A visitor to Hue once remarked after his vacation here: “A visit to Hue would not be complete without a boat excursion on the gentle Perfume River, or else you cannot feel the romance of Hue”. The Perfume River (Vietnamese: Sông Hương or Hương Giang) is a river that crosses the capital city of Hue, in the central Vietnamese province of Thua Thien Hue. Perfume River or Huong River is around 80 kilometers long, and owes its name to the fact that it flows through many forests of aromatic plants before reaching Hue, bringing with it a pure and fresh aroma.
The Origin of Perfume River
The Perfume River has two sources, both of which begin in the Truong Son Mountain range and meet at Bang Lang Fork. The Ta Trach (Left Tributary) originates in the Truong Dong mountains and flows northwest towards Bang Lang Fork. The shorter Huu Trach (Right Tributary) flows through the Tuan ferry, landing towards Bang Lang Fork.
Then it flows in south-north direction passing the temples of Hon Chen and Ngoc Tran, and turns north-west, meandering through the Nguyet Bieu and Luong Quan plains. From this, the River then continuously flows int the north-east direction to Hue city, only an echo of Truong Son mountain, and passes the rest place of the Nguyen Emperors. The river of green water continues its itinerary, passing Hen Islet and various villages, crossing the Sinh junction, which is known as the capital of ancient Chau Hoa, before emptying into the Tam Giang Lagoon.
From Bang Lang to Thuan An estuary, the Perfume River is 30 km long and runs very slowly (as the river level is not much above sea level). The Perfume River darkens as it winds along the foot of Ngoc Tran Mountain – home of the Jade Cup Temple – where there is a very deep abyss.
Artist Inspiration of Huong River
The poetic romantic Perfume River is the deep inspirations to numerous artists, poets, and composers;
“Who turns to Hue
Who comes back to Ngu Mount
Who comes back to Huong River
The river water never sinks
Ngu Mount birds fly back to friends
Whoever are children of Hue remember to return…”
are the beautiful lyrics of a famous song, “Who comes to Hue”, written by Duy Khanh. In the autumn, flowers from orchards upriver from Hue fall into the water, giving the river a perfume-like aroma, and a beautiful poetic view. I have asked several artists about the reason for their inspiring love for Perfume River, and received nearly the same answer: “Well, my inspiration derives from the pure water, the fascinating landscape, and the gentle bridge over the river”.
What to Do at Perfume River?
1. Boat along the River
Today, travellers coming to Hue could not miss a while of boating along the river. Most of them admit that this is one of the most beautiful and extremely splendid riverside landscape (especially at night when lights are on) that they have ever visited!
2. Visit Some Nearby Hue Attractions
As mentioned, the river flows through a series of beauty-spots, taking visitors to every corner of the ancient citadel when you travel by boat. Along the river, you can visit Da Vien, Phu Xuan, and Truong Tien Bridge, come to the Tomb of Minh Mang, Hon Chen Shrine, Thien Mu Pagoda, and finally to bathe in the sea. Upstream, at the Tomb of Thien Tho, you can hear the rustling of the pine tree, which may help you become a… poet!
When the night comes, the surface of the river glistens under the moonlight, and the songs of the boat rowers can be heard breaking the silence. Just come here and you will feel the pure atmosphere of romance and beauty!
As one of the most popular attractions in Hue, a boat ride or cruise on the Huong River in Hue is included in a lot of classic Hue city tours or day trips. Pick the most suitable itinerary for you and start exploring the beauty of this poetic river and city today!