Poetry in constant motion

Thailand December 14, 2011 00:00


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Enjoy a voyage to relaxation with a cruise along the Perfume River

XXX: A visit to Hue would not be complete without a boat excursion on the gentle Huong (Perfume) River.

XXX: The river, with its shimmering blue limpid colour, is like a pearl in the sun.

A visit to Hue is not complete without a boat excursion on the gentle Huong or Perfume River, exploring life beside its banks and taking in the romance of the ancient royal capital city.

Dissecting the city centre, the Perfume River is around 30 kilometres long and owes its name to the aromatic forests through which it winds.

Since earlier this year, Perfume River Emotion has offered tourists a chance to spend two days on the river and experience some of the city’s off the beaten track destinations, as well as eco-tourism and local daily life.

The river, with its shimmering blue limpid colour, is like a pearl in the sun. Dotted with rowing boats, the citadel, town, gardens, pagodas, towers and temples, the poetic landscape has long mesmerised travellers.

Our charming overnight junk cruises were inspired by the daily lives of fishermen plying the river, according to Hoang Trong Hai, director of the Perfume River Emotion Company.

“How to conserve the magnificence of the river as well as promote its beauty to the world is our most important mission,” he explains.

Tourists first visit then embark from the Thien Mu (Heavenly Lady) Pagoda, often the subject of folk songs and regarded as the unofficial symbol of the former imperial capital.

Along the route, visitors can stop off at fishing villages and Sinh Village, which is well known for its ceremonial folk paintings. During its annual traditional festival, visitors to the village can also participate in a wrestling competition.

Thuy Bieu Village, 6.5km from the city centre and surrounded by thanh tra (a kind of small grapefruit) gardens, is an additional must-see destination.

Seen on the map, Thuy Bieu resembles the water gourd from which the area derived its name.

Tourists are offered a chance to take part in thanh tra farm activities and sample the fruit, walk or cycle through green rice fields and visit families employed in producing incense.

After lunch, served in old wooden houses, guests may relax by steeping their feet in medicinal waters or enjoy massages delivered by blind people.

The virtues of the sweet-and-sour thanh tra, used as ingredient in many Hue specialities, are showcased during a special evening cooking class onboard.

Floating slowly down the Perfume, visitors are lulled by the folk songs of boatwomen before waking to a magnificent sunrise.

“Cruising the Perfume River is truly unforgettable,” comments Viviane Castelli from Cannes, France.

“We especially enjoyed the slow descent of waves, the bike rides through villages and rice fields. The food was exceptional and well worth reproducing back home,” she adds

“The boat is very well equipped. It’s been an enchanting journey.”


Hue’s international Phu Bai airport has daily flights to and from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. For overland travel, this is a passenger bus departing from Savannakhet in Laos, opposite Mukdahan in Thailand.