2 days in Hue and Hoi An itineraries to visit highlights

Two days from Hue to Hoi An, Vietnam, is a really short time for your exploration. It is because of many beautiful destinations of Hue City and Hoi An. So, when you visit these places, you have to plan your itinerary carefully with selected highlights to value your journey.

bun bo hue
Hue Beef Vermicelli Soup – Photo: Vietnamdrive

Many travelers start from Hue and move to Hoi An, but plenty of other guests travel from Hoi An to Hue City. Vietnamdrive combines two itineraries starting at different sites in this post to introduce them to you. If you want to do the opposite way of any itinerary, we can help you do it.

1. Two-day itineary starting from Hue to Hoi An

Day 1: Visit highlights in Hue

7:30 am, have breakfast: From the early morning, many restaurants in Hue City have been bustling with guests. A lot of dishes in Hue City will be served for breakfast. If you do not like to have breakfast at your hotel, a local restaurant with Bun Bo Hue at Ly Thuong Kiet street is a good choice to taste the excellent flavor of Hue. The price of one bolw is from 35,000VND – 45,000VND.p

8:30 am: Visit the Citadel: The Citadel, including Imperial Palace is located in the center of Hue City, around 1 km from Truong Tien Bridge, on the North Bank of the Perfume River. The Citadel is actually a complex of the royal palaces and the public houses, covering 520 hectares. The main places to visit are the Royal Places, including Noon Gate, the main palace Thai Hoa (Harmonious Supreme Palace), Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Palaces), The Mieu Temple, Truong Sanh Palace.

Imperial Citadel, Hue City, Vietnam
Imperial Citadel in Hue City

This area takes you from 1 hour to 3 hours to visit, depending on what you want to see and the way to walk – more details or general views. I recommend you to spend 1 hour to 1.5 hours; that is good enough to understand this place and to save time for other sites.

If you use electric cars inside the area of Royal Palaces, you can reduce your time; but you have to pay for an extra charge. I recommend you to walk around here to enjoy more beauty of Hue. So, your soft shoes with low heels are advised to use for touring today in Hue City.

The entrance fee of VND 150,000 /person/time to visit the Royal Palaces and the Royal Museum of Antiquities. For visiting the museum, you go out of the royal palaces, not outside the Citadel; you turn right to 03 Le Truc Street.

If your travel time to Hue from October to February, you should carry a raincoat or umbrella while exploring the tourist sites here. It’s because it may be rain at any time.

10: 00 am: Visit Thien Mu PagodaLinh Mu or Heavenly Lady Pagoda is about 5 km from the city center, the most famous pagoda in the ancient capital on the North bank of the poetic Huong River. Coming here, you will admire a classical and lyrical architectural complex, with beautiful landscapes created by the river, peaceful villages, and mountains. Phuoc Duyen tower, Great bell, Main Temple, and tranquil pine forest make the pagoda lovelier and holier.

Although visitors are not religious Buddhist people, when entering here, they seem to be lost in the serene and dreaming space of a hundred years.

11:30: Have lunch: Hue is considered as the kingdom of cuisine in Vietnam because of many different dishes of local food, great flavor, and skillful decoration. Have lunch at a restaurant with local food costs from 250,000VND for a full of a set menu. A small restaurant with good taste is the Banana Mango restaurant.

13:00: Go to Dong Ba market: Dong Ba Market is not only a large commercial center for the local people but also a famous tourist attraction of Hue. Visitors can find traditional items here such as Phu Cam conical hats, Hien Luong cutlery, and dried lotus seeds. Seeing the market to understand more about the local business style is one of the exciting experiences in this city.

14:00: Explore the Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh: This tomb is one famous monument in Hue, which has a modern and traditional style, and Western and Asian architecture. The surrounding of nature with mountains creates the perfect location for the forever home of Khai Dinh Kinh (1916- 1925). The internal decoration is recognized as the masterpiece of mosaic works, lively pictures, active birds that seem they are flying, and mysterious dragons in clouds.

