The main sights of Hue – tombs, citadel, Thien Mu Pagoda and a cyclo trip to a hidden market – ticked off in half a day. Start at the Imperial Citadel, where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. The ancient citadel reflects the pomp and ceremony of the dynastic rulers as well as the scars of many years of turmoil, both ancient and modern , as the Royal Citadel was badly damaged in the latter stages of the war. It retains a sense of grace and majesty even today.
Next it is a cyclo ride through Dai Noi, the ‘Old City’, to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors came to relax. Full of lotus flowers in the summer, there are many local-style coffee shops surrounding the lake where university students come to study and debate. Keeping the pace up, next is the tomb of the former emperor Khai Dinh – traditional Vietnamese in design, but also with a European influence making it somewhat unique. If you havn’t spent too long exploring the Citadel, then there is time to stroll around Dong Ba Market, with your guide explaining the produce on sale. The market should be considered a ‘must-see’ site in Hue (but often omitted from itineraries!) – the stalls teeming with colour and a great place to glimpse of everyday life.
Finally, take a boat trip on the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda, a 21 metre tower constricted in 1601. This tour can be taken either in the morning or afternoon.