The Perfume River is a national treasure bestowed upon the city of Hue.
This 100km long river start in the mighty Truong Son Mountain Range and travels through green forests, bringing the fragrance of wild plants to the vast fields, vibrant cities and peaceful villages along its banks.
Over 400 years ago, the first lords of the Nguyen Clan discovered a holy land on Ha Khe hill. Here they late built Thien Mu Pagoda as an offering to their descendants. Since then, three successive capitals of Cochinchine, the Tay Son Clan and the Nguyen Dynasty were established on the land near this serene river, which lies below Thien Mu Pagoda.
Long Quang dragon boats, which are modeled ager the renowned Te Thong boats of the Nguyen rulers, now take visitors from Nghinh Luong Dinh Harbor down the Perfume River to discover the region’s hidden beauty at dawn ( morning tour) and at sunset (afternoon tour).
On the northern bank lies the Kim Long region, known for its old pavilions, garden houses, and beautiful ladies, who won the hearts of kings, as recorded in the verse” For all beauties in Kim Long my enthralled heart challenged me to endless advances”.
Visitors disembark form the boat at the Kim Long communal house, the first capital of the Nguyen Lords, then drive to solemn Phuong Duyen Tower in the Thien Mu Pagoda complex on the sacred hill of Ha Khe. Nearby, the singer Camille Huyen has established a musical theater in a garden house. This theater allows visitor to learn about Vo Thanh- Van Thanh- Khai Thanh Tu – the legacy o literary learning, music, martial arts and culture unique to Hue.
The next stop is Hon Chen Temple where visitors can pay homage to the Goddess Thien Y Na, who is worshipped by many disciples. One the way back, the boat takes visitors to the romantic Vong Canh Hill to gaze upon Van Nien water plants and inhale the lingering fragrances of Thanh Tra grape fruit blossoms.
Finally, before returning to the vibrant city, visitors may gain a deeper understanding of Da Vien Island, once a guard outpost to the west of the Hue Citadel. According to Feng Shui, the island holds a “white tiger” position. Here, the Emperor Tu Duc once had a royal garden named Du Da Vien.
Just around the river bend
Unlike the mountainous terrain and pristine scenery found upstream, a voyage down the Perfume River will take visitors though the dynamic, yet peaceful, urban landscape of Hue. From the boat, visitors gain an interesting perspective of people’s daily lives and jobs.
They also have the chance to visit many of the sites and building that have inspired poets and musicians to write about Hue. Noteworthy sites include Truog Tien Bridge, a witness to the citadel’s ups and downs, old French colonial buildings, and Dong Ba Market, which was the commercial center during royal times.
The boat travels to the Clam Dines, famous for its clam, rice, and corn soup. This site was also the eastern guard post of the citadel, or a ”green dragon” according to Feng Shui.
On the misty right bank lie the hushed green gardens of Vi Da Village. On the opposite side lies a street named after the composer Trinh Cong Son whose works celebrate the citadel. Around this bend, traditional brick-roofed houses may be seen along with colorful Chinese assembly halls. At Tran Binh Dai the boat goes down to the Bao Vinh – Thanh Ha Old Quarter, an important trading area some three centuries ago.
Finally, the boat stops at the harbor in Sing Village. This old village is proud of its tradition of wrestling and hosts a grand festival each January 10 th of the lunar calendar. Sing Village is also a major producer of famous woodcut paintings, which are used in folk religious ritual in Hue. Heading home down Dong Ba canal, visitors can enjoy great views of the citadel and old buildings such as Lai Thuong communal House, Dieu De national pagoda and Thuan Hoa Pagoda
North of these boat tours will give visitors a unique chance to discover the landscape and culture of Hue. The tours also include other not to be missed experiences as visitor will enjoy a luxurious royal style feast and listen to haunting folk melodies preformed by artists from the Hue Royal Theatre of Traditional Arts. Experienced tour guide from Vietnam Heritage Travel Company in the central province of Hue will help visitors to get the most out of their boat journey.
Travel tip shared by Hanguyen