15:30: Take a wall on the wooden bridge and taste of coffee: Wooden Bridge on the Perfume River is a highlight here. Walking on this bridge, taking pictures for memories of Hue, and tasting Vietnamese coffee at a lovely place are great to spend the peaceful afternoon. Enjoy a very Hue atmosphere with tranquil feelings and a slow life.

16:30 – 17:00: Come back to the hotel to relax.

18:30: Have dinner with food of royal style at Y Thao restaurant. This meal helps us know the food of the Royal Family (Nguyen Family) have during their time to control Vietnam. I highly appreciate a dish of fig salad at Y Thao Restaurant, which combines the bitter, hot, sweet, salted taste.

20:00: Taste local beer: Most of the guests to have a walk on Truong Tien Bridge (the symbol of Hue people) and Nguyen Chi Dieu walking street for relaxing and enjoying peaceful feelings. Truong Tien Bridge is outstanding and brilliant in the sparkling wings of thousands of colorful lights. And, I like to come to Vo Thi Sau Street to taste the local beer.

Day 2: Move from Hue to Hoi An

Today, you travel from Hue to Hoi An City. On the way, there are many beautiful stops for visiting and taking pictures such as Hai Van Pass, Lang Co Bay, the Golden Bridge, Linh Ung Pagoda, and the Ancient Town of Hoi An. It is because of limited time; I give you two options for one day travel.

Option 1: Explore Hai Van Pass – Golden Bridge – Hoi An

8:00 am Travel to Hai Van Pass and Lang Co Bay: A private car is an excellent safe way to travel from Hue to Hoi An. You will drive through the countryside along Highway 1.

Stop to take pictures at Lang Co Bay listed one of the top thirty beautiful bays in the world. The settings of mountains and lagoons in the west, a fishing village in the middle, and the ocean in the east combine with beautiful Hai Van Pass in the South, creating a perfect picture of nature.

10:00 am: Take a rest in the top of Hai Van pass, where you can enjoy the fantastic landscape of the mountains and ocean on the dry days. Take time to enjoy the fresh air and taste a cup of coffee. I really like to rest in this area. But, when you take pictures and enjoy views, some sellers may follow you to try to sell their products. The skill to overcome this issue is to ignore them; do not ask how much for any things (because when you ask “how much”, they think you like their products, they continue going along with you).

Golden Bridge in Ba Na Hills
Golden Bridge in Ba Na Hills – Photo: Vietnamdrive

12:00 am: Visit Golden Bridge in Ba Na Hills. You buy a cable ticket to go up the hills of Ba Na to explore the famous Golden Bridge (Hand Bridge or Cau Vang in Vietnamese). This bridge is listed as the top destination in Da Nang City and Vietnam, and one of the unique architectural buildings in the world. Remember that you need to prepare a full battery of cameras. Admittedly, there are many beautiful corners there you should not miss. Besides, many attractive gardens and pagodas are worth visiting in Ba Na Hills.

Many restaurants in Ba Na Hills are available for your lunch.

16:00: Drive from Ba Na Hills to your hotel in Hoi An. You will take a rest at the hotel in Hoi An after walking a lot in Ba Na Hills. And, you may like to explore the colorful ancient town of Hoi An at night. Thus, option one will be finished at your hotel when reaching your hotel from Da Nang.

Option 2: Visit Hai Van Pass – Linh Ung Pagoda – Ancient Town – Hoi An

8:00 am – 10:00 am: You stop Lang Co Bay and the Hai Van Pass as the option 1.

11:00 am: Visit Linh Ung Pagoda in Son Tra Island. The tallest statue of Lady Buddha in Central Vietnam can find at this site. Panorama of Da Nang city can see from the pagoda as well.

12:00 pm: Have lunch at Madame Lan Restaurant at 4 Bach Dang Street, Da Nang City. This restaurant will give you a good flavor of Vietnamese food. But, if you want to taste seafood in Da Nang city, I recommend you check Be Man Seafood Restaurant. Many different kinds of fishes, clams, oysters, crabs, and shrimps are there to select for great lunch. Do not forget tasting them with local beer, Larue.

