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The Perfume River in Hue – Vietnam


The Perfume River (or Sông Hương in Vietnamese) is a river more than 100 kilometers long that runs through the city of Hue and the districts of Thưa Thiên-Huê province, in Central Vietnam. For all Vietnamese, this river is the symbol of Hue.

The Perfume River always flows slowly because its water level is not very high compared to the sea level. When its course passes Ngoc Tran Mountain, its color becomes bluer, this is the place of Hon Chen Temple, where there is a very deep abyss.

The Perfume River is considered the most beautiful when contemplating its source and when it flows around the mountains and through the tropical jungles; it flows gently, gently through the villages. It is the source of visitors’ emotions as they ride the river in boats and listen to the tune of traditional Hue songs. The monuments on both banks are reflected on the surface of the water. In the middle of this river, there is the splendid Hên dune.

According to the geographical view, this river is the origin of two streams Ta Trach and Huu Trach. At the edge of these rivers, the Acorus grows everywhere. It is a kind of fragrant grass, their petals fall into the water, so the river brings this fragrance to Hue.


For a long time, it has inspired many authors, especially poets and musicians. Indeed, in the love songs of musician Pham Duy, the Perfume River always appears as a lyrical subject:

“I love the long rivers very much

On the river of Perfumes, I feel the love ”

(Song of Love, 1953)

Another musician, Pham ĐinhChuong, chose this river for the representative role of Central Vietnam in his long poem “Feast of the Ninth Day of the Ninth Lunar Month”.

Legends: Why is the Perfume River named like that?

Who named this river? And why this name? Not only foreigners, but also Vietnamese are looking for answers to these questions. Here are several legends about the Perfume River that give an explanation. It’s up to you to choose the one that suits you the most!

Legend of the incense

According to the legend, one day, the First Lord Nguyen Hoang crossed the hill Ha Khê which borders this river, he slept and dreamed. In his dream, a Celestial Lady appeared and gave him a stick of incense. She said to him: “Burn this incense and walk along this beautiful river. When the incense is extinguished, you will arrive at the capital city’s land.” When the Lord woke up, he followed this order and found Hue. So he built a pagoda on Ha Khe hill and named it: The Pagoda of the Heavenly Lady. He also named the river “Hương”. “Hương” means “the Perfumes” and also “the Incense”.

Legend of the princess

There is another legend a little more romantic! here it is below:

One day, the princess HuyênTrân crossed the river to marry the king of Cambodia. She thought of her lover and cried a lot. When she washed her face in the river water, she discovered his perfume. That’s why the princess gave her this name.

Legend of Emperor Quang Trung

According to a local chronicle, it is the emperor Quang Trung who named this river. The Perfume River measures in total, more than 100 kilometers. It is separated in several rivers. Each river crosses a region, each bearing a different name. When the emperor Quang Trung went for a boat ride on this river, he asked the name of the river. A mandarin answered him, “We are now crossing the course of Tea Fragrances (HươngTrà), the preceding stream is called Đan Điền, the following stream is the Golden Tea (Kim Trà).” Emperor Quang Trung was not satisfied by this answer, so he decided to rename the whole river to the name of “The Perfume River”.

The writers’ legend

The writers prefer a myth that says: “The people by the river were very fond of this river. One day they heated water in a hundred types of flowers and spilled it into the river, so that the river could be scented forever…”

Cruise on the Perfume River

Because of the beauty of Huong River, it is included in the program of many tours in Hue such as Hue City Tour, Hue City 1 Day Tour or Hue City Main Tourist Products.

During the boat cruise, you can see beautiful landscapes, local boats, parks and magnificent temples and other buildings on the river banks. The pace is slow and romantic, it is a good time to relax.

You will not only have the chance to sail comfortably on the gentle river, but you can also visit some famous attractions of Hue city, such as Hue citadel, Thien Mu pagoda, Dong Ba market, royal tombs like Khai Dinh and Minh Mang….

These destinations are easily accessible by boat as most of them are located along the banks of the river.

See also:

Les Empereurs de Hue

Hué était la capitale du Vietnam pendant la dynastie Nguyen (1802-1945). C’est la dernière dynastie monarchique de Vietnam créée par les Empereurs Nguyen. Elle comprend 13 empereurs de sept générations, dont on a la généalogie