former French hill station that’s been transformed into a theme park and now boasts the well-known Golden Bridge, upheld by two giant hands. Alternatively, spend the day in Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its Ancient Town, which looks today as it did hundreds of years ago. Day trips to Hoi An typically go via the Hai Van Pass, hailed as one of the best coastal drives in the world, and stop in the thriving beach city of Da Nang.
Day 3: The Culture of Vietnam
Spend your final day in Hue gaining deeper insight into the culture of Vietnam’s central highlands. Fun and family-friendly activities include a cooking class, during which you’ll master the basics of classic Vietnamese dishes; a bike tour of the countryside; and a craft workshop, where you’ll have the chance to make lampshades and passport holders from textured bamboo paper. In the afternoon, browse Dong Ba for local handicrafts such as non la bai tho (conical hats with poems woven in the design), xung sesame candies, and Tuan black tea. Spend your final evening sampling the best of Hue’s distinctive local cuisine on a street-food tour.