14:00: Visit the Ancient Town of Hoi An. After driving from Da Nang City, you come to Hoi An and stop to visit traditional handicraft village. This place offers you an overview of Hoi An’s traditional works of the local people from the past to the present.

Entering the center of the old streets, visitors find quite different feelings. The classic style of life, old buildings, and ancient colors cover the entire town, making travelers return and see past life.

  • Take pictures at the Japanese Bridge – a historical bridge considered as the symbol of Hoi An City.
  • Visit Tan Ky old house, one of the typical private residence, which still keeps the style of business home. You have an excellent chance to learn the life of Hoi An people.
  • Explore the Quang Dong Assembly Hall of Chinese people in Hoi An. A hall used to be a place for business meetings, but now is holy places for worshipping the gods for their belief.
  • Taste a cup of coffee at a restaurant on the bank of Hoai River to rest. Drinking coffee, and watching the life moving is a great time to spend in the old town of Hoi An.

14:30: Come to the hotel to take a rest before you come back to the old city to explore its beauty in hundreds of lanterns.

In conclusion, two days in Hue and Hoi An City has a lot of things to experience. Vietnamdrive selects the highlights of these destinations and exciting activities with the hope of giving you the most valuable itinerary.

Visitors can hire a private car and a driver to go with this itinerary; then you can save a lot of money, but still, have great holidays in Hoi An and Hue. If you want to book a package tour, you can give a request to us. The package tour has a higher price, but you get more chances to learn a more profound culture.

2. Two-day itinerary starting from Hoi An and head to Hue City

Hoi An attracts the attention of many tourists when choosing Vietnam as a destination for their family vacations. The unique, friendly and energetic way of tourism of the locals has become a prominent feature that helps Hoi An to always make a great impression in the hearts of tourists. Rich tourist products and services also create excitement for the increasing demand for recreation, entertainment, experience, and discovery of visitors throughout the five continents. If you only have one day in Hoi An, there are many things that definitely should not be missed.

Hoi An to My Son Tour
Cham Dance – photo: Bao Huy

Day 1: Discover Hoi An and My Son Holy Land

Today we do the best itinerary to visit Hoi An Ancient Town and My Son Sanctuary.

Waking up early and enjoying the bustling atmosphere of Thanh Ha fish market will be the first exciting activity of the day. Thanh Ha Fish Market is located in Thanh Ha Ward, about 4 km west of the ancient town of Hoi An, and takes about 12 minutes to get here by car from the city center.

Thanh Ha Market in Hoi An Vietnam
Thanh Ha Market in Hoi An – Photo: Bao Huy

Thanh Ha Fish Market, one of the biggest fishing ports in Hoi An, starts operating from 3:00 am to 10:00 am every day. However, the busiest and most tumultuous times fall between 5:00 and 6:00 am. Depending on the weather, the season as well as the productivity of fishers, the bustle here changes day by day.

For tourists, 5:00 am to 5:30 am is the most appropriate time for experiencing the fish market of Thanh Ha. You are almost caught up in the bustling atmosphere with many boats going in and out constantly and carrying fresh fishes from the sea. Traders exchange trading and bargain the prices. Workers hurriedly transport seafood baskets from ships to the banks or the trucks to other markets around Hoi An and Da Nang City.

Everything becomes more vivid in the sunlight when the sunset is ready to welcome a new day. If you are a photography enthusiast, you definitely should not miss this place. There are many professional and amateur photographers coming here because of the impressive scenery that the fishing market offers. Early morning at the fishing market will help visitors to recognize the typical style, culture of the daily life of the local people.

After returning from the Thanh Ha fish market, you should take time for your breakfast. Banh Mi Phuong (Phuong Vietnamese Bread) is an exciting suggestion. Take your bread from Phuong bread restaurant to a café shop to enjoy “the best bread in the world” with a cup of Vietnamese coffee. You can also try any other kind of drink prepared according to the formula of the restaurant. The total amount of money you have to spend on Phuong bread and a cup of coffee is equivalent to 2USD to 3 USD. Of course, this is considered the most convenient way to help visitors see how Hoi An people start the day.

8:00 am to 8:30 am: transfer to My Son to visit the ancient holy land of the Cham people. My Son Sanctuary includes a complex of monuments bearing cultural traces of the Cham people in the most flourishing period. The highlight of these buildings is the technical mystery and adhesive materials used to build the towers and temples dating back to the 7th century.

My Son Holy Land Vietnam
My Son Holy Land – Photo: Vietnamdrive

It will take you about 1 hour and 15 minutes to travel from Hoi An to My Son Sanctuary by car. It is just enough for guests to enjoy the Cham dance performance at 9:30 am or the second show at 10:00 am at the cultural performance house located in the monuments’ area.

Ticket price to visit My Son relics is 150,000vnd / person, which includes entrance ticket, tram fee for moving to the monument from the gate, and a show of Cham dance at the performing house.

Farewell to My Son, return to Hoi An Ancient City. It’s time you suggest your driver stop at Cau Mong to enjoy Be thui (barbecue beef) – a famous specialty in Quang Nam. You will realize that it is worth the perfect lunch, full of energy with an average cost of 10usd / guest. Suggestions of Vietnamdrie for famous restaurants chosen by a large number of customers are: Be Thui Muoi or Be Thui Bay Lep. The two restaurants are located on Highway 1A in Dien Phuong, Dien Ban town, about 7.5 km from the center of Hoi An city. In particular, these addresses are situated right on the route from My Son to Hoi An, so it is entirely convenient for tourists to stop for lunch.

With this program, you have an entire afternoon to explore the ancient town of Hoi An. But, first, whether you are a fashionista or just consider fashion as necessary clothing, you should visit a tailor shop in the old town. It is because clothes, skirts, and suits made here are handcrafted according to the measurement, size, form of each individual. There are many models available for customers to choose, or you can also ask the store owners to follow the model you have. They always have a variety of fabrics with different colors and patterns to serve tourists best.

In particular, the price of tailor-made clothes is exceptionally reasonable for quality above expectations. If you complete to choose the model and to take measurements in the early afternoon, after dinner, you can return to the store to try out the item and make a few repair requests if necessary. Customers are also assured if they have to leave the next morning because the clothes which you order the previous afternoon can be delivered to your hotel as your request.

Hoi An Ancient Town Vietnam
Hoi An Ancient Town – Photo: Pham Vu

Take two hours to visit the outstanding monuments in the center of Hoi An old town such as:

  • Museums: Hoi An, Sa Huynh Culture, Folklore, Trade Ceramics.
  • Cultural works: Japanese Bridge, Cam Pho Temple, Quan Cong Temple.
  • Old houses: Tran chapel, Tan Ky old house, Quan Thang ancient house, Phung Hung old house.
  • Assembly Halls: Fujian, Guangdong, Chaozhou.
  • Traditional handicraft at 41 Le Loi, Hoi An Handicraft Workshop (9 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street)

These places represent the deep culture of the ancient town. Hoi An includes a mixture of cultural diversity between ancient Cham culture, Chinese culture of the Ming Dynasty, and Vietnamese Confucian culture.

An entrance ticket costs VND 120,000, and visitors can choose 5 sites out of the relics listed above for your exploration of Hoi An.

In addition, visitors cannot miss Hoi An market. Located at the gateway to the old town, Hoi An Market becomes the gathering point of all the current lifestyle of the people here. They sell everything, such as vegetables, tubers, fruits, fishes, fresh meat of daily necessities, household goods, fashion clothes, and cosmetics. Many small souvenirs with pretty reasonable prices are also available for sale around the market. Besides, Hoi An market has its own area for the most famous local dishes, such as bread, cao lau, sweet soup, Quang noodles, chicken rice, pancakes, or duck porridge… That is good to spend time here looking for some souvenirs or taste the local cuisine.

Leaving Hoi An market, you move to Hoi An boat station, less than 100 meters from the market. Here, choose a small wooden boat, and a local person will row it slowly on the Hoai River overlooking the old town in the sunset.

On both sides of the river, lanterns start lightening in place of the traces of a day that were quietly closing. The old town is so beautiful. And, there is no better view of Hoi An than the look from a boat drifting along the old streets. The price of an hour traveling on the Hoai River with a small boat accommodating 3-4 people is about 200,000 VND / boat.

Returning after a river cruise, it’s time to enjoy dinner at one of the famous restaurants in the old town. A few suggestions to choose are Miss Ly Cafe Restaurant, at 22 Nguyen Hue Street; Hai Cafe Restaurant, 98 Nguyen Thai Hoc; Morning Glory Restaurant, 106 Nguyen Thai Hoc; …

Ending the day in Hoi An, visitors can choose to walk around the old town covering by the color of the lanterns.

Day 2: Travel from Hoi An to Hue, visit the Imperial Palaces

8:00 am – 8:30 am: The best time to start the journey from Hoi An to Hue City. The first stop is the Marble Mountains. Located about 18 km from Hoi An, 30 minutes by car, the Marble Mountains (Ngu Hanh Son) is at in Ngu Hanh Son District, Da Nang City. It consists of five limestone mountains named Kim Son, Moc Son, Thuy Son, Hoa Son, and Tho Son, within a radius of 2 km, surrounding a residential area near the coast. Visitors often choose Thuy Son (Mount Thuy) to explore. Mount Thuy is the most beautiful one out of the five mountains in Ngu Hanh Son. This mount has full of caves, rocky cliffs, gazebo, and sacred temples.

Marble Mountains Vietnam
The Way going into Huyen Khong Cave – Photo: @matt.dbse

Around the food of Mount Thuy is a famous carving-stone village. It is not difficult to find unique marble artworks here made from the talented hands of artisans. After visiting the Marble Mountains, tourists can visit this village to admire and find a product of art to decorate in their houses or gardens.

From the Marble Mountains, visitors need an additional 1 hour and 10 minutes by car to reach the top of Hai Van Pass (Sea-cloud Pass). This site is also called “the most majestic gate”. The Sea-cloud Pass is one of the most beautiful and rugged passes in Central Vietnam.

Stop at the top of the pass, we can see the whole scenery of Da Nang city, Tien Sa port, Son Tra peninsula and Cu Lao Cham island (with the good condition of weather). The top of Hai Van Pass is also the ideal location if you really want to have a convincing view of the awesome adventure from the zigzag roads to go up the mountain.

From Hai Van peak, the journey passes the 13 km long, and we will reach Lang Co beach. Lang Co Bay is located right at the foot of Hai Van Pass. This bay is one of the most beautiful bays in the world, which was recognized by the World’s Most Beautiful Bays Club – Worldbays in 2009. Lang Co Beach is like a masterpiece of nature that bestowed on this land. The perfect combination of majestic tropical mountains locates next to the blue coast with fine white sand longer than 10km. Interspersed among the beautiful scenery, the mysterious Lap An Lagoon forms the perfect connection for the natural picture that is more attractive and captivating. Indeed, you will lose a lot of space on the memory card of your camera because of the beautiful scenery that this place offers.

Lap An Lagoon Lang Co
Amazing Scenery of Lap An Lagoon – Photo: Pham Vu

After resting and taking photos at Lang Co Beach, we continue to move to the center of Hue city. It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes for the 67km road to reach the first attraction in the complex of Hue Monuments: the Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh. This tomb is located about 10km from the center of Hue city, in Thuy Bang commune, Huong Thuy district, Hue City, Thua Thien – Hue Province. This is the tomb of the 12th king of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945).

The tomb of Khai Dinh has many unique features by a diverse combination of East-West architectural styles in construction. This factor helps Khai Dinh Royal Tomb be evaluated most differently in all the works belonging to th3 Hue ancient vestige complex, which was recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage. This building imprints the personality of King Khai Dinh and the social situation at a turbulent historical period, such as the decline in feudalism, and the East-West cultural interference. On average, visitors spend about 40 minutes to visit Khai Dinh tomb.

The next is to return to the city center and have lunch at a local restaurant with the famous dish: Bun Bo Hue. The address received many positive reviews for this dish is at Ba Xuan Restaurant at 17 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hue City. A bowl of beef vermicelli soup here costs from VND 35,000 to VND 45,000. Most diners feel enough with a bowl of Hue beef noodle soup, and it is a dish with unforgettable impressions.

bun bo hue
Hue Beef Vermicelli Soup – Photo: Vietnamdrive

Afternoon in Hue, we start visiting, exploring the palaces of the last feudal dynasty in Vietnam – Hue Citadel including Hue Imperial City & Forbidden Palace. Located on the northern bank of the Huong River, Hue Citadel (Kinh Thanh Hue) is the main architectural monument, which has the largest scale among the complex of the ancient capital of Hue. Built in 1804 under King Gia Long, the first king of the Nguyen Dynasty, Hue Citadel was the place to perform all royal activities during the reign of the 13 Nguyen Kings.

Despite the war and devastations, most of the principal works are still intact. Currently, the Imperial Royal Palaces of Hue are considered as the “heart” of the local tourism industry. Coming to Hue, tourists certainly do not miss this place. You need at least 1 hour to visit Hue Citadel including Imperial City and Forbidden Place if a guide accompanies you. However, there are still many visitors who need up to 3 hours to be able to visit all of this area. Therefore, hiring a guide is considered as a helpful suggestion for visitors when visiting this monument. That will help you save a lot of time and make it easier to experience the differences in Asian cultural, historical and architectural features here.

Leaving the Citadel, you need to move another 5km along the Perfume River, to the west of the city to visit Thien Mu pagoda. You will have an excellent chance to experience how the locals show their Buddhist beliefs.

thien-mu-pagoda
Tam Quan (Three-door gate) and Phuoc Duyen Tower of Thien Mu – Photo: Vietnamdrive

Established in 1601, under the reign of Lord Nguyen Hoang, Thien Mu Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Hue, and it’s among the few most famous ancient pagodas in Vietnam. A unique location and many favorable feng shui elements help Thien Mu pagoda bring a mystical, spiritual color.

Every day, Thien Mu Pagoda attracts many Buddhists from all over Vietnam to worship. Besides, the grand scenery of the pagoda also becomes a highlight. Many tourists come here to enjoy the peaceful natural landscape, watch the charming Huong river winding in front, learn about the architecture of the ancient pagodas in Hue, or want to hear impressive legends about this place. Explore Thien Mu Pagoda, you do not pay the entrance fee. However, formal wear with long-sleeve shirts and pants or a skirt covering knees is a mandatory rule for everyone who wants to visit the temple.

Finish the two-day Hoi An – Hue program with a dragon boat on the Perfume River from Thien Mu Pagoda to the city center. Travelers will see the lush banks of the Huong River and the poetic Hue city lying along both sides of the flow. About 40 minutes of the boat tour on the Perfume River is a wonderful relaxation before returning to the hotel. Enjoy dinner and take leisure time in your own way.

Conclusion

You only have two days in Hoi An and Hue City on your trip in Vietnam. With the limited time, it is necessary to prepare a reasonable travel itinerary and suitable transportation in advance. These suggestions can support you to discover the most interesting unique features at each stop deeply.

It is because travel time, tourist destinations, and outstanding cultural features are arranged suitable for fascinating exploration within two days in Central Vietnam. With the above plans, we have helped a lot of tourists save time.

Vietnamdrive has selected the highlights of Hoi An and Hue City carefully. The two-day tours give you great experiences. You can book a tour with a package, or just hire a professional driver and a private car to explore them flexibly.

About the author

The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.